|319,794 (2017 American Community Survey)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Illinois (Chicago), Virginia (Alexandria), California (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Long Beach), Nevada (Las Vegas), Washington (Seattle), Oregon (Portland), Alaska (Anchorage)|
|American English, Isan, Thai|
|Theravada Buddhism, Tai folk religion, Christianity, Islam|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Thai people, Asian Americans|
History in the US
According to the MPI Data Hub, there are 253,585 Thai people who immigrated to the United States as of 2016, composing 0.0057% of all immigrants that year. In comparing data from the MPI Data Hub to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are significant inconsistencies of total current population. According to the U.S. Census, there are currently 300,319 Thai people living in the United States today, with an error margin of +/- 14,326.
Thai immigration to the United States proceeded very slowly. It began in earnest during and after the Vietnam War, in which Thailand was an ally of the US and South Vietnam. Records show that in the decade between 1960 and 1970, some 5,000 Thais immigrated to the United States. In the following decade, the number increased to 44,000. From 1981 to 1990, approximately 64,400 Thai citizens moved to the United States.
The general trend of Thai immigration can be stated at a relatively steady rising pace save for the peak in 2006, which marks the dissolution of the Thai Parliament in February and a subsequent coup in the following September. From 2007 to 2008, numbers dip back down to regular rate until 2009, which proceeded a year of military and political turmoil due to the disconnect between the monarchic Royal Army and the relatively newly established democratic government in 2006.
According to the 2000 census there were 150,093 Thais in the United States.
In 2009, 304,160 US residents listed themselves as Thais.
Los Angeles, California, has the largest Thai population outside of Asia. It is home to the world's first Thai Town. In 2002, it was estimated that over 80,000 Thais and Thai Americans live in Los Angeles. Other large Thai communities are in Clark County, Nevada; Cook County, Illinois; Tarrant County, Texas; Orange County, California; San Bernardino County, California; San Diego County, California; San Francisco, California; Fresno, California; Sacramento, California; King County, Washington; Fairfax County, Virginia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Queens, New York; Madison, Wisconsin; Seattle, Washington; and Montgomery County, Maryland. The 2010 U.S. census counted 237,629 Thai Americans in the country, of whom 67,707 live in California.
- Data from Migration Policy Institute
|Year||Number||Margin of error|
New legal permanent residents:
Thais who acquire US citizenship:
Cultural influence on America
Thai Americans are famous for bringing Thai cooking to the United States. Thai cuisine is popular across the country. Even non-Thai restaurants may include Thai-influenced dishes on their menu.
Thai culture's prominence in the United States is disproportionate to their numbers. The stationing of American troops in Thailand during the Vietnam War exposed the GIs to Thai culture and cuisine, and many of them came home with Thai wives.
In 2003, two Thai Americans ran in municipal elections, one in Anaheim, California, the other in Houston, Texas. Both lost. However, on November 7, 2006, Gorpat Henry Charoen became the first US official of Thai origin, when he was elected to the La Palma City Council in California. On December 18, 2007, he became the first Thai American mayor of a US city.
Tammy Duckworth, a Thai American Iraq War veteran, ran for Congress as a Democrat in Illinois's 6th district in the 2006 mid-term election. She was narrowly defeated, and served for two years as Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. She was previously the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. She was considered a likely nominee for appointment to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by Barack Obama's election to the Presidency of the United States; however, Roland Burris was appointed instead. On November 6, 2012 Duckworth was elected to the US Congress to represent the 8th District of Illinois. On November 8, 2016, she was elected as the junior Senator from Illinois, the seat previously held by Barack Obama.
Bhumibol Adulyadej, the previous King and Head of the State of Thailand, was born at the Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on December 5, 1927. At the time, his father was studying at Harvard University. He is the only American-born monarch in history.
Notable Thai Buddhist temples
- Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery, Redwood Valley, California
- San Fran Dhammaram Temple, San Francisco
- Vajiradhammapadip Temple, Centereach and Mount Vernon in New York
- Wat Boston Buddha Vararam, Bedford, Massachusetts
- Wat Buddhananachat of Austin, Del Valle, Texas
- Wat Buddhasamakeevanaram, Bossier City, Louisiana
- Wat Buddhanusorn, Fremont, California
- Wat Carolina Buddhajakra Vanaram, Bolivia, North Carolina
- Wat Florida Dhammaram, Kissimmee, Florida
- Wat Mettāvarānaṁ, Valley Center, California
- Wat Mongkolratanaram, Berkeley, California
- Wat Mongkolratanaram, Tampa, Florida
- Wat Nawamintararachutis, Raynham, Massachusetts
- Wat Pasantidhamma, Carrollton, Virginia
- We the People Asians in the United States Census 2000 Special Reports
- Vong, Pueng. Unrest in the Homeland Awakens the Thai Community IMDiversity March 29, 2006
- Asian American Action Fund 2006 endorsed candidates
- "ASIAN ALONE OR IN ANY COMBINATION BY SELECTED GROUPS". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 11, 2019. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
- Megan Ratner, "Thai Americans." Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America, edited by Thomas Riggs, (3rd ed., vol. 4, Gale, 2014), pp. 357-368. Online Archived March 26, 2021, at the Wayback Machine
- American Community Survey 2009
- "LOS ANGELES CITYWIDE HISTORIC CONTEXT STATEMENT: Context: Thai Americans in Los Angeles, 1950-1980" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on October 17, 2019. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
- America's Only Thai Town Celebrates 15 Years in Los Angeles Archived November 11, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, June 12, 2014.
- "Migration Data Hub". migrationinformation.org. Archived from the original on October 31, 2013. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
- Times, Barbara Crossette and Special To the New York (December 15, 1987). "Bangkok Journal; Once Upon a Time a Good King Had 4 Children . . ". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 5, 2018. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
- Ratner, Megan. "Thai Americans." Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America, edited by Thomas Riggs, (3rd ed., vol. 4, Gale, 2014), pp. 357–368. Online