Swiss emigration to America predates the formation of the United States, notably in connection with the persecution of Anabaptism during the Swiss Reformation and the formation of the Amish community.
In the 19th century, there was substantial immigration of Swiss farmers, who preferred rural settlements in the Midwest.
Swiss immigration diminished after 1930, although limited immigration continues.
The number of Americans of Swiss descent is nearly one million. The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs reported the permanent residency of Swiss nationals in the United States as 80,218 in 2015.
During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a flow of Swiss farmers formed colonies, particularly in Russia and the United States.
Before the year 1820 some estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Swiss entered British North America. Most of them settled in regions of today's Pennsylvania as well as North and South Carolina. In the next years until 1860 about as many Swiss arrived, making their homes mainly in the Midwestern states such as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Approximately 50,000 came between 1860 and 1880, some 82,000 between 1881 and 1890, and estimated 90,000 more during the next three decades.
Along with the Swiss Immigrants came their traditions. By the late 1800s sufficient numbers of Swiss had arrived that Swiss Vereins (Clubs) were established to provide camaraderie and sharing of customs and traditions of the Heimat (Homeland). The William Tell Verein of Oakland and the Helvetia Verein of Sacramento, founded in the 1890s, were examples of clubs formed during this period. Much later, the West Coast Swiss Wrestling Association was established to preserve the Swiss tradition of Schwingen (Swiss wrestling) on the Pacific coast of the United States.
Swiss immigration diminished after 1930 because of the depression and World War II, but 23,700 more Swiss had arrived by 1960, followed by 29,100 more between 1961 and 1990, many of whom were professionals or employees in American branches of Swiss companies who later returned to Switzerland.
Highland Historical Society, a historical society centered in Highland, Illinois, site of one of the oldest Swiss settlements in the United States. It was founded in 1831 by Swiss pioneers from Sursee, Switzerland.
Orangeburgh German-Swiss Genealogical Society, a genealogical society focused on the early Swiss and German settlers of Orangeburg, South Carolina.
^Vogelsanger, David. "Foreword: A Forgotten Chapter of Our Military History." Swiss American Historical Society Review 51, no. 2 (2015): 5-8. The whole issue is dedicated to the Swiss in the Civil War.
Mennonite Historical Collections Very extensive Collection of Swiss and Swiss-American Mennonite information hosted in the Archives and Special Collections Librarian at Musselman Library, Bluffton University.
1 Poles came to the United States legally as Austrians, Germans, Prussians or Russians throughout the 19th century, because from 1772–1795 till 1918, all Polish lands had been partitioned between imperial Austria, Prussia (a protoplast of Germany) and Russia until Poland regained its sovereignty in the wake of World War I.
2 Russia has most of its territory in Asia, but the vast majority of its population (80%) lives in European Russia, therefore Russia as a whole is included as a European country here.
5 Disputed; Roma have recognized origins and historic ties to Asia (specifically to Northern India), but they experienced at least some distinctive identity development while in diaspora among Europeans.