The Assyrian diaspora (Syriac: ܓܠܘܬܐ, Galuta, "exile") refers to ethnic Assyrians living in communities outside their ancestral homeland. The Eastern Aramaic-speaking Assyrians claim descent from the ancient Assyrians and are one of the few ancient Semitic ethnicities in the Near East who resisted Arabisation, Turkification and Islamisation during and after the Arab conquest of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran.
The indigenous Assyrian homeland is within the borders of northern Iraq, southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, and more recently, northeastern Syria, a region roughly corresponding with Assyria from the 25th century BC to the seventh century AD. Assyrians are predominantly Christians; most are members of the Assyrian Church of the East, the Ancient Church of the East, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Pentecostal Church or the Assyrian Evangelical Church. The terms "Syriac", "Chaldean" and "Chaldo-Assyrian" can be used to describe ethnic Assyrians by their religious affiliation, and indeed the terms "Syriac" and "Syrian" are much later derivatives of the original "Assyrian", and historically, geographically and ethnically originally meant Assyrian (see Etymology of Syria).
Before the Assyrian genocide, the Assyrian people were largely unmoved from their native lands which they had occupied for about 5,000 years. Although a handful of Assyrians had migrated to the United Kingdom during the Victorian era, the Assyrian diaspora began in earnest during World War I (1914-1918) as the Ottoman Empire conducted both large scale genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Assyrian people with the aid of local Kurdish, Iranian and Arab tribes. This genocide was coordinated alongside the Armenian genocide, Greek genocide and Great Famine of Mount Lebanon.
Further atrocities such as the Simele massacres of the 1930s also stimulated migration.
Additional emigration occurred in the 1980s, as Assyrian communities fled the violence of the Kurdish–Turkish conflict and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. During the 1990s and 2000s, Assyrians left the Middle East to evade persecution in Ba'athist Iraq and from Sunni and Shia fundamentalists. The exodus continued into the mid-2010s, as Assyrians flee Iraq and northeast Syria due to genocide by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and other Sunni Islamist groups.
|Country (or region)||Most-recent census||Assyrian-Chaldean-Syriac
|Total country (or region)
|% Assyrian||Further information|
|Iraq||-||500,000-1,500,000||30,711,152||2%-5%||Assyrians in Iraq|
|Syria||-||200,000-877,000||20,581,290||c.4%||Assyrians in Syria|
|United States||82,355 (2000)||100,000-500,000||307,006,550||0.03%-0.17%||Assyrian Americans|
|Sweden||-||100,000-120,000||9,219,637||1.2%||Assyrians in Sweden|
|Jordan||-||44,000-150,000||5,906,043||0.7%||Assyrians in Jordan|
|Iran||-||74,000-80,000||71,956,322||0.11%||Assyrians in Iran|
|Lebanon||-||37,000-100,000||4,193,758||0.9%-2.38%||Assyrians in Lebanon|
|Turkey||-||24,000-70,000||73,914,260||0.03%-0.1%||Assyrians in Turkey|
|Russia||13,649 (2002)||70,000||141,950,000||0.05%||Assyrians in Russia|
|Australia||46,217 (2016)||23,431,800||0.13%||Assyrian Australians|
|Canada||8,650 (2006)||38,000||33,311,400||0,11%||Assyrians in Canada|
|Netherlands||-||20,000||16,445,593||0.12%||Assyrians in the Netherlands|
|France||-||40,000||62,277,432||0.06%||Assyrians in France|
|Georgia||3,299 (2002)||15,000||4,385,400||0.34%||Assyrians in Georgia|
|Armenia||2,769 (2011)||15,000||3,018,854||0.09%||Assyrians in Armenia|
|Greece||-||8,000||11,237,094||0.07%||Assyrians in Greece|
|Great Britain||-||8,000||51,446,000||0.02%||British Assyrians|
|New Zealand||1,683 (2006)||3,000||4,268,900||0.07%|
|Total||-||3.3 million-4.2 million|
From 1937 to 1959, the Assyrian population in the Soviet Union grew by 587.3 percent.
