Moroccan Berbers in North America

Moroccan Arabs in NA

The Moroccan Berbers, also known as Amazigh, form a diverse and resilient cultural tapestry within the North American diaspora, originating from the rugged landscapes of North Africa’s Maghreb region. Their history spans millennia, with evidence of their presence dating back to prehistoric times, making them the indigenous people of North Africa. The Berbers have tenaciously preserved their cultural identity and traditions despite facing various invasions and colonial conquests.

Berber culture is deeply intertwined with their connection to the land and a profound respect for nature. Skilled artisans, they produce exquisite rugs, pottery, and intricate jewelry, showcasing their artistic talents. Their language, Tamazight, is central to their identity, with numerous dialects spoken across their communities. Oral traditions, storytelling, and music are integral to their society, passing down historical accounts and cultural wisdom through generations.

During the latter half of the 20th century, a notable wave of Berber migration surged toward North America, seeking economic opportunities and fleeing political instability. They carried with them their vibrant heritage and cultural practices, enriching the diverse fabric of their new homelands in the United States and Canada. Joshua Project estimates 38,00o Moroccan Berbers in North America. 

Within North America, Berber communities have created spaces for cultural preservation and celebration. Local festivals featuring traditional music and dance, alongside community centers offering language classes and cultural workshops, actively promote and share their heritage with fellow residents.

Furthermore, the Moroccan Berbers have made valuable contributions to their host societies. Sharing their culinary delights, introducing distinctive arts and crafts to local markets, and engaging in cross-cultural exchanges have fostered understanding and appreciation of their rich cultural legacy.

Moroccan Berbers in North America stand as living testimonials to a people whose ancient heritage transcends time and place. Their stories, traditions, and contributions contribute to the ever-evolving mosaic of cultures that make North America a vibrant melting pot of humanity.

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Religious Life

Moroccan Berbers possess a deep-rooted religious heritage that mirrors the cultural diversity and historical influences of North Africa. In the eighth century, Arab invasions compelled the Berbers to adopt Islam, replacing their previous Christian faith. Most Moroccan Berbers today identify as Muslim, with Sunni Islam as the prevailing branch.

Islam has melded with pre-existing Berber spiritual beliefs throughout the centuries resulting in a unique syncretism. Presently, Berber communities diligently observe Islamic practices and rituals, such as daily prayers, Ramadan fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca for those able to undertake the journey. Despite their dedication to Islam, Berbers have maintained elements of their ancient animistic and polytheistic traditions, blending them harmoniously with Islamic customs.

Moroccan Berber culture displays influences from Arabic traditions, yet it also allows women more liberties compared to some Middle Eastern Arab Muslim countries. Berber women enjoy a relatively higher level of education and frequently engage in employment outside their homes, showcasing their society’s dynamic and progressive nature.

Helpful resources for sharing Jesus with Moroccan Berbers
ResourceDescriptionLink
JESUS FilmJesus Film Video in the Tamazight Central Atlas languageJesus-film-thumbnail
Bible.isOnline Print and Audio New Testament in the Tamazight Central Atlas LanguageBible.is (Faith by Hearing)
Magdalena FilmA evangelistic film that connects well with women in the Tamazight Central Atlas languagemagdalena-thumbnail
Story ChannelDevelops and distributes Bible inspired audio-visual media and resources for least reached Berber languages in North Africa that lead to a saving and growing faith in Jesus Christ. Story channel
Forgotten Five Multimedia (FFV)FFV media is motivated by a desire to bring the good news to the five key unreached Berber peoples of North Africa through media production, prayer mobilization, and education.FFV Media
Interested in reaching Moroccan Berbers? Have a suggested edit or want to help? Contact us!

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    100,000 Yemenis

    Statistics Canada 2021 counted 8,115 people whose ethnic origin was Yemeni. The 2019 American Community Survey counted 58,627 people born in Yemen now living in the United States. Counting U.S.-born children and typical undercounts of Arabs in the census, it is safe to assume there are at least 100,000 Yemenis in North America. The Wikipedia article on Yemeni Americans claims "there are an estimated 100,000-200,000 Yemenis living in the United States as of 2018,” but no source is given for that statistic.

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    350,000 Bosniaks

    The Congress of Bosniaks of North America estimate 300,000 Bosniaks live in the United States and 50,000 in Canada.

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    300,000 Somalis

    The America Community Survey 2019 estimated 182,951 people reporting Somali ancestry in the United States. Statistics Canada 2021 estimated 65,555 people o Somali ethnic origin in Canada. Census figures tend to undercount groups like Somalis, who are suspicious of government authorities and census takers. Community estimates of Somalis in the Greater Toronto and Edmonton areas alone number 100,000. An estimated 300,000 Somalis in North America is a conservative estimate, and their population number could be much higher.

