Somali diaspora

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Somali diaspora

Qurbajoogta Soomaaliyeed
Total population
1,998,764 (2015 UN estimate)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Arabian peninsula, Europe, North America, Southern Africa, Australia
 United States170,192 (2018)[3]
 United Kingdom109,000 (2018 ONS estimate)[4]
 United Arab Emirates90,900 (most are Western Passport holders who work in gold business)[5]
 South Africa27,000-40,000[9]
 Saudi Arabia34,000[12]
 New Zealand1,617[22]
Somali (mother tongue), Arabic, Gujarati, Kannada, Hindi, Telugu, Italian, Marathi, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Sindhi, German, Kutchi, Bengali, Urdu, Malaysian, Indonesian, English, (working language).
Vast majority: Islam (Sunni and Sufism)

The Somali diaspora or Qurbajoogta refers to Somalis who were born in Greater Somalia and reside in areas of the world that they were not born in. The civil war in Somalia greatly increased the size of the Somali diaspora, as many Somalis moved from Greater Somalia primarily to Europe, North America, Southern Africa and Australia. There are also small Somali populations in other pockets of Europe and Asia.[24][25][26] The UN estimates that in 2015, approximately 2 million people from Somalia were living outside of the country's borders.

Global distribution[edit]

The distribution of Somalis abroad is uncertain, primarily due to confusion between the number of ethnic Somalis and the number of Somalia nationals. Whereas most recent Somali migrants in the diaspora emigrated as refugees and asylum seekers, many have since obtained either permanent residence or citizenship. A 2008 publication estimated the ethnic Somali international migrant population as 1,010,000, including around 300,000 in East and South Africa, 250,000 in the United States and Canada, 250,000 in Europe, 200,000 in the Middle East, and 10,000 in Australia, New Zealand and Asia.[27] By the start of the Yemeni Civil War, the number of Somalis in Yemen was estimated to be 500,000.[2]

UN migration estimates of the international migrant stock 2015 suggest that 1,998,764 people from Somalia were living abroad.[1][28]

As of 31 March 2020, the number of refugees from Somalia registered with the UNHCR was 763,933. This is down from a peak of almost 990,000 in June 2013. The majority of these individuals were registered in Kenya (256,408), Yemen (253,755) and Ethiopia (198,670).[29] According to USAID, many of the displaced persons in these adjacent territories are Bantus and other minorities.[citation needed]


A Somali high school student in Cairo, Egypt.

About two thirds of all Somalis who live outside Somalia live in the neighbouring countries of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Yemen. Kenya hosted more than 313,000 in April 2017. About 255,000 were registered as refugees in Ethiopia.[30]

Besides their traditional areas of inhabitation in Greater Somalia (the former Italian Somaliland, British Somaliland, French Somaliland, the Ogaden, and Northeastern Kenya), a Somali community mainly consisting of businesspeople, academics and students also exists in Egypt.[31][32]

In addition, there is a historical Somali community in the general Sudan area. Primarily concentrated in the north and Khartoum, the expatriate community mainly consists of students, as well as some businesspeople.[33] More recently, Somali entrepreneurs have also established themselves in South Africa, where they provide most of the retail trade in informal settlements around the Western Cape province.[34]


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 (2018);[4] Sweden: 66,369 (2016);[35] Norway: 43,196 (2016);[8] the Netherlands: 39,465 (2016);[10] Germany: 38,675 (2016);[11] Denmark: 21,050 (2016);[14] and Finland: 20,007 (2017).[36]


Most Somalis in Denmark emigrated from Somalia following the start of the Somali Civil War (1986-), in the period between 1995 and 2000.[37] According to Statistics Denmark, as of 2017, there are a total 21,204 persons of Somali origin living in Denmark. Of those individuals, 11,832 are Somalia-born immigrants and 9,372 are descendants of Somalia-born persons.[38] 8,852 individuals are citizens of Somalia (4,730 men, 4,122 women).[39]

Between 2008 and 2013, employment among Somalis fell from 38% to 26%.[40]

By December 2018, nearly 1000 Somalis in Denmark lost their residence permits after the Danish Immigration Service started a review of the permits in 2017. The permits were revoked as parts of Somalia are safe enough for refugees to return.[41]

In 2018, analysis showed about 44% of Somalis in Denmark live in a parallel society[42] and were the immigrant group which were lagging behind the most in terms of integration into Danish society.[40]

In 2018, nearly 50% were in long-term unemployment (4 years or more).[43]


