Arab Argentines

Arab Argentine refers to Argentine citizens or residents whose ancestry traces back to various waves of immigrants, largely of Arab ethnic, cultural and linguistic heritage and/or identity originating mainly from what is now Lebanon and Syria,[2] but also some individuals from the twenty-two countries which comprise the Arab world such as Palestine, Egypt and Morocco. Arab Argentines are one of the largest Arab diaspora groups in the world.

Arab Argentines
عرب الأرجنتين
Some famous Argentinans of Arab descent. From left to right and from top to bottom: Carlos Menem · Juliana Awada · Oscar Aguad · Juan José Saer · Luis Juez · Lorenzo Miguel · Jorge Sapag · Jorge Antonio · Felipe Sapag · Antonio Mohamed · Luis Manzur · Jorge Cafrune · Leonardo Favio · Carlos Balá · Daniel Hadad · Eduardo Falú · Ricardo Darín · Alicia Kozameh
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Buenos Aires · Córdoba · Salta · Tucumán · La Rioja
Spanish · Arabic
Major: Roman Catholicism · Other Christians
Minor: Sunni Islam  Shia Islam  Druze
Related ethnic groups
Arabs · Arab Brazilians · Arab Americans · Arab Canadians · Arab Australians · Arabs in Spain

Although a highly diverse group of Argentines — in ancestral origins, religion and historic identities — Arab Argentines hold a common identity in the Argentinan consciousness, being universally known as "turcos" ("Turks"),[3][4] like in the rest of Latin American countries.[5][6]

The majority of the Arab Argentines are from either Lebanese or Syrian background with a smaller amount of Palestinian, Egyptian and Moroccan background.[7] The interethnic marriage in the Arab community, regardless of religious affiliation, is very high; most community members have only one parent who has Arab ethnicity. As a result of this, the Arab community in Argentina shows marked language shift away from Arabic. Only a few speak any Arabic and such knowledge is often limited to a few basic words. Instead the majority, especially those of younger generations, speak Spanish as a first language, and have thoroughly assimilated in the local culture,[8] Arab Argentines have been a regular presence and distinguished themselves in all walks of national life on a par with the rest of the country's melting pot population.


There are some indications that the Arab Muslim presence within present day Argentinian territory dates back to the time of the Spanish exploration and conquest. The first mentioned Arab settlers were the 15th century's Moorish (Morisco) Muslims of the Iberian peninsula that were people of Arab North African descent who explored the Americas with Spanish explorers, many of them settling in Argentina who were fleeing from persecution such as the Spanish Inquisition.[9][page needed]

However, in the 19th century Argentina saw the first real wave of Arabs to settle within its territory. Most of the Arabs who came during this time period were from Lebanon and Syria as a result of the 1860 Mount Lebanon civil war (During that time, Lebanon and Syria were Ottoman provinces). While Arab communities existed by 1864, systematic records did not appear before 1868. From 1891 to 1920, 367,348 people of Arabic heritage immigrated into Argentina.[7] When they were first processed in the ports of Argentina, they were classified as Turks (Spanish turcos) because what is modern day Lebanon and Syria was a territory of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, hence the popular (and erroneous) demonym[10] (comparable to others applied in the majority immigrant country to other groups, such as "tano" (Italian) "gallego" (Spaniard) "ruso" (Jew) etc.

The causes for Arabs to leave their homeland were an accelerated increase in demographics in Lebanon, the persecution by the Ottoman Turks and the Italo-Turkish War.[7] The Arab immigrants settled in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Salta, Jujuy, Tucumán, La Rioja, San Juan, Mendoza, Santiago del Estero, Misiones, Chaco, and the Patagonia. A large percentage on Arabs settled in the Cuyo region (which is made up of the provinces of San Juan, San Luis, Mendoza, and La Rioja) whose landscape and crops (olive, vineyards) resemble at time the Middle East's.

Notable people

Rocío Chalup, Queen of the Arab community in the Fiesta Nacional del Inmigrante in Oberá, Misiones.

See also


  1. Data vary widely among sources: 1,300,000 (c. 2000); 2,000,000 Islamhoy (c. 2001); 3,500,000 Inmigración sirio-libanesa en Argentina Archived 20 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine (uncertain, but more recent date)
  2. Barros, Carolina (23 August 2012). "Argentina's Syrians". Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  3. Klich, Ignacio; Lesser, Jeffrey (1996). "Introduction: "Turco" Immigrants in Latin America". The Americas. 53 (1): 1–14. doi:10.2307/1007471. ISSN 0003-1615. JSTOR 1007471.
  4. Victoria (16 December 2018). "11 Essential Argentina Slang Expressions You Can Start Using". Spanishland School. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  5. Moore, Aaron; Mathewson, Kent (1 January 2013). "Latin America's Los Turcos: geographic aspects of Levantine and Maghreb diasporas". Noesis. Revista de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades. (in Spanish). 22 (43).
  6. February 5, Christina Civantos |; 2016. "The Surprisingly Deep Centuries-Old Ties Between the Middle East and Latin America". Americas Quarterly. Retrieved 13 August 2020.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  7. "Sirios, turcos y libaneses" [Syrians, Turks and Lebanese] (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 11 December 2008.
  8. Civantos, Christina (3 July 2019). "On Becoming an Arab Argentine Writer: Juan José Saer's La grande". Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas. 52 (2): 177–184. doi:10.1080/08905762.2019.1681768. ISSN 0890-5762. S2CID 213820380.
  9. Dirks, Jerald (2006). Muslims in American History: A Forgotten Legacy. Amana Publications. ISBN 978-1-59008-044-3.
  10. "Recopilaron casi 200 años de los sirio libaneses en Argentina" [Records of almost 200 years of the Syrian Lebanese in Argentina have been compiled] (in Spanish). 2003. Archived from the original on 8 September 2014.