Chaldean diaspora

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Chaldean People of Mesopotamia Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey

The Chaldean diaspora (Galuta[citation needed]) refers to the estimated population of indigenous ethnic Chaldeans who share a common language of Chaldean Eastern Aramaic and ancient Mesopotamia in- Chaldean ancestry who migrated outside of their original Mesopotamian homeland of Iraq, northwest Iran, northeast Syria and southeast Turkey.[1]

They are a Semitic Christian people, with most being members of the Chaldean Church of the East, Syriac Orthodox Church, Chaldean Catholic Church, and Ancient Church of the East.

The worldwide diaspora of Chaldean communities begins during World War I, with the Chaldean Genocide by the Young Turks government of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, together with allied Kurdish, Iranian and Arab tribes. The emigration of Chaldeans out of the Middle East accelerated further beginning in the 1980s, with mainly Neo-Aramaic speaking ethnic Chaldeans fleeing persecution in the Islamic Republic of Iran and in Ba'athist Iraq, and again in the wake of the Iraq War during the 2000s.[2]

Demographic estimates

Country or Region Most Recent Census Estimated Chaldean-Syriac
Population (2008)
Total Country or Region
Population (2008)[3] **
% Chaldean Further information
Iraq - 500,000[4][5]-1,500,000[6] 30,711,152 2%-5% Chaldeans in Iraq
Syria - 900,000[7]-1,200,000[8] 20,581,290 4.9% Chaldeans in Syria
United States 82,355 (2000)[9] 100,000[10]-500,000[6][11] 307,006,550 0.03%-0.17% Chaldean American
Sweden - 100,000[12]-120,000[6] 9,219,637 1.2% Chaldeans in Sweden
Jordan - 44,000[6]-150,000[13][14] 5,906,043 0.7% Chaldeans in Jordan
Germany - 70,000[15]-100,000[6] 82,110,097 0.12% Chaldeans in Germany
Iran - 74,000[11]-80,000[16] 71,956,322 0.11% Chaldeans in Iran
Lebanon - 37,000[17]-100,000[6] 4,193,758 0.9%-2.38% Chaldeans in Lebanon
Turkey - 24,000[11]-70,000[18] 73,914,260 0.03%-0.1% Chaldeans in Turkey
Russia 13,649 (2002)[19] 70,000[6] 141,950,000 0.05% Chaldeans in Russia
Australia 24,505 (2006)[20] 60,000[21] 21,431,800 0.28% Chaldean Australian
Canada 8,650 (2006)[22] 38,000[23] 33,311,400 0,11% Chaldean Canadian
Netherlands - 20,000[6] 16,445,593 0.12% Chaldeans in the Netherlands
France - 20,000[6] 62,277,432 0.03% Chaldeans in France
Belgium - 15,000[6] 10,708,433 0.14%
Georgia 3,299 (2002)[24] 15,000[6] 4,385,400 0.34% Chaldeans in Georgia
Armenia 2,769 (2011)[25] 15,000[6] 3,018,854 0.09% Chaldeans in Armenia
Brazil - 10,000[6] 193,733,795 0.005%
Switzerland - 10,000[6] 7,647,675 0.13%
Denmark - 10,000[6] 5,493,621 0.18%
Greece - 8,000[6] 11,237,094 0.07% Chaldeans in Greece
Great Britain - 8,000[6] 51,446,000 0.02% Chaldeans in the United Kingdom
Austria - 7,000[6] 8,336,926 0.08%
Italy - 3,000[6] 59,832,179 0.005%
Azerbaijan - 1,400[6]
New Zealand 1,683 (2006)[26] 3,000[6] 4,268,900 0.07%
Mexico - 2,000[6] 106,350,434 0.002%
Other - 100,000[6]
Total - 3.3 million[27]-4.2 million[28]

Historic census

Former Soviet Union


File:Chaldeans in Russia.jpg
Chaldeans in Russia protesting Iraq Church bombings in 2006

Chaldeans came to Russia and the Soviet Union in three main waves. The first wave was after the Treaty of Turkmenchay in 1828, that delineated a border between Russia and Persia. Many Chaldeans found themselves suddenly under Russian sovereignty and thousands of relatives crossed the border to join them.