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 2014 there were 16,721 Somali speakers in Finland.[13] According to the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, the number of Somali-speaking people in Finland in 2010 rose by nearly 10% in a year.[44]


Distribution of Somali citizens in Germany (2021)
Somalis in Germany are citizens and residents of Germany who are of Somali descent. According to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, as of 2016, there are a total 33,900 Somalia-born immigrants living in Germany. Of those, 7,985 individuals were granted asylum status.[45]


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.[46] Between 2000 and 2005, there was a significant exodus of Somalis from the Netherlands to the United Kingdom, unofficially estimated to be as large as 20,000 people. The exodus was partly the result of anti-Muslim sentiments in the Netherlands in the wake of the rise of and assassination of right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn. According to the Somali European Forum, the exodus started earlier due to the Somalis not wanting to adapt to the assimilation process Dutch authorities imposed on them which they felt tried to change their culture.[47]

In 2012, unemployment was particularly high among Somali immigrants at 37%, while unemployment for all non-Western population was at 16%. According to official statistics on immigrants, Somalis had higher unemployment and dependence on social welfare while the crime rate of young male Somalis was high. Unemployment among immigrants rose higher than for the indigenous population in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.[48]

According to a 2018 report using 2015 data, Islam takes a central role in the lives of nearly all Somalis and in many ways their religiosity rose from the 2009 already high levels.[49]


Somalis in Norway are citizens and residents of Norway who are of Somali descent. They are the biggest African migration group in Norway. 36.5% of Somalis in Norway live in the capital Oslo.[50] Almost all Somali in Norway have come to Norway as refugees from the Somali Civil War.[citation needed] In 2016, Somalis were the largest non-European migrant group in Norway.[51]


Somalis in Sweden are citizens and residents of Sweden who are of Somali ancestry or are Somali citizens. A large proportion of these emigrated after the civil war in Somalia, with most arriving in Sweden after the year 2006.[52][53] [clarification needed][54]

United Kingdom[edit]

A Somali community center in London's East End (yellow brick building in the middle).

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.[55][56] By 2001, the UK census reported 43,532 Somali-born residents,[57] making the Somali community in Britain the largest Somali expatriate population in Europe. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimate of 2018 indicates that 108,000 Somalis live in the UK.[4] There has also been some secondary migration of Somalis from mainland European countries to the United Kingdom.[58][59] According to the 2011 UK Census, 71.5% of Somalia-born residents in England and Wales hold a UK passport.[60]

Established Somali communities are found in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Cardiff and Bristol, and newer ones have formed in Manchester, Sheffield and Leicester.[61] The Somali population in London alone accounts for roughly 78% of Britain's Somali residents.[62]

North America[edit]

A Somali strip mall in Toronto.

United States[edit]

The first Somali-Americans arrived in the United States in the 1850s. They were primarily seamen and New York City 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 Columbus, Ohio; Atlanta, Georgia; Washington, D.C.; New York City; Buffalo, New York; Seattle; Kansas City; Chicago; Lewiston, Maine; San Diego; San Francisco; Sacramento, California; Shelbyville, Tennessee; and especially Omaha, Nebraska Metro areas.


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,[63] though an unofficial estimate placed the figure as high as 150,000 residents.[64] 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 the Toronto borough of Etobicoke 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.[65]

Middle East[edit]

There is a sizable Somali community in the United Arab Emirates. Somali-owned businesses line the streets of Deira, the Dubai city centre,[66] with only Iranians exporting more products from the city at large.[67]

