Iranian diaspora

Iranians abroad or Iranian diaspora are Iranian people living outside Iran and their children born abroad.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

According to various sources, in 2010, there were an estimated four to five million Iranians living abroad, mostly in North America, Europe, Persian Gulf States, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Australia and the broader Middle East.[7][8][9] Others estimate a lower number, of around two millions or less.[10][11] For the most part, they emigrated after the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Students abroad

According to the Iranian government in 2013, 55,686 Iranian students were studying abroad.[12] Out of this number, 8,883 students were studying in Malaysia, 7,341 in the United States, 5,638 in Canada, 3,504 in Germany, 3,364 in Turkey, 3,228 in Britain, and the rest in other countries.[13][14] According to an estimate by the Iranian Ministry of Education, between 350 and 500 thousand Iranians were studying outside Iran as of 2014.[15]

According to experts, a Western-educated Iranian can earn in excess of $15,000 a month, up to about $250,000 a year, in a senior executive role at a Western conglomerate in Iran.[16][17]

Statistics by country

List of countries and territories by Iranian population
Country[note 1] Iranian-born[note 2] Residents of Iranian ancestry[note 3] Article
 United States 283,225 (2000)[note 4][18] 448,722 (2010 United States Census)[19] to around 1-2 million (2014 - U.S. Government and other sources)[20][21][22][23][24][25][26] Iranian American
 Turkey ~500,000 (2010)[27]
 Qatar 27,000[28] Iranians in Qatar
 UAE 400,000-500,000[29][30] (2008) [note 4][31] Iranians in the United Arab Emirates
 Canada 95,420 (2006) 200,005 (2015)[note 4][32] Iranian Canadian
 Germany 100,000[33] - 120,000[34] (2003) Iranians in Germany
 Kuwait 80,000 (2003)[35] Ajam of Kuwait
 Malaysia 100,000[36][37] Iranians in Malaysia
 Sweden 53,892 (2000)[9] 92,428 (2011)[note 2][38] Swedish Iranians
 Japan 12,000 (2000)[39] 7,000 (2000)[40] Iranians in Japan
 Russia 50,000 (2002)[41] Iranians in Russia
 Bahrain 173,000 (2014)[42] Persians in Bahrain
 Israel 47,800 (2007)[43] 135,000 (2007)[43] Iranians in Israel
 United Kingdom 83,000 (2011)[44] Iranians in the United Kingdom
 Netherlands 35,561 (2014)[45] Iranians in the Netherlands
 Australia 34,455 (2011)[46] 36,168 (2011)[note 4][47] Iranian Australian
 France 18,376 (2000)[9] Iranians in France
 Denmark 16,322 (2017) 20,397 (2017 ) Iranians in Denmark
 Italy 7,444 (2010)[40]
 Austria 16,203 (1.1.2015)[48] 17,000-20,000 (2013)[49]
  Switzerland 4,044 (2000)[40]
 Norway 17,913 (2012)[50] Norwegian Iranians
 New Zealand 2,895 (2006)[51] Iranian New Zealander
 Lebanon 4,000 (2010)[52] - 5,000 (2015)[53] Iranians in Lebanon
 Spain 12,344 (2011)[54] Iranians in Spain
 Portugal 339 (2011)[55]
 Iraq Exact number unknown, those with identifiable Iranian ancestry are around 500,000-600,000. However the actual number is expected to be much higher. Persians in Iraq
 Syria Iranians in Syria
 Pakistan 10,000 (2017)[56] Iranians in Pakistan
 Thailand Iranians in Thailand
 China Iranians in China
 Philippines Iranians in the Philippines



Their combined net worth is $1.3 trillion (2006 est.)[7][57][58] In 2000, the Iran Press Service reported that Iranian expatriates had invested between $200 and $400 billion in the United States, Europe, and China, but almost nothing in Iran.[9] In Dubai, Iranian expatriates have invested an estimated $200 billion (2006).[59] Migrant Iranian workers abroad remitted less than two billion dollars home in 2006.[60]