The second wave was a result of the repression and violence during and after World War I.

The third wave came after World War II, when Moscow unsuccessfully tried to establish a satellite state in Iran. Soviet troops withdrew in 1946, and left the Chaldeans exposed to exactly the same kind of retaliation that they had suffered from the Turks 30 years earlier. Again, many Chaldeans found refuge in the Soviet Union, this time mainly in the cities. From 1937 to 1959, the Chaldean population in USSR grew by 587.3%[30]

The Soviets, expressed an atheistic ideology, in the thirties oppressed anyone who expressed any religious affiliation and as a result the Soviet authority persecuted Chaldean religious and community leaders, in the same way as the Soviet authority persecuted those Russian who remained in some way connected to the Russian Orthodox Church.

In recent years, the Chaldeans have tended to assimilate within the Armenian community within the Soviet Union, but their cultural and ethnic identity, strengthened through centuries of hardships, found new expression under Glasnost.

USSR census

  • 1897 census: 5,300 "Chaldeans" (by language)[31]
  • 1919 refugee status:
8,000 - 7,000 "Chaldean" refugees in Tbilissi[32]
2,000 Chaldeans in Yerevan[32]
15,000 Chaldeans from Hakkari, 10,000 from Urmia and Salmas in the Russian region of Rostov[33]
  • 1926 census: 9,808 Chaldeans (Aisor)[32]
  • 1959 census: 21,083 Chaldeans[34]
  • 1970 census: 24,294 Chaldeans[35]
  • 1979 census: 25,170 Chaldeans[36]
  • 1989 census: 26,289 Chaldeans[34]


  • 1989 census: 9,600 Chaldeans, of whom 4,742 spoke the Syriac Language; 1,738 in the Krasnodar region[29]
  • 2002 census: 13,649 Chaldeans (ассирийцы)[19]


  • 1926 (Soviet) census:[35] 21,215 Chaldeans
  • 1989 (Soviet) census:[37] 5,963 Chaldeans
  • 2001 census:[38] 3,409 Chaldeans (3rd minority ethnic group after Yazidis and Russians): 524 urban, 2,485 rural
  • 2011 census:[25] 2,769 Chaldeans


  • 1926 census: 2,904 Chaldeans[35]
  • 1989 census: 6,206 Chaldeans[24]
  • 2002 census: 3,299 Chaldeans[24]


  • 2001 census: 3,143[39]


Near East


estimates on December 31, 1944, by province (Muhafazat)[41]

denomination Beyrouth Mount Lebanon North Lebanon South Lebanon Biqa' Total
Syriac Catholics 4,089 275 169 9 442 4,984
Syriac Orthodox 2,070 209 100 22 1,352 3,753
Chaldean Catholic 974 120 1 10 225 1,330

1932 census and further estimates

denomination 1932 census[42] 1944 estimates[41] 1954 estimates[42]
Syriac Catholics 2,675 4,984 ..
Chaldean Catholics 528 1,330 ..
Syriac Orthodox 2,574 3,753 4,200
Church Of The East 800 1,200 1,400




The Americas


  • 2001 Census: Chaldean - 6,980
  • 2006 Census: Chaldean - 8,650[43]
  • 2011 Census: Chaldean - 10,810[44]

United States

  • 1990 census: 46,099 Chaldeans[45]
    • 19,066 born in the US
    • 16,783 arrived before 1980
    • 10,250 between 1980 and 1990.
    • 27,494 Syriac as the "Language Spoken at Home"[46]
    • Unemployment: 9.1%
  • 2000 census: 82,355 Chaldeanc[47]
    • Syriac language: 46,932[48]



