The Arab American Community
The United States is home to over 3.5 million Arab Americans. The cities with largest Arab American populations are Los Angeles, Detroit, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Diversity in the Arab-American Population
There are 22 Arab countries, including Palestine, which are members of the Arab League and share a common history, language and culture-the immigrants who migrated to America are from a select group of Arab countries.
Arab Americans are not officially recognized as a federal minority group and because of this, reporting numbers are almost never exact.
Arab American Origins
- The Arab World includes 22 countries stretching from North Africa in the west to the Arabian Gulf in the east.
- Arabs are ethnically, religiously and politically diverse but descend from a common linguistic and cultural heritage.
- Not all Arabs are Muslim.
- Not all Muslims are Arab.
- Arab Americans began arriving to the United States during the late 19th century and early 20th century.
Arab American Population
- Today there are over 3.5 million Arab Americans in the U.S.
- About one of every three Arab Americans lives in one of the nation’s six largest metropolitan areas.
- About 90 percent live in urban areas.
- 66 percent of Arab Americans live in 10 states.
- 33 percent live in California, Michigan and New York/New Jersey.
- The cities with largest Arab American populations are Los Angeles, Detroit, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
U.S. Arab American Population
|Nationality Group||Population Estimates|
Arab American Religion
- The Arab American community is religiously diverse.
- Almost every major religion is represented in the Arab American community.
- Christians: Maronite Catholic, Melkite Catholic, Syrian Catholic, Chaldean Catholic, Roman Catholic, Antiochian Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Protestant
- Muslims: Sunni, Shia and Druze
Arab American Education
- Arab Americans with at least a high school diploma number 85%
- More than 4 out of 10 Arab Americans have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- 17% of Arab Americans have a post-graduate degree which is nearly twice the American average (9%).
- Of the school age population, 13% are in pre-school, 58% are in elementary or high school, 22% are enrolled in college and 7% are in graduate school.
Arab American Income
- Median income for Arab American households in 1999 was $47,000 compared with $42,000 for all households in the U.S.
- Approximately 30% have an annual household income of more than $75,000 compared to 22% of all households in the U.S.
- Mean income for Arab American households measures at 8% higher than the national average of $56,644.
- Arab American incomes are 22% higher than the U.S. national average.
Rosina Hassoun, Ph.D. contributed to this section.
See “Arab Americans in Michigan 2005”
East Lansing: Michigan State University Press 2005
(part of the “Discovering the People of Michigan” series)
- Aswad, Barbara and Barbara Bilge, Eds. 1996 Family and Gender Among American Muslims: Issues Facing Middle Eastern Immigrants and their Descendents. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
- Aswad, Barbara, ed. Arabic Speaking communities in American Cities. New York: Center for Migration Studies, 1974.
- Hassoun, Rosina Arab Americans in Michigan 2005. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press 2005 (part of the “Discovering the People of Michigan” series)
- Khater, Fouad. 2001 Inventing Home: Immigration, Gender, and the Middle Class in Lebanon, 1870-1920. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- McCarus, Ernest, ed. 1994 The Development of Arab American Identity. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
- Strumm, Philippa, Ed. 2006 American Arabs and Political Participation. Washington: Woodrow Wilson International Center.
- Suleiman, Michael, ed. 1999 Arabs in America: Building a New Future. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.