Assyrian–Chaldean–Syriac diaspora

The Assyrian diaspora (Syriac: ܓܠܘܬܐ, Galuta, "exile") refers to ethnic Assyrians living in communities outside their ancestral homeland. The Eastern Aramaic-speaking Assyrians claim descent from the ancient Assyrians and are one of the few ancient Semitic ethnicities in the Near East who resisted Arabization, Turkification, Persianization and Islamization during and after the Muslim conquest of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey.

Folk dance in an Assyrian party in Chicago

The indigenous Assyrian homeland is within the borders of northern Iraq, southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, and northeastern Syria, a region roughly corresponding with Assyria from the 25th century BC to the 7th century AD.[1] Assyrians are predominantly Christians; most are members of the Assyrian Church of the East, the Ancient Church of the East, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Syriac Catholic Church, the Assyrian Pentecostal Church and the Assyrian Evangelical Church.[2] The terms "Syriac", "Chaldean" and "Chaldo-Assyrian" can be used to describe ethnic Assyrians by their religious affiliation, and indeed the terms "Syriac" and "Syrian" are much later derivatives of the original "Assyrian", and historically, geographically and ethnically originally meant Assyrian (see Name of Syria).

Before the Assyrian genocide, the Assyrian people were largely unmoved from their native lands which they had occupied for about 5,000 years. Although a handful of Assyrians had migrated to the United Kingdom during the Victorian era, the Assyrian diaspora began in earnest during World War I (1914-1918) as the Ottoman Empire conducted both large scale genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Assyrian people with the aid of local Kurdish, Iranian and Arab tribes. This genocide was coordinated alongside the Armenian genocide, Greek genocide and Great Famine of Mount Lebanon.

Further atrocities such as the Simele massacres of the 1930s also stimulated emigration.

Additional emigration occurred in the 1980s, as Assyrian communities fled the violence of the Kurdish–Turkish conflict and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. During the 1990s and 2000s, Assyrians left the Middle East to evade persecution in Ba'athist Iraq and from Muslim fundamentalists. The exodus continued into the mid-2010s, as Assyrians fled Iraq and northeastern Syria due to genocide by the Islamic State and other Sunni Islamist groups.[3]

Demographic estimatesEdit

Country (or region) Most-recent census Assyrian-Chaldean-Syriac
population (2008)
Total country (or region)
population (2008)[4]
% Assyrian Further information
Iraq - 500,000[5][6]-1,500,000[7] 30,711,152 2%-5% Assyrians in Iraq
Syria - 200,000-877,000[8][9][10] 20,581,290 c.4%[11] Assyrians in Syria
United States 82,355 (2000)[12] 100,000[13]-500,000[7][14] 307,006,550 0.03%-0.17% Assyrian Americans
Sweden - 100,000[15]-120,000[7] 9,219,637 1.2% Assyrians in Sweden
Jordan - 44,000[7]-150,000[16][17] 5,906,043 0.7% Assyrians in Jordan
Germany - 70,000[18]-100,000[7] 82,110,097 0.12% German Assyrians
Iran - 74,000[14]-80,000[19] 71,956,322 0.11% Assyrians in Iran
Lebanon - 37,000[20]-100,000[7] 4,193,758 0.9%-2.38% Assyrians in Lebanon
Turkey - 24,000[14]-70,000[21] 73,914,260 0.03%-0.1% Assyrians in Turkey
Russia 13,649 (2002)[22] 70,000[7] 141,950,000 0.05% Assyrians in Russia
Australia 46,217 (2016)[23] 60,000[23] 23,431,800 0.13% Assyrian Australians
Canada 8,650 (2006)[24] 38,000[25] 33,311,400 0,11% Assyrians in Canada
Netherlands - 20,000[7] 16,445,593 0.12% Assyrians in the Netherlands
France - 40,000[7] 62,277,432 0.06% Assyrians in France
Belgium - 15,000[7] 10,708,433 0.14%
Georgia 3,299 (2002)[26] 15,000[7] 4,385,400 0.34% Assyrians in Georgia
Armenia 2,769 (2011)[27] 15,000[7] 3,018,854 0.09% Assyrians in Armenia
Brazil - 10,000[7] 193,733,795 0.005%
Switzerland - 10,000[7] 7,647,675 0.13%
Denmark - 10,000[7] 5,493,621 0.18%
Greece - 8,000[7] 11,237,094 0.07% Assyrians in Greece
Great Britain - 8,000[7] 51,446,000 0.02% British Assyrians
Austria - 7,000[7] 8,336,926 0.08%
Italy - 3,000[7] 59,832,179 0.005%
Azerbaijan - 1,400[7]
New Zealand 1,683 (2006)[28] 3,000[7] 4,268,900 0.07%
Uruguay - 3,000[29] 3,449,285 0.09%
Argentina - 2,000[30] 44,361,150 0.04%
Mexico - 2,000[7] 106,350,434 0.002% Assyrian Mexicans
Other - 100,000[7]
Total - 3.3 million[31]-4.2 million[32]

