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Lebanese Americans


Who Are the Lebanese-Americans?

Around 3 million Americans descending from Lebanese origin live in the United States. These Lebanese-Americans, up to five generations, migrated from Lebanon in several waves starting in the 19th century. Most of the Lebanese Americans came from the early waves of Lebanese Christians fleeing the Ottomans oppression around the mid of the 19th Century and during WWI. Lebanese immigration continued and was high in the 1970’- 80’s during the war in Lebanon, and in early 1990’s after Lebanon completely fell to Syrian occupation. (Details)

Population:Lebanese Americans are found in every state with the majority being native-born. Most of them live in Los Angeles, New York and Detroit and often in metropolitan cities.

Ethnic Groups: around 85% of the Lebanese Americans are the descendents of the Phoenicians(Canaanites) and Syriac-Arameans, 10% Arab descendents, and 5% Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Hebrews, Kurds, Persians and others

Lebanese Americans, Ethnic, Phoenicians, Armenians, Arabs

Christians form around 90% of the Lebanese Americans, Muslims and minorities form around 10%.

Major Catholic groups: Maronite, Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic/ Melkite
Major Orthodox groups: Greek Orthodox and Assyrian Orthodox
Major Muslim groups: Sunni, Shiaa and Druze

Lebanese Americans, Religions, Christians, Muslim

Education: Lebanese-Americans, coming from a country with universities are as old as 1866, value education and have a high percentage of bachelor's degree holders.


In addition to English, Lebanese Americans often speak Lebanese, Arabic, French and Armenian.
35 % speak Lebanese
20 % speak Lebanese and Arabic
15 % speak Lebanese, Arabic and French
05 % speak Armenian

The American census dose not identify the Lebanese-Phoenicians as a minority ethnic group. The census includes a category for Arabs only, if someone registers as Lebanese he/she is automatically inculded as Arab. Being non-Arabs, majority of the Lebanese Americans did not identify themselves under that category. The census for Lebanese Americans are hence obtained from the Christian churches in which most of them attend, in addition to other religious and secular non- governmental organizations.

Contributions to U.S. Culture

Lebanese Americans continue to make lasting cultural contributions. the Lebanese-born poet-artist Kalil Gibran is perhaps the most widely read and appreciated by American readers . Another prominent writer is children's author Naomi Shihab Nye. In Public affairs, Dean of the White House press corps Helen Thomas and consumer advocate Ralph Nader present prominent figures.In entertainment, Lebanese American stars include the comedian Danny Thomas, actress Kathy Najimy, and Tony Shalhoub, singer Paul Anka and Casey Kasem of ‘America's Top 40’. Paul Orfalea, the founder of Kinko's photocopy stores, are also among the many Lebanese who have made their mark in America ( for Full List)

Lebanese Americans are involved in politics with Republicans, Democrats and independents, and have a high ratio of voting among American citizens. Democratic and Republican parties sponsors and Presidential candidates appeal to Lebanese voters in key states.Lebanese Americans hold public office at all levels. Some served in the U.S. Senate, such as George Mitchell of Maine (1980-1995), while many serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. Lebanese Americans have served in the cabinets, military and other high offices oadministrations, including Chief of Staff John H. Sununu under President George Bush, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala under President Bill Clinton, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham under President George W. Bush and the US Army Central Commander Gen. John Abizaid. Lebanese Americans have been governors and mayors of American States and cities.(for Full List)


“Lebanese Americans have played a great role in the history of the United States, with major achievements in medicine, business, law, government and the arts....Through your dedication to the principles of constitutional democracy and your faith in America’s future, you have made the Lebanese-American community a vital force in our society and an aspiration to all Americans.” (President Bill Clinton, 1992 - Full text)

Prominent Lebanese-Americans

The Americans descending from Lebanese origins have been coherently mixing with the American community since the past two centuries. There are many prominent figures in our community that we would recognize for their achievements without knowing that they carry Lebanese blood. Click here to go to the full list.

Click for Full list of Lebanese Americans

Prominent Lebanese-Spanish Figures


Singer, Performer

Born in Barranquilla, Colombia on 1977, for a Lebanese father and a Colombian mother, Shakira Isabel Mebarak is the youngest of her parents' eight children. Shakira's female rocker style garnered her the World Music Award for Latin Female Artist of the Year, while the phenomenal success of Laundry Service and 'Whenever, Whenever' has hurled her to fame.

Shakira, Lebanese-Colombian

Salma Hayek, Lebanese-Mexican

Salma Hayek

Born in Mexico for a Lebanese Father and a Mexican mother, Salma Hayek began her career in 'Mexican TV' soap operas in late 80's. She traveled to Los Angeles after gaining success in 'Un Nuevo Amanecer' and 'Teresa'. Salma acted in several movies but was most known for her role in Desperado (1990). Later, she played roles in ‘Wild Wild West’, 'Frida' and recently 'Once Upon a Time in Mexico'.
She is considered to be the first Mexican actress to become a Hollywood movie star since Dolores Del Rio. Salma carries one of the best known Lebanese family names as her last name, Hayek.

Yamila Diaz

Yamila Dias Rahi was born in Argentina, to a doctor father and an old folk home manager mother. Even at 24, Yamila's resume reads like a who's who book of accomplishments.
She's been a cover girl for Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Glamour and Elle.
Yamila carries her Argentinean last name 'Diaz' and her Lebanese 'Rahi'.

Yamila Diaz, Lebanese-Argentinean

Global Lebanese

The Lebanese seem to have inherited the traveling spirit of their Phoenician ancestors. More than 80% of the Lebanese (up to the last 5 generations) live outside Lebanon around the globe. Many Lebanese had successful achievements and became prominent figures in the countries they ended in. In Business there is Nicholas Hayek or "Mr. Swatch” was credited with revamping the Swiss watch-making industry in the 1980s and Carlos Ghosn the President of Nissan Motor Company. Wajdi Mouawad is one of Canada's most prominent young writers. In fashion, Elie Saab is most famous for designing the dress Halle Berry wore when she won the best actress Oscar in 2002. Brian Peter Medawar is the Lebanese-Brazilian who won the Nobel Laureate in Medicine in 1960 for discovery of acquired immunological tolerance.

In Politics and Public affairs there is Ellias Serrano the Former President of Guatemala and Bucaram the Former Ecuador President. Around 20% of the Brazilian parliament are of Lebanese descent. Many other presidents, primers, governors, ministers and PM’s around the world are/were from Lebanese origin. (Click for full list)


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