0.046% of U.S. population (2014)
(includes Multiracial Bangladeshis)
|Regions with significant populations|
Bangladeshi Americans are Americans of Bangladeshi descent. The majority of Bangladeshi Americans are Bengalis. Bangladeshi immigrants have arrived in the United States in large numbers since the early 1970s to become among the fastest growing ethnic communities since that decade. New York City, Paterson, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Boston, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Florida, Dallas, Houston, North Carolina, and Hamtramck, Michigan are home to notable Bangladeshi communities.
Bangladeshi Americans are expected to grow rapidly in the coming years, as emigration from Bangladesh to the United States continues to increase.
Bangladeshis have been migrating to the port cities of the United States since 1974 when 154 Bangladeshi arrived in United States leaving behind the hard economic and political times of the still developing Bangladesh who got independence from Pakistan in 1971.Most were workers on the various ships docking from Calcutta, India and hailed especially from the Sylhet, Chittagong and Noakhali regions.
Immigration to the United States from Bangladesh grew slowly but steadily from the 1970s-80s. Over ten thousand Bangladeshis have immigrated to the United States annually. Many of the migrants settled in urban areas such as New York City and Paterson, New Jersey; as well as Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit. In New York, it was estimated that 15,000 Bangladeshis resided in the city in the early 1980s. During the late 1970s, some Bangladeshis moved from New York City to Detroit, home to prominent communities of other Muslim Americans, in search of better work opportunities and an affordable cost of living, but most have since returned from Detroit to New York and to Paterson, New Jersey. The community formed newspaper organizations. The Los Angeles Bangladesh Association was created in 1971, and there were 500 members of the Texas Bangladesh Association in 1997. The Bangladeshi population in Dallas was 5,000 people in 1997, which was large enough to hold the Baishakhi Mela event. Baishakhi Mela events have been held in major American cities such as New York City, Paterson in New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, as the Bangladeshi population continues to increase in these cities. Many of these Bangladeshis were taxicab drivers, while others had white-collar occupations.
The 2000 census undertaken by the Census Bureau listed 57,412 people identifying themselves as having Bangladeshi origin. Almost 40% of Bangladeshis over the age of 25 had at least a bachelor's degree as compared to less than 25% of the United States population.
New York City
New York City is home to the largest Bangladeshi community in the United States, receiving by far the highest legal permanent resident Bangladeshi immigrant population. The Bangladeshi community in New York City is spread out in the Jackson Heights neighborhood within the New York City borough of Queens. 74th Street has most of the Bangladeshi grocery stores and clothing stores in Jackson Heights. The Bangladesh Plaza hosts numerous Bangladeshi businesses and cultural events. Recently, one part of Jackson Heights has become the open platform of all sorts of protests and activism. Interestingly most of the cab drivers belong to Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and Awami League branch of New York City. The neighboring communities of Jackson Heights, Woodside, and Elmhurst in Queens also similarly have become attractive areas to live for Bangladeshi Americans.
Since the 1970s, thousands of Bangladeshis were able to legally migrate to the USA through the Diversity Visa Program/ lottery. Many initiated a migration to Jamaica, Queens. Continuous movement of Bangladeshis to Jamaica and Jackson Heights, Queens has made some neighborhoods extensively Bangladeshi. Centering on 169 street and Hillside Avenue, the neighborhood has become a popular zone due to the large number of restaurants and groceries. Sagar Restaurant, Gharoa, Deshi Shaad, Kabir's Bakery, and other stores in Queens are attractions for the Bangladeshi communities all over New York City. The largest numbers of Bangladeshi Americans now live in Jamaica, Jackson Heights, Hollis, and Briarwood in Queens. Bangladeshi enclaves in Queens and Brooklyn have been increasing as Bangladeshis in NYC continue to grow rapidly. Bangladeshis form one of the fastest growing Asian ethnic groups in NYC as new enclaves in areas such as City Line and Ozone Park have sprung up. Wealthier Bangladeshis have been moving to Long Island, New York, as a particular reason for popular settlement in the area is the pharmaceutical companies existing on Long Island; there are quite a large number of Bangladeshi-owned pharmaceutical companies in Nassau County and Suffolk County on Long Island employing many people of Bangladeshi origin. New York statistics:
- 1970 census:
- 2000 census:
- Total population: 28,269
- Highest concentrations: Queens—18,310 people (65%), Brooklyn—6,243 (22%), Bronx—2,442 (9%), Manhattan—1,204 (4%), Staten Island—70 (0.2%)
- Population growth rate from 1970-2000: 471%
- Foreign-born population: 23,157 (85%)
- Limited English proficiency: 14,840 (60%)
- Median Household Income: $31,537
- People Living in Poverty: 8,312
- Percentage of people in poverty: 31%
- 2010 census:
- Total population: 50,677
- Highest concentrations: Queens (60%), Brooklyn (19%), Bronx (17%), Manhattan (4%), Staten Island (0.4%)
- Population growth rate from 2000-2010:
- Foreign-born population: 74%
- Limited English proficiency: 53%
- Median Household Income: $36,741
- Percentage of people in poverty: 32%
Bangladeshi neighborhoods in NYC include Jamaica, Jamaica Hill, Briarwood, Jackson Heights, Woodside, Elmhurst, Hunters Point, 206TH Street, West Maspeth and Astoria in Queens; Kensington and City Line in Brooklyn. Parkchester in The Bronx is also home to an increasing Bangladeshi population Other, smaller Little Bangladesh communities can be found in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Detroit, and Los Angeles.
