Siim Sööt, Honorary Consul of Republic of Estonia in Illinois
We found in an earlier article that a high proportion of people of Estonian ancestry (95%) live in metropolitan areas, more than the other three national ancestries examined here, with Finns being least likely (79%). Here we explore which large metro areas are home to four nationalities.
Greater New York has the largest Estonian community in the United States with the Los Angeles area the second largest. Thereafter there are a large number of East and West Coast metros. Traditionally the East Coast has been the dominant concentration of Estonians, stretching from Boston, south through New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC. Southward there is a break until Tampa, Orlando, and Miami, Florida. Though Atlanta has a vibrant Estonia community, it does not appear among the top 25.
West Coast metros also appear frequently in the top 25. They run from San Diego in the south through Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland, and Seattle. The West Coast Estonian Days continue to be well attended and rely on a string of north-south metros that stretch to Vancouver Canada, less than 150 miles north of Seattle. Chicago, Denver, and Dallas are the only “non-coastal’ communities in the top 25.
The US Latvian population is almost three times larger than the Estonian population but similarly New York’s Latvian population is about twice that of second place Chicago. The Chicago Latvian population is about five times larger than the Chicago Estonian population. Washington, Boston, and Philadelphia (among the top 10) have population ratios of Latvians to Estonians that are higher than three.
Lithuanians differ in that Chicago is their primary metropolitan area. Metro Chicago has 67,000 people of Lithuanian descent, more than twice the number of Estonians in the entire US. It is not visible on this table, but the number of Chicagoans identifying themselves as Lithuanians has declined by a staggering 24,000 in the last 14 years. In general, there are large numbers of Lithuanians in the major East Coast metro areas and they appear to be even more concentrated than Estonians. After Chicago and New York come Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Detroit, and Hartford, all with more than 10,000. However, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland are not in the top 8.
The pattern for Finns in the United States is very different. The dominant metro area is Minneapolis with 46,000 people of Finnish ancestry. Moreover, the Minneapolis metro area is one of three metros with more than a million Germans, behind Chicago and New York. Remarkably the next largest Finnish metros are Duluth, Minnesota, and Detroit, both with about 29,000 Finns, nearly the same as the number of Estonians in the entire United States. The fourth largest is Seattle followed by Portland OR, Chicago, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and Phoenix, all with over 10,000. Noteworthy is the fact that Boston and New York are the only East Coast metros in the list and that NY is only number 8.
What is most notable about the comparison of the four ethnicities is the paucity of these people in the fourth and fifth largest metro areas Houston and Dallas. For Estonians, Houston ranks as the 53rd largest metro. The ranks for the other three in Houston are as follows: Latvians 36th, Lithuanians 32nd, and Finns 25th.
Lastly, a short discussion of the margin of error in these data may be appropriate. To derive these data, the US sends out about 3.5 million surveys annually. The data reported here are based on a compilation of five years of data.
As a sample survey, none of the numbers are precise but provide better data than all other sources. Here Portland OR and Seattle have atypically high margins of error, and the reported number of Estonians has recently gone up. The increases are highly unusual and are likely due to an unusually high number of responses from Estonians. I have not seen such a change for other data reported here or in the previous decades of data that I have analyzed. Lastly, the data reflect survey responses not whether they are involved in any Estonian activities.
Siim Sööt Honorary Consul of Republic of Estonia in Illinois