Lebanese Diaspora
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Lebanese Diaspora
Lebanese diaspora
Total population
From 4[1][2] to possibly 14 million[2][3]
Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, French, English, Lebanese Arabic, Armenian
80% Christianity (mainly Maronite, as well as Eastern Orthodox, Melkite, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and non-native to Lebanon such as Armenian Orthodox, Armenian Catholic, Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholic), 20% Islam (mainly Shia, Sunni, in addition to Alawite), Druze, and Jews

Lebanese diaspora refers to Lebanese migrants and their descendants who, whether by choice or coercion, emigrated from Lebanon and now reside in other countries. There are more Lebanese living outside Lebanon (4 - 8 million), than within the country (4m). The majority of the diaspora population consists of Lebanese Christians; others are Muslim, Druze, or Jewish. The Christians trace their origin to several waves of emigration, starting with the exodus that followed the 1860 Lebanon conflict in Ottoman Syria.

Under the current Lebanese nationality law, diaspora Lebanese do not have an automatic right to return to Lebanon. Due to varying degrees of assimilation and high degree of interethnic marriages in the Lebanese diaspora communities, regardless of religious affiliation; most diaspora Lebanese have not passed on the Arabic language to their children, while still maintaining a Lebanese ethnic identity.

The largest diaspora by far resides in Brazil, with between 2 and 5 million; Argentina and Colombia follow, with about a million each.


Although there are no reliable figures, the diaspora is estimated to be around 8 -10 million people, far more than the internal population of Lebanon of around 4 million who are citizens.[3][4] According to other estimates the number of Lebanese living outside the country is thought to at the very least double the number of citizens living inside,[1] which means at least 8 million people. Of the diaspora, 1.2 million are Lebanese citizens.[5]


The Lebanese diaspora, while historically trade-related, has more recently been linked to the Lebanese Civil War, with many Lebanese emigrating to Western countries. Because of the economic opportunities, many Lebanese have also worked in the Arab World, most notably Arab states of the Persian Gulf like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Currently around 50% of Lebanese citizens resident in Lebanon are Muslim and around 50% are Christian.[6]

The Americas have long been a destination for Lebanese migration, with Lebanese arriving in some countries at least as early as the nineteenth century. The largest concentration of Lebanese outside the Middle East is in Brazil, which has, according to some sources, at least 6 million Brazilians of Lebanese ancestry, making Brazil's population of Lebanese more than twice that of the entire population of Lebanon. The population of Brazil of either full or partial Lebanese descent is estimated at 7 [7] million people by Arab-Brazilian organizations. According to a research conducted by IBGE in 2008, covering only the states of Amazonas, Paraíba, São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Mato Grosso and Distrito Federal, 0.9% of white Brazilian respondents said they had family origins in the Middle East [8]

There are also other large Lebanese communities in Latin American countries, namely Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela, Haiti and Dominican Republic. Many Lebanese have also been settled for quite some time in the United States, Canada, Australia, The United Kingdom, South Africa and in the European Union member states. There are also sizable populations in The United Arab Emirates, Singapore as well as francophone West Africa, particularly Ivory Coast and Ghana.

A law passed in 2008 permitted Lebanese abroad to vote in Lebanese elections starting in 2013.[9]

Business networks and economic impacts

Many Lebanese entrepreneurs and business people worldwide have proved very successful, in all kinds of sectors and contexts. Therefore, Lebanese abroad are considered "rich, educated and influential."[10]Remittances from Lebanese abroad to family members within the country were estimated at $8.9 billion in 2014 and accounted for 18% of the country's economy.[11] However, there remains a great untapped potential for further collaboration and cooperation between the diaspora and the Lebanese in their home-country. Foreign direct investment is below 7% of the GDP, and almost half the Lebanese population is in tertiary education.

Throughout its history, the Lebanese diaspora used the Lebanese identity to create strong networks to help its members out. That helped develop a productive and profitable activity. Over the course of time, immigration has indeed yielded Lebanese "commercial networks" throughout the world.[12]

Lebanese populations in the diaspora

Lebanese residents as a percentage of country's total population

The list below contains approximate figures for people of full or partial Lebanese descent by country of residence, largely taken from the iLoubnan diaspora map.[13] Additional reliable cites have been provided where possible. Additional estimates have been included where they can be cited; where applicable, these are used in place of the iLoubnan figures. The Figure below uses the data from the list and calculates the amount of Lebanese residents as a percentage of the total population of the respective country.

