The term diaspora comes from the Greek word for “dispersion.” It is used to describe the spread of a people from their homeland.
Diasporas may emerge for a variety of reasons, including political persecution of people within their homelands, economic opportunity, or natural disasters.
Diasporas often contribute significantly to the culture and vibrancy of the nations they move to. For example, the Italian diaspora of the late 1800s and early 1900s led to the creation of one of America’s most beloved foods: deep-pan pizza.
Examples of Diaspora
1. The Italian diaspora in the United States
Population: 16.1 million
The Italian diaspora is a prime example of how migration can shape a culture. This diaspora began in the 1800s, when many Italians traveled to the United States in search of a better life.
They settled primarily in cities like New York and Chicago, where they established their own communities and brought their unique culture with them.
Some elements of Italian culture that can be seen in America today include food, music, and fashion. Italian cuisine is popular all over the country, and dishes like spaghetti and meatballs are considered classic American comfort food.
Italian-Americans have also made a significant impact on American music, with genres like opera and jazz having strong Italian influences.
2. The Jewish diaspora
Population: 20 million
The Jewish diaspora is one of the longest-running and most significant dispersals of a people in history.
It began in the years following the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, and over the next two thousand years, Jewish people would spread to all corners of the world.
Today, there are Jewish communities all over the world, with the largest concentrations in Israel and the United States.
Jewish culture has had a significant impact on many countries, with elements like synagogue architecture and Yiddish language being adopted by non-Jewish cultures.
3. The Armenian diaspora
Population: 5 million
The Armenian diaspora is a result of the Armenian Genocide, which took place in 1915. During this genocide, Ottoman Turks killed 1.5 million Armenians, forcing millions more to flee their homes.
Today, there are Armenian communities all over the world, with the largest concentrations in Russia (over 2 million) and France.
Armenian culture has been heavily influenced by the diaspora, with many Armenians adopting the cultures of the countries they live in. This can be seen in the food, music, and art of Armenians around the world.
4. The Pakistani diaspora
Population: 9 million
The Pakistani diaspora is a result of the partition of British India into India and Pakistan in 1947. Muslims living in India were forced to flee to Pakistan, while Hindus and Sikhs living in Pakistan were forced to flee to India.
Today, there are Pakistani communities all over the world, with the largest concentrations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
5. The Cuban diaspora
Population: 2.4 million
The Cuban diaspora began in the early 1960s, when Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba and imposed a communist regime. As a result, many Cubans fled their homes and settled in other countries.
Today, there are Cuban communities all over the world, with the largest concentrations in Florida, Venezuela, and Spain.
Cubans brought their culture with them, including cuisines like criollo and ropa vieja as well as Cuban music and dance like Danzón.
6. The Irish diaspora in the United States
Population: 33 million
The Irish diaspora in the United States began in the 1800s, when the Irish Potato Famine caused many Irish people to flee their homes.
They settled primarily in cities like Boston and New York, where they established their own communities and brought their unique culture with them.
Some elements of Irish culture can be seen in American food. Irish cuisine is popular all over the country, and dishes imported by the Irish like corned beef and cabbage are now considered classic American comfort food.
Irish-Americans have also made a significant impact on American music, with genres like country and bluegrass having strong Irish influences.
7. The Vietnamese diaspora
Population: 4.5 million
The Vietnamese diaspora began in the late 1970s, when the Vietnam War ended and the communist regime took power in Vietnam. As a result, many Vietnamese people fled their homes and settled in other countries.
Today, there are Vietnamese communities all over the world, with the largest concentrations in Cambodia and the United States. Following the war, the USA was generous in accepting refugees, and now there is over 2 million members of the Vietnamese diaspora in the nation.
Vietnamese culture came with the refugees. Today, we can enjoy delicious and healthy Vietnamese dishes like Pho in most cities and towns in the US.
8. The Somali diaspora
Population: 1.5 million
The Somali diaspora began in the early 1990s, when the Somali Civil War began. As a result, many Somalis fled their homes and settled in other countries.
Today, there are Somali communities all over the world, with the largest concentrations in Kenya, Ethiopia, and the United States.
Somali culture that has spread around the world includes their unique spices and foods such as sambusas as well as their wide variety of chai teas.
9. The Indian diaspora
Population: 32 million
The Indian diaspora ballooned in the early 1800s, when the British East India Company began to colonize India. As a result, many Indians fled their homes and settled in other countries.
Today, the Indian diaspora continues to grow, with 2.5 million Indians emigrating per year.
There are Indian communities all over the world, with the largest concentrations in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and the United States.
Indians have brought their culture with them, including cuisines like Tandoori chicken and Biryani as well as traditional dances like Bharatanatyam. Indians have also had a significant impact on the economies of their new home countries, with many becoming successful businessmen and women.
10. The Syrian diaspora
Population: 18 million
The Syrian diaspora balooned in the early 2010s, when the Syrian Civil War began. As a result, over 6 million Syrians fled their homes and settled in other countries.
Today, there are Syrian communities all over the world with the largest group living in nearby Turkey. There are also large numbers in Brazil and Germany.
This diaspora maintains close interest in Syria and the ongoing civil war (making them an example of a transnational migrant community).
11. Nepalese Diaspora
Population: 1.2 million
The Nepalese civil war began in 1996 and lasted for 10 years. During that time, an estimated 100,000 people were killed and 1.2 million displaced.
Nepalese diasporas settled in countries such as India, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
They have brought elements of their culture with them, such as the Nepali language, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
In recent years, there has been an increasing trend of Nepalese diasporas returning to Nepal. This is due to the increased economic opportunities and improved quality of life in Nepal.
12. Tibetan Diaspora
The Tibetan diaspora is a group of Tibetan people living in exile outside of their homeland. They fled Tibet after the Chinese occupation in 1959, and many have settled in India, Nepal, and Bhutan.
Some have also gone to Western countries such as the United States and Canada.
The Tibetan diaspora has worked to raise awareness of the situation in Tibet where their culture and religion are oppressed, and advocate for the rights of the Tibetan people.
The Tibetan diaspora represents a significant cultural and political force both inside and outside of Tibet, mainly through their spiritual leader, the Dali Lama.
13. The African Diaspora
Population: 140 million
The term “African diaspora” refers to the widespread dispersal of people of African descent around the world.
Many members of the African diaspora trace their origins back to the transatlantic slave trade, which forcibly relocated millions of Africans to the Americas between the 16th and 19th centuries. However, the African diaspora also includes people of African descent who have migrated to other parts of the world voluntarily, in search of better economic opportunities or fleeing political turmoil.
Despite their disparate origins, members of the African diaspora share a common bond in their shared experience of being uprooted from their homeland.
The African diaspora have had an enormous influence on the world through the African-American culture which influenced worldwide music (especially hip-hop and Jazz) as well as the behemoth American culture industry.
Diasporas are groups of people who leave their homeland. There have been diaspora groups traveling the world for centuries due to war, famine, economic opportunity, and persecution. Each group brings their culture to new countries to enrich their new homelands. Examples of diasporas include Italians in New York, Tibetans in India, and Cubans in Floria.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]