Demographics of the Arab League

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Population density of the League members

The Arab League is a culturally and ethnically diverse league of 22 member states. As of January 1, 2007, the combined population of all the countries that are members of the Arab League was about 340 million people.

The most populous member state is Egypt, with a population of 80 million people. Djibouti is the least populated with around 500,000 inhabitants. Most of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf import high amounts of foreign labour. For example, the UAE's native inhabitants make up less than 20% of its overall population.

Some Persian Gulf Arab states import cheap labor from poorer Arab countries such as Yemen, and Egypt, while others turn to countries in Asia and Africa.

Population growth[edit]

The population of the Arab League as estimated by the CIA in the year 2007 was around 340,000,000. No exact figures of the League's annual population growth, fertility rate, or mortality rate are known to exist.

Most of the Arab League's population is concentrated in and around major urban areas.[1]

Religion in the Arab world[edit]

Religions
Muslims
  
90%
Christians
  
6%
Others
  
4%

Muhammad's Islamic Ummah, Christianity and Judaism were all reportedly founded in or near areas that are now Arab League countries. Consequently, the majority of the Arab League's citizens are either Muslims, Christians or Jews. The countries of the Arab League host several holy cities and other religiously significant locations, including Alexandria, Mecca, Medina, Kirkuk, Arbil, and Baghdad. Sunni Muslims constitute the majority of the Arab League's residents. However, large numbers of Shi'a Muslims make up the majority in areas of Lebanon, Iraq, and Bahrain.

Christianity is the second largest religion in the League, with over 20 million Christians living in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Bahrain, Syria, Kuwait and Jordan. There are smaller Jewish populations living mainly in the western part of the Arab league. Places such as Bahrain, Morocco, Algeria, Yemen, Tunisia, Syria, Egypt and Iraq all have Jewish populations. However, most Arab Jews emigrated from the Arab states to Israel after its founding in 1948.[2] Other minor religions such as Druze religion, the Bahá'í Faith, Mandeanism, Yazdanism, Zoroastrianism, Shabak religion and Yarsan are practiced on a much smaller scale.

The holiest place in Islam, the Kaaba, is located in Saudi Arabia.
  • Muslim population - 311,093,951
  • Total population - 349,870,608

Religious percentages of the Arab League

N Country Muslims Christians Others
_  Arab League 90% 6% 4%
1  Algeria 98% 1% 1%
2  Bahrain 70.2% UNK 29.8%
3  Comoros 99% 1% n/a
4  Djibouti 94% 6% n/a%
5  Egypt 90% 10% n/a
6  Iraq 95% 4.3% 0.7%
7  Jordan 92% 6% 2%
8  Kuwait 85% 7% 8%
9  Lebanon 54% 41% 5%
10  Libya 97% 2.4% 0.6%
11  Mauritania 100% 0% 0%
12  Morocco 98.7% 1.1% 0.2%
13  Oman 92.5% 5% 2.5%
14  Qatar 77.9% 8.5% 10%
15  Saudi Arabia 97% 1.3% 1.7%
16  Somalia 100% 0% 0%
17  Sudan 97%[3] 3%
18  Syria 87% 10% 3%
19  Tunisia 98% 1% 1%
20  United Arab Emirates 76% 9.0% 15%
21  Yemen 100% 0% 0%

Language[edit]

source needed
Languages
Arabic
  
72.26%
Other
  
28.74%
Major languages of the Arab League (the map is not precise)
An overview of the different Arabic dialects

Arabic is the Arab League's official language, but additional languages are often used in the daily lives of some of the League's citizens. Currently, three major languages other than Arabic are used widely: Kurdish in northern Iraq and parts of Syria, Berber in North Africa, and Somali in the Horn of Africa.

There are several minority languages that are still spoken today, such as Afar, Armenian, Hebrew, Nubian, Persian, Aramaic, Mandic, Syriac, and Turkmen. Arabic is a non-native language to 20% of the Arab League's population, with the Somali, Berber and Kurdish languages considered the most widely used after Arabic.

