Assyrian–Chaldean–Syriac diaspora

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Assyrian diaspora)
Jump to: navigation, search

The Assyrian-Chaldean-Syriac diaspora (Syriac: ܓܠܘܬܐ Galuta) refers to the communities of Assyrian people who live throughout the world outside of their native lands. The still Eastern Aramaic- speaking Assyrians are the modern day descendants of the Ancient Assyrians (see Assyrian continuity), and are known to be one of the few ancient Semitic ethnicities in the Near East who resisted Arabization, Turkification or Islamification during and after the Arab conquest of Iraq.

The indigenous Assyrian people's homeland is a geographic area within the borders of northern Iraq, northeastern Syria southeastern Turkey and northwestern fringes of Iran, a region roughly corresponding with what had been Assyria between the 25th century BC and 7th century AD.[1] They are a Semitic Christian people, with most being members of the Assyrian Church of the East, Syriac Orthodox Church, Chaldean Catholic Church, Ancient Church of the East, Assyrian Pentecostal Church or Assyrian Evangelical Church.

As well as the ethnic designation of Assyrians, more historically recent purely religious terms such as Chaldo-Assyrian, Syriac and Chaldean are also sometimes used to describe Assyrians, dependent upon religious affiliation. The terms Syrian/Syriac originally derive from Assyrian (see Etymology of Syria), and Chaldean is the name of a 17th century originating church only, rather than an ethnicity (see Names of Syriac Christians).

Prior to the Assyrian Genocide, the Assyrian people were largely unmoved from their native lands, which they had occupied for some five thousand years. Although a handful of Assyrians such as Hormuzd Rassam and Alphonse Mingana had migrated to the United Kingdom in the Victorian Era, the worldwide diaspora of Assyrian communities first began in earnest during World War I with the Assyrian Genocide by the Young Turks government of the Ottoman Empire, with the aid of local Kurdish, Iranian and Arab tribes.

Three more exoduses of Assyrians out of the Middle East began after that. The first began during the 1980s from Turkey (due to the Turkish-Kurdish conflict) and Iran (due to the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran), then in the 1990s and early 2000s from firstly Ba'athist Iraq and then post Saddam Hussein era in the face of persecution and attacks from both Sunni and Shia fundamentalists, and most recently a fresh exodus from Iraq and north east Syria due to a genocide and Ethnic cleansing by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and other Sunni Islamist groups.[2]

Demographic estimates[edit]

Country or Region Most Recent Census Estimated Assyrian-Chaldean-Syriac
Population (2008)
Total Country or Region
Population (2008)[3] **
% Assyrian Further information
Iraq - 500,000[4][5]-1,500,000[6] 30,711,152 2%-5% Assyrians in Iraq
Syria - 900,000[7]-1,200,000[8] 20,581,290 4.9% Assyrians in Syria
United States 82,355 (2000)[9] 100,000[10]-500,000[6][11] 307,006,550 0.03%-0.17% Assyrian/Chaldeans/Syriac American
Sweden - 100,000[12]-120,000[6] 9,219,637 1.2% Assyrians in Sweden
Jordan - 44,000[6]-150,000[13][14] 5,906,043 0.7% Assyrians in Jordan
Germany - 70,000[15]-100,000[6] 82,110,097 0.12% Assyrians in Germany
Iran - 74,000[11]-80,000[16] 71,956,322 0.11% Assyrians in Iran
Lebanon - 37,000[17]-100,000[6] 4,193,758 0.9%-2.38% Assyrians in Lebanon
Turkey - 24,000[11]-70,000[18] 73,914,260 0.03%-0.1% Assyrians in Turkey
Russia 13,649 (2002)[19] 70,000[6] 141,950,000 0.05% Assyrians in Russia
Australia 30,631 (2011)[20] 40,000[21] 23,431,800 0.13% Assyrian/Chaldo-Assyrian/Syriac Australian
Canada 8,650 (2006)[22] 38,000[23] 33,311,400 0,11% Assyrian/Chaldo-Assyrian/Syriac Canadian
Netherlands - 20,000[6] 16,445,593 0.12% Assyrians in the Netherlands
France - 20,000[6] 62,277,432 0.03% Assyrians in France
Belgium - 15,000[6] 10,708,433 0.14%
Georgia 3,299 (2002)[24] 15,000[6] 4,385,400 0.34% Assyrians in Georgia
Armenia 2,769 (2011)[25] 15,000[6] 3,018,854 0.09% Assyrians in Armenia
Brazil - 10,000[6] 193,733,795 0.005%
Switzerland - 10,000[6] 7,647,675 0.13%
Denmark - 10,000[6] 5,493,621 0.18%
Greece - 8,000[6] 11,237,094 0.07% Assyrians in Greece
Great Britain - 8,000[6] 51,446,000 0.02% Assyrians in the United Kingdom
Austria - 7,000[6] 8,336,926 0.08%
Italy - 3,000[6] 59,832,179 0.005%
Azerbaijan - 1,400[6]
New Zealand 1,683 (2006)[26] 3,000[6] 4,268,900 0.07%
Mexico - 2,000[6] 106,350,434 0.002%
Other - 100,000[6]
Total - 3.3 million[27]-4.2 million[28]

