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Column: Where your forebears came from, in one astonishing animated map

immigation
Where did your ancestors come from? This animated map may give you a clue.
(Max Galka/Metrocosm)

Erik Loomis at the Lawyers, Guns & Money blog points us to this amazing and instructive animated map displaying the flows of immigration into the United States, by year and country. The source is data visualizer Max Galka, who posted his handiwork at the statistics website Metrocosm.

As Galka observes, his data source is the category of “persons obtaining lawful permanent resident status” compiled by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics. That means it leaves out illegal immigration and forced immigration--or people brought to the U.S. as slaves.

Those caveats aside, Galka further provides static graphics showing, first, immigration flows by country...

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Largest immigration sources charted over time
Largest immigration sources charted over time
(Metrocosm )

...and immigration by country as a percentage of U.S. population:

Immigration as a percentage of U.S. population
Immigration as a percentage of U.S. population
(Metrocosm )

The graphics show that Ireland, the leading source of future Americans in the mid-19th century, eventually yielded to Germany in the later part of the century, to Italy at the turn of the century, and to Mexico in our own time. The overall lesson is inescapable: We all came from somewhere else, and we forget that at our discredit.

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Keep up to date with Michael Hiltzik. Follow @hiltzikm on Twitter, see his Facebook page, or email michael.hiltzik@latimes.com.

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