Former Soviet Union
Assyrians came to Russia and the Soviet Union in three large waves. The first wave was after the Treaty of Turkmenchay in 1828, that delineated a border between Russia and Persia. The second was as a result of the Assyrian genocide during and after World War I; the third was after World War II, when the Soviet Union unsuccessfully tried to establish a satellite state in Iran. Soviet troops withdrew in 1946, and left the Assyrians (who supported the coup) exposed to retaliation identical to that received from the Turks 30 years earlier. Soviet authorities persecuted Assyrian religious and community leaders in the same way that they persecuted Russians who remained members of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Although Assyrians tended to assimilate into the Armenian community in the Soviet Union, their cultural identity found new expression under glasnost. Most Assyrians are members of the Assyrian Church of the East; other churches include the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Chaldean Catholic Church.
- 1897 census: 5,300 "Assyrians" (by language)
- 1919 refugee status:
- 7,000–8,000 "Assyrian" refugees in Tbilisi
- 2,000 Assyrians in Yerevan
- 15,000 Assyrians from Hakkari, 10,000 from Urmia and Salmas in the Russian region of Rostov
- 1926 census: 9,808 Assyrians (Aisor)
- 1959 census: 21,083 Assyrians
- 1970 census: 24,294 Assyrians
- 1979 census: 25,170 Assyrians
- 1989 census: 26,289 Assyrians
- 1989 census: 9,600 Assyrians, of whom 4,742 spoke the Syriac language; 1,738 in the Krasnodar region
- 2002 census: 13,649 Assyrians (ассирийцы)
- 1926 (Soviet) census: 21,215 Assyrians
- 1989 (Soviet) census: 5,963 Assyrians
- 2001 census: 3,409 Assyrians (3rd minority ethnic group after Yazidis and Russians): 524 urban, 2,485 rural
- 2011 census: 2,769 Assyrians
- 2001 census: 3,143
|Denomination||Beyrouth||Mount Lebanon||North Lebanon||South Lebanon||Biqa'||Total|
|Denomination||1932 census||1944 estimates||1954 estimates|
|Church Of The East||800||1,200||1,400|
- 1990 census: 46,099 Assyrians
- 19,066 born in the U.S.
- 16,783 arrived before 1980.
- 10,250 from 1980 to 1990
- 27,494 listed Syriac as the "Language Spoken at Home"
- Unemployment: 9.1 Percent
- 2000 census: 82,355 Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syrians
- 34,484 in Michigan:
- Sterling Heights: 5,515 (4.4 percent of the city)
- West Bloomfield: 4,874 (7.5 percent)
- Southfield: 3,684 (4.7 percent)
- Warren: 2,625 (1.9 percent)
- Farmington Hills 2,499 (3 percent)
- Troy: 2,047 (2.5 percent)
- Detroit, Michigan 1,963 (0.2 percent)
- Oak Park 1,864 (6.3 percent)
- Madison Heights: 1,428 (4.6 percent)
- Orchard Lake Village: 241 (10.9 percent)
- 22,671 in California:
- 15,685 in Illinois
- Syriac speakers: 46,932
- 34,484 in Michigan:
Next to Uruguay, in Argentina the Syriac Orthodox Church counts with a Patriarchal Vicar. However, the actual number of Syriacs is hard to know because the Argentine Census does not ask for ethnicity. Furthermore, their assimilation rate is very high, as it happens with other Middle-Estern communities settled in the country. There is Syriac presence in Buenos Aires, La Plata, Córdoba, Salta and Frías. In the past, intellectuals like Farid Nazha went into exile in Argentina. Although 2,000 Syriacs are listed in Argentina, the actual number may be higher.
Assyrians arrived in Belgium primarily as refugees from the Turkish towns of Midyat and Mardin in Tur Abdin. Most belong to the Syriac Orthodox Church, but some belong to the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church. Their three main settlements are in the Brussels municipalities of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode (where their municipal councilman, Christian Democrat Ibrahim Erkan, is originally from Turkey) and Etterbeek, Liège and Mechelen. Two more councilmen were elected in Etterbeek on October 8, 2006: the Liberal Sandrine Es (whose family is from Turkey) and the Christian Democrat Ibrahim Hanna (from Syria's Khabur region). Flemish author August Thiry wrote Mechelen aan de Tigris (Mechelen on the Tigris) about Assyrian refugees from Hassana in the southeastern Turkish district of Silopi; municipal candidate Melikan Kucam is one of them. In the October 14, 2012 municipal elections, Kucam was elected in Mechelen as a member of the Flemisch nationalists N-VA.