Paterson, New Jersey
Paterson, New Jersey , in the New York City metropolitan area, is home to a significant Bangladeshi American population, estimated at 15,000, the second largest after New York City. Many Bangladeshi grocery stores and clothing stores are locating in the emerging Little Bangladesh on Union Avenue and the surrounding streets in Paterson, as well as a branch of the Sonali Exchange Company Inc., a subsidiary of Sonali Bank, the largest state-owned financial institution in Bangladesh. Masjid Al-Ferdous is also located on Union Avenue, which accommodates Paterson's rapidly growing Bangladeshi pedestrian population in Paterson. Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman was ultimately certified as the winner of the 2012 city council race in the Second Ward, making him northern New Jersey's first Bangladeshi-American elected official. On 11 October 2014, the groundbreaking ceremony for the Shohid Minar Monument in West Side Park in Paterson took place, paying tribute to people killed in Pakistan in 1952 while protesting that country's policies that banned Bangladeshis from speaking their Bangla (বাংলা) language, and replicating those monuments that exist in Bangladesh, according to the World Glam Organization, the Bangladeshi cultural group working on the Paterson project. This project reflected the increasing influence of Paterson's growing Bangladeshi community, as reported in The Record.
The majority of Bangladeshi immigrants are between 10 and 39 years of age; 62% are men. Mainly men immigrated due to employment opportunity differences. Approximately 50% of men and 60% of women are married upon arrival to the United States. Statistics show that Bangladeshis tend to vote for the Democratic Party.
Bangladeshi Americans retain a strong ethnic identity but are known to assimilate into American culture while at the same time keeping the culture of their ancestors. Bangladeshi Americans are well represented in the fields of medicine, engineering, business, finance and information technology. Bangladeshi Americans have brought Bengali cuisine to the United States, and Bengali cuisine has been established as one of the most popular cuisines in the country with hundreds of Bengali restaurants in each major city and several similar eateries in smaller cities and towns. There are many Bangladeshi markets and stores in the United States. Some of the largest are in New York City, Paterson, New Jersey, Central New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.
Bangladeshi Americans often retain their native language Bengali and run many programs to nourish their mother tongue.
Most Bangladeshi Americans are Muslim. Religion figures prominently in the life of Bangladeshi American families, and the Quran and the teachings of Muhammad serve as the guidelines that Bangladeshi Muslims are supposed to follow throughout their lives.
The majority of Bangladeshis belong to the Sunni sect of Islam. In smaller towns in America where there may not be mosques within easy access, Bangladeshi Americans make trips to attend the nearest one on major religious holidays and occasions. However, most are in large urban centers where there are vibrant mosques run by Bangladeshis.
Bangladeshi Americans also participate in and contribute to the larger Islamic community, which includes Arab Americans, Iranian Americans, Turkish American, African Americans, Indonesian Americans, Malaysian Americans, South Asian Americans, and many more ethnic backgrounds in America. Bangladeshi Americans have played important roles in the association the Muslim Students of America (MSA), which caters to the needs of Islamic students across the United States.
Although most Bangladeshi Americans are Muslims, there are also Hindus within the community and they form an important part of the cultural mosaic of Bangladesh as well as the diaspora. They have done equally well. They have a tightly knit community yet have a peaceful relationship with Bangladeshi Muslims. There are a few temples and religious congregations in the United States operated by Bangladeshi Hindus. Since their numbers are low and they often have relations with the majority of Bengali Hindus, who migrated to India after the Partition of India, they are often part of the larger social group of Bengalis from West Bengal and other parts of India and elsewhere.
Similar to other ethnic groups in the USA, a growing proportion of Bangladeshi Americans are non-religious, secularist, atheist, humanist or of similar denomination.
Notable Bangladeshi Americans
- Arianna Afsar - former Miss California; placed in the Top 10 of the 2011 Miss America pageant
- Saif Ahmad - World Series of Poker winner
- Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman - city councilman, Paterson, New Jersey
- Maqsudul Alam - scientist and professor
- Jalal Alamgir (d. 2011) - political scientist and professor
- Kali S. Banerjee - statistician and professor
- Rais Bhuiyan - shooting survivor and activist
- Subir Chowdhury - author and management consultant
- Hansen Clarke - United States Congress in 2010, from Michigan's House of Representatives
- Hasan M. Elahi - interdisciplinary media artist
- Fazle Hussain - professor of mechanical engineering, physics, and earth science at the University of Houston
- Abul Hussam - inventor of the Sono arsenic filter
- Abdus Suttar Khan - chemist and jet fuels inventor
- Fazlur Rahman Khan - pioneer of modern structural engineering
- Salman Khan - founder of Khan Academy, a nonprofit educational organization
- Jawed Karim - co-founder of YouTube; designed key parts of PayPal
- Mohammad Ataul Karim - electrical engineer
- Sumaya Kazi - founder of Sumazi, was recognized by BusinessWeek as one of America's Best Young Entrepreneurs.
- Dipa Ma - yoga teacher
- Sezan Mahmud - award-winning novelist
- Shomi Patwary - designer and music video director
- Iqbal Quadir - founder of Grameenphone, Bangladesh's largest mobile phone company; heads the Legatum Center at MIT
- Kamal Quadir - entrepreneur; founded two of Bangladesh's key technology companies, CellBazaar and bKash
- Anika Rahman - CEO of Ms. Foundation for Women
- Badal Roy - tabla player, percussionist, and recording artist
- Reihan Salam - conservative American political commentator; blogger at The American Scene; associate editor of The Atlantic Monthly
- Shikhee - singer; auteur of industrial band Android Lust
- Asif Azam Siddiqi - space historian; assistant professor of history at Fordham University
- M. Osman Siddique - former US ambassador
- Palbasha Siddique - singer
- Narasingha Sil - professor of history at Western Oregon University
- Supreme Understanding - author, publisher, activist and outspoken member of the Nation of Gods and Earths
- Monica Yunus - Bangladeshi-Russian-American operatic soprano
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