Eritrean Americans

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Eritrea Eritrean American United States
Total population
(39,063 (Eritrea-born, 2015)[1][2][3]
18,917 (Eritrean ancestry)[4])
Regions with significant populations

Eritrean Americans are Americans who are of Eritrean ancestry. As of 2013, there are 33,930 Eritrean-born citizens living in the U.S.


An Eritrean restaurant in San Francisco.

Eritrea got its independence from Ethiopia on May 24. 1991, after the Eritrean War of Independence. Since the inception of the war in the 1960's many immigrants from Eritrea left for the United States. By 2000, the Eritrean community in the U.S. had grown to around 30,000 members.[5]

Eritrean Americans have since established ethnic enclaves in various places around the country, particularly in the Washington D.C. area. Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, California has come to be known as Little Ethiopia, owing to its many Ethiopian and Eritrean businesses and restaurants. The Temescal neighborhood of Oakland, California has many Ethiopian and Eritrean businesses and restaurants.[6] Additionally, Eritreans have opened a number of garages and auto repair shops.[5] They also run several taxi establishments, including the Eritrean Cab company based in San Diego.[7]


The exact number of Eritrean residents in the United States is unknown because Eritreans were Ethiopian nationals prior to Eritrea's independence in the early 1990s.[5] According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 18,917 people reported Eritrean ancestry in 2000.[4] Between 2007 and 2011, there were approximately 25,848 Eritrea-born residents in the country.[3] California had the most Eritrean-born people, at 4,782 residents, followed by Virginia (3,417), Texas (2,693), and Maryland (1,902).[8]

Most Eritrean immigrants are concentrated in Washington D.C. and California, especially the San Francisco Bay Area. The community also has a notable presence in the Seattle, Columbus, Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Houston, Denver and Dallas metropolitan areas.[9]

Community organizations[edit]

The Eritrean Community Center of Greater New York.

The Eritrean community in the United States is represented by various Eritrean-run organizations. Among these are the Eritrean American Community Association of Georgia, Eritrean American Community in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area,[10] Eritrean Community Center of Greater New York,[11] Eritrean American Community in Dallas,[12] Eritrean Community Association in Chicago,[13] Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle,[14] and Eritrean American Community in Sacramento.[15]

In 2001, a chapter of the Eritrean Liberation Front–Revolutionary Council was also established in Chicago. The National Union of Eritrean Women likewise routinely holds meetings and activities in the city.[5]

Additionally, the Virginia-based Eritrean Sports Federation in North America (ERSFNA) annually hosts a soccer tournament for Eritrean residents. It also organizes adult and youth sports community programs in various U.S. cities.[16]

The Eritrean Muslims Association in North America (EMANA) and Eritrean Muslims Council (EMC) serve the Eritrean community's Muslim adherents.[17][18] Christians also gather in a number of Eritrean Orthodox, Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.[5]

Notable people[edit]

Notable U.S. residents of full or partial Eritrean descent include:

  • Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi - Eritrean former Muslim activist known for founding the American Muslim Council.
  • Semhar Araia - Eritrean political activist, professor and international lawyer.
  • Selamawi Asgedom - Eritrean-Ethiopian author and public speaker.
  • Swizz Beatz - partially Eritrean rapper and producer.
  • Nat Berhe - partially Eritrean football player who plays for the New York Giants of the NFL; The first player of Eritrean descent drafted into the league.
  • Haile T. Debas MD - Eritrean physician and academic administrator at the University of California, San Francisco.
  • Eriam Sisters - Eritrean musical group consisting of three sisters.
  • Awet Eyasu - Eritrean city council of Clarkston, Georgia. Became to be the first Eritrean American to hold office in the state of Georgia and in the United States of America for the city council of the city of Clarkston, Ga. Elected on November 4, 2015 and Inaugurated on Jan 5, 2016.
  • Haben Girma - Disability rights advocate, first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School
  • Tiffany Haddish - partially Eritrean dancer, comedian and actress.
  • J Holiday - American born Eritrean partially Singer
  • Nipsey Hussle - partially Eritrean rapper from Los Angeles, California.
  • Meb Keflezighi - Eritrean athlete and long distance runner.
  • Thomas Kelati - American-born Polish professional basketball player of Eritrean heritage.
  • Ghebre Selassie Mehreteab - Adviser to foundations, financial institutions and real estate companies.
  • Qwanell Mosley - partially Eritrean singer best known for being a contestant and winner on the TV show Making the Band 4.
  • Ella Thomas - Eritrean-born actress, model and producer.

See also[edit]


  2. ^ "International Migration Database". OECD. Retrieved August 24, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "PLACE OF BIRTH FOR THE FOREIGN-BORN POPULATION IN THE UNITED STATES, Universe: Foreign-born population excluding population born at sea, 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Table 1. First, Second, and Total Responses to the Ancestry Question by Detailed Ancestry Code: 2000". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-04-19. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Hepner, Tricia Redeker. "Eritreans". Encyclopedia of Chicago. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Fetini, Alyssa; Hautala, Laura (October 18, 2010). "East Africans share community values, plates of food". OaklandNorth. Retrieved March 19, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Eritrean Cab". Beach California. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  8. ^ "American FactFinder". U.S. Census Bureau. 
  9. ^ Ember, Melvin (1997). American Immigrant Cultures: Builders of a Nation. Simon & Schuster Macmillan. p. 264. ISBN 0028972147. 
  10. ^ "Nonprofit Report for ERITREAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE D C METROPOLITAN AREA EAC". Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  11. ^ "Eritrean Community Center of Greater New York". NCCS. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "Eritrean American Community". Manta. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  13. ^ "ERITREAN COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION IN CHICAGO". Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  14. ^ "Association History". Archived from the original on 17 February 2015. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  15. ^ "Eritrean American Community In Sacramento. 5419 Beauford Ct Antelope,CA. EIN:273133841". Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  16. ^ "Eritrean Sports Federation in North America (ERSFNA)". Eritrean Sports Federation in North America (ERSFNA). Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  17. ^ "Eritrean Muslims Association in North America (EMANA)". Eritrean Muslims Association in North America. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  18. ^ " Eritrean Muslims Council (EMC)". Eritrean Muslims Council. Archived from the original on 19 January 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 

External links[edit]