The World in a Zip Code: Greater Washington, D.C. as a New Region of Immigration


  • In 1998, the Washington metropolitan area was the 5th most common destination for legal immigrants to the U.S. Only New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami were more popular. Between 1990 and 1998, nearly 250,000 immigrants from 193 countries and territories chose to live in the metropolitan area. 
  • Washington’s recent immigrants are highly diverse—there is not a dominant country (or countries) of origin among the newcomers to the region. The largest single immigrant group— from El Salvador—comprises only 10.5 percent of the region’s newcomers. 
  • Washington’s immigrants are not clustered into ethnically homogeneous residential enclaves, but instead are dispersed throughout the region. Of the top ten immigrant zip codes, four each are located in Maryland and Virginia, and two are in the District of Columbia. 
  • In the 1990s, 87 percent of immigrants to the region chose to live in the suburbs. Almost half (46 percent) of new immigrants located in communities outside the Capital Beltway. Less than 13 percent moved to the District. 
  • Asian immigrants are more likely to move to the outer suburbs, while Latin American and African immigrants tend to live within the Beltway.