Former USSREdit

From 1937 to 1959, the Assyrian population in the Soviet Union grew by 587.3 percent.[33]

Former Soviet UnionEdit


Assyrians in Russia protesting Iraqi church bombings in 2006

Assyrians came to Russia and the Soviet Union in three large waves. The first wave was after the Treaty of Turkmenchay in 1828, that delineated a border between Russia and Persia. The second was as a result of the Assyrian genocide during and after World War I; the third was after World War II, when the Soviet Union unsuccessfully tried to establish a satellite state in Iran. Soviet troops withdrew in 1946, and left the Assyrians (who supported the coup) exposed to retaliation identical to that received from the Turks 30 years earlier. Soviet authorities persecuted Assyrian religious and community leaders in the same way that they persecuted Russians who remained members of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Although Assyrians tended to assimilate into the Armenian community in the Soviet Union, their cultural identity found new expression under glasnost. Most Assyrians are members of the Assyrian Church of the East; other churches include the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Chaldean Catholic Church.[34]

USSR censusEdit

  • 1897 census: 5,300 "Assyrians" (by language)[35]
  • 1919 refugee status:
7,000–8,000 Assyrian refugees in Tbilisi[36]
2,000 Assyrians in Yerevan[36]
15,000 Assyrians from Hakkari, 10,000 from Urmia and Salmas in the Russian region of Rostov[37]
  • 1926 census: 9,808 Assyrians (Aisor)[36]
  • 1959 census: 21,083 Assyrians[38]
  • 1970 census: 24,294 Assyrians[39]
  • 1979 census: 25,170 Assyrians[40]
  • 1989 census: 26,289 Assyrians[38]



  • 1926 (Soviet) census:[39] 21,215 Assyrians
  • 1989 (Soviet) census:[41] 5,963 Assyrians
  • 2001 census:[42] 3,409 Assyrians (3rd minority ethnic group after Yazidis and Russians): 524 urban, 2,485 rural
  • 2011 census:[27] 2,769 Assyrians


  • 1926 census: 2,904 Assyrians[39]
  • 1989 census: 6,206 Assyrians[26]
  • 2002 census: 3,299 Assyrians[26]


  • 2001 census: 3,143[43]



Estimates on December 31, 1944, by province (muhafazah)
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[45]
1932 census and later estimates
Denomination 1932 census[46] 1944 estimates[45] 1954 estimates[46]
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

North AmericaEdit


  • 2001 Census: 6,980 Assyrians
  • 2006 Census: 8,650[47]
  • 2011 Census: 10,810[48]

United StatesEdit

South AmericaEdit



Next to Uruguay, in Argentina the Syriac Orthodox Church counts with a Patriarchal Vicar.[56] However, the actual number of Assyrians/Syriacs is hard to know because the Argentine Census does not ask for ethnicity. Furthermore, their assimilation rate is very high, as it happens with other Middle Eastern communities settled in the country. There is Assyrian/Syriac presence in Buenos Aires, La Plata, Córdoba, Salta and Frías.[57][58] In the past, intellectuals like Farid Nazha went into exile in Argentina. Although 2,000 Assyrians/Syriacs are listed in Argentina, the actual number may be higher.[30]