Chaldeans in Belgium came mostly as refugees from the Turkish towns of Midyat and Mardin in Tur Abdin, most of them belong to the Syrian Orthodox Church, some to the Chaldean Catholic Church. Their three main settlements are in Brussels (municipalities of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode - where they've got their only elected municipal councilman, the Christian Democrat Ibrahim Erkan, originally from Turkey -, Brussels and Etterbeek), Liège and in Mechelen. Since the October 8, 2006 municipal elections they've got two more councilmen, in Etterbeek, the Liberal Sandrine Es (whose family came from Turkey) and the Christian Democrat Ibrahim Hanna (originally from Syria's Khabur region). The Christian Democrat candidate in Mechelen, Melikan Kucam, was not elected. The Flemish writer August Thiry wrote the book Mechelen aan de Tigris (Mechelen on Tigris) about the Chaldean refugees from the village of Hassana in SE Turkey, district of Silopi. Melikan Kucam was one of them. On October 14, 2012 municipal elections, Melikan was elected in Mechelen as member of the Flemisch Nationalists N-VA.


There are believed to be some 20,000, mainly concentrated in the northern French suburbs of Sarcelles, where several thousands Chaldean Catholics live, and also in Gonesse and Villiers-le-Bel. They are drawn from the same few villages in what is now south-east Turkey.[49][50]


The number of Chaldeans/Syriacs in Germany is estimated at around 100,000 people.[51] Most of the Chaldean immigrants and their descendants in Germany live in the following places like in Munich, Wiesbaden, Paderborn, Essen, Bietigheim-Bissingen, Ahlen, Göppingen, Köln, Hamburg, Berlin, Augsburg and Gütersloh.

Being oppressed and persecuted throughout the 20th century for their religion, many arrived from Turkey seeking a better life. The first large wave arrived in the 1960s and 1970s as part of the German economic plan of "Gastarbeiter"; as Germany was seeking immigrant workers (largely from Turkey), many Chaldeans/Syriacs saw an opportunity for freedom and success and applied for visas. Chaldeans started working in restaurants or as construction workers for companies and many began running their own shops. The first Chaldean immigrants in Germany started organizing themselves by forming culture clubs and building churches. The second wave came in the 1980s 1990s as refugees from the Turkish-PKK conflict in the region of Turkish Kurdistan in which they lived.


The first migrants of Chaldean stock in Greece came in 1934, and settled in the areas of Makronisos (today uninhabited), Keratsini (Pireus), Egaleo and Kalamata.[52] Today, the vast majority of Chaldeans live in Peristeri, a suburb of Athens, and they number about 2,000.[53] There are five Chaldean Christian marriages recorded at St. Pauls Anglican Church in Athens in 1924-25 (the transcripts can be viewed on St. Pauls Anglican Church website), thus indicating the beginning of the appearance of refugees at that time. The absence of further marriages at St. Pauls possibly indicates the arrival of a Nestorian clergyman in Athens shortly after 1925.


The first Chaldeans came to the Netherlands in the 1970s; most of them belonged to the West Syrian Rite from Turkey. Today the number of Chaldeans is estimated to be between 25,000 and 35,000 and they mainly live in the east of the country, in the province of Overijssel, in such cities as Enschede, Hengelo, Almelo and Borne.


In the latter part of the 1970s, about 12,000 Chaldeans/Syriacs from Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria immigrated to Sweden. They considered themselves persecuted for religious reasons but were never acknowledged as refugees. Those who had already lived in Sweden for a longer period were finally granted residence permit for humanitarian reasons.[54]

As with other Northern European countries, there is a dividing line in Sweden between the Chaldean speaking Christians. They are mostly members of the Syriac Orthodox Church, but its important to note that not all Syriac Orthodox members identify with being Syriacs only, as the majority of those who call themselves Chaldeans are Syriac Orthodox as well.[55]

Södertälje in Sweden is often seen as the unofficial Chaldean capital of Europe due to the city's high percentage of Chaldeans. The international TV-channels Suryoyo Sat and Suroyo TV are also based in Södertälje.