Historic census[edit]

From 1937 to 1959, the Assyrian population in the USSR grew by 587.3%[29]

Former Soviet Union[edit]


Assyrians in Russia protesting Iraq Church bombings in 2006

Assyrians came to Russia and the Soviet Union in three main waves. The first wave was after the Treaty of Turkmenchay in 1828 that delineated a border between Russia and Persia, The second wave was a result of the Assyrian Genocide during and after World War I, and the third wave came after World War II, when Moscow unsuccessfully tried to establish a satellite state in Iran. Soviet troops withdrew in 1946, and left the Assyrians(which supported the coup) exposed to exactly the same kind of retaliation that they had suffered from the Turks 30 years earlier.

As a result of the Soviets atheistic ideology, the Soviet authority persecuted Assyrian religious and community leaders, and in the same way as they persecuted native Russians who remained in some way connected to the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Assyrians have tended to assimilate within the Armenian community within the Soviet Union, but their cultural and ethnic identity, strengthened through centuries of hardships, found new expression under Glasnost. Most Assyrians are members of the Assyrian Church of the East, with others including the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Chaldean Catholic Church.

USSR census[edit]

  • 1897 census: 5,300 "Assyrians" (by language)[31]
  • 1919 refugee status:
8,000 - 7,000 "Assyrian" refugees in Tbilissi[32]
2,000 Assyrians in Yerevan[32]
15,000 Assyrians from Hakkari, 10,000 from Urmia and Salmas in the Russian region of Rostov[33]
  • 1926 census: 9,808 Assyrians (Aisor)[32]
  • 1959 census: 21,083 Assyrians[34]
  • 1970 census: 24,294 Assyrians[35]
  • 1979 census: 25,170 Assyrians[36]
  • 1989 census: 26,289 Assyrians[34]


  • 1989 census: 9,600 Assyrians, of whom 4,742 spoke the Syriac Language; 1,738 in the Krasnodar region[30]
  • 2002 census: 13,649 Assyrians (ассирийцы)[19]


Main article: Assyrians in Armenia
  • 1926 (Soviet) census:[35] 21,215 Assyrians
  • 1989 (Soviet) census:[37] 5,963 Assyrians
  • 2001 census:[38] 3,409 Assyrians (3rd minority ethnic group after Yazidis and Russians): 524 urban, 2,485 rural
  • 2011 census:[25] 2,769 Assyrians


Main article: Assyrians in Georgia
  • 1926 census: 2,904 Assyrians[35]
  • 1989 census: 6,206 Assyrians[24]
  • 2002 census: 3,299 Assyrians[24]


  • 2001 census: 3,143[39]


Near East[edit]


estimates on December 31, 1944, by province (Muhafazat)[41]

denomination Beyrouth Mount Lebanon North Lebanon South Lebanon Biqa' Total
Syriac Catholics 4,089 275 169 9 442 4,984
Syriac Orthodox 2,070 209 100 22 1,352 3,753
Chaldean Catholic 974 120 1 10 225 1,330

1932 census and further estimates

denomination 1932 census[42] 1944 estimates[41] 1954 estimates[42]
Syriac Catholics 2,675 4,984 ..
Chaldean Catholics 528 1,330 ..
Syriac Orthodox 2,574 3,753 4,200
Church Of The East 800 1,200 1,400


Main article: Assyrians in Israel



The Americas[edit]


Main article: Assyrians in Canada
  • 2001 Census: Assyrian - 6,980
  • 2006 Census: Assyrian - 8,650[43]
  • 2011 Census: Assyrian - 10,810[44]

United States[edit]



