The Somali diaspora refers to expatriate Somalis who reside in areas of the world that have traditionally not been inhabited by their ethnic group. The civil war in Somalia greatly increased the size of the Somali diaspora, as many Somalis moved to the Middle East, Europe, and North America.
While the distribution of Somalis per country in Europe is difficult to measure since the Somali expatriate community on the continent has grown so quickly in recent years, there are significant Somali communities in the United Kingdom: 108,000; Sweden: 43,966 (2012); the Netherlands: 34,631 (2013); Norway: 19,656 (2007); Denmark: 16,550 (2008); and Finland: 14,045 (2011).
Although most Somalis in the United Kingdom are recent arrivals, the first Somalis to arrive were seamen and traders who settled in port cities in the late 19th century. By 2001, the UK census reported 43,532 Somali-born residents, making the Somali community in Britain the largest Somali expatriate population in Europe. An official 2010 estimate indicates that 108,000 Somalis live in the UK, with Somali community organisations putting the figure at 90,000 residents.
Established Somali communities are found in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Cardiff and Bristol, and newer ones have formed in Manchester, Sheffield and Leicester. The Somali population in London alone accounts for roughly 78% of Britain's Somali residents. There has also been some secondary migration of Somalis to the UK from the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark.
Somalis are one of the largest ethnic minorities in Finland, and the largest group of people of non-European origin. In 2009, there were 5,570 Somali citizens, but an equal number may have received Finnish citizenship. In 2012 there were 14,769 Somali speakers in Finland. According to the Finnish National newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, the number of Somali-speaking people in Finland in 2010 rose by nearly 10% in a year.
From 1989 to 1998, the Netherlands was the second-most common European destination for Somali immigrants, only slightly behind the United Kingdom and more than double the total of the next-most common destination, Denmark. However, between 2000 and 2005, there was a significant outflow of Somalis from the Netherlands to the United Kingdom, unofficially estimated to be as large as 20,000 people.
The first Somalis arrived in the United States in the 1940s. They were primarily seamen and New York was their destination. In the late 1970s, more Somali immigrants followed. Not until the 1990s when the civil war broke out in Somalia did the majority of Somalis come to the US.
The heaviest concentrations are in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul), followed by Atlanta, Georgia; Columbus, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; New York City; Buffalo, New York; Seattle; Kansas City; San Diego; Lewiston, Maine; and San Francisco metro areas.
As of 2004[update], an estimated 25,000 Somalis lived in the US state of Minnesota, with the Twin Cities home to the largest population of Somalis in North America. In the city of Minneapolis, there are hundreds of Somali-owned and operated businesses. Colorful stalls inside several malls offer everything from halal meat, to stylish leather shoes, to the latest fashion for men and women, as well as gold jewelry, money transfer or hawala offices, banners advertising the latest Somali films, video stores fully stocked with nostalgic love songs not found in the mainstream supermarkets, groceries, and boutiques.
Canada hosts one of the largest Somali populations in the Western world, with the 2011 National Household Survey reporting 44,995 people claiming Somali descent, though unofficial estimates place the figure as high as 150,000 residents. Somalis tend to be concentrated in the southern part of the province of Ontario, especially the Ottawa and Toronto areas. The Albertan cities of Calgary and Edmonton have also seen a significant increase in their respective Somali communities over the past five years. In addition, the neighbourhood of Rexdale in Toronto has one of the largest Somali populations in the country. Statistics Canada's 2006 Census ranks people of Somali descent as the 69th largest ethnic group in Canada.
Somalis now comprise one of the largest immigrant communities in the United Arab Emirates. Somali-owned businesses line the streets of Deira, the Dubai city centre, with only Iranians exporting more products from the city at large. Internet cafés, hotels, coffee shops, restaurants and import-export businesses are all testimony to the Somalis' entrepreneurial spirit. Star African Air is also one of three Somali-owned airlines based in Dubai.
Besides their traditional areas of inhabitation in Greater Somalia (Somalia, Djibouti, the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, and the North Eastern Province of Kenya), a Somali community mainly consisting of businesspeople, academics and students also exists in Egypt.
There is an historical Somali community in the general Sudan area. Primarily concentrated in the north and Khartoum, a geographical region where the local population exhibits strong cultural, physical and religious similarities with ethnic Somalis, the expatriate community mainly consists of students as well as some businesspeople.
- "Estimated population resident in the United Kingdom, by foreign country of birth, April 2009 to March 2010 (Table 1.3)". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 30 December 2010. Figure given is the central estimate. See the source for 95 percent confidence intervals.
- "Fortsatt ökning av utrikes födda i Sverige". Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- Statistics Netherlands
- Population 1st January 2006 and 2007 and changes in 2006, by immigrant category and country background
- StatBank Denmark
- Arab Population in the UK
- Dissanayake, Samanthi (2008-12-04). "British Somalis play politics from afar". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
- "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
- "Born abroad: Somalia". BBC News. 2005-09-07. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
- BBC News with figures from the 2001 Census
- Kleist, Nauja (2004). Nomads, sailors and refugees: A century of Somali migration. Sussex Migration Working Paper 23. University of Sussex. p. 11. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
- Statistics Finland - Statistical databases
- Helsingin Sanomat
- Fernandes-Mendes 2000, p. 10
- Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose (2005-01-05), "Somalis Exiting Netherlands for Britain", The Daily Telegraph, retrieved 2009-08-30
- Mosedale, Mike (February 18, 2004), "The Mall of Somalia", City Pages
- Talking Point by M.M. Afrah Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA) Aug., 12. 2004
- "National Household Survey (NHS) Profile, 2011". Statcan. 2013-06-26. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- "Ontario Municipal Election: Somali Canadian Prospective". Hiiraan Online. 10 November 2006. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- Statistics Canada - Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada Highlight Tables, 2006 Census
- Somalis cash in on Dubai boom from the BBC
- Forget piracy, Somalia's whole 'global' economy is booming - to Kenya's benefit
- Somalia's Missing Million: The Somali Diaspora and its Role in Development
- Somalia: How is the fate of the Somalis in Egypt?
- The History of Somali Communities in the Sudan since the First World War
- Local xenophobes still plague foreigners
- Bjork, Stephanie R and Kusow, Abdi M, From Mogadishu to Dixon: The Somali Diaspora in a Global Context, (Africa World Free Press, 1997)
- Reassessing what we collect website - Somali London History of Somali London with objects and images