Iranian Australians

Iranian Australians or Persian Australians are citizens of Australia whose national background or ancestry is traced from Iran.

Iranian Australians
Total population
69,000 (by birth, 2017)[1]
36,168 (by ancestry, 2011)
Regions with significant populations
New South Wales, Victoria
Australian English, Persian, Azerbaijani, Armenian, Kurdish, Assyrian and other languages of Iran. (see Languages of Iran).
Majority: Irreligion Minority: Twelver Shia Islam, Druze, Christianity, Judaism, Bahá'í Faith, Zoroastrianism


Iranian-Australian is used interchangeably with Persian-Australian,[2][3][4][5] partly due to the fact[6] that, in the Western world, Iran was known as "Persia". On the Nowruz of 1935, Reza Shah Pahlavi asked foreign delegates to use the term Iran, the endonym of the country used since the Sasanian Empire, in formal correspondence. Since then the use of the word "Iran" has become more common in the Western countries. This also changed the usage of the terms for Iranian nationality, and the common adjective for citizens of Iran changed from "Persian" to "Iranian". In 1959, the government of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, Reza Shah Pahlavi's son, announced that both "Persia" and "Iran" could officially be used interchangeably.[7] However the issue is still debated today.[8][9]

There is a tendency among Iranian Australians to categorize themselves as "Persian" rather than "Iranian", mainly to distinguish themselves as being of Persian ethnicity, which comprise about 65% of Iran's population.[2][10] While the majority of Iranian-Australians come from Persian backgrounds, there is a significant number of non-Persian Iranians such as Azeris[11][12][13] and Kurds within the Iranian-Australian community,[10][14] leading some scholars to believe that the label "Iranian" is more inclusive, since the label "Persian" excludes non-Persian minorities.[10] The Collins English Dictionary uses a variety of similar and overlapping definitions for the terms "Persian" and "Iranian".[15][16]


The first known immigrant to Australia was Hamed Mortis (Persian: حامد مرتس‎) who got naturalised in New South Wales (NSW) on 20 October 1883.[17][18] The only other early Iranian immigrant to NSW was Mohamad Ameen Khan (Persian: محمد امین خان‎) who got naturalised on 29 June 1899.[19]

Few Iranians migrated to Victoria in the nineteenth century, with only seven recorded in the 1891 census. From 1950 to 1977, the first wave of immigration from Iran to Australia occurred, but it was relatively insignificant in terms of the number of immigrants. Annually, few thousand tourists entered Australia which only a few hundreds were immigrants during this period, mostly university students who decided to stay. The vast majority of Iran's emigrants left their homeland just after the 1979 Islamic revolution which was end of 2500 years monarchy. For the period 1978–1980, the average number of Iranians entering Australia as immigrants annually increased to more than 5,000. From the period 1980–1988, there was a strong trend of emigration to Australia. Since 2000, there has been a wave of Iranian migration to Australia, especially engineers and doctors, through skilled migration program.

Iranians speak Persian and also Azerbaijani Turkish, Kurdish, Gilaki and some other languages and dialects are spoken in different regions of Iran. They practice the Iranian culture, which includes Nowruz. Along religious lines, both Muslim and non-Muslim Iranians reside in Australia. Non-Muslim Iranians include Iranian Christians mainly Armenian and Assyrian, Iranian Baha'is, Iranian Jews and Iranian Zoroastrians. The Bureau of Statistics reports that at the 2011 census the major religious affiliations amongst Iran-born were Islam (12 686) and Baha'i (6269). Of the Iran-born, 18.4 per cent stated 'No Religion', which was lower than that of the total Australian population (22.3 per cent), and 9.4 per cent did not state a religion.

Several sources have noted estimates of Iranian diaspora mainly left Iran since the 1979 revolution, the significant number of which currently reside in the United States and Western Europe while the community is Australia is very small. The Iranian-Australian community, in line with similar trends in Iran and other countries around the world, has produced a sizeable number of individuals notable in many fields, including Law, Medicine, Engineering, Business and Fine Arts.