On the other hand, Arabic is divided into over 27 dialects. Almost every Arab state has at least one local dialect of its own. they can be divided into 5 major branches, the Peninsula Arabic, which is the Arabic used in the Arabian peninsula, with around 9 main dialects, Arabic of the Nile Valley, which includes the Masri, Saedi, Sudanese and Chadic Arabic, the Arabic of the Fertile Crescent, which includes the Bedawi, Levant Arabic, Iraqi Arabic and North Mesopotamian Arabic, the Magharbi Arabic, which includes the Dialects used in Mauritania, Morocco, Libya, Algeria and Tunisia, also another category of Arabic is the other isolated dialects of Arabic, like the Judeo-Arabic, Mediterranean Arabic, Nubi Arabic, and the juba Arabic, which have greatly been affected by these communities' own pronunciation, culture and native tongue.

Ethnicities[edit]

Since most modern borders of the Arab world are products of Western imperial powers, they often ignore distinct ethnic and geographic boundaries. Thus, in addition to regions with large Arab populations being located in non-Arab countries (such as the Turkish province of Hatay, populated mainly by indigenous Iskanderun Syrians, and the Iranian province of Khuzestan, which has a minority of Iranian Arabs), many peripheral states of the Arab world have border-straddling minorities of non-Arab peoples, as is the case with the non-Arab Black Africans of southern Mauritania.

Many Arab countries in the Persian Gulf have sizable (10–30%) non-Arab populations, usually of a temporary nature, at least in theory. Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman have a Persian speaking minority. The same countries also have Hindi-Urdu speakers and Filipinos as sizable minority. Balochi speakers are a good size minority in Oman. Countries like Bahrain, UAE, Oman and Kuwait have significant non-Muslim / non-Arab minorities (10–20%) like Hindus and Christians from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philippines.

Many non-Arab countries bordering the core Arab world states have large Arab populations, as is the case in Chad, Israel, Turkey, Mali, Niger, and Senegal.


Ethnicity Total[citation needed] Estimated Date
Arabs 155,921,955 est.2007
Afars 456,000 2007
Amhara 191,000 2007
Assyrians 1,779,700 2006
Armenians 260,500 2007
Beja 2,779,000 2007
Berbers 26,364,100[citation needed] 2007
Cherkes 229,600 2006
Europeans 853,950 2007
Filipino 2,000,000 2007
Greeks 89,100 2007
Gypsies 500,000 2007
Han Chinese 105,590 2007
Indian
(see also Hinduism in Arab states)
5,228,900 2012
Somalis 8,882,500 2007
Jews 19,940 2007
Kurds 6,216,500 2007
Malays 516,100 2007
Nubians 1,700,000 2006
Persians 1,192,000 2006
Swahili 497,200 2006
Tigrinya 47,800 2007
Tuareg 242,000 2007
Turkish
(see also Turks in the Arab world)
8,760,000[4] 1993
Turkmens 458,900 2007
Urdu 963,300 2006

Berbers[edit]

The town of Aït Benhaddou is a typical desert Berber town; the Berbers are the largest non-Arab ethnicity in the Arab League.

In the Maghreb (North Africa) most of the population speaks Arabic although there is a significant Berber population. Arab and Berber identity in these countries is generally defined situationally by both language and ancestry. In Morocco, Berber speakers form about 40%[citation needed] of the total population; in Algeria, they represent about 30%[citation needed] of the population. In Libya, they form about 5% of the population[citation needed]. There are much smaller isolated Berber communities in Mauritania and one oasis in Egypt's Western Desert. The nomadic Tuareg people whose traditional areas straddle the borders of several countries in the Sahara desert, are Berber. Government worries about ethnic separatism, and condescending attitudes towards the mainly rural Berber-speaking areas, led to the Berber communities being denied full linguistic and cultural rights; in Algeria, for example, Berber chairs at universities were closed, and Berber singers were occasionally banned from singing in their own language, although an official Berber radio station continued to operate throughout. These problems have to some extent been redressed in later years in Morocco and Algeria; both have started teaching Berber languages in schools and universities, and Algeria has amended its constitution to declare Berber a fundamental aspect of Algerian identity (along with Islam and Arabness). In Libya, however, any suggestion that Berbers might be non-Arab remains taboo.[1]

Nubians[edit]

Nubians, found in Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt, are a different ethnicity from their upper and southern Arab neighbors in Egypt and Sudan, numbering 1.7 million in Sudan and Egypt. The Nubian people in Sudan inhabit the region between Wadi Halfa in the north and Aldaba in the south. The main Nubian groups from north to south are the Halfaweyen, Sikut (Sickkout), Mahas, and Danagla. They speak different dialects of the Nubian language.

