Advertisement Close



The California Arab American Community

The State of California has the largest number of Arab Americans in any state, with the Los Angeles area constituting the largest cluster in the state. Each year, new immigrants from the Arab world choose California as their new home more than any other state. Large communities of Arab Americans reside in San Diego and the San Francisco Bay as well.

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 in California represent many different nationalities including Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Palestinian, Moroccan, as well as Arabs from Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The largest immigration of Arabs to California came from Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq.


Arab Americans are not officially recognized as a federal minority group and because of this, reporting numbers are almost never exact. Reports of the population of Arab Americans are estimated to 715,000 in California.

Arab Americans in California

  • According to the Arab American Institute, the population of those identifying as Arab in the US Census grew by 34% between 1990 and 2000.
  • The state’s Arab/Chaldean ancestry population grew by an average of more than 57,000 in each decade.
  • The Arab American community is represented in 56 out of all 58 counties in California
  • The largest population of Palestinians is in California; however the greatest concentration is in Illinois.

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
Lebanese/Syrian 1,600,000
Palestinian/Jordanian 180,000
Egyptian 360,000
Iraqi 160,000
Moroccan 100,000
Other 600,000
Total 3,000,000

Selected References:

  • “Detailed State Profiles.” The Arab American Institute.