The Greek diaspora, Hellenic diaspora or Omogenia (Greek: Ομογένεια) refers to the communities of Greek people living outside Greece, Cyprus which are the traditional Greek homelands, Albania, North Macedonia, parts of the Balkans, southern Russia, Ukraine, Asia Minor, the region of Pontus, Eastern Anatolia, Georgia, the South Caucasus, Egypt, southern Italy and Cargèse in Corsica. The term also refers to communities newly established by Greek migration outside these traditional areas during the 20th and 21st centuries.
The Greek diaspora is one of the oldest and largest in the world, with an attested presence from Homeric times to the present. Examples of its influence range from the role played by Greek expatriates in the emergence of the Renaissance, through liberation and nationalist movements involved in the fall of the Ottoman Empire, to commercial developments such as the commissioning of the world's first supertankers by shipping magnates Aristotle Onassis and Stavros Niarchos.
In Archaic Greece, trading and colonizing activities of the Greek tribes from the Balkans and Asia Minor propagated Greek culture, religion and language around the Mediterranean and Black Sea basins. Greek city-states were established in Sicily, southern Italy, northern Libya, eastern Spain, the south of France, and the Black Sea coast, and the Greeks founded over 400 colonies in these areas. Alexander the Great's conquest of the Achaemenid Empire marked the beginning of the Hellenistic period, which was characterized by a new wave of Greek colonization in Asia and Africa; the Greek ruling classes established their presence in Egypt, southwest Asia, and Northwest India.
Many Greeks migrated to the new Hellenistic cities founded in Alexander's wake, as geographically-dispersed as Uzbekistan and Kuwait. Seleucia, Antioch and Alexandria were among the largest cities in the world during Hellenistic and Roman times. Greeks spread across the Roman Empire, and in the eastern territories the Greek language (rather than Latin) became the lingua franca. The Roman Empire was Christianized in the fourth century AD, and during the late Byzantine period the Greek Orthodox form of Christianity became a hallmark of Greek identity.
In the seventh century, Emperor Heraclius adopted Medieval Greek as the official language of the Byzantine Empire. Greeks continued to live around the Levant, Mediterranean and Black Sea, maintaining their identity among local populations as traders, officials, and settlers. Soon afterwards, the Arab-Islamic Caliphate seized the Levant, Egypt, North Africa and Sicily from the Byzantine Greeks during the Byzantine–Arab Wars. The Greek populations generally remained in these areas of the Caliphate and helped translate ancient Greek works into Arabic, thus contributing to early Islamic philosophy and science (which, in turn, contributed to Byzantine science).
After the Byzantine–Ottoman Wars, which resulted in the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the Ottoman conquest of Greek lands, many Greeks fled Constantinople (now Istanbul) and found refuge in Italy. They brought ancient Greek writings which had been lost in the West, contributing to the Renaissance. Most of these Greeks settled in Venice, Florence, and Rome.
Between the fall of the Empire of Trebizond to the Ottomans in 1461 and the second Russo-Turkish War in 1828–29, thousands of Pontic Greeks migrated (or fled) from the Pontic Alps and eastern Anatolia to Georgia and other southern regions of the Russian Empire, and (later) the Russian province of Kars in the South Caucasus. Many Pontic Greeks fled their homelands in Pontus and northeastern Anatolia and settled in these areas to avoid Ottoman reprisals after supporting the Russian invasions of eastern Anatolia in the Russo-Turkish Wars from the late 18th to the early 20th century. Others resettled in search of new opportunities in trade, mining, farming, the church, the military, and the bureaucracy of the Russian Empire.
Greeks spread through many provinces of the Ottoman Empire and took major roles in its economic life, particularly the Phanariots (wealthy Greek merchants who claimed noble Byzantine descent during the second half of the 16th century). The Phanariots helped administer the Ottoman Empire's Balkan domains in the 18th century; some settled in present-day Romania, influencing its political and cultural life. Other Greeks settled outside the southern Balkans, moving north in service to the Orthodox Church or as a result of population transfers and massacres by Ottoman authorities after Greek rebellions against Ottoman rule or suspected Greek collaboration with Russia in the Russo-Turkish wars fought between 1774 and 1878. Greek Macedonia was most affected by the population upheavals, where the large, indigenous Ottoman Muslim population (often including those of Greek-convert descent) could form local militias to harass and exact revenge on the Greek-speaking Christian Orthodox population; this often forced the inhabitants of rural districts, particularly in the more vulnerable lowland areas, to abandon their homes.