An estimated 20,000 Assyrians live in France, primarily concentrated in the northern French suburbs of Sarcelles (where several thousand Chaldean Catholics live) and in Gonesse and Villiers-le-Bel. They are from several villages in south-eastern Turkey.
The number of Assyrians in Germany is estimated at 100,000. Most Assyrian immigrants and their descendants in Germany live in Munich, Wiesbaden, Paderborn, Essen, Bietigheim-Bissingen, Ahlen, Göppingen, Köln, Hamburg, Berlin, Augsburg and Gütersloh.
Since they were persecuted throughout the 20th century for their religion, many Assyrians arrived from Turkey seeking a better life. The first large wave arrived during the 1960s and 1970s as part of the gastarbeiter (guest worker) economic program. Germany was seeking immigrant workers (largely from Turkey) and many Assyrians, seeing opportunities for freedom and success, applied for visas. Assyrians began working in restaurants or in construction, and many began operating their own shops. The first Assyrian immigrants in Germany organized by forming culture clubs and building churches. The second wave came in the 1980s and 1990s as refugees from the Turkish-PKK conflict in the Turkish Kurdistan region.
The first Assyrian migrants arrived in Greece in 1934, and settled in Makronisos (today uninhabited), Keratsini, Pireus, Egaleo and Kalamata. The vast majority of Assyrians (about 2,000) live in Peristeri, a suburb of Athens. There are five Assyrian Christian marriages recorded at St. Paul's Anglican Church in Athens in 1924–25 (the transcripts can be viewed on St. Paul's Anglican Church website), indicating the arrival of refugees at that time.
The first Assyrians came to the Netherlands in the 1970s, primarily from Turkey and observing the West Syriac Rite. The number of Assyrians in the country is currently estimated at 25,000 to 35,000. They primarily live in the eastern Netherlands, in Enschede, Hengelo, Almelo and Borne in the province of Overijssel.
In the late 1970s, about 12,000 Assyrians from Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria emigrated to Sweden. Although they considered themselves persecuted for religious and ethnic reasons, they were not recognized as refugees. Those who had lived in Sweden for a longer period received residence permits for humanitarian reasons.
Södertälje is considered the unofficial Assyrian capital of Europe because of the city's high percentage of Assyrians. The Assyrian TV channels Suryoyo Sat and Suroyo TV are based in Södertälje. From 2005 to 2006 and since 2014, the Assyrian Ibrahim Baylan has been a minister in the Swedish government.
Assyrians arrived in Switzerland primarily as refugees from the towns of Midyat, Mardin and Beth-Zabday (Idil) in Tur Abdin. Most (about 1,600 families) are Syriac Orthodox. The seat of the Syriac Orthodox bishop of the Swiss and Austrian diocese is in the St. Avgin (Eugene) Monastery in Arth, near Lucerne, where a large portion of the Assyrian community lives. Assyrians also live in eastern canton of St. Gallen (in the Wil area) and in Baden, about 20 km from Zurich. Many Assyrians also live in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, primarily in Lugano and Locarno.
According to the 2016 census, 46,217 people identified themselves as having Assyrian or Chaldean ancestry (0.13 percent of Australia's population). Of the Assyrians in Australia, 21,000 are members of the Assyrian Church of the East and 9,000 are members of the Chaldean Catholic Church. The City of Fairfield, in Sydney, has the country's largest number of Assyrians. In Sydney, Assyrians are the leading ethnic group in the Fairfield LGA suburbs of Fairfield, Fairfield Heights and Greenfield Park. In Melbourne, Assyrians live in the northwestern suburbs of Broadmeadows, Craigieburn, Meadow Heights, Roxburgh Park and Fawkner. In 2011, Melbourne had 8,057 people who claimed Assyrian ancestry.
- 1991 census: 315
- 1996 census: 807
- 2001 census: 1,176
- 2006 census: 1,683
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported in October 2005 that of the 700,000 Iraqis who took refuge in Syria between October 2003 and March 2005, 36 percent were "Iraqi Christians".
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