The Pacific Islander Community

Compiled by Clifton L. Holland


Definition of Pacific Islander

Pacific Islander (or Pacific Person, pl: Pacific People, also called Oceanic[s]), is a geographic term used in several places, such as New Zealand and the United States, to describe the inhabitants of any of the three major sub-regions of Oceania[1][2].

The U.S. Census category is "Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders" (NHPI), which refers to people having origins from any of the indigenous peoples of Hawaii, the Marianas, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.  It includes people who indicated their race or races as "Native Hawaiian", "Guamanian or Chamoru", "Samoan", or "Other Pacific Islander", or wrote in entries such as Tahitian, Mariana Islander, or Chuukese.

Inhabitants of the Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Filipino, and Indonesian islands, although technically bordering the Pacific Ocean, do not fall under the definition of "Pacific Islanders" because such islands are not located in any of the three regions of Oceania (Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia), and are therefore classified as "Asians" in the U.S. Census.



General Background Information

Pacific Islanders have increased from 0.4% of the California’s population in 1990 to 0.7% of the population in 2003 using inclusive figures.

Pacific Islander growth from 1990 to 2000 ranged from 6% using 2000 single race numbers to 100% using 2000 inclusive numbers (single race and multiracial figures combined). This wide range results from a large number of multiracial Pacific Islanders.

Nearly half (47%) of Pacific Islanders are multiracial, the highest among all racial/ethnic groups.

Native Hawaiians and Samoans continue to be the state’s largest Pacific Islander groups, followed closely by Guamanians/Chamorros.

The Pacific Islander population change in Los Angeles County from 1990 to 2000 ranged from a decline of 6% using alone numbers to a growth of 71% for inclusive numbers.  This wide range is due to the large number of Pacific Islanders who reported more than one race. Pacific Islanders have the highest percentage reporting more than one race among the major racial/ethnic groups. With 45% reporting a multiracial heritage, Pacific Islanders consist of 27,053 of a single race and 22,461 who reported Pacific Islander plus at least one other race. Among Pacific Islander ethnic groups, Native Hawaiians have the highest multiracial percentage, with 62% reporting more than one race.

Note: Groups ranked by Inclusive number. Alone figures are single race responses only. Inclusive figures include single race and multiracial responses. Alone figures for Asian and Pacific Islander ethnic groups are single race and single ethnic group. Latino/Hispanic is not exclusive of other race and ethnic groups, unless otherwise noted. Population figures are not mutually exclusive, therefore columns may not sum up to the total.



Language Spoken at Home Los Angeles County, 2000

Total Age 5 & over

Number Percent
Tagalog (Philippine Islands) 195,671 2.23%
Other Pacific Island languages 27,736 0.32%



General Demographical Information, 2000 Census

The total "Native Hawaiian & Other Pacific Islander" (not Hispanic or Latino) population for Los Angeles County was 23,265, with the largest concentation of this population in the cities and communities listed below in Table #1 (Los Angeles County) and Table #2 (City of Los Angeles).


Table #1

Native Hawaiian & Other
Pacific Islander 
County of Los Angeles
2000 Census
by Cities

Table #2

Native Hawaiian & Other
Pacific Islander 
City of Los Angeles
2000 Census
by Communities



Native Hawaiian & Other Pacific Islander Alone

Los Angeles 5,915
Long Beach 5,680
Carson 2,680
Compton 985
Hawthorne 721
Bellflower 511
Lakewood 489


Paramount 464
Gardena 424
Inglewood 410
Norwalk 404




Native Hawaiian & Other Pacific Islander Alone
South LA 498
Wilmington 474
San Pedro 291
Harbor Gateway 284
North Hollywood 265
Harbor City 232
Hollywood 208
Canoga Park 196
Westchester 164
Panorama City 154
West LA 151




The Diverse Face of Asians and Pacific Islanders in California:

The Diverse Face of Asians and Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles County:

The Diverse Face of Asians and Pacific Islanders in Orange County: