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Paterson, New Jersey, within the New York City Metropolitan Area, considered by many to be the capital of the PeruvianDiaspora in the United States, is home to Little Lima on Market Street, the largest Peruvian American enclave, with approximately 10,000 Peruvians in 2018.
Peruvian Americans immigrated to the United States in four major waves. Small but significant waves of immigration occurred in San Francisco during the gold rush (along with Chilean miners beginning in 1848) and the Metro Detroit area in the 1950s. Another wave of immigration occurred again early in the twentieth century, due largely to the burgeoning textile industry in New York and New Jersey. Beginning in the 1970s another wave of Peruvians arrived in the United States, most of whom were fleeing Peru's militaristic government. The 1980s and 1990s saw the most significant influx of Peruvians to U.S. shores, this time in response to political instability, to a collapsing economy and fleeing against terrorism in Peru.
Peruvians typically emigrate due to economic reasons, to escape poverty and pursue a better quality of life. Immigrants often come from urban areas of Peru, especially Lima, and the majority settle in the New York City metropolitan area--particularly in Paterson and Passiac in New Jersey and the New York City borough of Queens. Peruvian Americans are also clustered in the metropolitan areas of Miami, Florida; Los Angeles; Houston, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Virginia.
Settlement in the United States
The states with the largest number of Peruvian Americans are Florida, California, New Jersey, and New York. Texas and Virginia are also home to significant communities of people of Peruvian descent.
Little is known about the earliest Peruvian immigrants who came to the United States during the California gold rush. Later Peruvian immigrants began arriving in the early twentieth century to work in textile mills in Paterson, New Jersey, which is now home to one of the largest Peruvian communities in the United States. Paterson has a significant number of businesses run by Peruvian Americans, as well as social and political organizations, and remains a destination for Peruvian immigrants of all social classes.
Undocumented immigrants and settlement
Undocumented immigrants of all but the highest social classes face obstacles in finding employment in the United States; many are forced into service and labor occupations that do not represent their educational degrees or previous career achievements in Peru. For professionals from the middle classes, this can be disruptive to concepts of personal identity.
Lifestyle and culture
The most famous and first aspect of Peruvian culture that deals with the United States is the book, "The Incas's Florida" La Florida del Inca written at the end of sixteenth century by the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. Garcilaso's book details the travels of the explorer Hernando de Soto who had participated in the Forty-Years War between the Incas and the Spanish (1531-1571) and who later came to the lands that would become part of the United States and that the Spanish called "Florida."
The most popular dishes of Peruvian food in the U.S. include ceviche (raw fish "cooked" in lime juice), papa a la huancaína, and anticuchos y tamales. Peruvian cuisine is often recognized for being one of the most diverse and appreciated of the world's cuisines, with influences including European, Native American, and African. Since there is a sizable Chinese and Japanese minority in Peru, an Asian influence has also been deeply incorporated in Peruvian cuisine. There are Chifas, or Asian-style Peruvian restaurants that serve typical Chinese or Japanese food with a Peruvian culinary influence. Inca Kola, a soda that originated in Peru, is sold in many heavily concentrated Latin American areas.
The extended family commonly serves an economic function, too, with some new immigrants temporarily living with extended family already established in the United States, and in expensive urban centers, such arrangements sometimes are permanent.
Despite being a relatively recent ethnic group, the median household income for Peruvians meets the average American household income and 30% of all Peruvians over the age of 25 have college degrees, exceeding the US national average of 24%.
The Peruvian American Coalition in Passaic, New Jersey functions as an activist organization on behalf of the overall welfare of Peruvian Americans.
Notably, a rapidly growing number of Peruvian Americans, about 10,000 in 2018, have established an increasingly prominent community in Paterson, New Jersey, which is considered by many to be the capital of the PeruvianDiaspora in the United States, partially owing to the presence of the Peruvian Consulate. Market Street, the Little Lima in downtown Paterson, is the largest Peruvian American enclave and is lined with Peruvian-owned restaurants, bakeries, delicatessens, bodegas, travel agencies, and other businesses. The Peruvian American community has expanded into Paterson's neighboring areas of Fair Lawn, Elmwood Park, Clifton, and Passaic in Northern New Jersey as well, all within the New York City Metropolitan Area. The annual Peruvian Independence Day Parade is held in Paterson.
States with highest Peruvian population
The 10 states with the largest Peruvian population were (Source: Census 2010):
Anthony Atala- M.D., is the W.H. Boyce Professor and Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and Chair of the Department of Urology at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina. He is a Peruvian born, but American raised.
Juan Bandini - (1800-1859) an early settler of what would become San Diego, California