These two factors, along with standard problems in collecting census data, probably explain the discrepancy between the estimates of scholars and the actual census count.Considering these factors, a revised estimate likely would place the number of Arab Americans in the range of one to two million.Today, the term Arab is a cultural, linguistic, and to some extent, political designation.It embraces numerous national and regional groups as well as many non-Muslim religious minorities.Arab Americans trace their ancestral roots to several Arab countries.Lebanon is the homeland of a majority of Arab Americans, followed by Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, and Jordan.Arab Christians, particularly in the countries of Egypt and the Fertile Crescent (Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Jordan) constitute roughly ten percent of the population.
Ethnic Arabs inhabited the Arabian Peninsula and neighboring areas. Over time the Arab identity lost its purely ethnic roots as millions in the Middle East and North Africa adopted the Arabic language and integrated Arab culture with that of their own.
According to the 1990 census, there were 870,000 persons in the United States who identified themselves as ethnically Arab or who emigrated from one of the 21 countries that constitute the contemporary Arab world.
Previous estimates by scholars and Arab American community organizations placed the number of Arab Americans at between one and three million.
The 1990 census indicates that most Arab Americans are U. citizens (82 percent) even though only 63 percent were born in the United States.
The discrepancy is partly due to the standardization of Arabs in the United States, leading many to conceal their ethnic affiliation.The traditional suspicion of Middle Easterners toward government authorities seeking information of a personal nature compounds this problem.