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Somali diaspora

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Title: Somali diaspora  
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Subject: Economy of Somalia, Somalia, Integration tv, Somaliwood, Somalis in South Africa
Collection: Ethnic Somali People, Somalian Diaspora, Somalian Society
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Somali diaspora

Somali diaspora
 Yemen 200,000[1]
 Canada 200,000[2]
 United Kingdom 190,000[3]
 United States 185,700[4]
 Sweden 57,752[5]
 United Arab Emirates 70,000[6]
 South Africa 140,000[7]
 Netherlands 52,432[8]
 Norway 60,651[9]
 Saudi Arabia 65,000[10]
 Denmark 26,645[11]
 Finland 22,721[12]
 Australia 14,914[13]
 Italy 13,112[14]
 Pakistan 4,500[15]
 New Zealand 1,617[16]
Arabic, Urdu, English as Second languages depending on location.
Predominantly Islam

The Somali diaspora refers to expatriate Somalis who reside in areas of the world that have traditionally not been inhabited by their ethnic group. The civil war in Somalia greatly increased the size of the Somali diaspora, as many Somalis moved from Greater Somalia mainly to the Middle East, Europe and North America.


  • Europe 1
    • United Kingdom 1.1
    • Finland 1.2
    • The Netherlands 1.3
  • North America 2
    • United States 2.1
    • Canada 2.2
  • Middle East 3
  • Africa 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Bibliography 7
  • External links 8


While the distribution of Somalis per country in Europe is difficult to measure since the Somali expatriate community on the continent has grown so quickly in recent years, there are significant Somali communities in the United Kingdom: 190,000;[3] Sweden: 57,752 (2011);[5] the Netherlands: 52,432 (2014);[8] Norway: 60,651 (2014);[9] Denmark: 18,645 (2014);[11] and Finland: 16,721 (2014).[12]

United Kingdom

A Somali community center in London's East End (yellow brick building in the middle).

Although most Somalis in the

  • Reassessing what we collect website - Somali London History of Somali London with objects and images

External links

  • Bjork, Stephanie R and Kusow, Abdi M, From Mogadishu to Dixon: The Somali Diaspora in a Global Context, (Africa World Free Press, 1997)


  1. ^ Shire, Saad A. Transactions with Homeland: Remittance. Bildhaan. : *N.B. Somali migrant population, Middle East including Yemen.
  2. ^ a b "Ontario Municipal Election: Somali Canadian Prospective". Hiiraan Online. 10 November 2006. Retrieved 8 July 2013. ; *N.B. 44,995 individuals reported Somali ethnicity in 2011 National Household Survey - c.f. [2]
  3. ^ a b c "Estimated population resident in the United Kingdom, by foreign country of birth, April 2009 to March 2010 (Table 1.3)".   Figure given is the central estimate. See the source for 95 percent confidence intervals.
  4. ^ Survey: Nearly 1 in 3 US Somalis live in Minnesota
  5. ^ a b "Statistics Sweden - Foreign-born and born in Sweden". 
  6. ^ "Dubai's Somali diaspora hope for change". CCTV. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  7. ^ Jinnah, Zaheera. "Making Home in a Hostile Land: Understanding Somali Identity, Integration, Livelihood and Risks in Johannesburg" (PDF). J Sociology Soc Anth, 1 (1-2): 91-99 (2010). KRE Publishers. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Statistics Netherlands
  9. ^ a b Statistics Norway
  10. ^ Dubai's Somali diaspora hope for change
  11. ^ a b StatBank Denmark
  12. ^ a b IOM - Finland
  13. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics
  14. ^ Official demographic statistics in Italy - ISTAT
  15. ^ Fakhr, Alhan (15 July 2012). "Insecure once again". Daily Jang. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  16. ^ Statistics New Zealand
  17. ^ Arab Population in the UK
  18. ^ a b Dissanayake, Samanthi (2008-12-04). "British Somalis play politics from afar". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  19. ^ "Country-of-birth database".  
  20. ^ "Born abroad: Somalia". BBC News. 2005-09-07. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  21. ^ BBC News with figures from the 2001 Census
  22. ^ Kleist, Nauja (2004). Nomads, sailors and refugees: A century of Somali migration (PDF). Sussex Migration Working Paper 23. University of Sussex. p. 11. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  23. ^ Statistics Finland - Statistical databases
  24. ^ Helsingin Sanomat
  25. ^ Fernandes-Mendes 2000, p. 10
  26. ^ Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose (2005-01-05), "Somalis Exiting Netherlands for Britain", The Daily Telegraph, retrieved 2009-08-30 
  27. ^ Mosedale, Mike (February 18, 2004), "The Mall of Somalia", City Pages
  28. ^ Talking Point by M.M. Afrah Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA) Aug., 12. 2004
  29. ^ "National Household Survey (NHS) Profile, 2011". Statcan. 2013-06-26. Retrieved 2013-07-08. 
  30. ^ Statistics Canada - Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada Highlight Tables, 2006 Census
  31. ^ a b "Somalis cash in on Dubai boom". BBC. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  32. ^ "Forget piracy, Somalia's whole 'global' economy is booming - to Kenya's benefit". TEA. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  33. ^ Somalia's Missing Million: The Somali Diaspora and its Role in Development
  34. ^ Somalia: How is the fate of the Somalis in Egypt?
  35. ^ The History of Somali Communities in the Sudan since the First World War
  36. ^ Local xenophobes still plague foreigners


