State Somali population continues to grow


When University of Minnesota student Faduma Abdulle’s moved to the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood from Somalia in 1993, only three other Somali families lived there.

The Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences junior and her family were some of the first of many Somalis who would eventually call Minnesota home. 

Census data released Thursday raised the number of people of Somali ancestry in the state to roughly 32,000.

American Community Surveys taken from 2008 to 2010 show the population increased by 5,000 over last year’s estimate.

Minnesota’s Somali population is the largest in the United States. According to the latest estimates, other states that have a large Somali population are Ohio with 12,300, Washington with 9,300 and California with 7,500.

“I don’t want to say we’re taking over,” Abdulle joked. “But we’ve definitely gotten bigger.”

The data include both people born in Somalia and their descendants.

While the median age of the state’s population is 37 years, Somalis in Minnesota are more than a decade younger with a median age of 25. Close to half of the Somali population is less than 25 years old.

The influx of Somalis to the state has been the largest aspect of a broader emigration from sub-Saharan Africa in recent years. According to the new data, close to 100,000 people have emigrated from the region altogether.

Ralia Hussein of the University’s Somali Student Association said it’s become hard to notice the growing population.

“I notice more when I leave the state and then come back,” Hussein said. “That’s when I notice how big the community is here.”

She said the Somali community is very welcoming and grateful to be here.

“We wish people would come over [to Cedar-Riverside] to get to know the Somali community, and hopefully the University community will welcome us as well,” Abdulle said.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report