Demographics of the Arab League

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Population density of the League members

The Arab League (League of Arab States) is a social, cultural and economic grouping of 22 Arab states in the Arab world. As of January 1, 2007, the combined population of all the Arab states was around 340 million people.

The most populous Arab League member state is Egypt, with a population of 80 million residents. Djibouti is the least populated, with around 500,000 inhabitants. Most of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf import high amounts of foreign labour. For example, the United Arab Emirates' native inhabitants make up less than 20% of its overall population.

Population growth

The population of the Arab League as estimated by the CIA in July, 2014 was around 357,000,000. No exact figures of the League's annual population growth, fertility rate, or mortality rate are known to exist.

Most of the Arab League's population is concentrated in and around major urban areas.[1]

Circle frame.svg

Religion in Middle East (2014)

  Islam (90%)
  Christianity (7%)
  Others (3%)

Muhammad's Islamic Ummah, Christianity and Judaism were all reportedly founded in or near areas that are now Arab League countries. Consequently, the majority of the Arab League's citizens are either Muslims, Christians or Jews. The countries of the Arab League host several holy cities and other religiously significant locations, including Alexandria, Mecca, Medina, Kirkuk, Arbil, and Baghdad. Sunni Muslims constitute the majority of the Arab League's residents. However, large numbers of Shi'a Muslims make up the majority in areas of Lebanon, Iraq, and Bahrain.

Christianity is the second largest religion in the League, with over 20 million Christians living in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Bahrain, Syria, Kuwait and Jordan. There are smaller Jewish populations living mainly in the western part of the Arab league. Places such as Bahrain, Morocco, Algeria, Yemen, Tunisia, Syria, Egypt and Iraq all have Jewish populations. However, most Arab Jews emigrated from the Arab states to Israel after its founding in 1948.[2] Other minor religions such as Druze religion, the Bahá'í Faith, Mandeanism, Yazdanism, Zoroastrianism, Shabak religion and Yarsan are practiced on a much smaller scale.

The holiest place in Islam, the Kaaba, is located in Saudi Arabia.
  • Muslim population - 311,093,951
  • Total population - 349,870,608

Religious percentages of the Arab League

N Country Muslims Christians Others
_  Arab League 90% 6% 4%
1  Algeria 98% 1% 1%
2  Bahrain 70% 15%[3] 15%
3  Comoros 99% 1% n/a
4  Djibouti 94% 6% n/a
5  Egypt 94% 5% 1%
6  Iraq 95% 4.3% 0.7%
7  Jordan 92% 6% 2%
8  Kuwait 85% 7% 8%
9  Lebanon 54% 41% 5%
10  Libya 97% 2.4% 0.6%
11  Mauritania 99% 0% 0%
12  Morocco 98.7% 1.1% 0.2%
13  Oman 92.5% 5% 2.5%
14  Qatar 77.9% 8.5% 10%
15  Palestine 90% 9.8% 0.2
16  Saudi Arabia 97% 1.3% 1.7%
17  Somalia 99% 0% 0%
18  Sudan 97%[4] 3%
19  Syria 87% 10% 3%
20  Tunisia 98% 1% 1%
21  United Arab Emirates 76% 9.0% 15%
22  Yemen 99% 0% 0%


source needed
File:Arab League Languages.PNG
Major languages of the Arab League (the map is not precise)
An overview of the different Arabic dialects

Arabic is the Arab League's official language, but additional languages are often used in the daily lives of some of the League's citizens. Currently, three major languages other than Arabic are used widely: Kurdish in northern Iraq and parts of Syria, Berber in North Africa, and Somali in the Horn of Africa.

There are several minority languages that are still spoken today, such as Afar, Armenian, Hebrew, Nubian, Persian, Aramaic, Mandic, Syriac, and Turkmen. Arabic is a non-native language to 20% of the Arab League's population, with the Somali, Berber and Kurdish languages considered the most widely used after Arabic.

