The demographics of the United States depict a largely urban nation, with around 80 percent of its population living in urban and suburban areas. The mean population center of the United States has consistently shifted westward and southward, with California and Texas currently the most populous states.
According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the population of the United States is around 310 million. The U.S. population is characterized as slow growth, with a large baby boomer cohort. Births, supplemented by immigration, help to offset the aging population. The total U.S. population crossed the 200,000,000 mark in 1968, and the 100,000,000 mark around 1915. The U.S. population more than tripled during the 20th century, a growth rate of about 1.3 percent a year, having been about 76 million in 1900.
According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, there are an estimated 310 million people in the United States, with a natural population increase of about 5.89 people per 1,000 population (with 14.14 births and 8.25 deaths per 1,000 population). The net migration rate is estimated at 3.31 migrants per 1,000 population. Thus, the population growth rate is estimated at 0.92%. About 80% of the population lives in urban areas. The mean population center of the United States has consistently shifted westward and southward, with California and Texas currently the most populous states. People under 20 years of age make up over a quarter of the U.S. population (27.6%), and people age 65 and over made up one-eighth (12.6%). The national median age was 36.7 years. The country has 31 ethnic groups with at least one million members each, with numerous others represented in smaller amounts. In terms of wealth distribution, thirty-five million Americans live in poverty, about 12.6% of the population; twenty percent of the population possesses 80% of the nation's wealth.
The total U.S. population crossed the 100 million mark around 1915, the 200 million mark in 1967, and the 300 million mark in 2006 (estimated on Tuesday, October 17). The U.S. population more than tripled during the 20th century - a growth rate of about 1.3% a year - from about 76 million in 1900 to 281 million in 2000. This is unlike most European countries, especially Germany, Russia, Italy, and Greece, or Asian countries such as Japan or South Korea, whose populations are slowly declining, and whose fertility rates are below replacement. Population growth is fastest among minorities (taken as a group), and according to the United States Census Bureau's estimates, 45% of American children under the age of 5 are minorities. The nation's minority population is estimated at 102.5 million. Hispanic and Latino Americans accounted for almost half of the national population growth. Based on a population clock maintained by the U.S. Census Bureau, the current U.S. population exceeds 305 million, which is 4.5% of the world's population. The latest U.S. Census Bureau report projects a population of 439 million in the year 2050.
About 80% of Americans live in urban areas (as defined by the Census Bureau, such areas include the suburbs); about half of those reside in cities with populations over 50,000. The United States has dozens of major cities, which play an important role in U.S. culture, heritage, and economy. More than 250 incorporated places have populations of at least 100,000, nine cities have populations greater than 1 million, and four cities have over 2 million inhabitants. The United States has 8 of the 60 global cities of all types, with three "alpha" global cities: New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The 10 largest cities, based on the 2010 United States Census (as of April 1, 2010) of the resident population, are New York City, New York (the population within the city limits is 8,175,133), Los Angeles, California (3,792,621), Chicago, Illinois (2,695,598), Houston, Texas (2,099,451), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1,526,006), Phoenix, Arizona (1,445,632), San Antonio, Texas (1,327,407), San Diego, California (1,307,402), Dallas, Texas (1,197,816), San Jose, California (945,942). The resident population of Washington D.C. is 601,723. In addition, there are 51 metropolitan areas with a population of over 1,000,000 people each.
NOTE: As defined by the United States Census Bureau, an incorporated place is defined as a place that has a self-governing local government and as such has been "incorporated" into the state it is in. Each state has different laws defining how a place can be incorporated and so an "incorporated place" as recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau can designate a variety of places, such as a city, town, village, borough, and township.
The other type of place defined by the U.S. Census Bureau for statistical purposes are census-designated places. Census-designated places are distinct from incorporated places because they do not have a local government and thus depend on higher government bodies, such as a county, for governance. Census-designated places are defined as being in an unincorporated area.
According to the United States Census Bureau's 2000 U.S. Census, the most densely populated state is New Jersey (438/sq km). The most densely populated incorporated place in the United States is Guttenberg, New Jersey (56,012 people per square mile). The most densely populated unincorporated census-designated place in the United States is Friendship Village, Washington, D.C. (81,991.7 people per square mile).
U.S. population density within each county (except those in Hawaii and Alaska), in persons per sq. mile (based on the United States Census Bureau's 2000 U.S. Census data): 1-4 (yellow), 5-9 (light green), 10-24 (teal), 25-49 (dark teal), 50-99 (blue-green), 100-249 (blue), 250-66,995 (black).