Ancient Nubians were famous for their vast wealth, their trade between Central Africa and the lower Nile valley civilizations, including Egypt, their skill and precision with the bow, their 23-letter alphabet, the use of deadly poison on the heads of their arrows, their great military, their advanced civilization, and their century-long rule over the united upper and lower Egyptian kingdoms.

Kurds[edit]

In the northern regions of Iraq (15-20%) and Syria (10%) live the Kurds, an Indo-European ethnic group who speak Kurdish, a language closely related to Persian and using Persian alphabet (In Turkey, Kurds use Latin alphabet). The majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslim, others are Alevi Muslim, with Christian and Yarsan minorities. The nationalist aspiration for self-rule or for a state of Kurdistan has created conflict between Kurdish minorities and their governments in Iraq, Iran (20-28%), Syria and Turkey (25-30%).

Assyrians[edit]

Assyrians (also known as Chaldo-Assyrians) can be found in Iraq, north eastern Syria, and to a lesser degree north western Iran and south eastern Turkey. They are an ancient Semitic people who retain Aramaic as a spoken language. They are exclusively Christian and are descendants of the ancient pre Arab Assyrians/Mesopotamians. Almost all Christians in Iraq are ethnic Assyrians, where they number approximately 800,000. Numbers in Syria are harder to identify, because they are often included in with the general Christian population, however the Christians of the Tur Abdin and Al Hasakah regions in the north east are predominantly Assyrians.

Armenians[edit]

Armenian refugees after the Hamidian massacres. A lot of them settled in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt

The Arab world has between 400,000 and 500,000 Armenians inhabiting its geographical area. Armenians are largely concentrated in countries such as Lebanon 150,000 - 250,000 and Syria 100,000 to 150,000 and to a lesser degree Egypt and Iraq, but Armenians can also be found in countries like Qatar and the UAE. These Armenians are economic migrants from Lebanon and Syria.

Most Armenians are Christians mainly following the Orthodox Armenian Apostolic Church. The church has one of its two headquarters in Antelias, Lebanon, called The Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia (the other being in Armenia called Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin). There are also Armenian Catholics. The world headquarters of the Armenian Catholic Church is also located in Beirut, Lebanon (and historically in Bzoummar, Lebanon). There are also a minority Armenian Evangelical Protestants. The Middle East headquarters of the Armenian Evangelical Church is in Beirut called Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East.

Egyptians[edit]

Taha Hussein was an Egyptian writer and intellectual, he was the most notable advocate for the Pharaonism ideology that swept Egypt in the early 20th century.

Egyptians generally do not identify themselves as ethnic Arabs[citation needed] and still retain numerous pre-Arab cultural traditions that date back to ancient Egypt.[citation needed] The Egyptian people acknowledge their pre-Arab identity and Egyptian nationalism has become the dominant ideology in Egypt after the death of former president Gamal Abdel Nasser who was a staunch advocate for Arab nationalism and was considered the leader of the Arab nationalist movement during his rule.

Copts[edit]

Egyptian Copts do not recognise themselves as Arab, but emphasise their pre-Arab Ancient Egyptian identity. They comprise 10% of the Egyptian population. They are Christians, mainly of the Orthodox tradition in the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. There are also a minority Copts following Catholic tradition within the Coptic Catholic Church and small group follows Protestant tradition within the Coptic Evangelical Church. The Copts retain a form of ancient Coptic language to this day for religious ceremonies.

Maronites[edit]

A large proportion of Lebanese Maronite Christians identify with a pre-Arab and pre-Islamic Phoenician identity, and do not self identify as ethnic Arabs. Maronites, part of the Maronite Church, an Oriental Catholic Syriac Church live mainly in Lebanon where they retain, by tradition and National Pact, the post of Presidency of the Republic and the leadership of the Lebanese Army. They also have great presence in Syria and live in smaller numbers in Palestine, Jordan and Egypt.

