Bangladeshi Americans

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Bangladeshi Americans
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Related ethnic groups

Bangladeshi Americans (Bengali: বাংলাদেশী মার্কিনী) are Americans of Bangladeshi descent. The majority of Bangladeshi Americans are Bengalis. Bangladeshi immigrants have arrived in the United States in large numbers since the early 1970s to become among the fastest growing ethnic communities since that decade. New York City; Paterson, New Jersey; Atlantic City, New Jersey; as well as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, Florida, Dallas, Houston, Charlotte, Austin, and Hamtramck, Michigan are home to notable Bangladeshi communities.


Immigrants from present-day Bangladesh have been in the United States since at least the 1880s.[5]

Bangladeshis have been migrating to the port cities of the United States since 1974 when 154 Bangladeshi arrived in United States leaving behind the hard economic and political times of the still developing Bangladesh who got independence from Pakistan in 1971. Most were workers on the various ships docking from Calcutta, India and hailed especially from the Dhaka regions.[citation needed]

Immigration to the United States from Bangladesh grew slowly but steadily from the 1970s–80s. Over ten thousand Bangladeshis have immigrated to the United States annually.[2] Many of the migrants settled in urban areas such as New York City Paterson, New Jersey, and Atlantic City as well as Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit. In New York, it was estimated that 15,000 Bangladeshis resided in the city in the early 1980s. During the late 1970s, some Bangladeshis moved from New York City to Detroit, and Atlantic City for jobs. Homes to prominent communities of other Muslim Americans, in search of better work opportunities and an affordable cost of living,[6] but most have since returned from Detroit to New York and to New Jersey, in hope of starting a new community and a peaceful life . The Los Angeles Bangladesh Association was created in 1971, and there were 500 members of the Texas Bangladesh Association in 1997. In Atlantic City Bangladeshis created a association. The Bangladeshi population in Dallas was 5,000 people in 1997, which was large enough to hold the Baishakhi Mela event. Baishakhi Mela events have been held in major American cities such as New York City, Paterson in New Jersey, Atlantic City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, as the Bangladeshi population continues to increase in these cities.[7] Many of these Bangladeshis were taxicab drivers, while others had white-collar occupations. In Atlantic City s some got into casinos.


Gender imbalance[edit]

As of 1980, most Bangladeshi immigrants are between 10 and 39 years old. Sixty-two percent are men, the imbalance being due to employment opportunity differences and custom that discourages the emigration of single women. Approximately 50% of men and 60% of women are married upon arrival to the United States.

Political leanings[edit]

Bangladeshi Americans tend to favor the Democratic Party, influenced in part by Republican President Richard Nixon's support of Pakistan during Bangladesh's struggle for independence.[8]

New York City[edit]

New York City is home to the largest Bangladeshi community in the United States, receiving by far the highest legal permanent resident Bangladeshi immigrant population.[2] The Bangladeshi-born immigrant population has become one of the fastest growing in New York City, counting over 74,000 by 2011 alone.[9][10] The city's Bangladeshi community is spread out in the Jackson Heights neighbourhood within the New York City borough of Queens. 74th Street has most of the Bangladeshi grocery stores and clothing stores in Jackson Heights. The Bangladesh Plaza hosts numerous Bangladeshi businesses and cultural events. Recently, one part of Jackson Heights has become the open platform of all sorts of protests and activism. The neighbouring communities of Jackson Heights, Woodside, and Elmhurst in Queens also similarly have become attractive areas to live for Bangladeshi Americans.

Since the 1970s, thousands of Bangladeshis were able to legally migrate to the USA through the Diversity Visa Program/ lottery. Many initiated a migration to Jamaica, Queens. Continuous movement of Bangladeshis to Jamaica and Jackson Heights, Queens has made some neighbourhoods extensively Bangladeshi. Centering on 169 street and Hillside Avenue, the neighbourhood has become a popular zone due to the large number of restaurants and groceries. Sagar Restaurant, Gharoa, Deshi Shaad, Kabir's Bakery, and other stores in Queens are attractions for the Bangladeshi communities all over New York City. The largest numbers of Bangladeshi Americans now live in Jamaica, Jackson Heights, Hollis, and Briarwood in Queens. Bangladeshi enclaves in Queens and Brooklyn have been increasing as Bangladeshis in NYC continue to grow rapidly. Bangladeshis form one of the fastest growing Asian ethnic groups in NYC as new enclaves in areas such as City Line and Ozone Park have sprung up.[11] Wealthier Bangladeshis have been moving to Long Island, New York City, as a particular reason for popular settlement in the area is the pharmaceutical companies existing on Long Island; there are quite a large number of Bangladeshi-owned pharmaceutical companies in Nassau County and Suffolk County on Long Island employing many people of Bangladeshi origin. However, there have been cases where Bangladeshis living in New York City moved out, specifically to places such as Buffalo and Hamtramck in Michigan, mainly due to low living costs. New York statistics:

  • 1970 census:
    • Total population: 4,955 (5,406 in New York City and 11,838 in total in the United States).
    • Highest concentrations: Queens—2,567 people, and Brooklyn—1,313.
    • In Manhattan Bangladeshis formed a small enclave in 6th Street. High numbers of people lived in the Astoria area in Queens.[12][verification needed]
  • 2000 census:
    • Total population: 28,269
    • Highest concentrations: Queens—18,310 people (65%), Brooklyn—6,243 (22%), Bronx—2,442 (9%), Manhattan—1,204 (4%), Staten Island—70 (0.2%)
    • Population growth rate from 1970 to 2000: 471%
    • Foreign-born population: 23,157 (85%)
    • Limited English proficiency: 14,840 (60%)
    • Median Household Income: $31,537
    • People Living in Poverty: 8,312
    • Percentage of people in poverty: 31%
  • 2010 census:
    • Total population: 50,677
    • Highest concentrations: Queens (60%), Brooklyn (19%), Bronx (17%), Manhattan (4%), Staten Island (0.4%)
    • Population growth rate from 2000–2010:
    • Foreign-born population: 74%
    • Limited English proficiency: 53%
    • Median Household Income: $36,741
    • Percentage of people in poverty: 32%[13]

Bangladeshi neighbourhoods in NYC include Jamaica, Jamaica Hills, Briarwood, Jackson Heights, Woodside, Elmhurst, Hollis, Queens Village, Hunters Point, Long Island City, Bayside, Hillcrest, West Maspeth and Astoria in Queens; Kensington and City Line in Brooklyn.[11] Parkchester and Castle Hill in The Bronx is also home to an increasing Bangladeshi population[13][14] Other, smaller Little Bangladesh communities can be found in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Detroit, and Los Angeles.

Paterson, New Jersey[edit]

Paterson, New Jersey, in the New York City metropolitan area, is home to the second largest Bangladeshi American population, after New York City.[15]

Paterson, New Jersey, in the New York City metropolitan area, is home to a significant Bangladeshi American. Many Bangladeshi grocery stores and clothing stores are locating in the emerging Little Bangladesh on Union Avenue and the surrounding streets in Paterson, as well as a branch of the Sonali Exchange Company Inc., a subsidiary of Sonali Bank, the largest state-owned financial institution in Bangladesh. Masjid Al-Ferdous is also located on Union Avenue, which accommodates Paterson's rapidly growing Bangladeshi pedestrian population in Paterson. Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman was ultimately certified as the winner of the 2012 city council race in the Second Ward, making him northern New Jersey's first Bangladeshi-American elected official.[16] On 11 October 2014, the groundbreaking ceremony for the Shohid Minar Monument in West Side Park in Paterson took place, paying tribute to people killed in Pakistan in 1952 while protesting that country's policies that banned Bangladeshis from speaking their Bangla (বাংলা) language, and replicating those monuments that exist in Bangladesh, according to the World Glam Organization, the Bangladeshi cultural group working on the Paterson project. The Shohid Minar was completed and unveiled in 2015[17]. This project reflected the increasing influence of Paterson's growing Bangladeshi community, as reported in The Record.[18]

Community and economic issues[edit]

Per capita income[edit]

In 2014, identified by factfinder census, when Americans per capita income was divided by ethnic groups Bangladeshi Americans were revealed to have a per capita income of only $18,027, below the American average of $25,825.[19]

Median household income[edit]

Bangladeshi Americans have an average median household income of $49,800 which is lower than the American average of $53,600.[20]


According to a news article from the website Mashable released in 2015, it stated that reported that 26% of the Bangladeshi American community lived under the poverty line.[21] This is much higher than the USA average of 16% according to data released by the Economic Policy Institute in 2011.[22]

In a 2013, NPR discussion with a member of the Economic Policy Institute and co-author of the book The Myth of the Model Minority Rosalind Chou who is also a professor of sociology. One of them stated that "When you break it down by specific ethnic groups, the Hmong, the Bangladeshi, they have poverty rates that rival the African-American poverty rate."[23]


The New York City Metropolitan Area is home to by far the largest Bangladeshi population in the United States.[24][15][25]

The 2000 census undertaken by the Census Bureau listed 57,412 people identifying themselves as having Bangladeshi origin.[26] Almost 40% of Bangladeshis over the age of 25 had at least a bachelor's degree as compared to less than 25% of the United States population.


