North Africans in the United States

This article refers to the migration from one geographic location, not a specific country. Thus, groups like the Canarians are included.
North Africans in the United States
Total population
900,895 (2010 US Census)
1,303,910 (North African-born, 2014) [1]
Regions with significant populations
New Jersey  · New York  · California  · Washington DC  · Texas
Arabic  · Berber  · Coptic  · American English  · French
Coptic Orthodox Church  · Sunni Islam  · Judaism  · Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
Arab Americans

North Africans in the United States are Americans with indigenous African ancestry from regions north of sub-Saharan Africa. This ethnic group includes Americans of Egyptian, Libyan, Moroccan and Algerian ancestry.

Persons of North African descent have been in the United States since the sixteenth century. Some of the early explorers who accompanied the Spanish on their expeditions in the United States were North Africans, a group that also contributed to the settlement of some Spanish colonies of that country. Currently, the North African population in the United States exceeds 800,000 people. Its largest populations are found in the eastern United States.[2]

North Africans in the U.S. can be of Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, Libyan, Egyptians, Sahrawi, Mauritanian and northern Sudanese origin. They are also sometimes included in that group the Canarians, that by the geography situation of the Canary Islands in the North Africa, and the partly North African ancestry of his population (the Canarians are a mixture of North African of Berber origin and Europeans) are also considered North Africans (although politically are Europeans, and linguistically, being Spanish, Hispanics). Although according to the 2000 census there were 3,217 North Africans in the country, the number of people who indicated some North African specific origin exceeded with many this figure (the Marocco American, per example were more of 37.000 people in the same census). As of 2008, there were over 800,000 North Africans in the United States hailing from North Africa's the various native ethnics groups.

North Africans are white (Caucasian) people with origins from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Liby and Egypt.


The first centuries of a North African presence in the U.S. is related to the Spanish colonial period in the Southern part of the present-day United States. Moroccan presence in the United States was rare until the mid-twentieth century. The first North Africa who came to the current United States was probably the Azemmouri or Estevanico´s slave, a Muslim Moroccan pilot boat of Berber origin, who participated in the Pánfilo de Narváez's ill-fated expedition to colonize Florida and the Gulf Coast in 1527. Only Azemmouri and three of his comrades survived during the eleven-year- long of journey, of 5,000 mile, from Florida to the West Coast, ending the tour in Texas.[3] So, in 1534, them crossed the southern from United States until Arizona, being also, more later, one of four men who accompanied Marcos de Niza as a guide in search of the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola, preceding Coronado.[4] He was also the first explorer who entered an Indian village.[3]

Later, in 1566, forty years before Jamestown, the Spanish founded the colony of Santa Elena, la Florida. The colony grew for over twenty years until it was invaded by the British in 1587. Many of the Santa Elena colonists were Moriscos and Jews. Ethnically, many of the Santa Elena colonists were Muslims of Berber origin and Sephardic Jews, recruited by the Portuguese Captain Joao Pardo in the thick Galician mountains of northern Portugal in 1567, i.e. less than a year before the climax of the Inquisition against Muslims. When Santa Elena fell, its inhabitants-including the converted Jews and Muslims-escaped into the mountains of North Carolina. And there survived, often marrying Native American, and then joining a second group that came to American shores, ironically in 1587, the same year that Santa Elena fell.[3]

However, until the second half of the 20th century, most of the North African people who emigrated to the United States came, actually, from the Canary Islands, that politically belong to Spain. They came to some the Spanish colonies of South from United States with the objective to found and repopulate regions for Spain. In 1539, Hernando de Soto recruited some expeditionaries in this archipelago to explore La Florida, and in 1569 embarked another group of Canarian farmers (known in the Americas as Isleños) with this destination. During the 18th century other groups of Canarian people arrived to the present United States, and became established in several zones of the South of this country. Thus, in 1731 arrived 16 Canarian families to San Antonio (Texas), between 1757 and 1780, arrived more of 984 Canarian families to Florida (that, although they promoted the agriculture of this state, the most of the settlers of Florida emigrated to Cuba when Florida was sold to the UK in 1763, well as when, after being recovered by Spain, was ceded to the United States in 1819) and between 1778 and 1783 emigrated more of 2,000 Canarians to Louisiana. Thus, more than 3,000 canaries emigrated to the Spanish colonies in North America during the 18th century.[5] However they are Spanish politically.

The continental North Africans have emigrated to United States in significant numbers only since the 1960s. Most have been Egyptian (who fled after the rise of Nasser and the resulting change of government).[2] Until this time, very few continental North Africans arrived to United States, numbering less than 100 people in the first half of the 19th century. Many of the North African emigrants during the first half of the 20th century were Jews.[6] Many Moroccans, Algerians and Tunisians began to arrive significantly in the 1970s.[6][7] Sudanese did not start arriving in significant numbers until the 1980s, mostly to escape the civil war in their country.[8]

Most North Africans emigrate due to economic, religious, educational, or political reasons. [6][7][8]


North Africans in the United States include Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, Libyan, Mauritanian, Egyptian and Sudanese immigrants to the United States. The largest such communities live in New Jersey, New York, California, Washington DC and Texas. In California, most North Africans live in around from Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. In Texas, the communities are, mainly, in Dallas, Austin and Houston. There are also important North African settlements in Michigan (mainly in Detroit), Nebraska (Omaha), Florida (in cities such as Miami, Orlando or Jacksonville), Illinois (Chicago) and Virginia (in cities such as Alexandria).[2][7] Also there Isleño communities in Texas, Louisiana and in Florida. While in the first two states, most of the Isleños are descended from Canarian settlers; in the third are recent immigrants and their descendants.