See also

In addition, there is an historical Somali community in the general Sudan area. Primarily concentrated in the north and Khartoum, the expatriate community mainly consists of students as well as some businesspeople.[35] More recently, Somali entrepreneurs have also established themselves in South Africa, where they provide most of the retail trade in informal settlements around the Western Cape province.[36]

Besides their traditional areas of inhabitation in Greater Somalia (Somalia, Djibouti, the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, and the North Eastern Province of Kenya), a Somali community mainly consisting of businesspeople, academics and students also exists in Egypt.[33][34]

A Somali high school student in Cairo, Egypt.


There is a sizable Somali community in the United Arab Emirates. Somali-owned businesses line the streets of Deira, the Dubai city centre,[31] with only Iranians exporting more products from the city at large.[32] Internet cafés, hotels, coffee shops, restaurants and import-export businesses are all testimony to the Somalis' entrepreneurial spirit. Star African Air is also one of three Somali-owned airlines which are based in Dubai.[31]

Somali women at a political function in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Middle East

Canada hosts one of the largest Somali populations in the Western world, with the 2011 National Household Survey reporting 44,995 people claiming Somali descent,[29] though unofficial estimates place the figure as high as 150,000 residents.[2] Somalis tend to be concentrated in the southern part of the province of Ontario, especially the Ottawa and Toronto areas. The Albertan cities of Calgary and Edmonton have also seen a significant increase in their respective Somali communities over the past five years. In addition, the neighbourhood of Rexdale in Toronto has one of the largest Somali populations in the country. Statistics Canada's 2006 Census ranks people of Somali descent as the 69th largest ethnic group in Canada.[30]


As of 2004, an estimated 25,000 Somalis lived in the US state of Minnesota, with the Twin Cities home to the largest population of Somalis in North America.[27] In the city of Minneapolis, there are hundreds of Somali-owned and operated businesses. Colorful stalls inside several malls offer everything from halal meat, to stylish leather shoes, to the latest fashion for men and women, as well as gold jewelry, money transfer or hawala offices, banners advertising the latest Somali films, video stores fully stocked with nostalgic love songs not found in the mainstream supermarkets, groceries, and boutiques.[28]

The heaviest concentrations are in the Columbus, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; New York City; Buffalo, New York; Seattle; Kansas City; San Diego; Lewiston, Maine; San Francisco and Shelbyville, Tennessee metro areas.

The first Somalis arrived in the United States in the 1940s. They were primarily seamen and New York was their destination. In the late 1970s, more Somali immigrants followed. Not until the 1990s when the civil war broke out in Somalia did the majority of Somalis come to the US.

United States

Salaama Hut restaurant at a Somali strip mall in Toronto.

North America

From 1989 to 1998, the Netherlands was the second-most common European destination for Somali immigrants, only slightly behind the United Kingdom and more than double the total of the next-most common destination, Denmark.[25] However, between 2000 and 2005, there was a significant outflow of Somalis from the Netherlands to the United Kingdom, unofficially estimated to be as large as 20,000 people.[26]

The Netherlands

Somalis are one of the largest ethnic minorities in Finland, and the largest group of people of non-European origin. In 2009, there were 5,570 Somali citizens, but an equal number may have received Finnish citizenship. In 2014 there were 16,721 Somali speakers in Finland.[23] According to the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, the number of Somali-speaking people in Finland in 2010 rose by nearly 10% in a year.[24]


Established Somali communities are found in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Cardiff and Bristol, and newer ones have formed in Manchester, Sheffield and Leicester.[20] The Somali population in London alone accounts for roughly 78% of Britain's Somali residents.[21] There has also been some secondary migration of Somalis to the UK from the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark.[22]


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