A larger-scale movement of Greek-speaking peoples in the Ottoman period was Pontic Greeks from northeastern Anatolia to Georgia and parts of southern Russia, particularly the province of Kars Oblast in the southern Caucasus after the short-lived Russian occupation of Erzerum and the surrounding region during the 1828–29 Russo-Turkish War. An estimated one-fifth of Pontic Greeks left their homeland in the mountains of northeastern Anatolia in 1829 as refugees, following the Tsarist army as it withdrew back into Russian territory (since many had collaborated with—or fought in—the Russian army against the Muslim Ottomans to regain territory for Christian Orthodoxy). The Pontic Greek refugees who settled in Georgia and the southern Caucasus assimilated with preexisting Caucasus Greek communities. Those who settled in Ukraine and southern Russia became a sizable proportion of cities such as Mariupol, but generally assimilated with Christian Orthodox Russians and continued to serve in the Tsarist army.
During and after the Greek War of Independence, Greeks of the diaspora established the fledgling state, raised funds and awareness abroad and served as senior officers in Russian armies which fought the Ottomans to help liberate Greeks under Ottoman subjugation in Macedonia, Epirus, and Thrace. Greek merchant families had contacts in other countries; during the disturbances, many set up home bases around the Mediterranean (notably Marseilles in France, Livorno, Calabria and Bari in Italy and Alexandria in Egypt), Russia (Odessa and St. Petersburg), and Britain (London and Liverpool) from where they traded (typically textiles and grain). Businesses frequently included the extended family, and they brought schools teaching Greek and the Greek Orthodox Church. As markets changed, some families became shippers (financed through the local Greek community, with the aid of the Ralli or Vagliano Brothers). The diaspora expanded across the Levant, North Africa, India and the US. Many leaders of the Greek struggle for liberation from Ottoman Macedonia and other parts of the southern Balkans with large Greek populations still under Ottoman rule had links to the Greek trading and business families who funded the Greek liberation struggle against the Ottomans and the creation of a Greater Greece.
After the Treaty of Constantinople, the political situation stabilised; some displaced families returned to the newly-independent country to become key figures in cultural, educational and political life, especially in Athens. Financial assistance from overseas was channeled through these family ties, providing for institutions such as the National Library and sending relief after natural disasters.
During the 20th century, many Greeks left the traditional homelands for economic and political reasons; this resulted in large migrations from Greece and Cyprus to the United States, Australia, Canada, Brazil, The United Kingdom, New Zealand, Argentina, The United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Germany, Norway, Belgium, Georgia, Italy, Armenia, Russia, Chile, Mexico and South Africa, especially after World War II (1939–45), the Greek Civil War (1946–49) and the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
After World War I, most Pontian and Anatolian Greeks living in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) were victims of Muslim Turkish intolerance for Christians in the Ottoman Empire. More than 3.5 million people, including Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, and Jews, were killed in the regimes of the Young Turks and Mustafa Kemal from 1914 to 1923. Greeks in Asia Minor fled to modern Greece, and the Russian Empire (later the USSR) was also a major destination.
After the Greek Civil War, many communist Greeks and their families fled to neighboring Yugoslavia, the USSR and the Soviet-dominated states of Eastern Europe (especially Czechoslovakia). Hungary founded a village (Beloiannisz) for Greek refugees, and many Greeks were resettled in the former Sudeten German region of northern Czechoslovakia around Krnov (Jägerndorf). Sweden also admitted large numbers of Greeks, and over 17,000 Greek-Swedish descendants live in the country. Although many immigrants later returned to Greece, these countries still have a number of first- and second-generation Greeks who maintain their traditions.
The Arab nationalism of President Nasser of Egypt led to the expulsion of a large Greek population. With the fall of Communism in eastern Europe and the USSR, Greeks of the diaspora immigrated to modern Greece's main urban centers of Athens, Thessaloniki, and Cyprus; many came from Georgia.
