Minnesota – like most states in the nation – is incredibly diverse. Immigrants from a wide variety of countries have moved to the area to call it home, and they typically bring their languages and cultures with them. Since that’s the case, many Minnesota residents speak a language other than English as their primary language.
Often, the languages spoken in a state are representative of historical and modern immigration patterns. Here’s an overview of Minnesota’s immigration history, along with the top ten languages of Minnesota, not including English.
Minnesota Immigration History
Before settlement by Europeans, Minnesota was primarily populated by indigenous peoples. During the early 19th century, settlers of English, Irish, and Scottish descent began arriving, mainly moving into Minnesota from Canada or New England in the United States. During the latter half of that century, there was an influx of Germans, Norwegians, and Swedes, though Finns and Poles also began arriving, as well as settlers of French descent.
Over time, other immigrants of European descent continued to arrive, particularly from Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Later, the composition began changing, seeing increasing numbers of Croatians, Greeks, Russians, Serbs, and Ukrainians.
During the 1970s, other groups began arriving, particularly from Asia and Africa. Hmong refugees made up a large part of the influx in the late 1970s, allowing with others from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Hispanics also started coming into the state in larger numbers, adding to the state’s already high level of diversity.
Top 10 Languages of Minnesota (Other Than English)
Minnesota is home to approximately 5,717,184 people. While the majority speak English, around 12 percent of residents – or about 686,062 people – above the age of four use a language other than English at home. Additionally, an estimated 4.25 percent of the population – or an estimated 242,980 residents – is classified as having limited English proficiency (LEP).
As a result, many languages are widely spoken in Minnesota. Here’s an overview of the top ten languages of Minnesota, not including English.
As is the case in most states, Spanish is the most common language other than English spoken in Minnesota. There are an estimated 203,634 Spanish speakers in the state, giving them a population share of nearly 3.88 percent.
Amharic, Somali, and other Afro-Asiatic languages are in second place on this list, with a population share of a bit more than 1.63 percent. Cumulatively, around 85,630 Minnesota residents speak those languages.
Following Amharic, Somali, and other Afro-Asiatic languages on this list of the top ten languages of Minnesota is Hmong. The estimated 67,265 speakers make up a little more than 1.28 percent of the state’s population.
Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin) is spoken by approximately 24,128 Minnesota residents. That works out to a population share of 0.46 percent.
The fifth most widely spoken language other than English in Minnesota is Vietnamese. With about 20,874 speakers, they make up nearly 0.4 percent of the population.
Approximately 0.35 percent of the residents of Minnesota speak German. In total, there are about 18,360 German speakers in the state.
French (including Cajun) is spoken by an estimated 16,288 Minnesota residents. That works out to a population share of 0.31 percent.
In Minnesota, there are approximately 14,758 Arabic speakers. As a result, they represent about 0.28 percent of the population.
Russian is just behind Arabic, sitting in ninth place on this list with an estimated population share of a bit more than 0.27 percent. In total, Minnesota has an estimated 14,239 Russian-speaking residents.
Yoruba, Twi, Igbo, and other languages of Western Africa round out the list of the top ten languages of Minnesota other than English. There are around 11,602 speakers, representing about 0.22 percent of the population.
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