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Ethiopian Americans

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Ethiopian Americans

Template:Infobox Ethnic group

Ethiopian Americans are Americans of Ethiopian descent as well as individuals of American and Ethiopian ancestry.


In 1919, an official Ethiopian goodwill mission was sent to the United States to felicitate the Allied powers on their victory during the First World War.[1] The four-person delegation included Dejazmach Nadew, the nephew of Empress Zawditu and Commander of the Imperial Army, along with Blattengeta Heruy Welde Sellase, Mayor of Addis Ababa, Kentiba Gebru, Mayor of Gondar, and Ato Sinkas, Dejazmach Nadew's secretary.

After his official coronation, Emperor Haile Selassie sent forth the first wave of Ethiopian students to continue their education abroad. Almost a dozen Ethiopian students likewise went to the United States. They included Makonnen Desta, who studied anthropology at Harvard, and later became an interim Ethiopian Minister of Education, Makonnen Haile, who studied finance at Cornell, and Ingida Yohannes, veterinary medicine at New York. Three other students, Melaku Beyen, Besha Worrid Hapte Wold and Worku Gobena, went to Muskingum, a missionary college in Ohio, two of them later transferring to Ohio State University. Melaku Beyan, who was one of the two who attended Ohio State, later received his medical degree at Howard Medical School in Washington, D.C.

Overall approximately 20,000 Ethiopians moved to the West to achieve higher education and conduct diplomatic missions from 1941 to 1974 under the Selassie’s rule. [2] However, the net movement of permanent immigrants remained low during this period as most temporary immigrants ultimately returned to Ethiopia with a Western education to near assured political success, while the relative stability of the country determined that few Ethiopians would be granted asylum in the United States.[2]

The passing of the 1965 Immigration Act, the Refugee Act of 1980, as well as the Diversity Visa Program of the Immigration Act of 1990, contributed to an increased emigration from Ethiopia to the United States,[3] prompted by political unrest during the Ethiopian Civil War. The majority of Ethiopian immigrants arrived later in the 1990s, following the Eritrean–Ethiopian War. Immigration to the U.S. from Ethiopia during this 1992-2002 period averaged around 5,000 individuals per year.[4]

Ethiopian Americans have since established ethnic enclaves in various places around the country, particularly in the Washington D.C. and Minneapolis areas. Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, California has also come to be known as Little Ethiopia, owing to its many Ethiopian businesses and restaurants, as well as a significant concentration of residents of Ethiopian and Eritrean ancestry.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 68,001 people reported Ethiopian ancestry in 2000.[5] Between 2007 and 2011, there were approximately 151,515 Ethiopia-born residents in the United States.[6] According to Aaron Matteo Terrazas, "if the descendants of Ethiopian-born migrants (the second generation and up) are included, the estimates range upwards of 460,000 in the United States (of which approximately 350,000 are in Washington, DC; 96,000 in Los Angeles; and 10,000 in New York)."[2] Unofficial estimates suggest that the Washington, DC area has an Ethiopian population of 150,000 to 250,000.[7][8][9]


Many Ethiopian Americans are followers of Abrahamic religions, particularly Christianity. Of these, the majority belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the largest Christian denomination in Ethiopia.[3] Many other Ethiopian immigrants adhere to the P'ent'ay religion, and Judaisiam, along with a sizeable Sunni Islamic following found particularly amongst the Oromo's. There has been a general religious revival among Ethiopian Americans, especially in the Orthodox sect. Church attendance in America has also increased relative to that in Ethiopia,[10] and the institutions serve to preserve aspects of Ethiopian culture among American-born Ethiopians. They also act as networks and support systems crucial to the well-being of both recent immigrants from Ethiopia and more established Ethiopian residents. Ethiopian churches in the US are gathering places for the Ethiopian community, where Ethiopian expatriates come together to pray, socialize, stay in touch, and lend support to one another.[3]

Geographic distribution

By far, the largest concentration of Ethiopians in America are found in Washington, D.C. and local metro area. Some conservative estimates put the number at around 75,000 residents, while other figures go up to 250,000.[11]

New York City has one of the larger concentration of Ethiopians in the United States. Some estimates put the NYC Ethiopian community population at 10,000 while other figures put the total at around 35,000 Ethiopian Americans in the tri-state area. Unlike Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., Ethiopian Americans in New York are not predominantly concentrated in one single area or district. However, a substantial portion of New York-based Ethiopians reside in the diverse borough of the Bronx; particularly in Parkchester. Attracted to the relative safety of the neighborhoods compared to other parts of the Bronx, several Ethiopian Americans also reside in the Pelham Bay and Kingsbridge sections of the borough. Other Ethiopian Americans can also be found in Washington Heights in upper Manhattan and Flushing, Queens.

Around a dozen Ethiopian restaurants operate in New York City and most of them are found along the 10th/Amsterdam avenue of Manhattan.[12] There are three Ethiopian churches in the Bronx; St Mary of Zion Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Orthodox church at 176th st and Emmanuel Worship Center at E.Tremont avenue. And the two churches located in Manhattan are the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Medhanialem Church and Bethel Ethiopian Evangelical Church. New York is also home to the largest population of Ethiopian Jews in America.[13]

New York Abay Ethiopian Sports Club (NYAESC), and its local football team, is located in the Bronx borough of the city.[14] The Ethiopian football team is usually sited in Van Cortlandt Park, where some Ethiopian marathoners are also found practicing, including New York City Marathon finisher Bizunesh Deba.[15]

Tadias Magazine is the premier Ethiopian American news source based inside New York, founded by its publisher Ethiopian immigrant Liben Eabisa. Other notable Ethiopian Americans in residing in New York city include supermodel Liya Kebede, her husband and hedge fund manager Kassy Kebede, Sweden transplant and celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, and fashion designer Amsale Aberra.

Around 4,600 Ethiopian residents were officially registered in the North Texas area. However, DFW International estimates that the Ethiopian community is much larger, with about 30,000 members.[16]

The Ethiopian population in Minnesota is one of the most diverse, with large representation of Amhara and Oromo Ethiopians. Official census shows 13,927 Ethiopian-Americans living in Minnesota.[11]

Notable Ethiopian Americans

  • The Weeknd - singer, songwriter, recording producer

See also


External links

  • Abesha.Com - Online Magazine/Web Portal for the Ethiopian and Eritrean Diaspora
  • Oromo American site
  • Tadias magazine - Ethiopian-American culture, lifestyle, and business
  • - Ethiopian-American culture, newsfeed, and interviews
  • Ethiopian Evangelical Church in Boston - Ethiopian church in Boston
  • St. Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Los Angeles - Ethiopian church in Los Angeles
  • Boston Menebere Leule Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church - Ethiopian church in Boston

Template:African immigration to the United States

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