Peruvian Americans

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Peruvian Americans
Flag of Peru.svgFlag of the United States.svg
Donald Trump and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in the Oval Office, February 24, 2017.jpg
President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a Peruvian-American, meets with US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office in 2017.
Total population
684,345 (2018)
0.21% of the U.S. population (2018)
Regions with significant populations
Related ethnic groups
The New York City Metropolitan Area is home to the largest Peruvian population in the United States.
Paterson, New Jersey, within the New York City Metropolitan Area, considered by many to be the capital of the Peruvian Diaspora in the United States, is home to Little Lima on Market Street, the largest Peruvian American enclave, with approximately 10,000 Peruvians in 2018.

Peruvian Americans are Americans of Peruvian descent. The vast majority of Peruvian Americans are of Amerindian or mestizo ancestry, but there are also those of European or African background, and a significant number may also have partial or full Chinese or Japanese heritage.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2018 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, as of 2018, 684,345 U.S. residents identify themselves as being of Peruvian origin. Approximately 62% of Peruvian Americans were born in Peru, with a growing population of Peruvian Americans being born in the United States.

Peruvian Americans immigrated to the United States in four major waves. Small but significant waves of immigration occurred in San Francisco during the gold rush (along with Chilean miners beginning in 1848) and the Metro Detroit area in the 1950s. Another wave of immigration occurred again early in the twentieth century, due largely to the burgeoning textile industry in New York and New Jersey. In the 1950s, there were a reported approximate 100 Peruvian families that resided in Paterson, New Jersey.

Beginning in the 1970s another wave of Peruvians arrived in the United States, most of whom were fleeing Peru's militaristic government under the dictatorships of Juan Velasco Alvarado and Francisco Morales Bermúdez both marked by coups and socio-economic instability. The 1980s and 1990s saw the most significant influx of Peruvians to U.S. shores, this time in response to the hyperinflation crisis that plagued the Peruvian economy, internal unrest in Peru by terrorist groups, and an authoritarian government headed by Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori.

Immigrants often come from urban areas of Peru, especially Lima, and the majority settle in the New York City metropolitan area—particularly in Paterson and Passaic in New Jersey and the New York City borough of Queens. Peruvian Americans are also clustered in the metropolitan areas of Miami; Los Angeles; Houston, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Virginia.

Recently, Peru has enjoyed economic growth and political stability since the start of the millennia. As a result, there has been a decline in the amount of Peruvian immigration to the United States unto 2019 under economic pretenses and instead for education.

Settlement in the United States

The states with the largest number of Peruvian Americans are Florida, California, New Jersey, and New York. Texas and Virginia are also home to significant communities of people of Peruvian descent.

Little is known about the earliest Peruvian immigrants who came to the United States during the California gold rush. Later Peruvian immigrants began arriving in the early twentieth century to work in textile mills in Paterson, New Jersey, which is now home to one of the largest Peruvian communities in the United States. Paterson has a significant number of businesses run by Peruvian Americans, as well as social and political organizations, and remains a destination for Peruvian immigrants of all social classes.


Undocumented Peruvian Americans make up less than 1% of the total undocumented immigrant population in the United States according to 2015 report from the US Department of Homeland Security. In Fiscal Year 2019, 10,049 Peruvians immigrated to the United States.

Lifestyle and culture

The most famous and first aspect of Peruvian culture that deals with the United States is the book, "The Incas's Florida" La Florida del Inca written at the end of sixteenth century by the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. Garcilaso's book details the travels of the explorer Hernando de Soto who had participated in the Forty-Years War between the Incas and the Spanish (1531–1571) and who later came to the lands that would become part of the United States and that the Spanish called "Florida."

