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The People

Ethnography

At least 35 percent of Canada's inhabitants trace their ancestry to the British Isles, and another 25 percent are of French background; the latter live mostly in Quebec Province. The country also has significant numbers of people of German, Italian, Polish, Ukrainian, Chinese, Dutch, and Scandinavian descent. The population of the United States is more diverse than Canada's. In 1990, people of at least part British or part Irish background formed the largest group, with approximately 29 percent of the country's inhabitants. Blacks, who trace their ancestry to Africa, make up 12 percent of the population, Germans 23 percent, and people of Hispanic background 9 percent. The country also has large numbers of people of Italian, Polish, French, Russian, Dutch, and Scandinavian ancestry. Persons of Asian origin—primarily Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Asian Indians, Koreans, and Vietnamese—make up only 2.9 percent of the population of the United States, but since the 1970s the number of Asians increased significantly through immigration.

Indigenous peoples, including Inuit and Eskimo, number 1.9 million in the United States and 800,000 in Canada. It is believed that the ancestors of the Native Americans migrated from northeastern Asia to North America via a prehistoric land bridge across the modern Bering Strait, off Alaska, that existed from about 25,000 to nearly 10,000 years ago. The forebears of the Inuit migrated from Asia by boat some 6,000 years ago. Some 30,000 Inuit live in Greenland.

Some 60 percent of the people of Mexico are mestizos, persons of mixed Native American and European (mainly Spanish) descent. Approximately 30 percent of the population is of relatively pure Native American ancestry, and some 10 percent is of unmixed European descent.

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