Ethnic groups in West Asia

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There are many ethnic groups in West Asia, (also known as the Near East or Middle East) and the region has historically been a crossroads of different cultures. Since the 1960s changes in political and economic factors (especially the enormous oil wealth in the region and conflicts) have significantly altered the ethnic composition of groups in the region. While some ethnic groups have been present in the region for millennia, others have arrived fairly recently through immigration. The five largest ethnic groups in the region are Arabs, Azerbaijanis, Kurds, Persians, and Turks[1] but there are dozens of other ethnic groups which have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of members.

Other Indigenous, native or long standing ethnic groups include: Arameans, Armenians, Assyrians, Copts, Georgians, Greeks, Jews, Mandeans, Mhallami, Samaritans, Shabaks, Balochs, Talishis, Tats, Turcomans, Yazidis, Druze, Circassians, Berbers, Kawliya, Nawar, Gagauz, Gilaks, Lurs, Maltese, Mazanderanis, Ossetians and Zazas.

More recent migrant populations include Bengalis, Britons, Chinese, Crimean Tatars, Filipinos, Indians, Pakistanis, Pashtuns, Punjabis, Roma (Gypsy), Sikhs, Sindhis, Somalis, Indonesians, Malays, Sub-Saharan Africans and Sri Lankans. In the early 20th century, there were some European expatriates like British people, French people in North Africa, and Italians in Italy's former colony of Libya.

Arabian Peninsula, the Levant and Mesopotamia[edit]

Arabic peoples
Syriac-speaking peoples
Indo-European speakers
Turkic peoples
Other Ethnic Groups


Ethnic map of Asia Minor and Caucasus in 1914


Ethnolinguistic groups in the Caucasus region


Further information: Ethnic groups of Cyprus


Main article: Ethnicities in Iran

Diaspora Populations[edit]

Because of the low population of many of the Arab States of the Persian Gulf and the demand for labor created by the large discoveries of oil in these countries there has been a steady stream of immigration to the region (mainly from South Asia). Ethnic groups which comprise the largest portions of this immigration include Bengalis, Britons, Chinese, Filipinos, Hindus, Nepalis, Pakistanis, Punjabis, Sikhs, Sindhis, Somalis, and Sri Lankans. Many of these people are denied certain political and legal rights in the countries in which they live and frequently face mistreatment by the native-born citizens of the host countries.

See also[edit]