Arab diaspora in Colombia

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Shakira is a well-known Colombian of Arab descent. Her father is of Lebanese descent.[1] Shakira means "thankful" (شاكِرة) in Arabic.

The Arab diaspora in Colombia refers to the Arab immigrants and their offspring in the Republic of Colombia. Most of the Arab Middle Easterners came from Lebanon, Syria and Palestine escaping from the repression of the Turkish Ottoman Empire and financial hardships.[2] When they were first processed in the ports of Colombia, they were classified as Turks because what is modern day Lebanon, Syria and Palestine was a territory of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. It is estimated that Colombia has a Lebanese population of 700,000.[3]

Most of the Syrian-Lebanese established themselves in the Caribbean Region of Colombia in the towns of Santa Marta, Lorica, Fundación, Aracataca, Ayapel, Calamar, Ciénega, Cereté, Montería and Barranquilla near the basin of the Magdalena River. They later expanded to other cities and by 1945 there were Arab Middle Easterners moving inland like Ocaña, Cúcuta, Barrancabermeja, Ibagué, Girardot, Honda, Tunja, Villavicencio, Pereira, Soatá, Neiva, Buga, Chaparral and Chinácota. The four major hubs of Arab Middle Eastern population were present in Barranquilla, Cartagena, Bogotá and Cali. Most arrived as members of the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, but the majority became Roman Catholic. The number of immigrants entering the country vary from 5,000 to 10,000 in 1945. Most of these immigrants were Christians and others were Muslims.[2]

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