The Lebanese of the Ivory Coast
By: Nana Osei/Arab America Contributing Writer
The Lebanese of the Ivory Coast are a prominent group of people in the area of Western Africa. Their history is long and rich. They’ve endured so much and have made great effort to make their place in the Ivory Coast. However, before I explain to you who exactly the Lebanese of the Ivory Coast are I must first explain the history of the Lebanese people.
From Great Beginnings
The Lebanese people are those that have originated from Lebanon a country in Western Asia. They are a very diverse group of people with many religious groups. They range from Muslims to Christians. Originally the majority of the inhabits were Christian, but now it seems to have shifted to Muslim as they are now 54 percent of the population. Christians, however, are 40 percent. Their descendants are actually some of the most historically old Christians spanning all the way back to 4th Century AD by Saint Maron.
There are approximately 4.7 million inhabitants of Lebanese in Lebanon. However, this is not even a majority of their whole population. Why is this though? Let me explain to you what the Lebanese Diaspora is.
The Lebanese diaspora is those of Lebanese descendants who have immigrated to different countries for various reasons. In doing so they now have made the various countries they have moved to their home. The biggest reasons are because of trade, opportunity, and the Lebanese Civil War.
For example, during the Global Great Migration of the 19th century, many Lebanese people immigrated. This was done in the hope of finding economic wealth and work in other countries. Mainly due to limited economic opportunity in their homeland and the decrease of success in the silk economy of Mount Lebanon.
Their effort definitely wasn’t in vain. Through this movement, the Lebanese have become increasingly successful as opportunity allowed them to form commercial networks all over the world. There are about 8 to 14 million Lebanese people in the diaspora. This is exceedingly more than the 4 million inhabitants of Lebanon I had described. The majority of those parts of the Lebanese Diaspora reside in Brazil. With a population estimated at 7 million. The 2 largest Lebanese Diaspora population is actually Argentina with a little over 1 million people. As you can see the Lebanese people can be found far and wide. And although diverse in location each one still has a history that ties them back to the country of Lebanon.
Lebanese Immigration to the Coast
Now let us get back to the Lebanese of the Ivory Coast. The Lebanese of the Ivory Coast are the largest Lebanese Diaspora in Western Africa. They first emigrated from Lebanon for a reason I had previously stated, which was the failure of silk trade at mount Lebanon and economic instability plaguing their home country. There were many reasons why they saw the Ivory Coast as a profitable endeavor and a potential new home. They saw how the French during the 19th country was producing settlements in an attempt to make a new station of economic growth, They also headed to Ghana as it was known as the “Gold Coast” at the time. It was called this because the British were taking away the abundant gold deposits of Ghana at the time to further their empire at the expense of the natives.
The second large emigration of Lebanese from Lebanon to the Ivory Coast happened around 1970. This emigration was caused by the Lebanon civil war which caused the inhabitants to flee for safety. However some of the Lebanese simply immigrated to the Ivory Coast because they didn’t have enough money to make it farther to North and South America.
A Successful Group of People
The Lebanese of the Ivory Coast have played a big role in the Ivory Coast. Even though when they first came to the ivory coast they had almost nothing they successfully turned their situation around. During the Great Depression, they managed to overcome the European merchants and expand their economic influence. They focused their business in real estate and started buying properties such as hotels an restaurants. Today they own about 40% of the Ivory Coast’s economy. They have various groups in different villages that specialize in a certain part of the economy from commercial goods to real estate. In each sector they hold they dominate and are known as fruitful entrepreneurs of the Ivory Coast.
This is who the Lebanese of the Ivory Coast are. Ones with a powerful history and a limitless future.
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