RACES AND ETHNIC GROUPS
The majority of Americans (around 80%) are the descendants of white immigrants; people of solely non-Hispanic white ancestry represent around 67% of the population. The non-Hispanic white population is proportionally declining, both due to immigration from nonwhite countries and due to a higher birth rate among ethnic and racial minorities. If current immigration trends continue, the number of non-Hispanic whites is expected to be reduced to a plurality by 2040-2050. The largest ethnic group of European ancestry is German at around 15%, followed by Irish (11%), English (9%), Italian (6%) and Scandinavian (4%). Many immigrants also hail from Slavic countries, such as Poland and Russia, as well as from French Canada. African Americans, or Blacks, largely descend from Africans who arrived as slaves during the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, and account for about 13% of the population. Asian Americans account for around 4%. At about 1.5% of the total population, Native Americans and Alaska Natives number about 4.4 million, approximately 35% of whom are living on reservations.
Current demographic trends include the immigration of Hispanics from Latin America into the Southwest, a region that is home to about 60% of the 35 million Hispanics in the United States. Immigrants from Mexico make up about 65% of the Hispanic community, are second only to the German-descent population in the single-ethnic category. The Hispanic population, which has been growing at an annual rate of about 4.5% since the 1990s, is expected to increase significantly in the coming decades, because of both immigration and a higher birth rate among Latinos than among the general population.
Religion in the United States is remarkable both in its high adherence as well as its rich diversity. Though the First Amendment to the country's Constitution explicitly forbids any official religion, the practice of religion and its importance in the lives of Americans are widespread and unusually strong among developed nations, with a majority of citizens reporting that religion played a "very important" role in their lives. Because the First Amendment also guarantees free worship of religion, a large number of faiths, spanning the country's multicultural heritage, as well as those founded within the country, have lead the United States to become the most religiously diverse country in the world.
NOTE: The United States government does not collect religious data in its census. The best source of religious data is the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), a random digit-dialed telephone survey of American residential households in the contiguous United States by the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture and the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life.
According to 2008 AMERICAN RELIGIOUS IDENTIFICATION SURVEY (ARIS), the majority of Americans identify themselves as Christians (76%, compared to 86.2% in 1990) while non-Christian religions (including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and others) collectively make up 3.9% of the adult population (compared to 3.3% in 1990). Another 15% of the adult population (only 8.2% in 1990) identify as having no religious affiliation compared with far higher rates in other Western countries such as United Kingdom (44%) and Sweden (69%). Difference in religious belief and practice are also highly heterogeneous within the country: only 59% of Americans living in Western states report a belief in God, yet in the South (the "Bible Belt") the figure is as high as 86%.
Despite the growing diversity nationally, some religious groups clearly occupy a dominant demographic position in particular states. For instance, Catholics are the majority of the population in Massachusetts and Rhode Island as are Mormons in Utah and Baptists in Mississippi. Catholics comprise over 40% of Vermont, New Mexico, New York and New Jersey, while Baptists are over 40% in a number of southern states such as South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama and Georgia.
Historical traces of a Bible Belt in the South and a less religious West are still evident. Those with "no religion" constitute the largest "denomination" in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Wyoming. In contrast, the percentage of adults who adhere to "no religion" is below 10% in North and South Dakota, the Carolinas, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and those with no religion continue to have a greater preference for the Democratic party over the Republican - much as they did in 1990. Evangelical or Born Again Christians and Mormons are the most apt to identify as Republicans. Buddhists and those with no religion are most likely to be political independents. In keeping with their theology, Jehovah's Witnesses disavow political involvement.
In both the 1990 and 2008 studies, the Buddhist and Muslim population appears to have the highest proportion of young adults under age thirty (37% and 42%, respectively), and the lowest percentage of females (47% and 48%, respectively). A number of the major Christian groups have aged since 1990, most notably the Catholics, Methodists, and Lutherans.
Women are more likely than men to describe their outlook as "religious." Older Americans are more likely than younger to describe their outlook as "religious." Black Americans are least likely to describe themselves as secular, Asian Americans are most likely to do so.
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples from the regions of North America now encompassed by the continental United States, including parts of Alaska and the island state of Hawaii. They comprise a large number of distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as intact political communities. There has been a wide range of terms used to describe them and no consensus has been reached among indigenous members as to what they collectively prefer to be called. Native Americans have also been known as Indians, American Indians, Aboriginal Americans, Amerindians, Amerinds, Colored, First Americans, Indigenous, Original Americans, Red Indians, or Red Men.
