750,925 Canadians Hail from Arab Lands

The first in a series analyzing the 2011 census data released by Statistics Canada, this report shows the demographic distribution of Canadian Arabs, June 2014

By Ghina Dajani, CAI Research Fellow

Published: June 2014 

This is the first of a four-part series analyzing the 2011 census data by Statistics Canada.  This report shows the demographic distribution of Canadian Arabs (country of origin, province of residence, and populations in major cities) [1]

A look at Canada’s 2011 Census shows that the Canadian Arab Community has increased in number from 563,315 in 2006 to 750,925 in 2011 – an increase of 187,310 people, or 33.25% – and more than doubled the 368,530 Canadian Arab population of 2001.


[1] All data tables extracted from Statistics Canada, 2011 Census, and 2011 National Household Survey

[1] Based on self-identification by respondents

[1] Includes respondents who reported a specified ethnic origin, either as their only ethnic origin or in addition to one or more other ethnic origins. The sum of all total responses for all ethnic origins is greater than the total population estimate due to the reporting of multiple origins.

This considerable increase in the size of the Canadian Arab community can be mostly attributed to a high rate of immigration from Arab countries, with 165,670 Canadian Arab Permanent Residents settling in Canada between 2006 -2011 (data extracted from Citizenship and Immigration Canada). 


Since 2006, the Moroccan community has had the highest growth in numbers, with an increase of 27,280 people (with Lebanon as a close second, increasing by 25,125 people), whilst the Kuwaiti community has had the lowest growth in numbers with an increase of only 665 people. As a total population, the top five ethnicities with most population increases grew by a combined 111,550 people – accounting for 59.6% of the total growth in the Canadian Arab population. 


In terms of percentage increases, the Saudi community has almost tripled with a 191% increase since 2006. Other fast growing communities include those originating from Libya, Algeria, and Yemen. Combined, these top five ethnicities with the most percentage increases have grown by 83% on their numbers from 2006, and account for 22.4% of the total Canadian Arab population growth.

These trends indicate a growing shift in the Canadian Arab community’s composition, with the highest growth rates coming from North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Geographical Distribution of the Canadian Arab Community

The distribution of this Arab population within Canada points to the highest concentration of Arabs in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, followed by Alberta and British Columbia, and further scattered amongst the remaining provinces. This can be explained by the trend in settlement in which five in six Arab immigrants choose to settle in Ontario or Quebec due to economic, social, and linguistic factors as well as historic immigration trends.


The distribution of Arabs within Canada’s provinces reveals that Arab communities whose backgrounds typically include at least a working knowledge of French – mainly those of Algerian, Berber, Lebanese, Moroccan, and Tunisian ethnic origin – mostly choose to settle in Quebec; whereas the other majority of the Canadian Arab community mostly chooses to settle in Ontario.

This trend is further compounded by data showing that the vast majority of the Canadian Arab population is concentrated in Canada’s largest and most diverse cities. Arabs tend to settle in prominent socio-economic centers, where large and diverse communities provide greater opportunities for successful settlement and integration into Canadian society.


With a staggering 89% (667,745) of Canadian Arabs residing in one of Canada’s 11 major cities, the distribution of the Canadian Arab community within Canada’s most populous and diverse provinces speaks to the influence of economic and social potential for prosperity, as well as historic immigration trends, on the settlement of Arab communities within Canada. In addition, the variation in Arab ethnic majorities across the different city centers further indicates their expectations for successful resettlement. For instance, with 89% of Tunisians residing in either Montreal or Quebec City (11,305 out of 12,680 Tunisians settled in the province of Quebec) and 90% of Lebanese (63,280 in Montreal or Quebec City out of 70,205 in Quebec), the diversity of both major cities is reflected as a vital component in the choice of location for Francophone Canadian Arabs. Similar distributions can be found within Ontario (94% of Palestinians and 93% of Egyptians living in Ontario reside in its major city centers) and other provinces, further emphasizing the importance of diversity and potential for social and economic prosperity on the settlement trends of Canadian Arabs.

As a result, the growth of Canada’s diverse communities and the development of its cities’ economic potential continue to be major draws for Canadian Arabs, and are a necessary incubator for the growth and successful integration of their communities.

Still to come:

July 2014 Bulletin: Demographics 1 (Age, Family Status, Religion)

- August 2014 Bulletin: Demographics 2 (age at immigration, immigration status, generational status,  languages spoken)

- September 2014 Bulletin: Education and Employment (level of education, field of education, employment income, participation/employment/unemployment rates, industry)