Assyrians in Belgium came mostly as refugees from the Turkish towns of Midyat and Mardin in Tur Abdin, most of them belong to the Syriac Orthodox Church, some to the Assyrian Church of the East and Chaldean Catholic Church. Their three main settlements are in Brussels (municipalities of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode - where they've got their only elected municipal councilman, the Christian Democrat Ibrahim Erkan, originally from Turkey -, Brussels and Etterbeek), Liège and in Mechelen. Since the October 8, 2006 municipal elections they've got two more councilmen, in Etterbeek, the Liberal Sandrine Es (whose family came from Turkey) and the Christian Democrat Ibrahim Hanna (originally from Syria's Khabur region). The Christian Democrat candidate in Mechelen, Melikan Kucam, was not elected. The Flemish writer August Thiry wrote the book Mechelen aan de Tigris (Mechelen on Tigris) about the Assyrian refugees from the village of Hassana in SE Turkey, district of Silopi. Melikan Kucam was one of them. On October 14, 2012 municipal elections, Melikan was elected in Mechelen as member of the Flemisch Nationalists N-VA.


Main article: Assyrians in France

There are believed to be some 20,000, mainly concentrated in the northern French suburbs of Sarcelles, where several thousands Chaldean Catholics live, and also in Gonesse and Villiers-le-Bel. They are drawn from the same few villages in what is now south-east Turkey.[49][50]


The number of Assyrians/Syriacs in Germany is estimated at around 100,000 people.[51] Most of the Assyrian/Syriac immigrants and their descendants in Germany live in the following places like in Munich, Wiesbaden, Paderborn, Essen, Bietigheim-Bissingen, Ahlen, Göppingen, Köln, Hamburg, Berlin, Augsburg and Gütersloh.

Being oppressed and persecuted throughout the 20th century for their religion, many Syraics arrived from Turkey seeking a better life. The first large wave arrived in the 1960s and 1970s as part of the German economic plan of "Gastarbeiter"; as Germany was seeking immigrant workers (largely from Turkey), many Assyrians/Syriacs saw an opportunity for freedom and success and applied for visas. Assyrians started working in restaurants or as construction workers for companies and many began running their own shops. The first Assyrian/Syriac immigrants in Germany started organizing themselves by forming culture clubs and building churches. The second wave came in the 1980s-90s as refugees from the Turkish-PKK conflict in the region of Turkish Kurdistan in which they lived.


Main article: Assyrians in Greece

The first migrants of Assyrian stock in Greece came in 1934, and settled in the areas of Makronisos (today uninhabited), Keratsini (Pireus), Egaleo and Kalamata.[52] Today, the vast majority of Assyrians live in Peristeri, a suburb of Athens, and they number about 2,000.[53] 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), thus indicating the beginning of the appearance of refugees at that time. The absence of further marriages at St. Paul's possibly indicates the arrival of a Nestorian clergyman in Athens shortly after 1925.


The first Assyrians came to the Netherlands in the 1970s; most of them belonged to the West Syrian Rite from Turkey. Today the number of Assyrians is estimated to be between 25,000 and 35,000 and they mainly live in the east of the country, in the province of Overijssel, in such cities as Enschede, Hengelo, Almelo and Borne.


Main article: Assyrians in Sweden

In the latter part of the 1970s, about 12,000 Assyrians/Syriacs from Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria immigrated to Sweden. They considered themselves persecuted for religious and ethnic reasons but were never acknowledged as refugees. Those who had already lived in Sweden for a longer period were finally granted residence permit for humanitarian reasons.[54]

As with other Northern European countries, there is a dividing line in Sweden between the Assyrian speaking Christians. They are mostly members of the Syriac Orthodox Church, but its important to note that not all Syriac Orthodox members identify with being Assyrians only, as the majority of those who call themselves Assyrians are Syriac Orthodox as well.[55]

Södertälje in Sweden is often seen as the unofficial Assyrian capital of Europe due to the city's high percentage of Assyrians. The international TV-channels Suryoyo Sat and Suroyo TV are also based in Södertälje.

Between 2005 and 2006 and since 2014, there is an Assyrian/Syriac minister in the Swedish government, Ibrahim Baylan.


Assyrians in Switzerland came mostly as refugees from the towns of Midyat, Mardin and Beth-Zabday (Idil) in Tur Abdin, most of them are Syriac Orthodox (about 1,600 Families). 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 big part of the Assyrian community lives. They also live in the east of the country in the Canton of St. Gallen (Wil-Area) and in Baden about 20 km from Zurich. A big part of the Assyrians in Switzerland also live in the Italian part of Switzerland in the Canton of Ticino, mostly in Lugano and Locarno.

