Lebanese in the diaspora refers to the number of immigrants, and their descendants who voluntarily, or as refugees, left their homeland, Lebanon. Currently, the population of Lebanon is estimated to be around 4 million, this number does not include refugees. However, this number is but a drop in the ocean when it comes to Lebanese throughout the globe. Take that number and multiply it by three and you have the amount of Lebanese expatriates.
The Lebanese Diaspora is historically related to trade, but more recently, it has been linked to the Lebanese Civil War as many citizens immigrated to Western countries. There is a considerable number of Lebanese descendants residing across the globe, primarily in the America’s, Europe, and Australia. The majority of Lebanese in the diaspora are of Christian descent, with sizable minorities of Muslims.
Here, we look at the top 10 Lebanese expat communities, and their most famous individuals of Lebanese descent.
Brazil (6.4 million)
Brazil has the largest population of Lebanese, outside of the Middle East – the Brazil Lebanese population is twice that of the entire Lebanon population itself.
The United States (2 million)
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, author, lecturer, and attorney, noted for his involvement in consumer protection, environmentalism, and government reform causes. He may have lost the American election, but he won in Lebanese pride.
Argentina (1.3 million)
Carlos Saúl Menem is an Argentine politician of Lebanese descent, who was President of Argentina from 1989 to 1999. He has been a Senator for La Rioja Province since 2005.
Venezuela (420, 000)
Elías José Jaua Milano is a politician and former university professor who served as Vice President of Venezuela from January 2010 to October 2012. He had been Minister of Foreign Affairs from January 2013 until September 2014.
Columbia (400 000)
Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, is a world famous Columbian singer, dancer, and music producer. Did you know that her paternal grandparents were Lebanese from Zahle, and emigrated from Lebanon to New York City, were her father was born before moving to Columbia?
Mexico (340 000)
Salma Hayek is from Mexico, and born of Lebanese descent. Her fathers family comes from the City Baabdat in Lebanon, a city she regularly visits.
Australia (310 000)
Fady Fatrouni, known by his stage name Faydee, is an Australian singer and songwriter of Lebanese descent. He is best known for his international hit “Habibi” credited to Shaggy, Mohombi, Faydee and Costi.
France and Canada (tied at 225 000)
Carlos Ghosn, KBE is a Brazilian-Lebanese-French businessman born in Porto Velho, Brazil, who is currently the Chairman and CEO of France-based Renault, Chairman and former CEO of Japan-based Nissan, and Chairman of Mitsubishi Motors.
Saudi Arabia (210 000)
Did you know that Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal’s mother is Princess Mona Al Solh, the daughter of Lebanon’s first Prime Minister, Riyad Al Solh?
Syria (115 000)
Lebanon born Fares Al Khoury was an anti-mandate hero and Syrian Prime Minister in the 1940’s – 1950’s. This is the highest Syrian political rank reached by a Christian.
Many Lebanese immigrated to Africa, where they have flourished, having built a strong Lebanese community, embracing their culture and identity.
Leanne Manas is a South African Lebanese award winning South African TV presenter. She is currently the anchor of SABC 2’s Morning Live. She is also one of South Africa’s top MCs and guest speakers.
The Lebanese population in South Africa has been estimated to be between 5 100 – 20 000. There are an increasing number of Lebanese students that are making their way to South Africa, seeking greater education and career opportunity. Most of the South African Lebanese population reside in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The Maronite Foundation South Africa
The Maronite Foundation South Africa is dedicated to promoting the sentiments of the Maronite affiliation and the Lebanese identity among South African Maronite’s. Our goal is to awaken the community to our heritage and celebrate our Lebanese identity.