Iranian Australian censusEdit

In 1991, the ABS figures revealed an Iranian population of 12,914. In 2004, 18,798 people in Australia claim to be of Iranian ancestry.[20]

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Estimated resident population, Country of birth, Age and sex - as at 30 June 1996 to 2017".|title=Estimated resident population, Country of birth, Age and sex - as at 30 June 1996 to 2017
  2. ^ a b Daha, Maryam (September 2011). "Contextual Factors Contributing to Ethnic Identity Development of Second-Generation Iranian American Adolescents". Journal of Adolescent Research. 26 (5): 543–569. doi:10.1177/0743558411402335. ... the majority of the participants self-identified themselves as Persian instead of Iranian, due to the stereotypes and negative portrayals of Iranians in the media and politics. Adolescents from Jewish and Baha'i faiths asserted their religious identity more than their ethnic identity. The fact Iranians use Persian interchangeably is nothing to do with current Iranian government because the name Iran was used before this period as well. Linguistically modern Persian is a branch of Old Persian in the family of Indo-European languages and that includes all the minorities as well more inclusively.
  3. ^ Nakamura, Raymond M. (2003). Health in America: A Multicultural Perspective. Kendall/Hunt Pub. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-7575-0637-6. Iranian/Persian Americans – The flow of Iranian citizens into the United States began in 1979, during and after the Islamic Revolution.
  4. ^ Zanger, Mark (2001). The American Ethnic Cookbook for Students. ABC-CLIO. p. 213. ISBN 978-1-57356-345-1.
  5. ^ Racial and Ethnic Relations in America, Carl Leon Bankston,"Therefore, Turkish and Iranian (Persian) Americans, who are Muslims but not ethnically Arabs, are often mistakenly..", Salem Press, 2000
  6. ^ Darya, Fereshteh Haeri (2007). Second-generation Iranian-Americans: The Relationship Between Ethnic Identity, Acculturation, and Psychological Well-being. ProQuest. pp. 3–4. ISBN 978-0-542-97374-1. According to previous studies, the presence of heterogeneity is evident among Iranian immigrants (also known as Persians – Iran was known as Persia until 1935) who came from myriads of religious (Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Armenian, Assyrian, Baha'i and Zoroastrian), ethnic (Turk, Kurds, Baluchs, Lurs, Turkamans, Arabs, as well as tribes such as Ghasghaie, and Bakhtiari), linguistic/dialogic background (Persian, Azari, Gialki, Mazandarani, Kurdish, Arabic, and others). Cultural, religious and political, and various other differences among Iranians reflect their diverse social and interpersonal interactions. Some studies suggest that, despite the existence of subgroup within Iranian immigrants (e.g. various ethno-religious groups), their nationality as Iranians has been an important point of reference and identifiable source of their identification as a group across time and setting.
  7. ^ Yarshater, Ehsan Persia or Iran, Persian or Farsi Archived 2010-10-24 at the Wayback Machine, Iranian Studies, vol. XXII no. 1 (1989)
  8. ^ Majd, Hooman, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran, by Hooman Majd, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 23 September 2008, ISBN 0385528426, 9780385528429. p. 161
  9. ^ Frye, Richard Nelson (2005). Greater Iran: A 20th-century Odyssey. Mazda. ISBN 9781568591773. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  10. ^ a b c Bozorgmehr, Mehdi (2009). "Iran". In Mary C. Waters; Reed Ueda; Helen B. Marrow (eds.). The New Americans: A Guide to Immigration since 1965. Harvard University Press. p. 469. ISBN 978-0-674-04493-7.
  11. ^ Svante E. Cornell (20 May 2015). Azerbaijan Since Independence. Routledge. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-317-47621-4.
  12. ^ Barbara A. West (1 January 2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing. p. 68. ISBN 978-1-4381-1913-7.
  13. ^ James Minahan (1 January 2002). Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: S-Z. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 1766. ISBN 978-0-313-32384-3.
  14. ^ Elizabeth Chacko, Contemporary ethnic geographies in America // Ines M. Miyares, Christopher A. Airriess (eds.), Rowman & Littlefield, 2007, pp. 325–326
  15. ^ "Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition". Retrieved 4 September 2012.
  16. ^ "Definition of "Persian"". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
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  20. ^ Khoo, Siew-Ean; Lucas, David (24 May 2004). "Australian' Ancestries" (PDF). Australian Census Analytic Program. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 20 July 2008.
  21. ^