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    900,000to 1,500,000 Sikhs

    In the 2021 Canada census, 771,790 Sikhs were estimated to live in Canada. The United States does not count religious affiliation in its census, and the language of Punjabi is also spoken by Hindus and Muslims, which makes "language spoken at home" a difficult category for measuring Sikhs. However, the 2012 Pew Religious Survey indicates 5% of Indian Americans are Sikh. The 2019 American Community Survey estimated 4,240,466 Asian Indians living in the United States, and 5% of that population equals 212,023. The Sikh America Coalition, however, estimates 500,000 Sikhs living in the United States. Therefore, low estimates of Sikhs in North America are around 900,000 with high estimates around 1.5 million.

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    400,000 Afghans

    The diversity of the people groups who identify as Afghans contributes to the difficulty of using census information to estimate the number of Afghans in North America. The American Community Survey 2019 counted 156,434 people in the United States with "Afghan" ancestry. However, some Afghans would identify their ancestry as Tajik, Pashtun, and so forth. Statistics Canada 2021 counted 96,810 people with Ethnic Origin as Afghan, 9,825 as Pashtun, and 5,890 as Tajik. So, adding those numbers together gives a good idea of a low estimate of the number of Afghans in Canada. Allied Media Corporation, which has worked extensively with the Afghan American Community, estimates 300,000 Afghans live in the United States. With adding Canada's number, a reasonable estimate of Afghans in North America is 400,000 people.

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    Estimated 40,000 Kurds in the United States and 23,000Kurds in Canada

    A 2019 BBC article estimated 40,000 Kurds in the United States, as did a much earlier NBC News Report. A 2009 Kurdish Herald aricle estimated 50,000 Iraqi Kurds were living in the United States. The estimates of Kurds we have found in various cities seem to coincide with the more conservative 40,000 number. However, many Kurds from Turkey mix into the Turkish population and are harder to identify. Statistics Canada 2021 estimated 23,130 people in Canada had a Kurdish Ethnic Origin.

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    Between 290,000 and 350,000 Turks living in North America

    The Turkish Coalition of America gives a conservative community estimate of 350,000 Turks in the United States. According to American Community Survey 2019, 212,489 people with Turkish ancestry were estimated to live in the United States. Statistics Canada 2021 reported 76,745 of Turkish ethnic origin.

     

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    1,252,000

    Pakistan makes up the largest single country of origin of Muslims in North America, with 472,610 (2019 ACS 5-yr Asian Alone) reside in the United States and 303,260 (Statistics Canada 2021) in Canada.

    Statistically, it is estimated that 370,000 Indo-Pak Muslims in North America originated of Indian descent. 399,575 reside in the United States and 76,143 reside in Canada. A Pew Research study found that 10% of Indian descent in North America identify as Muslim. It is by using this 10% and total Indian population numbers that the Indo-Pak Muslims from India are calculated.

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    community estimates the diaspora to be around 66,000 Wolof

    According to the American Community Survey and the Senegalese-American Association estimates listed in articles in previous years, it is safe to assume there are at least 60,000 Wolof in North America. The previous population and community estimates have listed the Wolof population around 20,000 within NYC and Statistics Canada 2021 estimated the Wolof population at 5,000 for Canada. Wolof also live in Chicago, Seattle, Raleigh, Montreal, etc. Information from Peoplegroups.org lists the population around 66,000. 

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    Approximately 940,000 Gujaratis call North America home

    20% of all Indians in the United States are from Gujarat state. According to the 2019 5-yr table ACS Census Data, there are 4,240,466 Indians in the United States. Statistically, there are approximately 848,093 Gujaratis in the United States. The 2021 Statistics Canada indicates that 92,005 speak Gujarati in the home. 

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    1,781,000

    The U.S. Census American Community Survey 2019 estimated 3,995,755 people with Asian Indian ancestry in the U.S. Pew Research indicates that 36% of all Indian descent population in the U.S. identify as Hindi. Therefore the estimate of Asian Indians who identify as Hindi is 1,438,472. Statistics Canada 2021 counted 761,425 Hindi Knowledge of Language in Canada. According to several articles, approximately 55% of Indian Hindi Speakers consider Hindi their second or third choice of language. Based on this research, 45% of the total KOL are native Hindi speakers. The number from Statistics Canada 2021 was multiplied by this percentage to calculate the Canadian population of 342,641 people. There are approximately 1,781,000 Asian Indians who identify as Hindi in North America. Using census information instead of community estimates helps compare populations of people groups in various cities. However, the population is likely larger than this number.

