Demographics of the Arab League
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The Arab League (League of Arab States) is a culturally and ethnically diverse league of 22 member states in the Arab world. 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 Arab League member state is Egypt, with a population of 80 million residents. 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 United Arab Emirates' native inhabitants make up less than 20% of its overall population.
- 1 Population growth
- 2 Religion in the Arab world
- 3 Language
- 4 Ethnicities
- 5 Genetics
- 6 Comparison of the members
- 7 See also
- 8 References
The population of the Arab League as estimated by the CIA in July, 2014 was around 357,000,000. 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.
Religion in the Arab world
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. 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.
- Muslim population - 311,093,951
- Total population - 349,870,608
Religious percentages of the Arab League
|21||United Arab Emirates||76%||9.0%||15%|
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.
||This section possibly contains original research. (October 2012)|
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.
|Ethnicity||Total||Estimated Date|
(see also Hinduism in Arab states)
(see also Turks in the Arab world)
In the Maghreb (North Africa) most of the population speaks Arabic although there is a significant Amazigh population, who are often called "Berbers". However, the term "Berber" derives from the word "barbarian", so it is often considered a derogatory racial slur. Arab and Amazigh identity in these countries is generally defined situationally by both language and ancestry. In Morocco, Amazigh speakers form about 40% of the total population; in Algeria, they represent about 30% of the population. In Libya, they form about 5% of the population. There are much smaller isolated Amazigh 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 Amazigh. Government worries about ethnic separatism, and condescending attitudes towards the mainly rural Amazigh-speaking areas, led to the Amazigh communities being denied full linguistic and cultural rights; in Algeria, for example, Amazigh chairs at universities were closed, and Amazigh singers were occasionally banned from singing in their own language, although an official Amazigh 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 Amazigh languages in schools and universities, and Algeria has amended its constitution to declare Amazigh a fundamental aspect of Algerian identity (along with Islam and Arabness). In Libya, however, any suggestion that Amazigh might be non-Arab remains taboo.
Nubians, found in Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt, are a different ethnicity from their northern and southern 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.
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 (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.
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 generally do not identify themselves as ethnic Arabs, with the word "Arab" in Egypt often being used to refer to Bedouins or Gulf Arabs. Numerous cultural traditions that predate the Muslim conquest of Egypt distinguish Egyptian culture from that of other Arab states. 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. His successor Anwar Sadat embarked on a path to revive the nationalist ideas that preceded the pan-Arabist movement in Egypt by asserting that only Egypt and Egyptians were his responsibility. These views and sources for collective identification in Egypt are captured in the words of a linguistic anthropologist who conducted fieldwork in Cairo:
|“||Historically, Egyptians have considered themselves as distinct from 'Arabs' and even at present rarely do they make that identification in casual contexts; il-'arab [the Arabs] as used by Egyptians refers mainly to the inhabitants of the Gulf states... Egypt has been both a leader of pan-Arabism and a site of intense resentment towards that ideology. Egyptians had to be made, often forcefully, into "Arabs" [during the Nasser era] because they did not historically identify themselves as such. Egypt was self-consciously a nation not only before pan-Arabism but also before becoming a colony of the British Empire. Its territorial continuity since ancient times, its unique history as exemplified in its pharaonic past and later on its Coptic language and culture, had already made Egypt into a nation for centuries. Egyptians saw themselves, their history, culture and language as specifically Egyptian and not "Arab."||”|
Egyptian Copts are an ethno-religious group who do not identify themselves as Arab. They place heavy emphasis on the Egyptian aspect of their identity and their Christian heritage. Their numbers are heavily disputed but are estimated to compromise roughly 10% of the Egyptian population. They are mainly followers of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, there are however a minority among them who are members of the Coptic Catholic Church, and an even smaller group who belong to the Coptic Evangelical Church. The Coptic language, which directly descends from the Egyptian spoken in ancient Egypt, continues to be used as the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.
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.
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. About 85% of local residents are ethnic Somalis, who have historically inhabited the northern part of the country. Many self-identify as Somali instead of Arab despite centuries-old ties to Arabia. There are also a number of Benadiris, Bravanese, Bantus, Bajunis, Ethiopians, Indians, Pakistanis, Persians, Britons and Italians.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
Roma 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.
Mhallami are a tiny minority of the Assyrian/Syriac people who have converted to Islam but retained their Syriac culture.
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.
|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|
Comparison of the members
|Country||Area (km2)||Population (est. July 2014)||GDP PPP (in billions $)|
|United Arab Emirates||83,600||9,346,129||269.8|
- Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries
- "Sudan Overview". UNDP Sudan. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
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- Niloofar, Haeri (2003). Sacred language, Ordinary People: Dilemmas of Culture and Politics in Egypt. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 47 & 136.
- Abdl-Hamid Youssef, Ahmad (2003). From Pharaoh’s Lips:Ancient Egyption Language in The Arabic of Today. Cairo: American Univ in Cairo Press.
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- Haeri, Niloofar. Sacred language, Ordinary People: Dilemmas of Culture and Politics in Egypt. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2003, pp. 47, 136.
- "Provisional Constitution". Federal Republic of Somalia. 1 August 2012. Article 5.
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