European colonization of the Americas led to centuries of conflict and adjustment between Old and New World societies. Most of the written historical record about Native Americans was made by Europeans after initial contact. Native Americans lived in hunter/farmer subsistence societies with significantly different value systems than those of the European colonists. The differences in culture between the Native Americans and Europeans, and the shifting alliances among different nations of each culture, led to great misunderstandings and long lasting cultural conflicts.
Estimates of the pre-Columbian population of what today constitutes the United States of America vary significantly, ranging from 1 million to 18 million.
After the colonies revolted against Great Britain and established the United States of America, the ideology of Manifest destiny became integral to the American nationalist movement. In the late 18th century, George Washington and Henry Knox conceived of the idea of "civilizing" Native Americans in preparation of American citizenship. Assimilation (whether voluntary as with the Choctaw, or forced) became a consistent policy through American administrations. In the early decades of the 19th century, Native Americans of the American Deep South were removed from their homelands to accommodate American expansion. By the American Civil War, many Native American nations had been relocated west of the Mississippi River. Major Native American resistance took place in the form of "Indian Wars," which were frequent up until the 1890s.
Native Americans today have a unique relationship with the United States of America. They can be found as members of nations, tribes, or bands of Native Americans who have sovereignty or independence from the government of the United States. Their societies and cultures still flourish amidst a larger immigrated American populace of African, Asian, Middle Eastern, and European peoples. Native Americans who were not already U.S. citizens were granted citizenship in 1924 by the Congress of the United States.
At present, there are 563 Federally recognized tribal governments in the United States. The United States recognizes the right of these tribes to self-government and supports their tribal sovereignty and self-determination. These tribes possess the right to form their own government, to enforce laws (both civil and criminal), to tax, to establish membership, to license and regulate activities, to zone and to exclude persons from tribal territories. Limitations on tribal powers of self-government include the same limitations applicable to states; for example, neither tribes nor states have the power to make war, engage in foreign relations, or coin money.
According to the United States Census Bureau's 2000 Census, the total population of American Indians and Alaska Natives (those of one race or in combination with one or more other races) is 4,119,301 (1.5% of the total population). A little over one third of the Native Americans in the United States live in three states: California (627,562; including 333,346 of one race), Oklahoma (391,949; including 273,230 of one race) and Arizona (292,552; including 255,879 of one race). The projected population of American Indians and Alaska Natives, including those of more than one race, on July 1, 2050 is 8.6 million. They would comprise 2 percent of the total population.
The population of American Indians and Alaska Natives (those of one race) is 2,475,956 (0.9% of the total population). Of this number, 437,079 American Indians, 182 Eskimos, and 97 Aleuts reside on 314 reservations and trust lands. About 50 percent of the 437,358 American Indians, Eskimos, and Aleuts reside on the ten largest reservations and trust lands. The median age of the single-race American Indian and Alaska Native population is 30.3 years, younger than the median of 36.6 years for the population as a whole. About 27 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives are younger than 18, and 8 percent are 65 and older.
As of 2000, the largest tribes in the U.S. by population are Cherokee, Navajo, Choctaw, Sioux, Chippewa, Apache, Lumbee, Blackfeet, Iroquois, and Pueblo.
Military defeat, cultural pressure, confinement on reservations, forced cultural assimilation, outlawing of native languages and culture, termination policies of the 1950s and 1960s and earlier, as well as slavery have had deleterious effects on Native Americans' mental and physical health. Contemporary health problems include poverty, alcoholism, heart disease, diabetes, and New World Syndrome.
In the early 21st century, Native American communities remain an enduring fixture on the United States landscape, in the American economy, and in the lives of Native Americans. Communities have consistently formed governments that administer services like firefighting, natural resource management, and law enforcement. Most Native American communities have established court systems to adjudicate matters related to local ordinances, and most also look to various forms of moral and social authority vested in traditional affiliations within the community. To address the housing needs of Native Americans, Congress passed the Native American Housing and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA) in 1996. This legislation replaced public housing, and other 1937 Housing Act programs directed towards Indian Housing Authorities, with a block grant program directed towards Tribes.
Gambling has become a leading industry. Casinos operated by many Native American governments in the United States are creating a stream of gambling revenue that some communities are beginning to use as leverage to build diversified economies. Native American communities have waged and prevailed in legal battles to assure recognition of rights to self-determination and to use of natural resources. Some of those rights, known as treaty rights are enumerated in early treaties signed with the young United States government. Tribal sovereignty has become a cornerstone of American jurisprudence, and at least on the surface, in national legislative policies. Although many Native American tribes have casinos, they are a source of conflict. Most tribes, especially small ones such as the Winnemem Wintu of Redding, California, feel that casinos and their proceeds destroy culture from the inside out. These tribes refuse to participate in the gaming industry.