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    approximately68,000

    According to the 2019 American Community Survey 1-yr Place of Birth, 65,126 Uzbek people are estimated to live in the United States. The Canadian census does not list Uzbekistan as a place of birth, but according to 2021 Statistics Canada 3,290 claim Knowledge of Language. Using census information instead of community estimates helps compare populations of people groups in various cities. However, the population is likely larger than the total of 68,416.

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    168,000

    The 2019 American Community Survey 1-yr Place of Birth table indicates there are 132,477 born in Israel living in the US. The 2021 Statistics Canada indicates there are 35,345 people of Israeli ethnic origin. Community estimates are often much higher than these official census counts.

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    312,000 Moroccan Arabs

    Statistics Canada 2021 counted 99,980 people whose ethnic origin is Moroccan. There are around 10,000 Moroccan Jews in Montreal which is likely included in this number, resulting in 89,980 Moroccan Muslims. The 2019 American Community Survey counted 118,125 people with Moroccan ancestry in the United States. According to the Arab American Institute Foundation, Arab populations are undercounted by 79.56 percent in the US. Using this percentage and the number from the American Community Survey, the total living in the United States is 212,105. The Moroccan population in North America is approximately 312,000.

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    approximately 344,000

    According to the Arab American Institute Foundation, Arab populations are undercounted by 79.56 percent in the United States. This percentage and the total Arab population from the American Community Survey 2019 1-year estimates there are 317,000 people of Iraqi origin in the US. The 2021 Statistics Canada reported 59,300 Iraqis in Canada. According to the 2011 National Household Survery, 46% of the people of Iraqi origin in Canada are Muslim resulting in an estimated 27,278 Iraqi Arabs in Canada. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine the exact number of Iraqi Arabs in North America. Actual numbers are likely much higher.

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    80,000Tunisian Arabs

    Statistics Canada 2021 counted 30,465 people whose ethnic origin was Tunisian. The 2019 American Community Survey does not count Tunisians.  Based on this article published in a Tunisian magazine, the number of Tunisians living in North America in 2016 was 44,195. We assume that the number has increased since then and approximate the number of Tunisian Arabs living in North America to be around 80,000.

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    168,000

    The 2019 American Community Survey counted 139,398 people of Palestinian ancestry. A report by the Arab American Institute showed that the Arab populations in the US are undercounted by 179.56% and approximately 67% are Muslim resulting in approximately 168,000 living in the US. Statistics Canada 2021 counted 45,905 people whose ethnic origin was Palestinian. 

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    221,000 Thai in North America

    Statistics Canada 2021 counted 22,275 people whose ethnic origin was Thai. The 2021 American Community Survey 5-year Asian Alone counted 198,964 Thais now living in the United States. Counting U.S.-born children and typical undercounts of Thai in the census, there are over 400,000 Thai in North America. This Pew Research article estimates 343,000 Thai in the US as of 2019.

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    247,000 Arabs of Egyptian origin in North America

    According to the Arab American Institute Foundation, Arab populations are undercounted by 79.56 percent in the United States. According to Pew Research approximately 40% of Epyptians in the US are Muslim. Approximately 44% of Canadian Egyptians are Muslims. These percentages and the total Arab population from the American Community Survey 2019 1-year estimates and 2021 Statistics Canada provide the most accurate estimate while excluding Egyptian Coptics. There are approximately 201,000 Egyptian Arabs in the US and 46,000 in Canada.

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    nearly 600,000

    Statistics Canada 2021 counted 200,465 people whose ethnic origin was Iranian. The 2019 American Community Survey counted 385,473 people of ethnic Persians living in the United States. Using census information instead of community estimates helps compare populations of people groups in various cities. However, the p is likely larger than the number given.

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    12,000 Somali Bantus

    In the late 1990s and 2000s, the US resettled around 12,000 Somali Bantu from refugee camps through the UNCHR program. The population is likely much higher than 12,000 since many of the refugees were young and have since started families of their own.

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    193,000 Albanian Muslims

    The 2019 1-year United States American Community Survey census data reported 199,908 people reporting Albanian ancestry. Statistics Canada 2021 census data reported 41,625 people indicating Albanian ethnic origin. These numbers were multiplied by 0.80 to get a more accurate number of those identifying as Muslim. Census data provides a baseline population estimate, but numbers are likely much higher.

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    344,000 Lebanese Muslims

    According to the Arab American Institute Foundation, Arab populations are undercounted by 79 percent in the United States. According to Canadian Arab Institute Research, approximately 32% of the Lebanese population is Muslim. These percentages and the 2019 American Community Survey and the total Lebanese population from the American Community Survey 2019 1-year Ancestry table and 2021 Statistics Canada provide the most accurate estimates while excluding the number of Lebanese Christians. There are approximately 276,814 Lebanese Muslims in the US and 67,394 in Canada.

