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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

detail of Chinatown wall art with young girl running by

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is celebrated during the month of May, honoring the contributions and influence of these groups of Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. 


The month of May was chosen to observe AAPI Month because of the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and also to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

The Asian/Pacific region encompasses:

  • All of the Asian continent.
  • The Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands).
  • Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia).
  • Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).

Did you know...

As of the 2020 U.S. Census, there were about 20.6 million people of Asian or Pacific Islander descent in the United States.
According to the Pew Research Center, AAPI people are a diverse and growing population that make up about 7 percent of the total U.S. population. 
The effort to officially recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander contributions to the United States began in the late 1970s, and took over 10 years to make it a permanent month-long celebration.
According to the Bering Land Bridge Theory, Asians first migrated to what is now known as North America over 15,000 years ago through a land bridge between Asia and North America.

Highsmith, C. M., photographer. (2013) Chinatown, San Francisco, California. United States San Francisco California, 2013. May. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,