The Unknown Arab American Populations in the United States
BY: Joyce Behrens/Arab America Contributing Writer
Arab American populations in the United States are growing. As most people already know, some of the major states with the greatest population of Arab Americans. These major states include Michigan, California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. However, do people know the states with unknown Arab populations? Now, these states may not be the largest Arab populations in America. However, there is still an Arab existence. Even though these states have small populations of Arab Americans, the heritage is present. The oldest and still standing mosque in America exists in one of these states. Let’s take a look at the undisclosed states that possess Arab communities.
Louisiana ranked number 22 for the most Arab American population in the United States. This is a surprise to most people. Louisiana is not the first state that comes to mind under this topic. Especially, this state falls close in the middle. Most Arab immigrants in Louisiana came from Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. The reason to why Arab immigrants chose to reside in Louisiana still remains a mystery. Some believed it related to Louisiana’s French culture. Since Lebanon was occupied by France in early history, that seems to be the common point. Lebanese immigrants witnessed a similar language community that they were drawn to.
Utah comes into the unknown population list at number 36. Based on the statistics, Utah’s Arab American population doubled in size from 5,800 to almost 12,000 people. Most of the Arab heritage in Utah comes from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. The backstory is similar to most unknown states. As the Ottoman Empire became unstable, Arabs tried to find new opportunities elsewhere. Also, education is a factor in why Arab immigrants have settled in Utah. A way to bring in more diversity into the university system. However, a mix of Arab culture exists in Utah. For example, you have Arab Muslims as well as Arab Christians who are true to their faith.
The state of Iowa is ranked number 37 in most Arab populations in America. The total number of Arab Americans is around 10,000 people. That doubled in size from 10 years ago. During the early times of immigration to the United States proved otherwise. Around the 1920s, the Ottoman Empire hit a downward shift of power in the Arab world. This forced a large number of Arab immigrants to escape for new opportunities. Immigrants, at the time, came from what is today Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan. Arab immigrants worked in tough environments such as miners and factory workers in order to achieve economic security. Despite these tough times, they established heritage. The oldest and still standing mosque in America, the Mother Mosque of America, exists in Iowa.
Ranked number 47 according to the Arab American Institute for population demographics. As of today, less than 5,000 Arab Americans reside in this state. Ten years ago, the total used to be 2,034 Arab American citizens. Most immigrants came from Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Lebanon. The community of Rapid City is the main center for Arab Americans living in South Dakota. Rapid City established itself for educational and career opportunities in engineering and the medical field. However, there is the challenge of establishing Arab culture in this area. Since this a very small community, it does face some intolerance, for example, far right-wing extremism. Despite the adversity, Arab Americans’ focus, residing in the Midwest, is to develop a successful future.
Today, Hawaii is ranked number 49 in Arab American populations. According to Census, around 4,000 Arab Americans reside in the state of Hawaii. 10 years ago, that number was less than 2,000 people. The majority of Arab heritage comes from Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt. Most Arab Americans in Hawaii reside in the largest islands, specifically, in the capital city of Honolulu.
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