The Egypt-born Community

Historical Background

According to the 1901 Census, there were 108 Egypt-born people living in Australia and by 1947 this number increased to 803. Many of the Egypt-born migrants who settled in Australia after World War II were of Italian, Maltese, Greek and Armenian descent.

By 1954, there were more than 8000 Egypt-born people living in Australia. This increase was due in large part to Egypt's attainment of independence in 1953 and the pan-Arabist policies adopted by its government, which led to dramatic social, economic and political unrest. This unrest was felt most acutely by the Coptic Christians and other minority groups.

Significant numbers of Coptic Christians continued to migrate to Australia during the 1960s, partly as a result of the 1967 war with Israel. Egyptian migrants to Australia at this time included some of the relatively privileged members of Egypt's pre-independence society.

Following independence, there was a shortage of skilled employment opportunities in Egypt. As a result, many of the migrants who came to Australia during this time came from urban centres and were highly educated.

The Egypt-born population had increased to 28 230 by 1971 and 33 370 by 2001.

Today

Geographic Distribution

The latest Census in 2011 recorded 36 533 Egypt-born people in Australia, an increase of 9.1 per cent from the 2006 Census. The 2011 distribution by state and territory showed New South Wales had the largest number with 18 408 followed by Victoria (12 489), Queensland (2075) and Western Australia (1852).

Age and Sex

The median age of the Egypt-born in 2011 was 56 years compared with 45 years for all overseas-born and 37 years for the total Australian population. The age distribution showed 6.4 per cent were aged 0-14 years, 4.6 per cent were 15-24 years, 19.6 per cent were 25-44 years, 37.6 per cent were 45-64 years and 31.9 per cent were 65 years and over.

Of the Egypt-born in Australia, there were 18 997 males (52 per cent) and 17 533 females (48 per cent). The sex ratio was 108.3 males per 100 females.

Ancestry

In the 2011 Census, the top ancestry responses* that Egypt-born people reported were Egyptian (19 095), Greek (5506) and Italian (2672). In the 2011 Census, Australians reported around 300 different ancestries. Of the total ancestry responses*, 39 300 responses were towards Egyptian ancestry.

*At the 2011 Census up to two responses per person were allowed for the Ancestry question; therefore providing the total responses and not persons count.

Language

The main languages spoken at home by Egypt-born people in Australia were Arabic (20 440), English (7401) and Greek (3750).

Of the 29 130 Egypt-born who spoke a language other than English at home, 88.7 per cent spoke English very well or well, and 10 per cent spoke English not well or not at all.

Religion

At the 2011 Census the major religious affiliations amongst Egypt-born were Oriental Orthodox (13 213), Catholic (7985) and Eastern Orthodox (5392).

Of the Egypt-born, 2.7 per cent stated 'No Religion' which was lower than that of the total Australian population (22.3 per cent), and 2.1 per cent did not state a religion.

Arrival

Compared to 62 per cent of the total overseas-born population, 75.9 per cent of the Egypt-born people in Australia arrived in Australia prior to 2001.

Among the total Egypt-born in Australia at the 2011 Census, 10.1 per cent arrived between 2001 and 2006 and 10.3 per cent arrived between 2007 and 2011.

Median Income

At the time of the 2011 Census, the median individual weekly income for the Egypt-born in Australia aged 15 years and over was $423, compared with $538 for all overseas-born and $597 for all Australia-born. The total Australian population had a median individual weekly income of $577.

Qualifications

At the 2011 Census, 64.1 per cent of the Egypt-born aged 15 years and over had some form of higher non-school qualifications compared to 55.9 per cent of the Australian population.

Of the Egypt-born aged 15 years and over, 3.8 per cent were still attending an educational institution. The corresponding rate for the total Australian population was 8.6 per cent.

Employment

Among Egypt-born people aged 15 years and over, the participation rate in the labour force was 50.1 per cent and the unemployment rate was 7.3 per cent. The corresponding rates in the total Australian population were 65 per cent and 5.6 per cent respectively.

Of the 15 464 Egypt-born who were employed, 54.3 per cent were employed in either a skilled managerial, professional or trade occupation. The corresponding rate in the total Australian population was 48.4 per cent.

Produced by the Community Relations Section of DIAC All data used in this summary is sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census of Population and Housing. Sources for the Historical Background are available on our website.
© Commonwealth of Australia.

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