Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage month: Verbio specializes in international trade, multicultural marketing, and multilingual communications, so we assembled cultural tips and trade info to help you explore new markets:

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage month started in the 1970s. The month of May is reserved to honor the history, culture, achievements, contributions, and influence of this diverse group of people in the United States. AAPI make up a significant percentage of the population in Oregon, the greater Pacific Northwest, and the US West Coast in general. Below are some interesting facts about this group.


The earliest Asians to migrate were Filipinos sailing from Manila to California as part of the Spanish East Indies Galleon trade in 1587. These very early migrants were followed by immigrants to Hawaii and the mainland West Coast from China, Japan, Korea, India, and the Philippines. The first major wave of Asian immigrants arrived between 1850 and 1917 during the California gold rush, a time which saw great expansion and development along the Pacific coast of the United States. Between 1848 and 1852, Chinese immigrants grew dramatically from 400 to 25,000 people.

A series of political changes across the Pacific region led to a greater immigration of Pacific Islanders right around the beginning of the 20th century. Guam was ceded to the US in 1898, Hawaii was annexed by the US in 1900, and American Samoa was ceded to the US in 1920.

The second major wave of Asian immigrants began after the 1965 immigration Act. At that time, Asians represented 0.6% of the American population. After the end of the Korean and Vietnam Wars plus the conflicts in Laos and Cambodia, new waves of migrants arrived  from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia seeking political asylum.

Chinese immigration was primarily from Taiwan and Hong Kong. There were ver few migrants from mainland China until after 1977, when the Chinese government lifted restrictions for college students and professionals. In 1997, the United Kingdom restored sovereignty of Hong Kong to mainland China. This also triggered a significant increase of Hong Kong migrants to North America.

By 2000, immigrants from India nearly doubled in population to become the third-largest group of Asian Americans. Currently, Indians, Chinese, and Filipinos make up the three largest Asian ethnic groups migrating to the United States.

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Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are a very diverse category. Asia is home to about 4.46 billion people speaking about 2,300 languages (Source: Additionally, there are approximately forty Polynesian languages; the most prominent being: Tahitian, Samoan, Tongan, Māori and Hawaiian (Source: Wikipedia). Samoans and Tongans are the most rapidly growing minorities in Washington State. Indeed, it’s a common misconception that Asian Americans are from the Far East. Indeed Asians come from 48 countries and 3 Chinese territories (Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao). Western Asia comprises cultures and ethnicities that many North Americans label as “Middle Eastern,” such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. Several countries, like Turkey and Russia, have a territories that span the dividing line between Europe and Asia.  Here are some statistics:

59.51%of Earth is Asian (2021 Statista)
5.7%of the population of the United States is Asian (2019 Census Bureau)
10%of the population of the United States is expected to be Asian by 2050
(2019 Census Bureau)
1/3of all Asian Americans are in California (2021 Statista)
6.2%of the population of Oregon is Asian (2019 Census Bureau)
9.2%of the population of Washington is Asian (2019 Census Bureau)
15.5%of the population of California is Asian (2019 Census Bureau)


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Asian American labor statistics have changed dramatically over the years. Early immigrants found work in mining, industrial and railroad expansion. In more recent decades, there was a heavy emphasis on food and restaurant, farming, cleaning and personal care or health and beauty.

The technology revolution of the past few decades has brought more and more attention to education and computer sciences, which have, in turn, propelled a larger percentage of Asian Americans into the technology, medicine, health care, and engineering sectors. However, this upward trend has not been universal amongst all Asian subgroups.

There is a broad economic divide between various groups of Asian migrants (Pew Research 2020). High-income Asian Americans earn roughly 10.7% more than those at the lower end of the economic spectrum. College-educated and English-speaking Indian and Taiwanese are typically near the top of the economic spectrum with a median household income of over $100,000 per year, while Nepalese and Burmese household income medians trend toward the lower end of the spectrum of between $46,000 and $63,000.


The past decade has seen a huge growth in Asian cultural visibility. Asians have enjoyed growing cultural influence via the entertainment industry, in the form of films, television, video games, social media, music, podcasts, and pop culture in general. Asian stars in and outside of the US have become increasingly popular. and Asian social figures have climbed to prominence in the worlds of art, business, politics, and science. The growing food culture has expanded the American palette and has welcomed a variety of Asian dishes into the mainstream.

Here is a list of some popular dishes in Asia and the Islands of the Pacific that we recommend you try when you visit:

  • Breadfruit  #1 – is a species of flowering tree in the mulberry family, grown throughout Southeast Asia and most of the Pacific Ocean islands. Its name is derived from the texture of the cooked fruit, which has a potato-like flavor, similar to freshly baked bread.
  • Bibimbap #2 – Bibimbap is a Korean rice dish. The term “bibim” means mixing, while the “bap” noun refers to rice. Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul or kimchi and gochujang, soy sauce, or doenjang.
  • Burmese tea leaf salad #3 – a combination of textures and savory, salty, mildly sour flavors. The key ingredient is the fermented tea leaf dressing, which makes the salad savory (plus the leaves are full of nutrients and antioxidants), and the crunchy mix contains peanuts, yellow split peas, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and garlic chips and is full of flavor.
  • Mai Tai #4 – cocktail based on rum, Curaçao liqueur, orgeat syrup, and lime juice. It is one of the quintessential cocktails in Tiki culture
Sources:    Wikipedia –

Not all changes have been progressive. American politics and the growing power and influence of China, have brought persistent anti-Asian sentiments to the forefront of American culture. There has been a backlash against Chinese-made goods and software, including Huawei and Tik-Tok, and overall scrutiny of the supply chain. The political unrest and protests in Hong Kong as well as Chinese repression of Uighurs have unnerved many average citizens and politicians. Politics surrounding the ongoing COVID pandemic coupled with a divisive social environment in America, have contributed to an increase in violence against Asian Americans. Acts of violence against Asian Americans have been increasing as well as media coverage of it, on mainstream news and social media. All of these factors have contributed to greater Asian American political activism and action.


It’s clear that Asian American and Pacific Islander populations are growing across North America and specifically along the West Coast. Asian and Pacific Islander population has grown in Oregon by over 30% since the 2010 US Census. This growth in Oregon has resulted in the governments of Japan and Federated States of Micronesia each establishing formal diplomatic offices or Consulates General in Portland. The diversity of Asians and Pacific Islanders means that many of these populations speak a wide range of languages.

Asian and Polynesian languages spoken in Oregon and translated by Verbio:

  • Arabic
  • Bengali
  • Cantonese
  • Chamorro
  • Chuukese
  • Gujarati
  • Hawaiian
  • Hindi
  • Hmong
  • Ilocano
  • Khmer (Cambodian)
  • Korean
  • Kosraean
  • Laotian
  • Malayalam
  • Mandarin
  • Marshallese
  • Nepali
  • Palauan
  • Persian (Farsi)
  • Punjabi
  • Russian
  • Samoan
  • Tagalog (Filipino)
  • Tamil
  • Telegu
  • Thai
  • Ukrainian
  • Urdu
  • Vietnamese
  • Yapese

In a time of destruction, create something”

― Maxine Hong Kingston

 Chinese American author and Professor Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley.

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