Somalis[edit]

Somali and Arabic are the two official languages in Somalia, both of which belong to the Afro-Asiatic family. Article 3 of the constitution outlines the country's founding principles, establishing it as a Muslim state, and a member of the Arab and African nations.[5] About 85% of local residents are ethnic Somalis,[6] who have historically inhabited the northern part of the country.[7] Many self-identify as Somali instead of Arab despite centuries-old ties to Arabia.[8] There are also a number of Benadiris, Bravanese, Bantus, Bajunis, Ethiopians, Indians, Pakistanis, Persians, Britons and Italians.[7][9]

Djibouti, whose demographics are approximately 60% Somali and 35% Afar, is in a similar position. Arabic is one of the official languages, 94% of the nation's population is Muslim, and its location on the Red Sea places it in close proximity to the Arabian Peninsula. Somali and Afar are also recognized national languages.[10]

Turks[edit]

The Turks colonised many Arab countries during the rule of the Ottoman Empire; today there are Turkish minorities living in Algeria (Algerian Turks), Egypt (Egyptian Turks), Jordan (Jordan Turks), Lebanon (Lebanese Turks), Syria (Syrian Turks), Tunisia (Tunisian Turks), and Yemen (Yemeni Turks).

Turkmen[edit]

The Arab world is also home to sizeable populations of Turkmen. These are related to the Azeri people of Iran. The vast majority are secular Muslim, but there are a small number of Christians also. They live predominantly in Northern Iraq, but in smaller numbers in Syria and Lebanon.

Yazidi[edit]

The Yazidi are a religious Kurdish community who represent an ancient religion that is linked to Zoroastrianism and Sufism. They number 500,000 in Iraq and 14,000 in Syria.

Shabaks[edit]

Shabaks are mainly found in Iraq, they are either Muslim or follow native religions. They are also related to Kurds, but like the Yazidi, emphasise their separate identity.

Mandaeans[edit]

Mandaeans, sometimes also called Sabians, are a people found mainly in southern Iraq. Their numbers total no more than 70,000. They follow Mandaeism, a gnostic religion.

Roma (Gypsies)[edit]

Roma (Gypsies) are to be found in many parts of the Middle East and North Africa; their numbers are unknown. They speak their own language and may loosely follow the predominant religion of the country they live in.[11]

Circassians[edit]

Circassians are a people who originate in the North Caucasus. They are predominantly Muslim, and can be found in Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon in relatively small numbers.

Mhallami[edit]

Mhallami are a tiny minority of the Assyrian/Syriac people who have converted to Islam but retained their Syriac culture.

Jews[edit]

Many Jews in Israel have roots in Arab countries (Sephardi and Mizrahi), from where most fled or were expelled in the first decades following the creation of Israel and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Small minorities exist still in Lebanon, Syria and Morocco.

Genetics[edit]

Y-Chromosome[edit]

Listed here are the human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups in main regions of the Arab world (Maghreb, Mashriq and Arabian peninsula).[12]