United Kingdom[edit]

There are approximately 8,000 Assyrians in the United Kingdom, with the largest concentrations in London and Manchester. The very earliest presence of Assyrians in the United Kingdom dates back to the 1850's, however the vast majority migrated from the 1950's onwards.[49]



Main article: Assyrian Australians

According to the 2011 census, 30,631 persons identified themselves as having Assyrian or Chaldean ancestry, representing 0.13% of Australia's population.[56] Of the 30,000 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 most Assyrians in Australia.[57] In Sydney, Assyrians are the leading ethnic group in the Fairfield LGA suburbs of Fairfield, Fairfield Heights and Greenfield Park. In Melbourne, Assyrians tend to be found in the northwest region, in the suburbs of Broadmeadows, Craigieburn, Meadow Heights, Roxburgh Park and Fawkner. According to the 2011 census, Melbourne had 8,057 citizens who claimed Assyrian ancestry.[58]

New Zealand[edit]

  • 1991 census: 315[59]
  • 1996 census: 807[59]
  • 2001 Census: 1,176[59]
    • 465 in Auckland Region
    • 690 in Wellington Region
    • "Unemployment rates highest for Somalis (37.2 percent) and Assyrians (40.0 percent)."
    • "The particular ethnic groups with the highest proportions affiliated to a Christian denomination were Assyrian (99.0 percent) and Filipino (95.1 percent)."
    • English spoken: 774, no English: 348; Number of Languages Spoken: 1: 225, 2: 405, 3: 423, 4: 63, 5: 3
  • 2006 census: 1,683[26]