Relations between the modern-day territories of Somalia and Yemen stretch back to antiquity. A number of Somali clans trace descent to the latter region.[68] During the colonial period, disgruntled Yemenis from the Hadhrami wars sought and received asylum in various Somali towns.[69] Yemen in turn unconditionally opened its borders to Somali nationals following the outbreak of the civil war in Somalia in the early 1990s.[70] In 2015, after the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, many returning Somali expatriates as well as various foreign nationals began emigrating from Yemen to northern Somalia.[71]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Table 16. Total migrant stock at mid-year by origin and by major area, region, country or area of destination, 2015". Trends in International Migrant Stock: Migrants by Destination and Origin. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  2. ^ a b Gramer, Robbie (17 March 2017). "Apache Helicopter Guns Down Boat Full of Somali Refugees Fleeing Yemen". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  3. ^ "People Reporting Single Ancestry". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "Table 1.3: Overseas-born population in the United Kingdom, excluding some residents in communal establishments, by sex, by country of birth, January 2018 to December 2018". Office for National Statistics. 24 May 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2020. Figure given is the central estimate. See the source for 95% confidence intervals.
  5. ^ "Ethnologue United Arab Emirates". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  6. ^ ""Vi är fast, vi kommer inte härifrån"".
  7. ^ "Census Profile, 2016 Census - Canada [Country] and Canada [Country]". 2017-02-08.
  8. ^ a b "Statistics Norway - Foreign-born and born in Norway".
  9. ^ Jinnah, Zaheera. "Making Home in a Hostile Land: Understanding Somali Identity, Integration, Livelihood and Risks in Johannesburg" (PDF). J Sociology Soc Anth, 1 (1-2): 91-99 (2010). KRE Publishers. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  10. ^ a b "CBS StatLine - Population; sex, age, origin and generation, 1 January".
  11. ^ a b "Anzahl der Ausländer in Deutschland nach Herkunftsland". Statista.
  12. ^ "Ethnologue Saudi Arabia". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-07-12.
  13. ^ a b "Statistics Finland".
  14. ^ a b "StatBank Denmark".
  15. ^ "Table 5. Ancestry by State and Territory of Usual Residence, Count of persons - 2016(a)(b)". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 20 July 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  16. ^ "Statistiche demografiche ISTAT".
  17. ^ "Bevölkerung zu Jahresbeginn 2002-2021 nach detaillierter Staatsangehörigke". Statistik Austria. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  18. ^ "Federal Statistical Office". Archived from the original on 17 April 2017.
  19. ^ Hertogen, J. "Inwoners van vreemde afkomst in België".
  20. ^ Fakhr, Alhan (15 July 2012). "Insecure once again". Daily Jang. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  21. ^ "A Comprehensive Survey of Migration Flows and Institutional Capabilities in Libya" (PDF). International Centre for Migration Policy Development. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  22. ^ "Ethnic group profiles".
  23. ^ "Population Usually Resident and Present in the State who Speak a Language other than English or Irish at Home 2011 to 2016 by Birthplace, Language Spoken, Age Group and CensusYear - StatBank - data and statistics". Retrieved 2017-07-12.
  24. ^ "Recensement de la population 2006, exploitation principale - France (métropole et départements d'outre-mer)". INSEE. Archived from the original on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  25. ^ Khan, Sher Ali (2015-08-24). "Islamabad's little Somalia". Herald Magazine. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  26. ^ "Malaysia: Most Somali students are driven to get an education". Hiiraan. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  27. ^ Shire, Saad A. (2008). "Transactions with Homeland: Remittance". Bildhaan. 4 (1): 92–103.
  28. ^ Connor, Phillip; Krogstad, Jens Manuel (1 June 2016). "5 facts about the global Somali diaspora". Fact Tank. Pew Research Center. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  29. ^ "Registered Somali Refugee Population". UNHCR. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  30. ^ "Population Movements | Somali | Refugee Health Profiles | Immigrant and Refugee Health | CDC". 2019-02-26. Retrieved 2020-07-23.
  31. ^ Somalia's Missing Million: The Somali Diaspora and its Role in Development
  32. ^ Somalia: How is the fate of the Somalis in Egypt? Archived 2011-05-06 at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ The History of Somali Communities in the Sudan since the First World War
  34. ^ Local xenophobes still plague foreigners
  35. ^ "Statistics Sweden - Foreign-born and born in Sweden".
  36. ^ "Population". Statistics Finland. 4 April 2018. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  37. ^ Mette Foged, Giovanni Peri. "Immigrants and Native Workers - New Analysis Using Longitudinal Employer-Employee Data" (PDF). University of Copenhagen & University of California. Retrieved 4 September 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  38. ^ "FOLK1C: Population at the first day of the quarter by region, sex, age (5 years age groups), ancestry and country of origin". Statistics Denmark. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  39. ^ "Population at the first day of the quarter by citizenship, age, region, time and sex". Statistics Denmark. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  40. ^ a b Johansen, Simon (2015-08-31). "Somaliernes dårlige integration har bidt sig fast". Kristeligt Dagblad (in Danish). Retrieved 2021-03-14.