Haplogroup n A B C DE E1a E1b1a E1b1b1 E1b1b1a E1b1b1a1 E1b1b1a1b E1b1b1a2 E1b1b1a3 E1b1b1a4 E1b1b1b E1b1b1c F G H I J1 J2 K L N O P,R Q R1a1 R1b R1b1a R1b1b R2 T
Marker M33 M2 M35 M78 V12 V32 V13 V22 V65 M81 M34 M89 M201 M69 M343 V88 M269 M70
Maghreb
Sahara/Mauritania 189 - 0.53 - - 5.29 6.88 - - - - - - - 55.56 11.11 - - - - 13.23 - - - - - - - - - 6.88 0.53 - -
Morocco 760 0.26 0.66 - - 2.76 3.29 4.21 0.79 0.26 - 0.26 1.84 3.68 67.37 0.66 0.26 0.66 - 0.13 6.32 1.32 0.53 - - - 0.26 - - - 0.92 3.55 - -
Algeria 156 - - - - 0.64 5.13 0.64 1.92 0.64 - 0.64 1.28 1.92 44.23 1.28 3.85 - - - 21.79 4.49 0.64 - - - - 0.64 0.64 - 2.56 7.04 - -
Tunisia 601 - 0.17 - - 0.5 0.67 1.66 - - - - 3 3.16 62.73 1.16 2.66 0.17 - 0.17 16.64 2.83 0.33 - - - 0.33 - 0.5 - 1.83 0.33 - 1.16
Libya 83 - - - - - 38.55 - - - - 2.41 - 4.82 45.78 - - - - - - - - - - - 2.41 - - - 6.02 - - -
Machrik
Egypt 370 1.35 - - - 0.54 2.43 3.24 0.81 7.03 1.62 0.81 9.19 2.43 11.89 6.76 1.08 5.68 - 0.54 20.81 6.75 0.27 0.81 - 0.27 0.54 0.27 2.16 - 2.97 2.97 0.54 6.22
Levant + Iraq 2741 0.18 0.04 0.04 - 0.33 0.62 0.44 - - - 1.24 8.72 - 0.84 5.36 0.15 5.47 - 2.84 30.83 21.05 0.69 3.43 0.15 0.07 0.66 1.2 3.39 0.36 5.47 1.97 0.47 3.98
Arabian Peninsula 618 0.16 0.81 0.97 0.81 0.32 5.66 1.94 0.49 - - 0.32 2.43 - 0.16 5.66 1.29 2.91 2.1 - 44.01 11.32 4.37 2.27 - 0.65 0.32 1.46 6.31 0.16 - 2.43 0.16 0.49

Comparison of the members[edit]

Country Area (km2) Population (est. 2007) GDP PPP (in billions $)
 Arab League 13,333,296 340,043,965 1,860,193
 Algeria 2,381,740 33,333,216 250,000
 Bahrain 665 708,573 18,000
 Comoros 2,170 711,417 1,275
 Djibouti 23,000 496,374 1,878
 Egypt 1,001,450 80,335,036 334,400
 Iraq 437,072 27,499,638 50,720
 Jordan 92,300 6,053,193 30,000
 Kuwait 17,820 2,505,559 55,910
 Lebanon 10,400 4,224,000 51,474
 Libya 1,759,540 6,036,914 72,680
 Mauritania 1,030,700 3,270,065 8,124
 Morocco 446,550 33,757,175 152,500
 Oman 212,460 3,204,897 44,530
 Qatar 11,437 907,229 26,370
 Saudi Arabia 2,149,690 27,601,038 366,200
 Somalia 637,657 9,118,773 5,575
 Sudan 1,886,068 30,894,000 97,470
 Syria 185,180 19,314,747 77,660
 Tunisia 163,610 10,276,158 89,740
 United Arab Emirates 83,600 4,444,011 129,500
 Yemen 527,970 22,230,531 20,630

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b [1]
  2. ^ Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries
  3. ^ "Sudan Overview". UNDP Sudan. Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  4. ^ Akar, Metin (1993), "Fas Arapçasında Osmanlı Türkçesinden Alınmış Kelimeler", Türklük Araştırmaları Dergisi 7: 91–110 
  5. ^ "Provisional Constitution". Federal Republic of Somalia. 1 August 2012. Article 5. 
  6. ^ Central Intelligence Agency (2011). "Somalia". The World Factbook. Langley, Virginia: Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2013-07-07. 
  7. ^ a b Abdullahi, Mohamed Diriye (2001). Culture and customs of Somalia. Greenwood. pp. 8–11. ISBN 978-0-313-31333-2. 
  8. ^ David D. Laitin (1977). "Politics, Language, and Thought". University of Chicago Press. p. 50. ISBN 0226467910. 
  9. ^ Gale Research Inc. (1984). Worldmark encyclopedia of the nations, Volume 2. Gale Research. p. 278. 
  10. ^ "Djibouti". CIA Factbook. 
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ Bekada A, Fregel R, Cabrera VM, Larruga JM, Pestano J, et al. (2013) Introducing the Algerian Mitochondrial DNA and Y-Chromosome Profiles into the North African Landscape. PLoS ONE 8(2): e56775. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056775