Region has diverse Asian and Pacific Islander heritage

Data shows residents come from diverse backgrounds across the globe

People with Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage represent diverse cultures spanning the globe from Pakistan to the islands of Polynesian

Over half a million of the region’s four million plus residents identify as Asian, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander. PSRC recently explored how these populations have grown in King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.

In this post, we dive into data about how people within this broad, encompassing group identify themselves and where they live around the region.

PSRC found that residents of Asian descent belong to many ethnic groups. For this analysis, we examined ethnic groups of more than 5,000 people and this resulted in a dozen ethnicities, including Chinese, Asian Indian, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Cambodian, Taiwanese, Laotian, Pakistani, and Thai, as well as people from Two or More Asian ethnic groups.

Each of these ethnic groups has a unique culture and experience in our region. Disaggregating this data will allow us to more effectively address and plan for the needs of these communities.

The three largest ethnic groups are Chinese (121,700), Asian Indian (104,400), and Filipino (86,000).

There are also many ethnic groups among Pacific Islanders in this region. They trace their ancestry to three subregions: Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia.

Over half the Pacific Islanders in this region have roots in Polynesia (18,000). Most identify with Native Hawaiian, Samoan, or Tongan heritage.

The region’s residents with Micronesian heritage (13,600) usually report their backgrounds as Marshallese, Guamanian or Chamorro (the indigenous people of Guam).

People of Melanesian descent in this region (2,000) all reported that their roots are in Fiji, itself an archipelago of more than 300 islands.

One in five people of Asian or Pacific Islander descent in the region was born in Washington state (20%). Many of these residents have lived here for generations, helping to build the region into what it is today.

A strong economy and innovative universities in the region have attracted people from around the world. About two-thirds (64%) of the region’s Asians and Pacific Islanders are foreign-born.

People with Asian and Pacific Islander ancestry reside all over central Puget Sound, with strong concentrations on the eastside of Lake Washington, various neighborhoods and communities in Seattle and south King County, and south Snohomish County. Many of these areas correspond to tech or education sector concentrations such as Microsoft, Amazon, the University of Washington, and Boeing.

However, this data and map do not easily reveal the varied experiences different ethnic groups in the AAPI community have in the region, which shape where they live, the opportunities they can access, and the trajectory of their lives.

Asian and Pacific Islander Populations Around the Region

Source: 2015-2019 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, tables B02001_005 (Asian) and B02001_006 (Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander)


Celebrating differences in culture and actively maintaining and promoting the region as a welcoming place to people of all backgrounds is essential to the region’s culture of invention and innovation.

Reminder! PSRC is seeking members to serve on our new Equity Advisory Committee. This committee will work with PSRC staff and elected leadership to develop a Regional Equity Strategy and help to ensure an inclusive environment where racial equity is valued and advanced in regional planning. Learn more about the Equity Advisory Committee.