On the other hand, Arabic is divided into over 27 dialects. Almost every Arab state has at least one local dialect of its own. they can be divided into 5 major branches, the Peninsula Arabic, which is the Arabic used in the Arabian peninsula, with around 9 main dialects, Arabic of the Nile Valley, which includes the Masri, Saedi, Sudanese and Chadic Arabic, the Arabic of the Fertile Crescent, which includes the Bedawi, Levant Arabic, Iraqi Arabic and North Mesopotamian Arabic, the Magharbi Arabic, which includes the Dialects used in Mauritania, Morocco, Libya, Algeria and Tunisia, also another category of Arabic is the other isolated dialects of Arabic, like the Judeo-Arabic, Mediterranean Arabic, Nubi Arabic, and the juba Arabic, which have greatly been affected by these communities' own pronunciation, culture and native tongue.

Arab League populations

According to the League of Arab States, the Arab League is an organization of independent Arab States in North and Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia.[5] Member nations are in turn bound by the Charter of the Arab League.[6]

Many Arab countries in the Persian Gulf have sizable (10–30%) non-Arab populations. Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman have a Persian speaking minority. The same countries also have Hindi-Urdu speakers and Filipinos as sizable minority. Balochi speakers are a good size minority in Oman. Additionally, countries like Bahrain, UAE, Oman and Kuwait have significant non-Arab and non-Muslim minorities (10–20%) like Hindus and Christians from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philippines.

Many non-Arab countries bordering the Arab states have large Arab populations, such as in Chad, Israel, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Turkey.

The table below shows the distribution of populations in the Arab world and Israel, as well as the official language(s) within the various Arab states.

Country Population Official language(s) Notes
 Algeria 38,700,000[7] Arabic co-official language with Berber
 Bahrain 1,314,089[8] Arabic official language
 Comoros 766,865[9] Arabic co-official language with Comorian and French
 Djibouti 810,179[10] Arabic co-official language with French
 Egypt 86,895,099[11] Arabic official language
 Iraq 32,585,692[12] Arabic co-official language with Kurdish
 Jordan 7,930,491[13] Arabic official language
 Kuwait 4,156,306[14] Arabic official language 60% of Kuwait's population is Arab (including Kuwaitis and Arab expatriates).
 Lebanon 5,882,562[15] Arabic official language
 Libya 6,244,174[16] Arabic official language
 Mauritania 3,516,806[17] Arabic official language
 Morocco 32,987,206[18] Arabic co-official language with Berber
 Oman 3,219,775[19] Arabic official language
State of Palestine Palestine 4,225,710 Arabic official language Gaza Strip: 1,763,387, 100% Palestinian Arab,[20] West Bank: 2,676,740, 83% Palestinian Arab and other[21]
 Qatar 2,123,160[22] Arabic official language
 Saudi Arabia 27,345,986[23] Arabic official language
 Somalia 10,428,043[24] Arabic co-official language with Somali
 Sudan 35,482,233[25] Arabic co-official language with English
 Syria 17,951,639[26] Arabic official language
 Tunisia 10,937,521[27] Arabic official language
 United Arab Emirates 8,264,070[28] Arabic official language
 Yemen 26,052,966[29] Arabic official language


Armenian refugees after the Hamidian massacres. A lot of them settled in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt

The Arab world has between 400,000 and 500,000 Armenians inhabiting its geographical area. Armenians are largely concentrated in countries such as Lebanon 150,000 - 250,000 and Syria 100,000 to 150,000 and to a lesser degree Egypt and Iraq, but Armenians can also be found in countries like Qatar and the UAE. These Armenians are economic migrants from Lebanon and Syria.

Most Armenians are Christians mainly following the Orthodox Armenian Apostolic Church. The church has one of its two headquarters in Antelias, Lebanon, called The Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia (the other being in Armenia called Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin). There are also Armenian Catholics. The world headquarters of the Armenian Catholic Church is also located in Beirut, Lebanon (and historically in Bzoummar, Lebanon). There are also a minority Armenian Evangelical Protestants. The Middle East headquarters of the Armenian Evangelical Church is in Beirut called Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East.