Country Estimate Upper Estimate Region Country article in English Wikipedia List of personalities of Lebanese origin
 Brazil 2,000,000 according to a research conducted by IBGE in 2008, covering only the states of Amazonas, Paraíba, São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Mato Grosso and Distrito Federal, 0.9% of white Brazilian respondents said they had family origins in the Middle East[8] 5,800,000[13]-7,000,000[14] (Brazilian/Lebanese governments)[15] Latin America Lebanese Brazilian Brazil
 Argentina 1,200,000[13][16] 3,500,000[16] Latin America Lebanese Argentine Argentina
 Colombia 1,000,000[13] 3,400,000[17] Latin America Lebanese Colombian Colombia
 United States 500,000[18] 900,000[19] North America Lebanese American United States
 Venezuela 341,000[13] 500,000[20] Latin America Lebanese Venezuelan Venezuela
 Australia 271,000[21][22] 350,000[23] Oceania Lebanese Australian Australia
 France 250,000[24][25][26] 250,000[13] - 300,000[24][27] European Union Lebanese French France
 Mexico 240,000[13] 400,000[28] - 505,000[] Latin America Lebanese Mexican Mexico
 Canada 190,275[29] 250,000[30] - 270,000[13] North America Lebanese Canadian Canada
 Saudi Arabia 120,000[13] 299,000[] Arab World Lebanese people in Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia
 Syria 114,000[] Arab World Lebanese people in Syria Syria
 Ecuador 98,000[13] 250,000 Latin America Lebanese Ecuadorian Ecuador
 Dominican Republic 80,000[31] Latin America Lebanese Dominican
 United Arab Emirates 80,000[4] 156,000[] Arab World Lebanese people in the United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates
 Uruguay 53,000[13] 70,000[32] Latin America Lebanese Uruguayan Uruguay
 Ivory Coast 50,000[33] 90,000[34] Sub-saharan Africa Lebanese people in Ivory Coast
 New Zealand 8,500[13] Oceania Lebanese New Zealander
 Kuwait 41,775[35] 106,000[36] Arab World Lebanese people in Kuwait
 Senegal 30,000[37][38] Sub-Saharan Africa Lebanese Senegalese
 Sweden 26,906[39] European Union Lebanese people in Sweden Sweden
 Denmark 26,705[40] European Union Lebanese people in Denmark Denmark
 Qatar 25,000[41] 191,000[] Arab World Lebanese people in Qatar
 Spain 11,820[13] European Union Lebanese Spanish Spain
 South Africa 5,100[] 20,000[42] Sub-Saharan Africa Lebanese people in South Africa South Africa
 Belgium 2,400 5,000 European Union Lebanese people in Belgium Belgium
 Germany unknown European Union Lebanese German Germany
Caribbean[note 1] 545,200[13] Latin America Lebanese Jamaican Caribbean  · Cuba  · Haiti  · Jamaica
Rest of Latin America, ex. Caribbean[note 2] 181,800[13] Latin America Lebanese Chileans Chile  · Guatemala  · Dutch Antilles
Scandinavia 108,220[13] European Union Lebanese Swedish Sweden  · Denmark
Rest of GCC[note 3] 105,000[13] Arab World
Rest of European Union[note 4] 96,780[13] European Union Lebanese British  · Lebanese Bulgarian** · Lebanese Greek Bulgaria  · Cyprus  · Germany  · Italy  · Monaco  · Netherlands  · Switzerland  · UK
Rest of Sub-Saharan Africa[note 5] 42,510[13] Sub-Saharan Africa Lebanese Sierra Leonean Ghana  · Sierra Leone
North Africa[note 6] 14,000[13] North Africa Lebanese Egyptian Egypt
Asia[note 7] 2,600[13] Asia

Note: An important percentage of Arabs in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, Portugal and Spain are of Lebanese ancestry. They are denoted ** for this purpose.

Outreach to the Lebanese diaspora by the Lebanese government

The Lebanese government increasingly sees the diaspora as a critical resource for investment and new immigrants. A 2016 television ad tried to entice Lebanese in the United States to move to Lebanon to help improve the standard of living.[43]

The Lebanese government launched the DiasporaID program in August 2017 to better connect Lebanese abroad to Lebanon itself. Funding for the project was provided by USAID with an objective of improving foreign investment in Lebanon.[44]

On August 8, 2017, Lebanese President Michel Aoun advocated children of Lebanese in the diaspora take on Lebanese citizenship during a speech to the Maronite Diaspora Institution at Baabda Palace.[45]

Notable persons of Lebanese descent

Famous scientists of Lebanese descent include: Peter Medawar (Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine), Elias Corey (Nobel Prize in Chemistry), Michael Atiyah (Fields Medalist, Mathematics), Michael DeBakey (medical innovator). Famous writers include William Peter Blatty, film director Alex Garland, Nassim Nicholas Taleb and screenwriter and film producer Geoff Johns.

Prominent members of the Lebanese diaspora include Presidents and Vice-Presidents, e.g. Michel Temer (Brazil), Julio Teodoro Salem, Abdalá Bucaram, Alberto Dahik, Jamil Mahuad (all in Ecuador), Jacobo Majluta Azar (Dominican Republic), Julio Cesar Turbay (Colombia) and Alberto Abdala (Uruguay). Other famous politicians include Ralph Nader, 2000, 2004 and 2008 US presidential candidate, Alex Azar current United States Secretary of Health, Spencer Abraham former United States Secretary of Energy, John Sununu former White House Chief of Staff, Darrell Issa US politician, George J. Mitchell US Politician and Peace Envoy, Philip Habib US Politician and Peace Envoy, politician and author Jeanine Pirro, US Representative Donna Shalala, and Edward Seaga Prime Minister of Jamaica.

Famous businessmen of Lebanese descent include Carlos Slim Helú, Carlos Ghosn, Nicolas Hayek, John J. Mack, Jacques Nasser, Debra Cafaro, Joseph J Jacobs, Lucie Salhany and famous names in entertainment like Danny Thomas, Marlo Thomas, Salma Hayek, Shakira, Jenna Dewan, Terrence Malick, Tom Shadyac, Tony Shalhoub, Tiffany, Jane Wiedlin, Kristy McNichol, James Stacy, Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn, Amy Yasbeck, John Leguizamo, Omar Shariff, Paul Anka, Emilio Stefan, Ricardo Darin, Oscar-winning composer Gabriel Yared, Damian Bichir, Mika and sportsmen like Doug Flutie, Rony Seikaly, Marcos Bagdhatis, Patrick Maroon, Johnny Manziel, Kelly Slater, winner of the Indy 500 Bobby Rahal, chess Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade and Olympic medalist Jordyn Wieber.

See also


  1. ^ Includes Cuba, Guadalupe & Haiti
  2. ^ Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru
  3. ^ Excludes Saudi Arabia & Kuwait, includes Iraq & Jordan
  4. ^ Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Monaco, Switzerland, United Kingdom
  5. ^ Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria & Sierra Leone
  6. ^ Egypt, Libya & rest of North Africa
  7. ^ Iran, Indonesia, and Philippines

External links

  • The Lebanese Demographic Reality Lebanese Information Center, reviewed by Statistics Lebanon. 14 January 2013.
  • KUSUMO, Fitra Ismu, "ISLAM EN AMERICA LATINA Tomo I: La expansión del Islam y su llegada a América Latina (Spanish Edition)"[1]
  • KUSUMO, Fitra Ismu, "ISLAM EN AMÉRICA LATINA Tomo II: Migración Árabe a América Latina y el caso de México (Spanish Edition)" [2]
  • KUSUMO, Fitra Ismu, "ISLAM EN AMÉRICA LATINA Tomo III: El Islam hoy desde América Latina (Spanish Edition)"[3]