Assyrians arrived in Belgium primarily as refugees from the Turkish towns of Midyat and Mardin in Tur Abdin. Most belong to the Syriac Orthodox Church, but some belong to the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church. Their three main settlements are in the Brussels municipalities of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode (where their municipal councilman, Christian Democrat Ibrahim Erkan, is originally from Turkey) and Etterbeek, Liège and Mechelen. Two more councilmen were elected in Etterbeek on October 8, 2006: the Liberal Sandrine Es (whose family is from Turkey) and the Christian Democrat Ibrahim Hanna (from Syria's Khabur region). Flemish author August Thiry wrote Mechelen aan de Tigris (Mechelen on the Tigris) about Assyrian refugees from Hassana in the southeastern Turkish district of Silopi; municipal candidate Melikan Kucam is one of them. In the October 14, 2012 municipal elections, Kucam was elected in Mechelen as a member of the Flemisch nationalists N-VA.


An estimated 20,000 Assyrians live in France, primarily concentrated in the northern French suburbs of Sarcelles (where several thousand Chaldean Catholics live) and in Gonesse and Villiers-le-Bel. They are from several villages in southeastern Turkey.[59][60]


The number of Assyrians in Germany is estimated at 100,000.[61] Most Assyrian immigrants and their descendants in Germany live in Munich, Wiesbaden, Paderborn, Essen, Bietigheim-Bissingen, Ahlen, Göppingen, Köln, Hamburg, Berlin, Augsburg and Gütersloh.

Since they were persecuted throughout the 20th century, many Assyrians arrived from Turkey seeking a better life. The first large wave arrived during the 1960s and 1970s as part of the gastarbeiter (guest worker) economic program. Germany was seeking immigrant workers (largely from Turkey) and many Assyrians, seeing opportunities for freedom and success, applied for visas. Assyrians began working in restaurants or in construction, and many began operating their own shops. The first Assyrian immigrants in Germany organized by forming culture clubs and building churches. The second wave came in the 1980s and 1990s as refugees from the Kurdish–Turkish conflict.


The first Assyrian migrants arrived in Greece in 1934, and settled in Makronisos (today uninhabited), Keratsini, Pireus, Egaleo and Kalamata.[62] The vast majority of Assyrians (about 2,000) live in Peristeri, a suburb of Athens.[63] There are five Christian Assyrian 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), indicating the arrival of refugees at that time.


The first Assyrians came to the Netherlands in the 1970s, primarily from Turkey and observing the West Syriac Rite. The number of Assyrians in the country is estimated at 25,000 to 35,000. They primarily live in the eastern Netherlands, in Enschede, Hengelo, Oldenzaal and Borne in the province of Overijssel.


Demonstration against the genocide by the Islamic State in Stockholm, Sweden

In the late 1970s, about 12,000 Assyrians from Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria emigrated to Sweden. Although they considered themselves persecuted for religious and ethnic reasons, they were not recognized as refugees. Those who had lived in Sweden for a longer period received residence permits for humanitarian reasons.[64]

Södertälje is considered the unofficial Assyrian capital of Europe because of the city's high percentage of Assyrians.[citation needed] The Assyrian TV channels Suryoyo Sat and Suroyo TV are based in Södertälje. From 2005 to 2006 and since 2014, the Assyrian Ibrahim Baylan has been a minister in the Swedish government.

United KingdomEdit

About 8,000 Assyrians live in the United Kingdom, primarily in London and Manchester. The first Assyrians arrived during the 1850s, most immigration began in the 1950s.[59]



According to the 2016 census, 46,217 people identified themselves as having Assyrian ancestry (0.13 percent of Australia's population).[65] Of the 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 country's largest number of Assyrians.[66] In Sydney, Assyrians are the leading ethnic group in the Fairfield LGA suburbs of Fairfield, Fairfield Heights and Greenfield Park. In Melbourne, Assyrians live in the northwestern suburbs of Broadmeadows, Craigieburn, Meadow Heights, Roxburgh Park and Fawkner. In 2016, Melbourne had 13,812 people who claimed Assyrian ancestry.[67] The Assyrian community is growing, and there are new arrivals from Syria and Iraq, adding to those with origins in Iran, Jordan and the Caucasus. In May 2013, the New South Wales parliament formally recognised the Assyrian genocide.[68] Assyrians have been labelled as a successful minority group, and have established many churches, schools and community centres.

