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What is Iranian diaspora?

The Iranian diaspora refers to the community of Iranians who have left their homeland and settled in other countries throughout history. The modern Iranian diaspora is primarily composed of those who have left Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The reasons for this migration include political oppression, economic hardship, and religious persecution.

Historically, Iranians have always been a mobile people, with significant populations living and working in other countries. For example, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, many Iranians emigrated to Russia and the Ottoman Empire in search of better economic opportunities. Additionally, the fall of the Qajar dynasty and the rise of the Pahlavi dynasty in the early 20th century led to a wave of political exiles.

The Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the subsequent establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran led to a significant increase in the number of Iranians leaving their homeland. Many Iranians who opposed the new regime, including political dissidents and members of ethnic and religious minorities, were targeted for persecution and fled the country. Additionally, the economic sanctions and political instability that followed the revolution led to widespread poverty and unemployment, further fueling emigration.

Today, the Iranian diaspora is a diverse and vibrant community, with significant populations in countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Despite facing challenges such as discrimination and cultural isolation, many Iranians in the diaspora have thrived, building successful careers and businesses, and making significant contributions to their adopted societies.

According to the World Bank, as of 2020, the countries with the largest number of Iranians living abroad are:

  1. United States: 1.8 million
  2. United Arab Emirates: 1.4 million
  3. Canada: 800,000
  4. Germany: 400,000
  5. United Kingdom: 300,000
  6. Iraq: 200,000
  7. Turkey: 200,000
  8. Russia: 150,000
  9. Australia: 100,000
  10. Oman: 100,000

Other countries with significant Iranian diaspora populations include: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan.

It should be noted that these figures are estimates and may not be entirely accurate, as the Iranian diaspora is a diverse and dynamic population that is constantly changing.

Source: World Bank Data,


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