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.
The Lebanese diaspora is defined as Lebanese descendants who have immigrated to different countries for various reasons. In doing so they now have made the new countries their home. The biggest reasons for leaving Lebanon were due to trade, opportunity, and the Lebanese Civil War.
During the Global Great Migration of the 19th century, many Lebanese people immigrated in the hopes of finding economic wealth and work in other countries. This move was mainly due to the limited economic opportunity in their homeland and the decrease of success in the silk economy of Mount Lebanon.
Their effort definitely was not 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 living in diaspora. This is exceedingly more than the 4 million inhabitants of Lebanon. The majority of those parts of the Lebanese Diaspora reside in Brazil. With a population estimated at 7 million. The two largest Lebanese Diaspora populations are in Brazil and 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
The Lebanese of the Ivory Coast are the largest Lebanese Diaspora in Western Africa. As previously stated, they first emigrated from Lebanon due to the failure of the silk trade at mount Lebanon, as well as the economic instability plaguing their home country. They saw the Ivory Coast as a profitable endeavor and a potential new home. They saw how the French, during the 19th century, 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 largest emigration of Lebanese to the Ivory Coast happened around 1970. This emigration was caused by the Lebanese Civil War, which led many of its 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 North or South of America.
A Successful Group of People
The Lebanese of the Ivory Coast have always played a big role in that region. Despite coming the the coast with nothing, they were able to successfully build their lives there. During the Great Depression, they managed to overcome the European merchants’ monopoly and expand their economic influence. They focused on their businesses in real estate and started buying properties, such as hotels and restaurants. Today they own about 40% of the Ivory Coast’s economy, with various groups in different villages specializing in certain parts of the economy, from commercial goods to real estate. In each sector, they dominate and are known to be fruitful entrepreneurs of the Ivory Coast.
These people are a part of the rich history of the Ivory Coast. They continue to strive for a limitless future. Do you know any Lebanese from the Ivory Coast?
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