Pontic Greeks are Greek-speaking communities originating in the Black Sea region, particularly from the Trebizond region, the Pontic Alps, eastern Anatolia, Georgia, and the former Russian south-Caucasus Kars Oblast. After 1919–23, most of these Pontic Greek and Caucasus Greek communities resettled in Greek Macedonia or joined other Greek communities in southern Russia and Ukraine.
Anyone who is ethnically Greek and born outside Greece may become a Greek citizen through naturalization if they can prove that a parent or grandparent was a Greek national. The Greek ancestor's birth and marriage certificates and the applicant's birth certificate are required, along with birth certificates for all intervening generations between the applicant and the person with Greek citizenship.
Greek citizenship is acquired by birth by all persons born in Greece and all persons born to at least one parent who is a registered Greek citizen. People born out of wedlock to a father who is a Greek citizen and a mother who is a non-Greek automatically gain Greek citizenship if the father recognizes them as his child before they turn 18.
|Part of a series on|
Greece · Cyprus
Albania · Italy · Russia · Turkey
Australia · Canada · Germany
United Kingdom · United States
|Groups by region|
Thracians (Constantinopolitans) · Macedonians · Thessalians · Epirotes
Peloponnesians (Maniots, Tsakonians) · Roumeliotes
(Smyrna, Aeolis, Ionia, Doris, Bithynia)
Pontic (Caucasus, Crimea)
Cretans · Eptanesians · Cycladites · Dodecanesians · Samiotes · Ikariotes · Chiotes · Lemniotes · Lesvians
Arvanites (Souliotes) · Egyptiotes · Grecanici
Romaniotes · Sarakatsani
Slavophones · Urums
Art · Cinema · Cuisine
Dance · Dress · Education
Flag · Language · Literature
Music · Politics · Religion
Sport · Television · Theatre
Greek Orthodox Church
Greek Roman Catholicism
Greek Byzantine Catholicism
Judaism · Islam · Neopaganism
|Languages and dialects|
Cretan Greek · Griko
Cypriot Greek · Himariote Greek
Maniot Greek · Mariupol Greek
Pontic Greek · Tsakonian
|History of Greece|
Centers of the Greek diaspora are New York City, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires.
The SAE – World Council of Hellenes Abroad has compiled several studies on the Greek diaspora. The total number of Greeks living outside Greece and Cyprus is uncertain. Available census figures indicate about three million Greeks outside Greece and Cyprus, but the SAE estimates about seven million worldwide. The Greek diaspora defends Greek interests, particularly in the US. Assimilation and loss of the Greek language influence the definition of the Greek diaspora. To learn more about how factors such as intermarriage and assimilation influence self-identification among young Greeks in the diaspora, and to help clarify the estimates of Greeks in the diaspora, the Next Generation Initiative began an academically-supervised research study in 2008.
The United States has the largest ethnically-Greek population outside Greece. According to the US Department of State, the Greek-American community numbers about three million and the vast majority are third- or fourth-generation immigrants. According to the World Council of Churches, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has a membership of 2,800,000 in the US and Canada who are still Greek Orthodox; however, many Greeks in both countries have adopted other religions or become secular. The 2010 census recorded about 1,300,000 Greek Americans, although members of the community dispute its accuracy.
Most Greek Canadians live in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. The 2016 census reported that 271,405 Canadians were Greek by ancestry and 62,715 people were born in Greece. According to Greeks around the Globe, the Greek Canadian population totals about 450,000.
Greek immigration to Chile began during the 16th century from the island of Crete. Cretan Greeks settled in the Antofagasta Region in the mid-16th century and spread to other locations, such as the Greek colony in Santiago and the cities of San Diego, Valparaíso, Talcahuano, Puerto Mont, and Punta Arenas.
Australia has one of the world's largest Greek communities. Greek immigration to Australia began during the 20th century, increasing significantly in the 1950s and 1960s. According to the 2016 census, there were 422,234 Greeks and Greek Cypriots (by ancestry) living in Australia and 110,669 Greeks born in Greece or Cyprus. According to Greeks around the Globe, Greek Australians number about 700,000.
