Although it has an almost central location within the United States, Nebraska is located on the Midwest plains and has many landmarks that claim to be the gateway to the west. Like many states in the region, Nebraska enjoyed a population explosion in the second half of the 19th century due to the great California Gold Rush. Nebraska's growth rate is now 0.80%, which ranks 25th in the country.
The last nationwide census within the United States of America took place in 2010, and it was confirmed that 1,826,341 citizens were living in the Cornhusker State. Those figures represented a rise of 6.7% on the findings from the 2000 Census, which declared final numbers of 1,711,263. It is now estimated that these figures have climbed even further to a total population of 1,896,190, an increase of 3.8% since the last Census.
Nebraska’s surface area covers approximately 77,354 square miles (200,520 square kilometers) and that makes this the 16th largest state in the US in terms of size. Based on 2011 population estimates, for every square mile of Nebraskan territory, there is an average of 23.8 people. Overall, Nebraska is only the 43rd ranked state in terms of population density.
Approximately one in three Nebraskans live in its two major cities, Omaha and Lincoln. 89% of Nebraska's cities have less than 3,000 people, which is on par with 5 other Midwestern states, but hundreds of towns in Nebraska have less than 1,000 residents. Many rural schools in the state have been forced to consolidate.
With over 530 villages and cities in the state, only one has a population of more than 300,000. Omaha has a population estimated at 443,885, while Lincoln, the capital city, has 277,348 residents. These are the only two cities with a population over 60,000.
53% of the 93 counties in Nebraska reported declining numbers between 1990 and 2000, and this trend has continued as more urban areas have experienced great growth. Between 2000 and 2010, Lincoln saw a 14.5% increase, while Omaha's population grew 6.3% in just 5 years.
The median age in Nebraska is approximately 36.2 years of age. The ratio of females to males is currently at approximately 50.3% females and 49.7% males.
In terms of religious preferences across the state, Nebraska weighs in with 75% Christian based faiths, 4% non-Christian based faiths, 20% are unaffiliated with any religion.
Nebraska was acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and became part of Louisiana (later Missouri) Territory. It was established as a territory in 1854, including extensive areas northwest and west of the present State; it underwent various reductions in area in 1861 and 1863. Nebraska was admitted as a State on March 1, 1867, with nearly its present boundaries. Its last significant boundary change was the transfer of an area from Dakota Territory in 1882.
Census coverage of Nebraska began in 1860 in the eastern part of the present State. The 1860 census of Nebraska Territory also included scattered forts and settlements in present-day Wyoming and the Dakotas west of the Missouri River. Other such settlements in the portion of the Territory included in present-day Montana were reported with Dakota Territory, and those in present-day Colorado were reported with Colorado Territory, although these two territories were not established until 1861. By 1890, census coverage included the entire State.
According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of Nebraska was:
Figures dating from 1860 show that the population of Nebraska at the time was just 28,841 but the Gold Rush was soon to have its effect. Just ten years later, those numbers had grown by over 325% to 122,993, and similar increases throughout the 1800s meant that the Nebraska population had reached one million by the start of the 20th century.
As the 1900s progressed, increases in percentage terms tended to stay within single figures on a census by census basis. There was an anomaly in 1940 when it was shown that numbers had actually dropped from those ten years earlier, but the overall picture was one of growth.
That steady, if unspectacular, growth has meant that the Nebraska population of 2016 is edging very slowly toward the two million landmark, although it's not quite there yet.
The population of Nebraska is rising, even if that growth isn’t at the same rate as seen in other states across the country. At the next census in 2020, it will be interesting to see just how close the state’s numbers can stretch toward their next milestone of two million, although it's projected that the population in Nebraska will only reach .93 million by 2025.
In 2004, data showed that about 4.8% of Nebraska's diverse population was made up of foreign-born residents. The state has the largest Czech American and non-Mormon Danish American population in the entire nation. Thurston County has a significant American Indian majority population.
Between 2000 and 2010, Nebraska also saw an increase of over 77% in its Hispanic and Latino population. According to data from 2011, 31.0% of Nebraska's population under the age of 1 were classified as minorities. Some analysts believe that the Hispanic and Latino population of the state could triple by the year 2050.
The largest ancestry groups in the state are German (38.6%), Irish (12.4%), English (9.6%), Mexican (8.7%) and Czech (5.5%). This makes German-Americans by far the largest group in Nebraska.
When comparing data from the last Census in 2010 to estimates taken in 2015,this information shows that the counties in Nebraska have experienced population changes in both directions. As far as population growth during the 5-year period, only two counties showed significant growth. Banner County along the western border grew by 13.06%, while Sarpy County on the eastern border trailed behind with a still-respectable population growth of 9.98%. A handful of other counties showed a smaller rate of growth during this period, including Cherry, Grant, and Blaine Counties.
More counties in the state showed declining populations based on the data from 2010 and 2015. McPherson County posted the highest decline in population, with a recorded number of 11.55%. This is followed by Dundy County at 10.41%. All but two counties along the southern border registered decreases in population, including Kimball, Furnas, and Red Willow.
Two or more races
Black or African American
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
Average Family Size
Average Household Size
Rate of Home Ownership
Less Than 9th Grade
9th to 12th Grade
High School Graduate
High School Graduation Rate
The highest rate of high school graduation is among white people with a rate of 81.67%.
The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among asian people with a rate of 36%.
Other Indo-European Languages
Asian and Pacific Island Languages
88.16% of Nebraska residents speak only English, while 11.84% speak other languages. The non-English language spoken by the largest group is Spanish, which is spoken by 7.74% of the population.
Overall Poverty Rate
Male Poverty Rate
Female Poverty Rate
The race most likely to be in poverty in Nebraska is Native, with 32.36% below the poverty level.
The race least likely to be in poverty in Nebraska is White, with 9.69% below the poverty level.
The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 2.27%. Among those working part-time, it was 15.58%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 18.59%.
Overall Marriage Rate
Male Marriage Rate
Female Marriage Rate
The age group where males are most likely to be married is Over 65, while the female age group most likely to be married is 35-44.
Second Gulf War
First Gulf War
World War II
Less Than 9th Grade
High School Graduate
Bachelors or Greater
Veteran Poverty Rate
Veteran Disability Rate
Labor Force Participation
Non citizens include legal permanent residents (green card holders), international students, temporary workers, humanitarian migrants, and illegal immigrants.
Born in Nebraska
95.09% of Nebraska residents were born in the United States, with 66.52% having been born in Nebraska. 4.48% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Latin America.