The Copts (Coptic: ⲛⲓⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ, romanized: niremənkhēmi; Arabic: الْقِبْط, al-Qibṭ) are an 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] Coptic Orthodox Christians are the largest Christian denomination in Egypt and in the Middle East.[26] Coptic Orthodox Christians are also the largest Christian denomination in Sudan and Libya. Historically, ethnic Copts spoke the Coptic language, a direct descendant of the Demotic Egyptian that was spoken in late antiquity.

The Coptic flag created by the New Zealand Coptic Association
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)

Nubian languages
(Predominantly: Coptic Orthodoxy,
also Coptic Catholicism and Protestantism)

Originally referring to all Egyptians at first [citation needed], the term 'Copt' became synonymous with being a Christian, as a result of Egypt's Arabization and Islamization.[27] Copts in Egypt constitute the largest Christian population in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the largest religious minority in the region, accounting for roughly 5–20% of the Egyptian population, although the exact percentage is unknown.[28] Copts in Sudan constitute the largest Christian community in Sudan,[4] and Copts in Libya constitute the largest Christian community in Libya, accounting for an estimated 1% of their respective populations.[29]

After the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 639 and 646 AD, the treatment of the Coptic Christians ranged from relative tolerance to open persecution.[30][31][32][33] And 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 Copts' sense of identity.[34] Most Copts adhere to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, an Oriental Orthodox Church.[35][36][37] The smaller Coptic Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church, in communion with the See of Rome; others belong to the Evangelical Church of Egypt. The Copts played a central role in the Arab Renaissance and the modernization of Egypt and the Arab world as a whole,[27] and they contributed to the "social and political life and key debates such as Arabisim, good governance, educational reform, and democracy",[27] and they flourished in business affairs.[38]

Copts of Coptic ancestry maintain a distinct ethnic identity, and generally reject an Arab identity.[39] In Egypt, Copts have relatively higher educational attainment, relatively higher wealth index, and a stronger representation in white collar job types, but limited representation in security agencies. The majority of demographic, socioeconomic and health indicators are similar among Copts and Muslims.[40]

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