About 50,000 Greeks immigrated to Brazil from Greece and Cyprus, with 20,000 in the city of Sao Paulo. Brazil has a sizable community of Antiochean Greeks (known as Melkites), Orthodox, and Catholics. According to the Catholic Church, the Eparchy of Nossa Senhora do Paraíso em São Paulo (Melkite Greek), the Eparchia Dominae Nostrae Paradisis S. Pauli Graecorum Melkitarum had a 2016 membership of 446,600. The World Council of Churches estimates that the Greek church of Antioch has a membership of 2,500,000 in Latin America, almost all of whom live in Brazil.
From 1884 to 1933, about 130,000 people immigrated from Lebanon to Brazil. Approximately 65 percent were Catholics (primarily Greek Melkites and Maronites), 20 percent were Greek Orthodox Melkites, and 15 percent were Druzes and other Muslims. The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Lebanese government estimate that 7,000,000 people in Brazil have Lebanese ancestry. According to the Brazilian government, about 4,000,000 Brazilians have Syrian ancestry (primarily Christians: Greek Orthodox or former Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Melkites, and minorities of Maronites and Assyriacs). About 20 percent of Lebanese Brazilians are Greek Orthodox. Approximately 2,500,000 Greek Orthodox Melkites and 446,600 Greek Catholic Melkites live in Brazil, for a total 2,946,600 Antiochean Greeks. However, adherents of Greek Orthodox Churches are not necessarily ethnic Greeks. Probably the majority of Melkites, Maronites, and some Greek Orthodox are ethnic Syrians and Lebanese.
|United States||1,319,188 (ACS-5Y 2012, Greek or Cypriot ancestry),
|Cyprus||721,000 (2011 census, Cypriot and Greek citizens)||1,150,000||Greek Cypriots|
|Germany||443,000 (2016, Greek Ethnic Origin),
348,475 (2016, Greek citizens),
274,060 (2016, born in Greece),
74,415 (2016, born in Germany)
|320,000, 370,000||Greeks in Germany|
|Australia||397,431 (2016 census, Greek ancestry),
||422,234 (2016 census, Greek or Cypriot ancestry),
|Canada||271,405 (2016 census, Greek ancestry),
||277,060 (2016 census, Greek or Cypriot ancestry),
|United Kingdom||78,872 (2011 census, The figure includes Greeks from Greece proper and Greek Cypriots, residing in England and Wales)||300,000-400,000||Greek Britons|
|Albania||24,243 (2011 census. Majority are Greek passport holders/migrants. Census deemed corrupt) to 550,000||Sources vary. Between 200,000 and 550,000 Ethnic Greeks in Albania. In addition, a large number also reside in Greece, Australia and the United States.||Greeks in Albania|
|Ukraine||91,500 (2001 census)||Greeks in Ukraine|
|Russia||85,640 (2010 census)||Greeks in Russia and Caucasus Greeks|
|South Africa||4,069 (Greek Citizens), 1,883 (Cypriot Citizens)||50,000-60,000 120,000||Greeks in South Africa|
|Netherlands||25,709 (2019, Greek foreign origin and descendants)
18,863 (2019, Foreign national, Greece)
|4,000, 12,500||Greeks in the Netherlands|
|Belgium||24,836 (2014, Greek foreign origin and descendants) Belgium, Greek ethnic origin
17,350 (2018, Foreign-born, Greece) Belgium, Population by Country of Birth
17,513 (2018, Foreign national, Greece) Belgium, Foreign national
|24,836 (2014, Greek foreign origin and descendants) Belgium, Greek ethnic origin
16,275 (2015, Foreign national, Greece) Belgium, Foreign national
|Greeks in Belgium|
|Sweden||18,917 (2018, Foreign-born, Greece) 
10,731 (2018, Foreign national, Greece) 
|||Greeks in Sweden|
