By now, every Houstonian within arm’s reach of a radio or TV remote has heard the news: Ours is the most diverse city in the nation, surpassing even the Big Apple itself as the new melting pot of modern-day America.
But here’s something you might not have heard: A recent report from the National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy’s Migration Policy Institute (try saying that one time fast) noted with pride that Houston’s immigrant population had grown at nearly twice the national rate since 2000. Whereas the rest of the country saw an increase of 33 percent, Houston’s own immigrant population grew by a staggering 59 percent. As of 2013, the year the report was written, nearly one in four Houstonians had been born abroad—1.4 million souls on 1.4 million paths, all converging on a city with arms as wide as the Gulf of Mexico.
Any magazine committed to exploring the riches of an entire city, like Houstonia, has to at least try to showcase every culture and nation that’s found there, and we intend to. As a first pass at this mammoth project, the editors decided—somewhat arbitrarily, perhaps—to spotlight the 12 countries with the largest immigrant populations in Houston. Twelve countries whose cultures and cuisines have enriched our city in innumerable ways, 12 countries that any Houstonian can visit just by virtue of living here. You just have to know where to go.