Bangladeshi Americans retain a strong ethnic identity but are known to assimilate into American culture while at the same time keeping the culture of their ancestors. Bangladeshi Americans are well represented in the fields of medicine, engineering, business, finance and information technology. Bangladeshi Americans have brought Bengali cuisine to the United States, and Bengali cuisine has been established as one of the most popular cuisines in the country with hundreds of Bengali restaurants in each major city[citation needed] and several similar eateries in smaller cities and towns. There are many Bangladeshi markets and stores in the United States. Some of the largest are in New York City, Paterson, New Jersey, Central New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Atlantic City, and Los Angelos.


Bangladeshi Americans often retain their native language Bengali and run many programs to nourish their mother tongue. However, many also speak Bengali dialects or other languages related to Bengali, the most common being Sylheti which is spoken by people from the Sylhet Division in Bangladesh, and Chatgaya which is spoken by Bangladeshis from Chittagong.


Most Bangladeshi Americans are Muslim. Religion figures prominently in the life of Bangladeshi American families, and the Quran and the teachings of Muhammad serve as the guidelines that Bangladeshi Muslims are supposed to follow throughout their lives.

The majority of Bangladeshis belong to the Sunni sect of Islam. In smaller towns in America where there may not be mosques within easy access, Bangladeshi Americans make trips to attend the nearest one on major religious holidays and occasions. However, most are in large urban centres where there are vibrant mosques run by Bangladeshis.

Bangladeshi Americans also participate in and contribute to the larger Islamic community, which includes Arab Americans, Iranian Americans, Turkish American, African Americans, Indonesian Americans, Malaysian Americans, South Asian Americans, and many more ethnic backgrounds in America. Bangladeshi Americans have played important roles in the association the Muslim Students of America (MSA), which caters to the needs of Islamic students across the United States.

Bangladeshis have started many mosques in the United States, specifically in New York City, such as Jamaica Muslim Center, also known as Masjid Al Mamoor, located in Jamaica, New York, Darus Salam Masjid and Darul Uloom located in Jamaica, Baitul Gaffar and Richmond Hill Jame Masjid located in Richmond Hill, New York, Fultoli Jame Masjid in Briarwood, Parkchester Jame Masjid in Parkchester, Bronx, Masjid al taqwa in Atlantic City and many more Masjids all over the city.

Although most Bangladeshi Americans are Muslims, there are also Hindus within the community and they form an important part of the cultural mosaic of Bangladesh as well as the diaspora. They have done equally well. They have a tightly knit community yet have a peaceful relationship with Bangladeshi Muslims. There are a few temples and religious congregations in the United States operated by Bangladeshi Hindus. Since their numbers are low and they often have relations with the majority of Bengali Hindus, who migrated to India after the Partition of India, they are often part of the larger social group of Bengalis from West Bengal and other parts of India and elsewhere.

Similar to other ethnic groups in the USA, a growing proportion of Bangladeshi Americans are non-religious, secularist, atheist, humanist or of similar denomination.

Notable people[edit]

Sears Tower (now Willis Tower), was designed by Fazlur Rahman Khan. It was the tallest building in the world for over two decades.

Salman Khan founder of Khan Academy and MIT graduate


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  16. ^ Clunn, Nick. "Officials certify election of Akhtaruzzaman to Paterson's 2nd Ward", The Record, 27 November 2012. Accessed 18 February 2015. "Election officials Tuesday certified Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman as the winner of a special City Council race, settling a prolonged political contest that ended with his reclaiming the seat he lost in a court challenge.... It was unclear when Akhtaruzzaman would take office as the representative for the 2nd Ward and reclaim his mantle as the first Bangladeshi-American elected to municipal office in North Jersey."
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