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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.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.

Arab Americans are geographically concentrated in a handful of cities and states.The major exception to this pattern was a small group of Arab writers, poets, and artists who took up residence in major urban centers such as New York and Boston.The most famous of the group was Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), author of The Prophet and numerous other works.The early immigrants were mostly unskilled single men who had left their families behind.Like many economically motivated immigrants during this period, Arabs left with the intention of earning money and returning home to live out the remainder of their lives in relative prosperity.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.

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