Assyrians (also known as Chaldo-Assyrians) can be found in Iraq, north eastern Syria, and to a lesser degree north western Iran and south eastern Turkey. They are an ancient Semitic people who retain Aramaic as a spoken language. They are exclusively Christian and are descendants of the ancient pre Arab Assyrians/Mesopotamians. Almost all Christians in Iraq are ethnic Assyrians, where they number approximately 800,000. Numbers in Syria are harder to identify, because they are often included in with the general Christian population, however the Christians of the Tur Abdin and Al Hasakah regions in the north east are predominantly Assyrians.


The town of Aït Benhaddou is a typical desert Amazigh town; the Berbers (Amazigh) are the largest non-Arab ethnicity in the Arab League.

Berbers are an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa. They are distributed in an area stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Siwa Oasis in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Niger River. Historically, they spoke Berber languages, which together form the Berber branch of the Afro-Asiatic family. Since the Muslim conquest of North Africa in the seventh century, a large number of Berbers inhabiting the Maghreb have acquired different degrees of knowledge of varieties of Maghrebi Arabic.


Circassians are a people who originate in the North Caucasus. They are predominantly Muslim, and can be found in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon in relatively small numbers.


Egyptian Copts are an ethno-religious group who do not identify themselves as Arab. They place heavy emphasis on the Egyptian aspect of their identity and their Christian heritage. Their numbers are heavily disputed but are estimated to compromise roughly 10% of the Egyptian population. They are mainly followers of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, there are however a minority among them who are members of the Coptic Catholic Church, and an even smaller group who belong to the Coptic Evangelical Church. The Coptic language, which directly descends from the Egyptian spoken in ancient Egypt, continues to be used as the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.


Many Jews in Israel have roots in Arab countries (Sephardi Jews and Mizrahi Jews), from where most fled in the first decades following the creation of Israel and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Tiny Jewish minorities exist still in Lebanon, Tunisia and Morocco.


In the northern regions of Iraq (15-20%) and Syria (10%) live the Kurds, an Indo-European ethnic group who speak Kurdish, a language closely related to Persian and using Persian alphabet (In Turkey, Kurds use Latin alphabet). The majority of Kurds are Sunni Muslim, others are Alevi Muslim, with Christian and Yarsan minorities. The nationalist aspiration for self-rule or for a state of Kurdistan has created conflict between Kurdish minorities and their governments in Iraq, Iran (20-28%), Syria and Turkey (25-30%).


Mandaeans, sometimes also called Sabians, are a people found mainly in southern Iraq. Their numbers total no more than 70,000. They follow Mandaeism, a gnostic religion.


A large proportion of Lebanese Maronite Christians identify with a pre-Arab and pre-Islamic Phoenician identity, and do not self identify as ethnic Arabs. Maronites, part of the Maronite Church, an Oriental Catholic Syriac Church live mainly in Lebanon where they retain, by tradition and National Pact, the post of Presidency of the Republic and the leadership of the Lebanese Army. They also have great presence in Syria and live in smaller numbers in Palestine, Jordan and Egypt.


Mhallami are a tiny minority of the Assyrian/Syriac people who have converted to Islam but retained their Syriac culture.


Nubians, found in Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt, are a different ethnicity from their northern and southern neighbors in Egypt and Sudan, numbering 1.7 million in Sudan and Egypt. The Nubian people in Sudan inhabit the region between Wadi Halfa in the north and Aldaba in the south. The main Nubian groups from north to south are the Halfaweyen, Sikut (Sickkout), Mahas, and Danagla. They speak different dialects of the Nubian language.

Ancient Nubians were famous for their vast wealth, their trade between Central Africa and the lower Nile valley civilizations, including Egypt, their skill and precision with the bow, their 23-letter alphabet, the use of deadly poison on the heads of their arrows, their great military, their advanced civilization, and their century-long rule over the united upper and lower Egyptian kingdoms.