The ancestries of North Africans in the United States are the next:

Culture and language

Most of North Africans in the United States are Coptic Orthodox Christians (of Egyptian origin),[2] Muslims and Catholics (Isleños). Although there is also a small minority of people with the Berber culture that according to the census of 2000, they were a 1327 people in the U.S.[11] As well as also Jewish minorities originating mainly from Morocco and Egypt. Most of the Muslim are Sunnis.

Linguistically, the majority of North Africans in United States speak English, Arabic, Coptic, French (Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisians and Mauritanians), Berber, Italian (Libyans) and Spanish (some Isleños).

While the Arabic language is shared by most North African people – although in their particular dialects such as Moroccan Arabic or Tunisian Arabic-, French and Italian are also often used among North Africans from the states that were colonies of France and Italy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Berber also is spoken mainly by many Moroccans (in fact, in Morocco, the people who speak Berber is, according various estimates, between 45% and 60% of the population) and Algerians (in Algeria represent between the 25% and the 45% of population) in United States. The majority of the Isleños speak English, but there still some people who speak a Canarian Spanish of the 18th century. The more recent Canarian immigrants; as they are Spanish, they speak Spanish.


Although some organizations created by North Africans in the United States are directed to the Muslim community general (as Association of American Muslims, created by Egyptian groups[2]), there also associations directed specifically to the North African community of United States. This is the case of the Maghreb Association of North America (MANA), an organization created by Moroccan and Algerian Americans in Chicago and that have as goal help new immigrants from North Africa to adapt to American life and maintain, also the basic principles that consists of Islam, particularly the basic principles of the Sunni branch. This organization is particularly directed to North African immigrants because they have not been associated closely with the Muslim people of Middle East.[12] Another important organization is The Amazigh Cultural Association in America (ACAA), a non-profit organization established in the New Jersey state. This organization's goal is to promote the Amazigh (Berber) language and culture in the United States.[7] The United Amazigh Algerian (UAAA), a nonreligious association based in the San Francisco bay area, also have like goal boost the Berber culture in North America and beyond.[13] Other Amazigh organization is the Amazigh American Association of Washington, DC.

However, many organizations are also directed to specific groups as are the Egyptian American Businessmen's Association (in the Greenwich city, Connecticut),[2] Algerian American Association of Houston,[7] Egyptian American Physicians' Association, Egyptian American Professionals' Society (in Westchester County, New York),[2] Friends of Morocco, Algerian American Association of Northern California,[7] the New Sudan-American Hope (NSAH, founded in 1999 by a group of Sudanese from Rochester, Minnesota, to help Sudanese refugees in aspect such as language and skill),[14] etc...

See also


  1. "Place of birth for the foreign-born population in the United States, Universe: Foreign-born population excluding population born at sea, 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Egyptian Americans by Mona Mikhail
  3. 1 2 3 Se confirma la presencia de musulmanes hispanos en la América precolombina (in Spanish: It confirms the presence of Hispanic Muslims in pre-Columbian America)
  4. Martínez Laínez, Fernando; Canales, Carlos (2009). Banderas Lejanas: la Exploración, Conquista y Defensa por España del Territorio de los Actuales Estados Unidos (In Spanish: Far Flags: Exploration, conquest and Defence by Spain of the Territory of the United States Current). EDAF. ISBN 978-84-414-2119-6
  5. Hernández González, Manuel. La emigración canaria a América (Canary emigration to Americas). Pages 43 (about the Canarian emigration of Texas and Florida), page 51(about the Canarian emigration to Louisiana). First Edition January, 2007
  6. 1 2 3 Evertculture:Morocco American. Posted by Elizabeth Shostak
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Miller, Olivia (November 26, 2008). "A Countries and Their Cultures: Algerian Americans". Countries and their cultures. Retrieved May 22–26, 2010. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  8. 1 2 Health and Health-Related Factors of Sudanese
  9. "Total ancestry categories tallied for people with one or more ancestry categories reported 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  10. "B04003. TOTAL ANCESTRY REPORTED". 2008 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2010-04-02.
  11. 1 2 "Table 1. First, Second, and Total Responses to the Ancestry Question by Detailed Ancestry Code: 2000". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  12. Stephen R. Porter (December 26, 2005). "Algerians.". The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Retrieved December 8, 2010.
  13. United Amazigh Algerian
  14. New Sudan American Hope. Retrieved November 30, 2011, to 0:43 pm.
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