The most popular dishes of Peruvian food in the U.S. include ceviche (raw fish "cooked" in lime juice), papa a la huancaína, and anticuchos y tamales. Peruvian cuisine is often recognized for being one of the most diverse and appreciated of the world's cuisines, with influences including Native American, European, and African. Since there is a sizable Chinese and Japanese minority in Peru, an Asian influence has also been deeply incorporated in Peruvian cuisine. There are Chifas, or Asian-style Peruvian restaurants that serve typical Chinese or Japanese food with a Peruvian culinary influence. Inca Kola, a soda that originated in Peru, is sold in many heavily concentrated Latin American areas.

The extended family commonly serves an economic function, too, with some new immigrants temporarily living with extended family already established in the United States, and in expensive urban centers, such arrangements sometimes are permanent.

Socioeconomic status

Nearly half of Peruvians have resided in the United States for over 20 years, with 46% of foreign-born Peruvians reported to have lived in the United States for 20 years or more.

Despite being a relatively recent ethnic group, the median household income for Peruvians meets the average American household income and 44% of Peruvians born in the United States over the age of 25 have college degrees, exceeding the US national average of 24%.

Around 90% of Peruvians lived above the poverty rate in 2017, with a poverty rate of 10% compared to the United States national average of 12.3% that same year.


The Peruvian American Coalition in Passaic, New Jersey functions as an activist organization on behalf of the overall welfare of Peruvian Americans.


Peruvians have settled throughout the United States, migrating particularly to Northern New Jersey and the New York City Metropolitan Area, the Miami metropolitan area, the Washington Metropolitan Area, and the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Notably, a rapidly growing number of Peruvian Americans, about 10,000 in 2018, have established an increasingly prominent community in Paterson, New Jersey, which is considered by many to be the capital of the Peruvian Diaspora in the United States, partially owing to the presence of the Peruvian Consulate. Market Street, the Little Lima in downtown Paterson, is the largest Peruvian American enclave and is lined with Peruvian-owned restaurants, bakeries, delicatessens, bodegas, travel agencies, and other businesses. The Peruvian American community has expanded into Paterson's neighboring areas of Fair Lawn, Elmwood Park, Clifton, and Passaic in Northern New Jersey as well, all within the New York City Metropolitan Area. The annual Peruvian Independence Day Parade is held in Paterson.

States with highest Peruvian population

Isabela Moner actress.

The 10 states with the largest Peruvian population were (Source: Census 2017):

  1. Florida – 100,965 (0.5% of state population)
  2. California – 91,511 (0.2% of state population)
  3. New Jersey – 75,869 (0.9% of state population)
  4. New York – 66,318 (0.3% of state population)
  5. Virginia – 29,096 (0.4% of state population)
  6. Texas – 22,605 (0.1% of state population)
  7. Maryland – 18,229 (0.3% of state population)
  8. Connecticut – 16,424 (0.5% of state population)
  9. Georgia – 10,570 (0.1% of state population)
  10. Illinois – 10,213 (0.2% of state population)

The U.S. state with the smallest Peruvian population (as of 2010) was North Dakota with 78 Peruvians (less than 0.1% of state population).

Metro Areas

The top 5 US metropolitan areas with the largest Peruvian population were:

  1. New Jersey-New York Greater Area – 182,672
  2. Miami Metropolitan Area – 81,729
  3. Washington, D.C. – 53,961
  4. Los Angeles metropolitan area – 48,380
  5. San Francisco Bay Area – 26,969

Notable people




As of 2020, four Presidents of Peru are or were Peruvian-Americans.

Pamela Silva Conde six time Emmy award winning journalist and co-anchor of the Univision Network's weekday newsmagazine, "Primer Impacto" (First Impact) one of the highest rating programs in the United States and in 12 Latin-American countries.




Further reading

  • De Ferrari, Gabriella. Gringa Latina: A Woman of Two Worlds (Houghton Mifflin, 1996).
  • Packel, John. "Peruvian Americans." Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America, edited by Thomas Riggs, (3rd ed., vol. 3, Gale, 2014), pp. 467–476. online
  • Paerregaard, Karsten. "Inside the Hispanic Melting Pot: Negotiating National and Multicultural Identities among Peruvians in the United States.” Latino Studies 3 (2005): 76–96.

External links