Roma are to be found in many parts of the Middle East and North Africa; their numbers are unknown. They speak their own language and may loosely follow the predominant religion of the country they live in.[30]


Shabaks are mainly found in Iraq, they are either Muslim or follow native religions. They are also related to Kurds, but like the Yazidi, emphasise their separate identity.


Somali and Arabic are the two official languages in Somalia, both of which belong to the Afro-Asiatic family. Article 3 of the constitution outlines the country's founding principles, establishing it as a Muslim state, and a member of the Arab and African nations.[31] About 85% of local residents are ethnic Somalis,[32] who have historically inhabited the northern part of the country.[33] Many self-identify as Somali instead of Arab despite centuries-old ties to Arabia.[34] There are also a number of Benadiris, Bravanese, Bantus, Bajunis, Ethiopians, Indians, Pakistanis, Persians, Britons and Italians.[33][35]

Djibouti, whose demographics are approximately 60% Somali and 35% Afar, is in a similar position. Arabic is one of the official languages, 94% of the nation's population is Muslim, and its location on the Red Sea places it in close proximity to the Arabian Peninsula. Somali and Afar are also recognized national languages.[36]

Turkmen and Turks

The Arab world is also home to sizeable populations of Turkmen, such as Iraqi Turkmen. These are related to the Azeri people of Iran. The vast majority of Turkmen are secular Muslim, but there are a small number of Christians also. They live predominantly in Northern Iraq, but in smaller numbers in Syria and Lebanon.

The Turks colonized many Arab countries during the rule of the Ottoman Empire; today there are Turkish minorities living in Algeria (Algerian Turks), Egypt (Egyptian Turks), Jordan (Jordan Turks), Lebanon (Lebanese Turks), Syria (Syrian Turks), Tunisia (Tunisian Turks), and Yemen (Yemeni Turks).


The Yazidi are a religious Kurdish community who represent an ancient religion that is linked to Zoroastrianism and Sufism. They number 500,000 in Iraq and 14,000 in Syria.

Modern identities


Taha Hussein was an Egyptian writer and intellectual, he was the most notable advocate for pharaonism, an ideology that swept Egypt in the early 20th century.

Egyptians generally do not identify themselves as ethnic Arabs, with the word "Arab" in Egypt often being used to refer to Bedouins or Gulf Arabs.[37] Numerous cultural traditions that predate the Muslim conquest of Egypt distinguish Egyptian culture from that of other Arab states.[38] The Egyptian people acknowledge their pre-Arab identity and Egyptian nationalism has become the dominant ideology in Egypt after the death of former president Gamal Abdel Nasser who was a staunch advocate for Arab nationalism and was considered the leader of the Arab nationalist movement during his rule. His successor Anwar Sadat embarked on a path to revive the nationalist ideas that preceded the pan-Arabist movement in Egypt by asserting that only Egypt and Egyptians were his responsibility.[39] These views and sources for collective identification in Egypt are captured in the words of a linguistic anthropologist who conducted fieldwork in Cairo:


North Africans

North Africans are the inhabitants of the North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania). They mostly speak Arabic, one part is of Arab origin and part is of indigenous Berber origin.

In 647 AD (the year 27 of the Hegira), the first Muslim expedition to Africa took place. By 700 AD, the area had been conquered and converted to the Islamic faith. We know little of the early Islamic town, but by the tenth century the area outside of the fortress was once more filled with houses: on the site of the Roman baths over twelve of these were excavated, with large courtyards surrounded by long, thin, rooms.[41]

After conquering Cairo, the Fatimids abandoned Tunisia and parts of eastern Algeria to the local Zirids (972–1148).[42] The invasion of Ifriqiya by the Banu Hilal, a warlike Arab tribes encouraged by the Fatimids of Egypt to seize North Africa, sent the region's urban and economic life into further decline.[42]

Similar to an army of locusts, they destroy everything in their path.



