History of immigration from Egypt

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Map of Egypt
Map date: 2013
Just five Egyptians were counted in the Victorian census in 1871, two years after the Suez Canal route through Egypt to Australia opened. By 1911, the population was still only 26. Most of these early settlers probably came to Australia as labourers and would probably have been of European heritage.

Immigration from Egypt to Victoria increased significantly after World War II. A large number of immigrants arrived in the late 1940s and 1950s, escaping the growing Arab nationalist movement in Egypt which saw the overthrow of the Egyptian monarchy and the subsequent Suez Crisis. By 1952, the population of Egypt-born Victorians had increased to 2,748; within seven years it had more than doubled to 6,555. Because of their multilingual skills many secured employment as translators and interpreters for the Australian government, in particular for the Department of Immigration.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, increasing numbers of Egypt-born people settled in Victoria, and by 2011, the community had grown to 12,491 people.

The variety of languages spoken by Egypt-born Victorians today reflects the multicultural character of the cosmopolitan cities of Alexandria and Cairo. While nearly half speak Arabic at home, the population includes significant numbers who speak Greek, Italian, French and English.

Egypt-born Victorians occupy a wide range of professions in Victoria, with nearly half of those currently employed working in managerial or professional roles. The community lives across Melbourne and in regional centres, with larger numbers in Melbourne’s north-west. The vibrant and diverse Egyptian culture is sustained and promoted through a range of community organisations including the Egyptian Federation of Victoria, the Alexandrian Group (AAHA), the Greek Egyptian Group (EEAMA) and the Melita Social Club.

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