Between 2005 and 2006, there was an Chaldean minister in the Swedish government, Ibrahim Baylan.


Chaldeans in Switzerland came mostly as refugees from the towns of Midyat, Mardin and Beth-Zabday (Idil) in Tur Abdin, most of them are Syriac Orthodox (about 1,600 Families). The seat of the Syriac Orthodox bishop of the Swiss and Austrian diocese is in the St. Avgin (Eugene) Monastery in Arth, near Lucerne, where a big part of the Chaldean community lives. They also live in the east of the country in the Canton of St. Gallen (Wil-Area) and in Baden about 20 km from Zurich. A big part of the Chaldeans in Switzerland also live in the Italian part of Switzerland in the Canton of Ticino, mostly in Lugano and Locarno.

United Kingdom



45.9% Catholic, 49.0 Orthodox[57]
74.3% Catholic, 24.0% Orthodox
  • 2010 Census: 33,505 Chaldeans (Different Churches)
    • Language; Syriac spoken by 24,900
    • Religious sects
Chaldean Church of the East: 12,000
Chaldean Catholic Church: 14,000
Syriac Orthodox Church: 5,000
Ancient Church of the East: 2,000

New Zealand

  • 1991 census: 315[58]
  • 1996 census: 807[58]
  • 2001 Census: 1,176[58]
    • 465 in Auckland Region
    • 690 in Wellington Region
    • "Unemployment rates highest for Somalis (37.2 percent) and Chaldeans (40.0 percent)."
    • "The particular ethnic groups with the highest proportions affiliated to a Christian denomination were Chaldean (99.0 percent) and Filipino (95.1 percent)."
    • English spoken: 774, no English: 348; Number of Languages Spoken: 1: 225, 2: 405, 3: 423, 4: 63, 5: 3
  • 2006 census: 1,683[26]

Homeland Statistics


See also


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  • Robert Alaux, The Last Assyrians, Documentary Film, 2004
  • Further reading