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    221,000

    According to the Arab American Institute Foundation, Arab populations in the US are undercounted by 79 percent in the United States. Prior to 2012, approximately 70% of Syrian immigrants to North America were Christian. Since 2012, the majority of Syrians coming to North America are Muslim refugees. Using these percentages and information from the American Community Survey and Statistics Canada provides the most accurate estimates while excluding the number of Syrian Christians. There are approximately 157,203 Syrian Arab Muslims in the US and 63,921 in Canada.  

     

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    over 177,000

    Statistics Canada 202 indicated 75,245 people reported ethnic origin was Bangladeshi. The 2019 5-yr American Community Survey Asian Alone table reported 177,778 Bangladeshis now living in the United States. Using census information instead of community estimates helps compare populations of people groups in various cities. However, the number of Bangladeshis in North America is likley highter than the number listed.

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    55,800 Jordanian Arabs

    Statistics Canada 2021 counted 13,225 people whose ethnic origin is Jordanian. Approximately 44% of Jordanians in Canada are Muslim resulting in around 5,800 Jordanian Muslims. The 2019 American Community Survey counted 93,085 people with Jordanian ancestry. According to the Arab American Institute Foundation, Arab populations undercounted by 79.56 percent. Using this percentage and the number from the American Community Survey, the total living in the United States is 50,000. The Jordanian Muslim population in North America is approximately 55,800.

     

     

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    approximately 72,000people

    The U.S. Census American Community Survey 2021 (Asian Alone) estimated 51,735 people with Sri Lankan ancestry in the U.S. According to Joshua Project, approximately 75% of Sri Lankans in the US are Sinhalese. Therefore the estimate of Sri Lankans who identify as Sinhalese is 38,418. Statistics Canada 2021 counted 33,050 with Knowledge of Language in Canada. Approximately 72,000 Sri Lankans identify as Sinhalese in North America. Using census information instead of community estimates helps compare populations of people groups in various cities. However, the population is likely larger than this number.

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    52,000 Moroccan Jews

    Statistics Canada 2021 estimates that there are 282,015 people who claim a Jewish ethnic origin. The US Community Survey does not include Jewish as an ethnicity. Based on several articles, the Moroccan Jewish community in North America is estimated at 52,000. Approximately 27,000 live in Canada and 25,000 in the United States.

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    7,250,000 people, with approximately 30,000 in Canada

    Joshua project reports globally 7,254,400 Kabyle Berbers globally. Using Knowledge of Language and Ethnic Origin from the 2021 Statistics Canada Data calculates an estimated 36,414 Kabyle Berbers live in Canada.

    Calculation = KOL Kabyle Berber/Total Berber = 0.87 x Ethnic Origin

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    30,000+ Soninke

    The number of Soninke is difficult to gauge because of their origins from several different countries, insufficient census data because many are undocumented, etc. However, field research in Cincinnati and New York City have shown the Soninke are large enough to have their own social institutions, even organized by town and region, and they have their own festivals, mosques, etc. In places like the Bronx, large project buildings can be almost completely full of Soninke people, creating virtual villages in the city. 

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    numbering around 124,000

    Statistics Canada 2021 counted 73,770 people whose ethnic origin was Algerian. The US Census does not count Algerians in the American Community Survey. The Algerian Embassy in Washington estimates that there are 50,000 Algerians in the US. 

     

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    10,000 Mandinka

    Based on interactions with the Gambian Association of America, there are around 5,000 Mandinka in New York City and an estimated 5,000 throughout the rest of North America in cities such as Chicago, Columbus, and Cincinnati. 

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    Over 20,000 Fouta Tooro

    Census data for West African populations like the Fouta Toora do not exist; therefore, numbers are based on estimates from workers or organizations in the United States and Canada. These numbers are likely higher than the estimates given by workers or organizations.

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    5,000-member Mashadi Jewish community

    Statistics Canada 2021 estimates that there are 282,015 people who claim a Jewish ethnic origin. The US Community Survey does not include Jewish as an ethnicity. The Persian Jewish Community in North America is made up of Mashadi and Tehrani Jews. Based on several articles, the Mashadi Jewish community in North America is estimated between 5,000-7,000. The Tehrani Persian Jewish Community is larger and estimated at 60,000 members.

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    15,000-20,000 Bambara

    The population of Bambara is difficult to estimate, but based on numbers from the Joshua Project, there are approximately 18,600 Bambara in North America. Other sources verify this range estimate. 

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    15,000-20,000 Bambara

    The population of Bambara is difficult to estimate, but based on numbers from the Joshua Project, there are approximately 18,600 Bambara in North America. Other sources verify this range estimate. 

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