New ZealandEdit

  • 1991 census: 315[69]
  • 1996 census: 807[69]
  • 2001 census: 1,176[69]
    • 465 in the Auckland region
    • 690 in the Wellington region
    • Highest unemployment rate (40 percent)
    • Highest-percentage-Christian ethnic group (99 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[28]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Chaldean Assyrian Syriac People of Iraq: An Ethnic Identity Problem – Shak Hanish | The American Foundation for Syriac Studies".
  2. ^ Minahan, James (2002). Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: A-C. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 206. ISBN 9780313321092. The Assyrians, although closely assiociated with their Christian religion, are divided among a number of Christian sects. The largest denominations are the Chaldean Catholic Church with about 45% of the Assyrian population, the Syriac Orthodox with 26%, the Assyrian Church of the East with 19%, the free Orthodox Church of Antioch or Syriac Catholic Church with 4%, and various Protestant sects with a combined 6%.
  3. ^ Jacobson, Rodolfo (2001). Codeswitching Worldwide II. Walter de Gruyter. p. 159. ISBN 978-3-11-016768-9.
  4. ^ CIA-The World Factbook. "Country Comparison:Population". Archived from the original on 28 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-27.
  5. ^ "The World Factbook". CIA World Factbook. 17 February 2022.
  6. ^ Pike, John. "Christians in Iraq". Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  7. ^ 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,
  8. ^ "Prior to the start of the war in Syria, it is estimated that the country was home to approximately 200,000 ethnic Assyrians" at Syria: Assyrian Policy Institute
  9. ^ "Syria's Assyrians threatened by extremists". April 28, 2014.
  10. ^ Turkey-Syria deal allows Syriacs to cross border for religious holidays "An estimated 25,000 Syriacs live in Turkey, while Syria boasts some 877,000."
  11. ^ Shoup, John A. (2018), "Syria", The History of Syria, ABC-CLIO, p. 6, ISBN 978-1440858352, Syria has several other ethnic groups, the Kurds... they make up an estimated 9 percent...Turkomen comprise around 4-5 percent. of the total population. The rest of the ethnic mix of Syria is made of Assyrians (about 4 percent), Armenians (about 2 percent), and Circassians (about 1 percent).
  12. ^ 2000 Census USA Archived February 10, 2020, at
  13. ^ Bureau, U.S. Census. "U.S. Census website". Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  14. ^ a b c "Assyrian Information Management (AIM)". Assyrian Information Management (AIM) |
  15. ^ 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."
  16. ^ Thrown to the Lions Archived 2013-08-08 at the Wayback Machine, Doug Bandow, The America Spectator
  17. ^ Jordan Should Legally Recognize Displaced Iraqis As Refugees, Assyrian and Chaldean Christians Flee Iraq to Neighboring Jordan, ASSIST News Service
  18. ^ 70,000 Syriac Christians according to REMID (of which 55,000 Syriac Orthodox).
  19. ^ Archived 2012-02-04 at the Wayback Machine, SIL Ethnologue "Assyrian Neo-Aramaic 15,000 in Iran (1994). Ethnic population: 80,000 (1994)" See also Christianity in Iran.
  20. ^ Languages of Lebanon, Ethnologue "Immigrant languages: Assyrian Neo-Aramaic (1,000), Chaldean Neo-Aramaic (18,000), Turoyo (18,000)."
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ a b "2002 census" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2006-02-17.
  23. ^ a b "CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN AUSTRALIA, 2016". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 27 June 2017. Archived from the original on 9 July 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  24. ^ "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.
  25. ^ "Vatican Radio - Pope approves Chaldean Eparchy in Canada". Archived from the original on 2012-03-11. Retrieved 2012-01-28.
  26. ^ a b c "Eurominority – La solidarité avec le peuple palestinien". Archived from the original on 19 December 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  27. ^ a b "2011 Armenian Census - De Jure Population (Urban, Rural) by Age and Ethnicity" (PDF).
  28. ^ a b "Home". Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  29. ^ a b Project, Joshua. "Assyrian in Uruguay".
  30. ^ a b "State of Assyria".
  31. ^ UNPO estimates
  32. ^ SIL Ethnologue estimate for the "ethnic population" associated with Assyrian Neo-Aramaic.