High net-worth individuals

National ranking Name Citizenship Net worth (USD) Source(s) of wealth
1Pierre Omidyar
8.7 billion [61]eBay
2Ghermezian family
4.0 billion [62]Triple Five Group
3Farhad Moshiri
2.8 billion [63]Metalloinvest, Arsenal F.C.
4Nazarian family
2.0 billion [64]Qualcomm
5Vincent & Robert Tchenguiz
1.4 billion [65][66]Real Estate
6Manny Mashouf
1.3 billion [67]Bebe stores
7Merage family
1.1 billion [68]Hot Pockets
8Nasser David Khalili
1.0 billion [69]Real Estate
9Hassan Khosrowshahi
950 million [70]Future Shop
10Omid Kordestani
900 million [71]Google
11Anousheh Ansari
750 million [72]Sonus Networks
12Isaac Larian
723 million [71]MGA Entertainment
13Arash Ferdowsi
400 million [73]Dropbox

Expatriate fund

The government has proposed setting up a joint investment fund with $5 billion in basic capital and an economic union to serve Iranians living abroad. The stated goal is to attract investment from Iranian expatriates and using their experience in stimulating foreign investments.[74] Later, in 2010, it was announced that Iran will start the process by creating a national fund with a basic capital of eight million euros. This fund will later transform into a bank.[7]

The currency used in the fund is the euro and investors are supported by the Organization for Investment, Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran. Iran will pay a guaranteed 10 percent interest on foreign investment.[75] The value of each share in the fund is 1,000 euros. The minimum and the maximum investment amounts are 100,000 and 500,000 shares [sic], respectively.[75]

Religious affiliation

Iranians are predominantly Shia Muslims. A number of Iranians have converted to Christianity in the diaspora from the predominant Shia Islam. While this group accounts for rather a small percentage of the total diaspora population, it is now far from marginal, with dozens of Iranian churches existing throughout countries with significant Iranian communities, including the United States, Canada,[76] the United Kingdom,[77] Sweden, and Germany.[78] There also notable groups of Baha'i, Jewish, and Zoroastrian Iranians.

A significant number of Iranians abroad are irreligious, Agnostic and Atheist.[79][80][81] While reliable statistics are difficult to come by, it is safe to say that the percentage of irreligious Iranians is significantly higher in the diaspora than in Iran, particularly with regard to Iranian-Americans and those living in Europe and Canada.[82]


[note 1] The Iranian citizens abroad (scope of this article) differ from the other Iranian peoples living in other areas of Greater Iran, who are of related ethno-linguistical family, speaking languages belonging to the Iranian languages (a branch of Indo-European languages). There are an estimated 150 to 200 million native speakers of Iranian languages (including 80 million in Iran as of 2016), the five major groups of Persians, Lurs, Pashtuns, Kurds and Baloch accounting for about 90% of this number.[83] Currently, most of these Iranian people live in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, parts of Uzbekistan (especially Samarkand and Bukhara), the Caucasus (Ossetia and Azerbaijan) and the Kurdish areas (referred to as Kurdistan) of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. Smaller groups of Iranian people can also be found in western China. Due to recent migrations, there are also large communities of speakers of Iranian languages in Europe, the Americas and Israel.

[note 2] In some countries naturalized citizens, dual citizens, or children with only one Iranian/foreign-born parent are counted (for statistical purposes) as citizens/nationals of the host country only (i.e. citizen of the country of residence). For example all naturalized Swiss citizens have a legal "Swiss origin" even though it is often not the same as their place of birth. Country statistics (by national origin) generally exclude illegal immigration.

[note 3] Same as "Iranian-born" but includes their children born abroad.

[note 4] Iranian ancestry (i.e. second or third generation), not necessarily Iranian citizenship.

[note 5] In the period from 1961 to 2005, the United States has been the main destination of Iranian emigrants. A total of 378,995 Iranians have immigrated to the United States in that period, where the major concentrations of Iranian immigrants are California (158,613 Iran-born in 2000),[18] New York state (17,323),[18] Texas (15,581),[18] Virginia (10,889),[18] and Maryland (9,733)[18] Los Angeles Metropolitan Area was estimated to be host to approximately 114,712 Iranian immigrants,[18] earning the Westwood area of LA the nickname Tehrangeles. In the case of the United States, the US Census Bureau's decennial census form does not offer a designation for individuals of Iranian descent. Consequently, it is estimated that only a fraction of the total number of Iranians are writing in their ancestry. The 2000 Census Bureau estimates that the Iranian-American community (including the US-born children of the Iranian foreign born) numbers around 330,000. However, studies using alternative statistical methods have estimated the actual number of Iranian Americans in the range of 691,000 to 1.2 million.[9][84]

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