Homeland Statistics[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Chaldean Assyrian Syriac People of Iraq: An Ethnic Identity Problem: by Shak Hanish
  2. ^ Jacobson, Rodolfo (2001). Codeswitching Worldwide II. Walter de Gruyter. p. 159. ISBN 978-3-11-016768-9. 
  3. ^ CIA-The World Factbook. "Country Comparison:Population". Archived from the original on 28 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-27. 
  4. ^ [1], CIA World Factbook
  5. ^ Pike, John. "Christians in Iraq". Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Brief History of Assyrians,
  7. ^ "Syria Population (2017) - World Population Review". Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  8. ^ Assyrians Face Escalating Abuses in "New Iraq", Lisa Söderlindh, Inter Press Service higher estimates include some 300,000 Assyrian refugees from Iraq
  9. ^ 2000 Census USA Archived August 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Bureau, U.S. Census. "American FactFinder - Search". Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  11. ^ a b c
  12. ^ Demographics of Sweden, Swedish Language Council "Sweden has also one of the largest exile communities of Assyrian and Syriac Christians (also known as Chaldeans) with a population of around 100,000."
  13. ^ Thrown to the Lions, Doug Bandow, The America Spectator
  14. ^ Jordan Should Legally Recognize Displaced Iraqis As Refugees, Assyrian and Chaldean Christians Flee Iraq to Neighboring Jordan, ASSIST News Service
  15. ^ 70,000 Syriac Christians according to REMID (of which 55,000 Syriac Orthodox).
  16. ^ [2], SIL Ethnologue "Assyrian Neo-Aramaic 15,000 in Iran (1994). Ethnic population: 80,000 (1994)" See also Christianity in Iran.
  17. ^ Languages of Lebanon, Ethnologue "Immigrant languages: Assyrian Neo-Aramaic (1,000), Chaldean Neo-Aramaic (18,000), Turoyo (18,000)."
  18. ^ [3], SIL Ethnologue "Turoyo [tru] 3,000 in Turkey (1994 Hezy Mutzafi). Ethnic population: 50,000 to 70,000 (1994). Hértevin [hrt] 1,000 (1999 H. Mutzafi). Originally Siirt Province. They have left their villages, most emigrating to the West, but some may still be in Turkey." See also Christianity in Turkey.
  19. ^ a b 2002 census
  20. ^ "Statistics from the 2011 Census" (PDF). The People of NSW. Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Commonwealth of Australia. 2014. Table 13, Ancestry. Retrieved 23 July 2016. 
  21. ^ Assyrian Australian Association & Ettinger House 1997, Settlement Issues of the Assyrian Community, AAA, Sydney.
  22. ^ "Ethnic Origin (247), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3) and Sex (3) for the Population of Canada,". Statistics Canada. 2006. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ a b c "Eurominority – La solidarité avec le peuple palestinien". Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  25. ^ a b 2011 Armenian Census - De Jure Population (Urban, Rural) by Age and Ethnicity
  26. ^ a b "Home". Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  27. ^ [4], UNPO estimates
  28. ^ SIL Ethnologue estimate for the "ethnic population" associated with Assyrian Neo-Aramaic. [5]
  29. ^ Mastyugina, Tatiana; Perepelkin, Lev; Naumkin, Vitaliĭ Vi︠a︡cheslavovich; Zvi︠a︡gelʹskai︠a︡, Irina Donovna (1996). An Ethnic History of Russia Pre-revolutionary Times to the Present. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-313-29315-3. 
  30. ^ a b Assyrians Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., Center for Russian Studies, NUPI - Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  31. ^ Youri Bromlei et al., Processus ethniques en U.R.S.S., Editions du Progrès, 1977
  32. ^ a b c Eden Naby, "Les Assyriens d'Union soviétique," Cahiers du Monde russe, 16/3-4. 1975
  33. ^ A. Chatelet (Supérieur de la mission catholique de Téhéran), Question assyro-chaldéenne, Quartier général - Bureau de la Marine, Constantinople, 31 août 1919
  34. ^ a b An Ethnohistorical Dictionary of the Russian and Soviet Empires, By James Stuart Olson, Lee Brigance Pappas, Nicholas Charles
  35. ^ a b c Eden Naby 1975
  36. ^ Annuaire démographique des Nations-Unies 1983, Département des affaires économiques et sociales internationales, New York, 1985
  37. ^ Armenian Helsinki Committee - Reflections over Annual Report on International Religious Freedom: Armenia
  38. ^ 2001 Armenian Census - De Jure Population (Urban, Rural) by Age and Ethnicity
  39. ^ All-Ukraine population census 2001
  40. ^ Assyrian cultural center in Kazakhstan
  41. ^ a b Albert H. Hourani, Minorities in the Arab World, London: Oxford University Press, 1947
  42. ^ a b Kenneth C. Bruss, Lebanon - Area and population, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1963
  43. ^ Canada, Government of Canada, Statistics. "Statistics Canada: Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada Highlight Tables, 2006 Census". Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  44. ^ Canada, Government of Canada, Statistics. "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables – Ethnic Origin (264), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3), Generation Status (4), Age Groups (10) and Sex (3) for the Population in Private Households of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2011 National Household Survey". Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  45. ^ U.S. Bureau of the Census - Selected Characteristics for Persons of Assyrian Ancestry: 1990
  46. ^ U.S. Bureau of the Census, Language Spoken at Home for the Foreign-Born Population 5 Years and Over: 1980 and 1990, Internet Release date: March 9, 1999
  47. ^ US Census, QT-P13. Ancestry: 2000 Archived August 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  48. ^ U.S. Census 2000, Language Spoken at Home for the Foreign-Born Population 5 Years and Over: 1980 to 2000
  49. ^ a b "Brief History of Assyrians". Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  50. ^ Gaunt, David, "Cultural diversity, Multilingualism and Ethnic minorities in Sweden - Identity conflicts among Oriental Christian in Sweden", s.10.
  51. ^ "Diskussion zum Thema 'Aaramäische Christen' im Kapitelshaus" Borkener Zeitung (German) (archived link, 8 October 2011)
  52. ^ ZINDA. "ZENDA - May 10, 1999". Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  53. ^ "Greece". Retrieved 13 March 2017. 
  54. ^ Swedish Minister for Development Co-operation, Migration and Asylum Policy, Migration 2002, June 2002 Archived September 26, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  55. ^ Dan Lundberg, Christians from the Middle East, A virtual Assyria Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  56. ^ Kinarah: Twentieth Anniversary of Assyrian Australian Association 1989, Assyrian Australian Association, Edensor Park.
  57. ^ Community Relations Commission For a Multicultural NSW 2004, Cultural Harmony. The Next Decade 2002-2012 (White Paper), New South Wales Government, Sydney South.
  58. ^ Stone, W. 2001, Measuring Social Capital: Towards a theoretically informed measurement framework for researching social capital in family and community life, Research Paper No. 24, February, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Melbourne.
  59. ^ a b c Statistics New Zealand - 2001 Census of Population and Dwellings - Ethnic Groups

Cite error: A list-defined reference named "abs2001" is not used in the content (see the help page).
Cite error: A list-defined reference named "nsw" is not used in the content (see the help page).


Further reading[edit]

  • Talia, Peter. Assyrians in the West. Chicago: Nineveh Printing Co. [199-]. 106 p. Without ISBN