African Americans (American Blacks or Black Americans), racial group in the United States whose dominant ancestry is from sub-Saharan West Africa. Many African Americans also claim European, Native American, or Asian ancestors. A variety of names have been used for African Americans at various points in history. African Americans have been referred to as Negroes, colored, blacks, and Afro-Americans, as well as lesser-known terms, such as the 19th-century designation Anglo-African. The terms Negro and colored are now rarely used. African American, black, and to a lesser extent Afro-American, are used interchangeably today. Recent black immigrants from Africa and the islands of the Caribbean are sometimes classified as African Americans. However, these groups, especially first- and second-generation immigrants, often have cultural practices, histories, and languages that are distinct from those of African Americans born in the United States. For example, Caribbean natives may speak French, British English, or Spanish as their first language. Emigrants from Africa may speak a European language other than English or any of a number of African languages as their first language. Caribbean and African immigrants often have little knowledge or experience of the distinctive history of race relations in the United States. Thus, Caribbean and African immigrants may or may not choose to identify with the African American community.
According to 2000 U.S. census, some 34.7 million African Americans live in the United States, making up 12.3 percent of the total population. 2000 census shows that 54.8 percent African Americans lived in the South. In that year, 17.6 percent of African Americans lived in the Northeast and 18.7 percent in the Midwest, while only 8.9 percent lived in the Western states. Almost 88 percent of African Americans lived in metropolitan areas in 2000. With over 2 million African American residents, New York City had the largest...
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