Lebanese Mexicans

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Lebanese Mexicans
مكسيكي لبناني
A hybrid of Mexican and Lebanese Flag.
Total population
Lebanon-born residents:

Mexicans of Lebanese descent:

  • c. 100,000 - 400,000 (2015).[2]
  • c. 100,000 - 600,000 (2014).[3]
  • c. 400,000 - 2,000,000 (2018).[4]
Regions with significant populations
Nuevo León, Yucatán, Veracruz, Coahuila, Jalisco, Sinaloa, Mexico City, Baja California, Guanajuato, Chihuahua, Durango, Puebla
Mexican Spanish and Lebanese Arabic
Predominantly Christianity, minority Islam
Related ethnic groups
Lebanese and Lebanese diaspora

Lebanese Mexicans refers to Mexican citizens of Lebanese origin.

Although Lebanese Mexicans made up less than 5% of the total immigrant population in Mexico during the 1930s, they constituted half of the immigrant economic activity.[5]

Lebanese influence in Mexican culture can be seen most particularly in Mexican cuisine, where they have introduced many foods and dishes and created their own recipes such as al pastor.

Interethnic marriage in the Lebanese community, regardless of religious affiliation, is very high; most have only one parent with Lebanese ethnicity. As a result, some of them speak Arabic fluently. But the majority, especially among younger generations, speak Spanish as first language.

Carlos Slim, formerly the richest man in the world,[6] is an example of Lebanese Mexican success in Mexican society.

Migration history[edit]

Lebanese immigration to Mexico started in the 19th and early 20th centuries.[7] In 1892, the first Lebanese arrived in Mexico from Beirut in French ships to Mexican ports such as Puerto Progreso, Veracruz and Tampico. At that time, Lebanon was not an independent nation; the territory was held by the Ottoman Empire and later became a French protectorate. Roughly 100,000 Arabic-speakers settled in Mexico during this time period. They settled in significant numbers in Yucatán, Veracruz, Puebla, Mexico City and the northern part of the country (mainly in the states of Baja California, Nuevo León, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Durango, as well as the city of Tampico and Guadalajara).

Although Lebanese people made up less than 5% of the total immigrant population in Mexico during the 1930s, they constituted half of the immigrant economic activity.[5] During the 1948 Israel-Lebanon war and the Six-Day War, thousands of Lebanese left Lebanon and went to Mexico, first arriving in Veracruz.

Another concentration of Lebanese-Mexicans is in Baja California facing the US–Mexican border, especially in the cities of Mexicali and Tijuana across from San Diego with a large Lebanese-American community (about 280,000), some of whose families have relatives in Mexico. Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp argues that the Porfiriato era, 1876-1910, promoted immigration from the Middle East. However the revolution of 1910-20 saw a surge in xenophobia and nationalism based on "mestizaje." The Middle Eastern community divided into the economically prosperous Lebanese Mexicans who took pride in a distinct Lebanese-Mexican identity, while the downscale remainder often merged into the mestizo community.[8]

Lebanese culture in Mexico[edit]

Image of Saint Charbel in a Roman Catholic church in San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí
Statue with prayer requests at the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral
Lebanese meals in Mexico City

One Lebanese cultural tradition in Mexico itself is to place colored ribbons to the image of St. Charbel to ask some favor or some miracle (see Intercession of saints). The tradition arose in the Candelaria Church in Merced in the historic center of Mexico City.

The immigration of Lebanese to Mexico has influenced Mexican culture, in particular food, including introducing kibbeh and tabbouleh, and even creating recipes such as tacos árabes. By 1765, dates, which originated in North Africa and the Middle East, were introduced into Mexico by the Spaniards. The fusion between Arab and Mexican food has highly influenced the Yucatecan cuisine.


The majority of Lebanese-Mexicans are Christians who belong to the Maronite, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Melkite Catholic confessions. The Lebanese initially practiced Catholicism independently from other Mexicans, but learned to speak Spanish; Lebanese-Mexican children quickly joined the country's mainstream religious activities.

Since the early 1950's Lebanese Muslims settled in Mexico, in southern regions such as Chiapas, Oaxaca, Michoacan, and Guadalajara. They were responsible for the opening of the first mosque in Mexico, built in the city of Torreon, in Coahuila, and named Suraya.

Lebanese Embassy in Mexico City

Notable people[edit]

Mexicans with Lebanese origins[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Table 1: Total migrant stock at mid-year by origin and by major area, region, country or area of destination, 2017". United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  2. ^ "The biggest enchilada". The Telegraph. Retrieved 28 February 2015. The Mexican-Lebanese community now numbers around 400,000 but punches way above its weight in commerce...
  3. ^ "Más de 10 millones de libaneses empujan el crecimiento social y económico de América Latina". Infobae. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Inside the Arab heart of Mexico City". Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  5. ^ a b "Los árabes de México. Asimilación y herencia cultural" (PDF) (in Spanish). December 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-27. Retrieved 2010-04-17.
  6. ^ "Carlos Slim Helu & family". Forbes. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
  7. ^ "Marin-Guzman, Roberto and Zidane Zeraoui. Arab Immigration in Mexico in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Assimilation and Arab Heritage.(Book Review)". Archived from the original on 12 January 2008.
  8. ^ Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp, "Immigrant positioning in twentieth-century Mexico: middle easterners, foreign citizens, and multiculturalism." Hispanic American Historical Review 86.1 (2006): 61-92.

External links[edit]