European Americans

European Americans
Total population
73.1% of the total U.S. population (2015)
Regions with significant populations
Contiguous United States and Alaska
smaller populations in Hawaii and the territories
Predominantly English
German • Russian • Spanish • Italian • French • Portuguese • others
Predominantly Christianity (of which majority Protestant with Roman Catholicism the largest single denomination); Minority religions: Judaism, Islam
Related ethnic groups
Non-Hispanic Whites
European diaspora • Europeans

Note: An additional 20,151,829 (6.2% of the population) chose “American” as their ancestry in the 2016 Community Survey.[2]

European Americans (also referred to as Euro-Americans) are Americans of European ancestry.[3][4] This term includes people who are descended from the first European settlers in America and as well as people who are descended from more recent European arrivals. White and European Americans constitute the largest racial and ethnic group in the United States, composing 73.1% of the total U.S. population.[5]

The Spaniards are thought to be the first Europeans to establish a continuous presence in what is now the contiguous United States, with Martín de Argüelles (b. 1566) in St. Augustine, Spanish Florida, New Spain.[6][7] Virginia Dare (b. August 18, 1587) on Roanoke Colony, present-day North Carolina, United States was the first English child and girl, in a late 16th-century attempt by Queen Elizabeth I to establish a permanent English settlement in North America. In the 2016 American Community Survey, German Americans (13.9%), Irish Americans (10.0%), English Americans (7.4%), Italian Americans (5.2%), and Polish Americans (3%) were the five largest self-reported European ancestry groups in the United States forming over a third of the total population.[2] However, the English Americans and British Americans demography is considered by some to be under-counted, as the people in that demographic tend to identify themselves simply as Americans (20,151,829 or 6.2%).[8][9][10][11]

The term European American is sometimes used interchangeably and synonymously with the broader terms white and Caucasian.


Number of European Americans: 1800-2010
Year Population % of the United States Ref(s)
1800 4,306,446 81.1% [12]
1850 19,553,068 84.3% [12]
1900 66,809,196 87.9% [12]
1950 134,942,028 89.5% [12]
2010 223,553,265 72.4% [13]


In 1995, as part of a review of the Office of Management and Budget's Statistical Policy Directive No. 15 (Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting), a survey was conducted of census recipients to determine their preferred terminology for the racial/ethnic groups defined in the Directive. For the White group, European American came third, preferred by 2.35% of panel interviewees.[14]

The term is used interchangeably with Caucasian American, White American, and Anglo American in many places around the United States.[15] However, the latter terms are often also used to refer to persons with ancestry anywhere in the Mediterranean region, including North Africa and the Middle East.

Whereas the terms White American and Caucasian American carry somewhat ambiguous definitions, depending on the speaker, European American when used properly has a more specific definition and scope.


The term is used by some to emphasize the European cultural and geographical ancestral origins of Americans, in the same way as is done for African Americans and Asian Americans. A European American awareness is still notable because 90% of the respondents classified as white in the U.S. Census knew[clarification needed] their European ancestry.[16] Historically, the concept of an American originated in the United States as a person of European ancestry, thus excluding African Americans, Jews, and Native Americans.[17]

As a linguistic concern, the term is sometimes meant to discourage a dichotomous view of the racial landscape between the white category and everyone else.[18] Margo Adair suggests that the recognition of specific European American ancestries allows certain Americans to become aware that they come from a variety of different cultures.[19]

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