|Switzerland||12,138 (2015, Foreign-born, Greece) 
13,374 (2017, Foreign national, Greece) 
|France||11,100 (2016, Foreign-born, Greece) 
7,800 (2016, Foreign national, Greece) 
|35,000 – 80,000
||Greeks in France|
|Italy||7,898 (2016, Foreign national, Greece) ||7,572 (2018, Greek citizens)
|Greeks in Italy|
|Austria||6,766 (2019, Foreign-born, Greece) 
6,864 (2019, Foreign national, Greece) 
|5,000||Greeks in Austria|
|Spain||4,353 (2018, Foreign-born, Greece) 
4,245 (2018, Foreign national, Greece) 
|Denmark||3,401 (2019, Foreign national, Greece) ||Greeks in Denmark|
|Norway||3,072 (2019, Foreign-born, Greece) ||Greeks in Norway|
|Georgia||N/A||15,166 (2002 census)||Greeks in Georgia and Caucasus Greeks|
|Chile||8,500 (2012 census)||90,000-120,000 in Santiago and Antofagasta||Greeks in Chile|
|Brazil||N/A||25,000 – 30,000 50,000 in Sao Paulo||Greeks in Brazil|
|Argentina||2,196 (2001, born in Greece)||35,000, 50,000||Greeks in Argentina|
|Serbia||725 (2011 census)||15,000||Greeks in Serbia|
|Kazakhstan||12,703 (1999 census)||Greeks in Kazakhstan|
|Uzbekistan||10,453 (1989 census)||9,500||Greeks in Uzbekistan|
|Romania||6,513 (2002 census)||Greeks in Romania|
|New Zealand||2,589 (2013 census, people who declared Greek ancestry), 999 born in Greece||4,500, 10,000||Greeks in New Zealand|
|Venezuela||N/A||3,000 (Greek-born population)||Greeks in Venezuela|
|Egypt||N/A||3,000, 5,000||Greeks in Egypt|
|Bulgaria||3,408 (2001 census)||28,500||Greeks in Bulgaria|
|Czech Republic||3,231 (2001 census)||7,000||Greeks in the Czech Republic|
|Moldova||N/A||3,000||Greeks in Moldova|
|Hungary||3,916 (2011 census)||4,000 – 10,000||Greeks in Hungary|
|Turkey||N/A||2,500-347,500||Greeks in Turkey, Pontic Greeks and Caucasus Greeks|
|Lebanon||N/A||1,500-2,500||Greeks in Lebanon|
|Zimbabwe||N/A||1,100||Greeks in Zimbabwe|
|Uruguay||N/A||1,000, 2,000||Greeks in Uruguay|
|Syria||N/A||8,000||Greeks in Syria|
|Armenia||900 (2011 census)||Greeks in Armenia and Caucasus Greeks|
|Zambia||N/A||800||Greeks in Zambia|
|Kyrgyzstan||N/A||650–700||Greeks in Kyrgyzstan|
|Finland||1,681||500||Greeks in Finland|
|Malta||N/A||500||Greeks in Malta|
|Ethiopia||N/A||500||Greeks in Ethiopia|
|Uganda||426 (1991, Greek citizens)|
|Republic of North Macedonia||422 (2002 census)||Greeks in North Macedonia|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||N/A||300||Greeks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|Costa Rica||N/A||80, 290|
|Israel||N/A||10,000-60,000 Greek Jews (Sephardic and Romaniote); 250-300 (non-Jewish Greeks)||Greeks in Israel|
|Sudan||N/A||250||Greeks in Sudan|
|Azerbaijan||N/A||250–300||Greeks in Azerbaijan|
|United Arab Emirates||N/A||200|
|Estonia||150 (2001 census)|
|Latvia||289 (2011 census)||100|
|Philippines||N/A||100||Greeks in the Philippines|
|South Sudan||N/A||90||Greeks in South Sudan|
|Papua New Guinea||N/A||70|
|Slovenia||54 (2002 census)|
|Central African Republic||N/A||40|
|Republic of the Congo||N/A||10|
Notable people of the Greek diaspora (including those of Greek ancestry):
...providing an alternative to ascription omogenia (of the same race)—a term widely used by state representatives as well sectors of the ethnic media—to refer to Greek populations outside Greece.
An estimated three million American residents in the United States claim Greek descent.
...Mediterranean nation's estimated 400,000-strong British diaspora.
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