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ a b Assyrians Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Center for Russian Studies, NUPI - Norwegian Institute of International Affairs Archived 2006-02-10 at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ Youri Bromlei et al., Processus ethniques en U.R.S.S., Editions du Progrès, 1977
  36. ^ a b c Eden Naby, "Les Assyriens d'Union soviétique," Cahiers du Monde russe, 16/3-4. 1975
  37. ^ A. Chatelet (Supérieur de la mission catholique de Téhéran), Question assyro-chaldéenne, Quartier général - Bureau de la Marine, Constantinople, 31 août 1919
  38. ^ a b An Ethnohistorical Dictionary of the Russian and Soviet Empires, by James Stuart Olson, Lee Brigance Pappas, Nicholas Charles
  39. ^ a b c Eden Naby 1975
  40. ^ Annuaire démographique des Nations-Unies 1983, Département des affaires économiques et sociales internationales, New York, 1985
  41. ^ "Armenian Helsinki Committee - Reflections over Annual Report on International Religious Freedom: Armenia". Archived from the original on 2007-02-13. Retrieved 2006-02-07.
  42. ^ 2001 Armenian Census - De Jure Population (Urban, Rural) by Age and Ethnicity
  43. ^ "All-Ukraine population census 2001". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2006-04-05.
  44. ^ Assyrian cultural center in Kazakhstan[permanent dead link]
  45. ^ a b Albert H. Hourani, Minorities in the Arab World, London: Oxford University Press, 1947
  46. ^ a b Kenneth C. Bruss, "Lebanon - Area and population," Encyclopædia Britannica, 1963
  47. ^ Canada, Government of Canada, Statistics. "Statistics Canada: Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada Highlight Tables, 2006 Census". Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  48. ^ Canada, Government of Canada, Statistics (8 May 2013). "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.
  49. ^ "U.S. Bureau of the Census - Selected Characteristics for Persons of Assyrian Ancestry: 1990".
  50. ^ 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
  51. ^ US Census, QT-P13. Ancestry: 2000 Archived February 10, 2020, at
  52. ^ "2000 Michigan Census". Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved November 18, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  53. ^ "2000 California Census". Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved November 18, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  54. ^ "2000 Illinois Census". Archived from the original on February 10, 2020. Retrieved November 18, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  55. ^ "U.S. Census 2000, Language Spoken at Home for the Foreign-Born Population 5 Years and Over: 1980 to 2000".
  56. ^ "World". November 22, 2014.
  57. ^ "Argentina recibe al Patriarca de la Iglesia Siriana Ortodoxa".
  58. ^ "El líder de la Iglesia Siriano Ortodoxa de Antioquía llega a Argentina e inaugurará un monumento en La Plata".
  59. ^ a b "Brief History of Assyrians". Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  60. ^ Gaunt, David, "Cultural diversity, Multilingualism and Ethnic minorities in Sweden - Identity conflicts among Oriental Christian in Sweden", s.10.
  61. ^ "Diskussion zum Thema 'Aaramäische Christen' im Kapitelshaus" Borkener Zeitung (in German) (archived link, 8 October 2011)
  62. ^ ZINDA. "ZENDA - May 10, 1999". Archived from the original on 28 August 2003. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  63. ^ "Greece". Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  64. ^ Swedish Minister for Development Co-operation, Migration and Asylum Policy, Migration 2002, June 2002 Archived September 26, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  65. ^ Kinarah: Twentieth Anniversary of Assyrian Australian Association 1989, Assyrian Australian Association, Edensor Park.
  66. ^ Community Relations Commission For a Multicultural NSW 2004, Cultural Harmony. The Next Decade 2002-2012 (White Paper), New South Wales Government, Sydney South.
  67. ^ "Ancestry | Australia | Community profile". Retrieved 2021-10-28.
  68. ^ McMah, Lauren (2013-05-14). "NSW Parliament recognises Assyrian genocide". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2021-10-28.
  69. ^ a b c "Statistics New Zealand - 2001 Census of Population and Dwellings - Ethnic Groups" (PDF).


  • Robert Alaux, The Last Assyrians, documentary film, 2004
  • Further readingEdit

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