Listed here are the human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups in main regions of the Arab world (Maghreb, Mashriq and Arabian peninsula).[44]

Haplogroup n A B C DE E1a E1b1a E1b1b1 E1b1b1a E1b1b1a1 E1b1b1a1b E1b1b1a2 E1b1b1a3 E1b1b1a4 E1b1b1b E1b1b1c F G H I J1 J2 K L N O P,R Q R1a1 R1b R1b1a R1b1b R2 T
Marker M33 M2 M35 M78 V12 V32 V13 V22 V65 M81 M34 M89 M201 M69 M343 V88 M269 M70
Sahara/Mauritania 189 - 0.53 - - 5.29 6.88 - - - - - - - 55.56 11.11 - - - - 13.23 - - - - - - - - - 6.88 0.53 - -
Morocco 760 0.26 0.66 - - 2.76 3.29 4.21 0.79 0.26 - 0.26 1.84 3.68 67.37 0.66 0.26 0.66 - 0.13 6.32 1.32 0.53 - - - 0.26 - - - 0.92 3.55 - -
Algeria 156 - - - - 0.64 5.13 0.64 1.92 0.64 - 0.64 1.28 1.92 44.23 1.28 3.85 - - - 21.79 4.49 0.64 - - - - 0.64 0.64 - 2.56 7.04 - -
Tunisia 601 - 0.17 - - 0.5 0.67 1.66 - - - - 3 3.16 62.73 1.16 2.66 0.17 - 0.17 16.64 2.83 0.33 - - - 0.33 - 0.5 - 1.83 0.33 - 1.16
Libya 83 - - - - - 38.55 - - - - 2.41 - 4.82 45.78 - - 8 - - - - - - - - 2.41 - - - 6.02 - - -
Egypt 370 1.35 - - - 0.54 2.43 3.24 0.81 7.03 1.62 0.81 9.19 2.43 11.89 6.76 1.08 5.68 - 0.54 20.81 6.75 0.27 0.81 - 0.27 0.54 0.27 2.16 - 2.97 2.97 0.54 6.22
Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Iraq 2741 0.18 0.04 0.04 - 0.33 0.62 0.44 - - - 1.24 8.72 - 0.84 5.36 0.15 5.47 - 2.84 30.83 21.05 0.69 3.43 0.15 0.07 0.66 1.2 3.39 0.36 5.47 1.97 0.47 3.98
Arabian Peninsula 618 0.16 0.81 0.97 0.81 0.32 5.66 1.94 0.49 - - 0.32 2.43 - 0.16 5.66 1.29 2.91 2.1 - 44.01 11.32 4.37 2.27 - 0.65 0.32 1.46 6.31 0.16 - 2.43 0.16 0.49

Comparison of the members

Country Area (km2) Population (est. July 2014) GDP PPP (in billions $)
 Arab League 13,132,327 356,785,231 3,335.3
 Algeria 2,381,740 38,813,722 284.7
 Bahrain 760 1,314,089 34.96
 Comoros 2,235 766,865 0.911
 Djibouti 23,200 810,179 2.505
 Egypt 1,001,450 86,895,099 551.4
 Iraq 438,317 32,585,692 249.4
 Jordan 89,342 7,930,491 40.02
 Kuwait 17,818 2,742,711 165.8
 Lebanon 10,452 4,224,000 51.474
 Libya 1,759,540 6,244,174 73.6
 Mauritania 1,030,700 3,516,806 8.204
 Morocco 446,550 32,987,206 180
 Oman 309,500 3,219,775 94.86
 Qatar 11,586 907,229 26.37
 Saudi Arabia 2,149,690 27,345,986 927.8
 Somalia 637,657 10,428,043 5.896
 Sudan 1,861,484 35,482,233 89.97
 Syria 185,180 17,951,639 107.6
 Tunisia 163,610 10,937,521 108.4
 United Arab Emirates 83,600 9,346,129 269.8
 Yemen 527,968 26,052,966 61.63

See also


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