  1. ^ a b "Bassil promises to ease citizenship for expatriates". dailystar.com.lb. 1 May 2014. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ a b Writer, Joseph A. Kechichian, Senior (17 November 2015). "Lebanon contemplates a new citizenship law". gulfnews.com. Retrieved 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Country Profile: Lebanon". FCO. 3 April 2007. Archived from the original on 6 February 2008.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  4. ^ a b Lebanese Living in UAE Fear Deportation Archived 2014-10-16 at the Wayback Machine Al-Monitor, accessed December 2, 2013
  5. ^ "Petition for expatriate voting officially launched". The Daily Star. 14 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Study shows stable Christian population in Lebanon". The Daily Star. 7 February 2013.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-12. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ a b IBGE. IBGE: Características Étnico-Raciais da População.
  9. ^ "Lebanon approves new election law". BBC News. 30 September 2008.
  10. ^ "The invisible occupation of Lebanon". The Christian Science Monitor. 18 May 2005.
  11. ^ "IMF lowers Lebanon growth forecast to sluggish 2 percent". The Daily Star. 22 April 2013.
  12. ^ "Background Note: Lebanon". US Department of State. 1 December 2011. Retrieved .
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "Geographical Distribution of the Lebanese Diaspora". The Identity Chef.
  14. ^ "Lebanese Republic". www.itamaraty.gov.br. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 2018.
  15. ^ "Sleiman meets Brazilian counterpart, Lebanese community". The Daily Star. 23 April 2010.
  16. ^ a b "Argentinian President's visit to the Lebanese Parliament". The Lebanese Parliament. 7 June 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-06-07.
  17. ^ "Colombia awakens to the Arab world". Brazil-Arab News Agency. 21 July 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved .
  18. ^ "Demographics". American FactFinder. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2019.
  19. ^ "Demographics". Arab American Institute.
  20. ^ historico.notitarde.com/1999/08/09/memoria/memoria6.html "In Venezuela currently reside five hundred thousand Lebanese citizens or of Lebanese ancestry..." (SPANISH)
  21. ^ "Australian Population: Ethnic Origins". Monash University. 1999.
  22. ^ "Lebanese in Australia: Facts & Figures". General Consulate of Lebanon in Melbourne.
  23. ^ "Lebanon country brief". Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. March 2013.
  24. ^ a b https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/dossiers-pays/liban/presentation-du-liban/
  25. ^ "Painting a Picture of Exile". New York Times. 27 November 2009.
  26. ^ "The Lebanese in the World: An Entrepreneurial Minority". RMIT University. February 2004.[permanent dead link]
  27. ^ "Blogger". francelebanon.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2018.
  28. ^ "The biggest enchilada". The Sunday Telegraph. 8 July 2007.
  29. ^ Statistics Canada (2011). "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables".
  30. ^ "Canada and Lebanon, a special tie". CBC News}. 1 August 2006.
  31. ^ (in French) http://www.idg.org.do/capsulas/agosto2012/agosto201211.htm. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. ^ "INTERVIEW - L'ambassadeur Jorge Jure (Khoury) raconte son pays et ses propres origines". Embassy of Uruguay (Lebanon) (in French). 19 February 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 January 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  33. ^ "Lebanese Émigré Enclaves in Africa Await Presidential Visit". Al-Akhbar. 6 Feb 2013.
  34. ^ "Lebanese business makes up 35 percent of Ivory Coast economy". The Daily Star. 23 May 2011.
  35. ^ " - Alraimedia.com". www.alraimedia.com. Retrieved 2018.[permanent dead link]
  36. ^ "The Global Financial Crisis: Impact on Lebanese Expatriates in the Gulf" (PDF). LERC. December 2009.
  37. ^ "Lebanese Immigrants Boost West African Commerce". Voice of America. 1 November 2009.
  38. ^ "Suleiman Tells Lebanese Expats in Senegal that he Rejects Sectarian Vote Law". Naharnet. 14 March 2013.
  39. ^ "Utrikes födda efter födelseland, kön och år". www.scb.se. Statistiska Centralbyrån. Retrieved 2017.[permanent dead link]
  40. ^ "FOLK1C: Population at the first day of the quarter by region, sex, age (5 years age groups), ancestry and country of origin". Statistics Denmark. Retrieved 2017.
  41. ^ "Qatar´s population by nationality". bq magazine. 7 December 2014. Archived from the original on 22 December 2013.
  42. ^ "The Struggle Of The Christian Lebanese For Land Ownership In South Africa". The Marionite Research Institute. Archived from the original on 2015-05-12.
  43. ^ "Big fail for ad aimed at Lebanese diaspora". The National. Retrieved .
  44. ^ "Hariri launches project to connect Lebanese diaspora". The Daily Star Newspaper - Lebanon. 2017-08-10. Retrieved .
  45. ^ "Aoun urges Lebanese diaspora to take citizenship". The Daily Star Newspaper - Lebanon. 2017-08-09. Retrieved .
  46. ^ Youssef Bey Karam on Ehden Family Tree website

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