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The majority of the more than 300 million people currently living in the United States consists of White Americans, who trace their ancestry to the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. White Americans are the majority in forty-nine of the fifty states, with Hawaii as the exception. The non-Hispanic White percentage (66% in 2008) tends to decrease every year, and this sub-group is expected to become a plurality of the overall U.S. population after the year 2050.
About 12.4% of the American people are Black or African American. Also known more simply as Black Americans, the Black or African American group is the largest racial minority, as opposed to Hispanics and Latinos, who are the largest ethnic minority. Historically, any person with any sub-Saharan African ancestry, even if they were mostly white, were designated and classified as “Black,” according to the “one drop rule. ” The one-drop rule is a historical colloquial term in the United States for the social classification as black of individuals with any African ancestry; this means any person with “one drop of black blood” was considered black.
A third significant minority is the Asian American population, comprising 13.4 million in 2008, or 4.4% of the U.S. population. California is home to 4.5 million Asian Americans, whereas 495,000 live in Hawaii, where they compose the plurality of the islands’ people – this is their largest share of any state. Asians are by no means a monolithic group. The largest sub-groups are immigrants or descendants of immigrants from the Philippines, China, India, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Thailand.
Indigenous peoples of the Americas, such as Native Americans and Inuit, made up 0.8% of the population in 2008, numbering 2.4 million. Once thought to face extinction in race or culture, there has been a remarkable revival of Native American identity and tribal sovereignty in the 20th century.