  41. ^ "1.000 somaliere har mistet deres opholdstilladelse: 'Nu skal de rejse hjem'". DR (in Danish). Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  42. ^ Parallelsamfund i Danmark / Økonomisk Analyse nr. 30. Ministry for economic affairs and the interior. February 2018. p. 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 February 2018. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  43. ^ Parallelsamfund i Danmark / Økonomisk Analyse nr. 30. Ministry for economic affairs and the interior. February 2018. p. 27. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 February 2018. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  44. ^ "Helsingin Sanomat". Archived from the original on 2012-10-21. Retrieved 2011-10-19.
  45. ^ "Ausländische Bevölkerung und Schutzsuchende nach Regionen und Herkunftsländern". Statistics Germany. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  46. ^ Fernandes-Mendes, H. K. (July 2000), Somaliërs in Nederland, een profiel (PDF), The Hague: Ministry of Justice, p. 10, retrieved 2009-08-30
  47. ^ Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose (2004-12-21). "Frustrated Somalis flee Holland for the freedom of Britain". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2020-07-25.
  48. ^ Ersanilli, Evelyn. "Einwandererintegration | bpb". (in German). Retrieved 2020-07-26.
  49. ^ Ministerie van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport (2018-06-07). "De religieuze beleving van moslims in Nederland - Publicatie - Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau" (PDF). (in Dutch). p. 77-79. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  50. ^ "KommuneProfilen. Statistikk og nøkkeltall om antall og andel innvandrere etter land og landbakgrunn i kommuner og fylker - basert på statistikk fra SSB".
  51. ^ "Nei, somaliere er ikke mye bedre integrert i USA enn i Norge". (in Norwegian). 2016-05-28. Retrieved 2020-08-14.
  52. ^ Carlson, Magnusson & Rönnqvist (2012). Somalier på arbetsmarknaden - har Sverige något att lära? : underlagsrapport 2 till Framtidskommissionen. Stockholm: Regeringskansliet - Fritzes. pp. 13–16. ISBN 978-91-38-23810-3. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  53. ^ Johnsdotter, Sara (October 2010). Somaliska föreningar som överbryggare (PDF). Hälsa och samhälle, Malmö University. pp. 5, 13. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  54. ^ Mångfaldsbarometern 2014 (PDF). Gävle University College. 2014. p. 57.
  55. ^ Arab Population in the UK Archived 2013-01-09 at the Wayback Machine
  56. ^ Dissanayake, Samanthi (2008-12-04). "British Somalis play politics from afar". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
  57. ^ "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
  58. ^ van Heelsum, A (2011). "Why Somalis move? An investigation into migratory processes among Somalis" (PDF). Paper Presented at ECAS 4: 4th European Conference on African Studies, 15–18 June 2011, Uppsala, Sweden: African Engagements: On Whose Terms?.
  59. ^ Kleist, Nauja (2004). Nomads, sailors and refugees: A century of Somali migration (PDF). Sussex Migration Working Paper. Vol. 23. University of Sussex. p. 11. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
  60. ^ "Detailed country of birth and nationality analysis from the 2011 Census of England and Wales" (PDF). Office for National Statistics. 16 May 2013. p. 9. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  61. ^ "Born abroad: Somalia". BBC News. 2005-09-07. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
  62. ^ "Population of the United Kingdom by Country of Birth and Nationality - Office for National Statistics". Retrieved 2017-07-12.
  63. ^ "National Household Survey (NHS) Profile, 2011". Statcan. 2013-06-26. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
  64. ^ "Ontario Municipal Election: Somali Canadian Prospective". Hiiraan Online. 10 November 2006. Retrieved 8 July 2013.; *N.B. 44,995 individuals reported Somali ethnicity in 2011 National Household Survey - c.f. [1]
  65. ^ Statistics Canada - Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada Highlight Tables, 2006 Census
  66. ^ "Somalis cash in on Dubai boom". BBC. Archived from the original on 7 January 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  67. ^ "Forget piracy, Somalia's whole 'global' economy is booming - to Kenya's benefit". TEA. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  68. ^ Lewis, I. M.; Said Samatar (1999). A Pastoral Democracy: A Study of Pastoralism and Politics Among the Northern Somali of the Horn of Africa. LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster. pp. 11–13. ISBN 3-8258-3084-5.
  69. ^ R. J. Gavin (1975). Aden under British rule, 1839–1967. Hurst. p. 198. ISBN 9780903983143.
  70. ^ World Refugee Survey. United States Committee for Refugees. 1997. p. 169.
  71. ^ "Refugees from Yemen Landed In Berabera Town". Goobjoog. 31 March 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2015.


  • Bjork, Stephanie R and Kusow, Abdi M, From Mogadishu to Dixon: The Somali Diaspora in a Global Context, (Africa World Free Press, 1997)

External links[edit]