South African Americans
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(2017 American Community Survey)
|Regions with significant populations|
|California, New York, Maryland, Minnesota, South Florida, Chicago, Atlanta, Arizona, Texas|
|American English, South African English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Tswana, Cantonese, see languages of South Africa|
|Roman Catholic, Reformed Churches, Jewish, Methodism, Anglicanism, minority: irreligion|
South African Americans are Americans who have full or partial ancestry from South Africa. As of 2012, there were approximately 80,000 people born in South Africa who were living in the United States (according to the OECD). As of 2019, there were approximately 85,000 people born in South Africa who were living in the United States.
Free South Africans began arriving in the United States as early as the late-nineteenth century. The first groups were Afrikaner miners who arrived in California. Significant numbers of South Africans, typically of British Isles heritage, arrived in the mid-twentieth century. Immigration by black South Africans was limited, as although the standard of living for black Africans in South Africa was higher than for most people living on the African continent, political and economic conditions still made immigration difficult, as blacks were forced to escape to other African nations before they could emigrate to the country of their choice.
Following the Soweto uprising in 1976, there was a significant increase in South African immigration to the United States. Many of the immigrants were South African Jews, who formed a community in the northern suburbs of Chicago. Although emigration policies during apartheid made immigration difficult, there were a small number of black students and political refugees who emigrated to the US. During the 1980s and 1990s, many South Africans entered the US for political reasons, to be with family members, or to access professional opportunities not available in their home country.
The largest wave of South African emigration was in 1994, after the election of Nelson Mandela as the President of South Africa. Many White South Africans, especially Afrikaners, emigrated after the acquisition of political power by the black population.
According to Statistics South Africa, between 2006 and 2016, the United States and the U.S. territory of American Samoa received a combined 17.8% of all South African emigrants relocating overseas. This made the United States the third most popular destination after first place Australia and the second place United Kingdom.
The majority of South Africans who emigrated went to Australia and New Zealand, countries with similar cultural and linguistic heritage, as well as similar climates and latitude positioning. There were also a large number of South African immigrants that went to the US. Many White South Africans, both before and after the end of apartheid, emigrated to Midwestern states such as Minnesota and Illinois. Atlanta, Georgia, has a large population of South African Jews. Also, a number of South Africans live in New York City and Mid-Atlantic states such as Maryland. Many South African immigrants in the US are White people of European origin. Of the 82,000 South Africans that were living in this country between 2008–09, about 11,000 of them were Black South Africans. In the 2000 Census, 509 South African Americans reported their ethnic origins as Zulu.
The majority of these immigrants are English speaking, with a moderate proportion of these being South African Jews. In the US, South Africans in general—both white and black—live in the US individually, rather than in communities of South African Americans. One area with many South Africans in the US is San Diego, California, while smaller populations reside elsewhere in the Western United States, including the Pacific Northwest.
South African-born population
South African-born population in the US since 2010:
Indaba ("discussion" in Zulu) is an example of an organization set up by South Africans to promote community involvement. It was founded in the 1990s and sponsors community events and activities. In addition, this organization allows the exchange of information through a web site and a mailing list, keeping South Africans informed about international and local events. The South African consulate in Chicago has close ties with many expatriates and hosts regular events and speakers, including an annual celebration of Freedom Day on 27 April. In 2001, the hosts founded the African Group of the U.S. Women's Action to boost the knowledge and understanding of South Africa among Americans. The South Africans are also in many other forums, such as informal parties, religious activities and rugby matches.
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