Copts (Coptic: ⲛⲓⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ niremənkhēmi; Arabic: الْقِبْط al-qibṭ) are a Christian ethnoreligious group indigenous to North Africa[24] who have primarily inhabited the area of modern Egypt and Sudan since antiquity. Most ethnic Copts are Coptic Orthodox Christians.[25] They are the largest Christian denomination in Egypt and the Middle East,[26] as well as in Sudan[4] and Libya. Copts have historically spoken the Coptic language, a direct descendant of the Demotic Egyptian that was spoken in late antiquity.

Coptic diaspora
Total population
5–20 million[1] (estimates vary)
Regions with significant populations
Traditional areas of Coptic settlement:5–20 million
 Egypt5–20 million (estimates vary)[3]
 Sudanc. 500,000[4]
Diaspora:1–2 million (estimates vary)
 United Statesc. 200,000 – 1 million[6][7][8][9][10]
 Canadac. 200,000[1][11]
 Australiac. 75,000 (2003)[12]
 Francec. 45,000 (2017)[13]
 Italyc. 30,000[14]
 United Kingdom25,000 – 30,000 (2006)[15]
 United Arab Emiratesc. 10,000[16]
 Jordan8,000+ (2005)[17]
 Lebanon3,000–4,000 (2012)[20]
 Germany3,000[citation needed]
 Austria2,000 (2001)[21]
  Switzerland1,000 (2004)[22]
 Israel1,000 (2014)[23]
Coptic (liturgical and ancestral)
(Predominantly: Coptic Orthodoxy,
also Coptic Catholicism and Protestantism)

Originally referring to all Egyptians at first,[citation needed] the term Copt became synonymous with native Christians in light of Egypt's Islamization and Arabization after the Muslim conquest of Egypt in the 7th century.[27] Copts in Egypt account for roughly 5–20 percent of the Egyptian population, although the exact percentage is unknown;[28] Copts in Sudan account for 1 percent of the Sudanese population while Copts in Libya similarly account for 1 percent of the Libyan population.[5]

Following the Arab conquest of Egypt in 639–646 CE, the treatment of the Copts ranged from relative tolerance to open persecution.[29][30][31][32] Historically, the Copts suffered from "waves of persecution giving way to relative tolerance in cycles that varied according to the local ruler and other political and economic circumstances".[27] Persecution is pivotal to the Copts' ethnic identity.[33] Most Copts adhere to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, an Oriental Orthodox Church.[34][35][36] The smaller Coptic Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church, in communion with the Holy See of Rome; others belong to the Evangelical Church of Egypt. The Copts played a central role in the Arab Renaissance as well as the modernization of Egypt and the Arab world as a whole;[27] they also contributed to the "social and political life and key debates such as Arabism, good governance, educational reform, and democracy",[27] and they have historically flourished in business affairs.[37]

Copts maintain a distinct ethnic identity and generally reject an Arab identity.[38] In Egypt, Copts have a relatively higher educational attainment, a relatively higher wealth index, and a stronger representation in white-collar job types, but limited representation in military and security agencies. The majority of demographic, socio-economic, and health indicators are similar among Copts and Muslims.[39]

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