Large numbers of immigrants came to Minnesota beginning in he 1830s to work in lumbering and farming. They were mainly from the eastern United States, Canada, and northern Europe. By 1900, the combined total of Scandinavians from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark outnumbered those from any single country. Later, as cities and new industries grew, people came also from eastern and southern Europe. Finland, Yugoslavia, and Italy sent many workers to Minnesota mines and factories. In 1900, nearly half of all Minnesotans were of German ancestry.
A few people of African descent had come with the early fur traders and soldiers. More moved to Minnesota after the Civil War, living and working mainly in the cities. The 2000 census reported 168,813 African Americans in Minnesota, an increase of 81.4% since 1990 (race alone) and 112.4% (race alone and in combination with another race). The Black population is concentrated in the Twin Cities, especially in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Brooklyn Park. Only 9% live outside the seven-county metro area.
By the 1920s, many migrant farm workers of Mexican descent had come to the state. The Hispanic population grew 166% between 1990 and 2000. Most of the Hispanic population live in the Twin Cities, especially in Minneapolis. Other areas with substantial Latino populations are Willmar, Rochester, Worthington and Faribault. This population includes people from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
In the 1980s, Minnesota became home to many Southeast Asian refugees who left Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos because of the Vietnam War and its aftermath. The Asian population increased between 87.2% (race alone) and 113.2% (race alone and in combination with another race). The majority of Asians live in the Twin Cities metro area. Outside the Twin Cities, Rochester had the largest Asian population in 2000.
The 2000 Census revealed a more racially and ethnically diverse population in Minnesota compared to the 1990 Census. In 2000, 11.8% of Minnesotans (582,000) identified themselves as non-white, up from 6.3% (274,000 people) in 1990.