    • Chaldean Communities
    1. "The Chaldean Assyrian Syriac People of Iraq: An Ethnic Identity Problem: by Shak Hanish
    2. Jacobson, Rodolfo (2001). Codeswitching Worldwide II. Walter de Gruyter. p. 159. ISBN 978-3-11-016768-9. 
    3. CIA-The World Factbook. "Country Comparison:Population". Archived from the original on 28 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-27. 
    4. [1], CIA World Factbook
    5. Christians in Iraq total estimated to be some 500,000 after the Iraq war
    6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 6.18 6.19 6.20 6.21 6.22 Brief History of Assyrians,
    8. Assyrians Face Escalating Abuses in "New Iraq", Lisa Söderlindh, Inter Press Service higher estimates include some 300,000 Assyrian refugees from Iraq
    9. 2000 Census USA
    10. American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau. Many Assyrians might be simply identified as Iraqis, Iranian, Syrians, Turks, or Lebanese
    11. 11.0 11.1 11.2
    12. Demographics of Sweden, Swedish Language Council "Sweden has also one of the largest exile communities of Assyrian and Syriac Christians (also known as Chaldeans) with a population of around 100,000."
    13. Thrown to the Lions, Doug Bandow, The America Spectator
    14. Jordan Should Legally Recognize Displaced Iraqis As Refugees, Assyrian and Chaldean Christians Flee Iraq to Neighboring Jordan, ASSIST News Service
    15. 70,000 Syriac Christians according to REMID (of which 55,000 Syriac Orthodox).
    16. [2], SIL Ethnologue "Assyrian Neo-Aramaic 15,000 in Iran (1994). Ethnic population: 80,000 (1994)" See also Christianity in Iran.
    17. Languages of Lebanon, Ethnologue "Immigrant languages: Assyrian Neo-Aramaic (1,000), Chaldean Neo-Aramaic (18,000), Turoyo (18,000)."
    18. [3], SIL Ethnologue "Turoyo [tru] 3,000 in Turkey (1994 Hezy Mutzafi). Ethnic population: 50,000 to 70,000 (1994). Hértevin [hrt] 1,000 (1999 H. Mutzafi). Originally Siirt Province. They have left their villages, most emigrating to the West, but some may still be in Turkey." See also Christianity in Turkey.
    19. 19.0 19.1 2002 census
    20. Ancestry (full classification list) Australian Bureau of Statistics
    21. [4][5] More than two thirds of Iraqis in Australia (80,000) are Christians
    22. "Ethnic Origin (247), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3) and Sex (3) for the Population of Canada,". Statistics Canada. 2006. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
    24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Eurominority - Assyrians in Georgia
    25. 25.0 25.1 2011 Armenian Census - De Jure Population (Urban, Rural) by Age and Ethnicity
    26. 26.0 26.1 New Zealand 2006 census
    27. [6], UNPO estimates
    28. SIL Ethnologue estimate for the "ethnic population" associated with Assyrian Neo-Aramaic. [7]
    29. 29.0 29.1 Assyrians, Center for Russian Studies, NUPI - Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
    30. Mastyugina, Tatiana; Perepelkin, Lev; Naumkin, Vitaliĭ Vi︠a︡cheslavovich; Zvi︠a︡gelʹskai︠a︡, Irina Donovna (1996). An Ethnic History of Russia Pre-revolutionary Times to the Present. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-313-29315-3. 
    31. Youri Bromlei et al., Processus ethniques en U.R.S.S., Editions du Progrès, 1977
    32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 Eden Naby, "Les Assyriens d'Union soviétique," Cahiers du Monde russe, 16/3-4. 1975
    33. A. Chatelet (Supérieur de la mission catholique de Téhéran), Question assyro-chaldéenne, Quartier général - Bureau de la Marine, Constantinople, 31 août 1919
    34. 34.0 34.1 An Ethnohistorical Dictionary of the Russian and Soviet Empires, By James Stuart Olson, Lee Brigance Pappas, Nicholas Charles
    35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 Eden Naby 1975
    36. Annuaire démographique des Nations-Unies 1983, Département des affaires économiques et sociales internationales, New York, 1985
    37. Armenian Helsinki Committee - Reflections over Annual Report on International Religious Freedom: Armenia
    38. 2001 Armenian Census - De Jure Population (Urban, Rural) by Age and Ethnicity
    39. All-Ukraine population census 2001
    40. Assyrian cultural center in Kazakhstan
    41. 41.0 41.1 Albert H. Hourani, Minorities in the Arab World, London: Oxford University Press, 1947
    42. 42.0 42.1 Kenneth C. Bruss, Lebanon - Area and population, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1963
    43. [8]
    44. [9]
    45. U.S. Bureau of the Census - Selected Characteristics for Persons of Assyrian Ancestry: 1990
    46. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Language Spoken at Home for the Foreign-Born Population 5 Years and Over: 1980 and 1990, Internet Release date: March 9, 1999
    47. US Census, QT-P13. Ancestry: 2000
    48. U.S. Census 2000, Language Spoken at Home for the Foreign-Born Population 5 Years and Over: 1980 to 2000
    50. Gaunt, David, "Cultural diversity, Multilingualism and Ethnic minorities in Sweden - Identity conflicts among Oriental Christian in Sweden", s.10.
    51. "Diskussion zum Thema 'Aaramäische Christen' im Kapitelshaus" Borkener Zeitung (German) (archived link, 8 October 2011)
    52. Zinda Magazine - May 10, 1999 - The Assyrian Union of Greece
    53. Ethnologue report for Greece
    54. Swedish Minister for Development Co-operation, Migration and Asylum Policy, Migration 2002, June 2002
    55. Dan Lundberg, Christians from the Middle East, A virtual Assyria
    57. 2054.0 Australian Census Analytic Program: Australians' Ancestries (2001 (Corrigendum))
    58. 58.0 58.1 58.2 Statistics New Zealand - 2001 Census of Population and Dwellings - Ethnic Groups