Historical Jewish population comparisons


Historical Jewish population comparisons

Jewish population centers have shifted tremendously over time, due to the constant streams of Jewish refugees created by expulsions, persecution, and officially sanctioned killing of Jews in various places at various times. The 20th century saw a large shift in Jewish populations, due mostly to persecution in Eastern Europe followed by the Holocaust, migration to the United States and the creation of Israel and subsequent expulsions of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews from the Arab world.

Ancient and medieval times

The Torah contains a number of statements as to the number of Jews that left Egypt, the descendants of the seventy sons and grandsons of Jacob who took up their residence in that country. Altogether, including Levites, the number given is 611,730. For non-Levites, this represents men fit for military service, i.e between twenty and sixty years of age; among the Levites the relevant number is those obligated in temple service (males between twenty and fifty years of age). This would imply a population of about 3,000,000. The Census of David is said to have recorded 1,300,000 males over twenty years of age, which would imply a population of over 5,000,000. The number of exiles who returned from Babylon is given at 42,360. Tacitus declares that Jerusalem at its fall contained 600,000 persons; Josephus, that there were as many as 1,100,000, of whom 97,000 were sold as slaves. It is from the latter that most European Jews are descended. These appear (writes Jacobs) to be all the figures accessible for ancient times, and their trustworthiness is a matter of dispute. The difficulties of commissariat in the Sinai desert for such a number as 3,000,000 have been pointed out by John William Colenso.

In the Hadrianic war 580,000 Jews were slain, according to Cassius Dio (lxix. 14). According to Theodor Mommsen, in the first century C.E. there were no less than 1,000,000 Jews in Egypt, in a total of 8,000,000 inhabitants; of these 200,000 lived in Alexandria, whose total population was 500,000. Adolf Harnack ("Ausbreitung des Christentums", Leipzig, 1902) reckons that there were 1,000,000 Jews in Syria at the time of Nero, and 700,000 in Palestine, and he allows for an additional 1,500,000 in other places, thus estimating that there were in the first century 4,200,000 Jews in the world. Jacobs remarks that this estimate is probably excessive.

As regards the number of Jews in the Middle Ages, Benjamin of Tudela, about 1170, enumerates altogether 1,049,565; but of these 100,000 are attributed to Persia and India, 100,000 to Arabia, and 300,000 to an undecipherable "Thanaim", obviously mere guesses with regard to the Eastern Jews, with whom he did not come in contact. There were at that time probably not many more than 500,000 in the countries he visited, and probably not more than 750,000 altogether. The only real data for the Middle Ages are with regard to special Jewish communities. The "Jewish Encyclopedia" provides a table of this data [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/table.jsp?table_id=421&volid=11&title=STATISTICS:] .

The Middle Ages were mainly a period of expulsions. In 1290, 16,000 Jews were expelled from England; in 1306, 100,000 from France; and in 1492, about 200,000 from Spain. Smaller but more frequent expulsions occurred in Germany, so that at the commencement of the 16th century only four great Jewish communities remained: Frankfurt, 2,000; Worms, 1,400; Prague, 10,000; and Vienna, 3,000 (Heinrich Grätz, "Geschichte der Juden" x. 29). It has been estimated that during the five centuries from 1000 to 1500, 380,000 Jews were killed during the persecutions, reducing the total number in the world to about 1,000,000. In the 16th and 17th centuries the main centers of Jewish population were in Poland and the Mediterranean countries, Spain excepted.

The modern world

Again following Jacobs, Jacques Basnage at the beginning of the 18th century estimated the total number of European Jews at 1,360,000, but according to a census at the First Partition of Poland in 1772, the Jews of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth numbered 308,500. As these formed the larger part of the European Jews, it is doubtful whether the total number was more than 400,000 at the middle of the 18th century; and, counting those in the lands of Islam, the entire number in the world at that time could not have been much more than 1,000,000.

Assuming that those numbers are reasonable, the increase in the next few centuries was remarkably rapid. It was checked in Germany by the laws limiting the number of Jews in special towns, and perhaps still more by overcrowding; Jacobs gives citations for there being 7,951 Jews at Prague in 1786 and 5,646 in 1843, and 2,214 at Frankfurt in 1811.

Chubinsky reports that in 1840 the Jews of southern Russia were accustomed to dwell thirteen in a house, whereas among the general population the average was only four to five ("Globus", 1880, p. 340). The rapid increase was undoubtedly due to the early age of marriage and the small number of deaths of infants in the stable communities. The chief details known for any length of time are for the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, and Württemberg; "see chart at right".

Jacobs in the "Jewish Encyclopedia" presents some evidence that Jewish increase in this period may have exceeded that of the general population, but remarks also that such figures of increase are often very deceptive, as they may indicate not the natural increase by surplus of births over deaths, but accession by immigration. This applies especially to Germany during the early part of the 19th century, when Jews from Galicia and Poland seized every opportunity of moving westward. Arthur Ruppin, writing in the late 19th century, when forcible measures were taken to prevent Russian Jews from settling in Germany, showed that the growth of the Jewish population in Germany had almost entirely ceased, owing to a falling birth rate and, possibly, to emigration. Similarly, during this period, England and the United States showed notable Jewish immigration.

This growth in actual numbers was somewhat offset by conversion away from Judaism. While Halakha (Jewish law) says that a Jew who converts is still a Jew, in the climate of persecution that prevailed in much of Europe in this period, conversion tended to be accompanied by a repudiation of Jewish identity, and converts to Christianity generally ceased to be considered part of the Jewish community. The "Jewish Encyclopedia" gives some statistics on conversion of Jews to Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Greek Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity. [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/table.jsp?table_id=425&volid=11&title=STATISTICS:] The upshot is that some 2,000 European Jews converted to Christianity every year during the 19th century, but that in the 1890s the number was running closer to 3,000 per year, — 1,000 in Austria-Hungary, 1,000 in Russia, 500 in Germany, and the remainder in the Anglo-Saxon world. Partly balancing this were about 500 converts to Judaism each year, mainly formerly Christian women who married Jewish men. For Russia, Galicia, and Romania, conversions were dwarfed by emigration: in the last quarter of the 19th century, probably 1,000,000 Jews from this area of Europe emigrated, primarily to the United States, but many also to the United Kingdom.

Toward the end of the 19th century, estimates of the number of Jews in the world ranged from about 6,200,000 ("Encyclopædia Britannica", 1881) to 10,932,777 ("American Jewish Year-Book", 1904-1905). This can be contrasted with estimates of about half that number a mere 60 years earlier. [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/table.jsp?table_id=426&volid=11&title=STATISTICS:]

The "Jewish Encyclopedia" article on which this discussion is largely based estimates only 314,000 Sephardic Jews at the end of the 19th century. More recent scholarship tends to suggest that this estimate is low. The same source gives two wildly different estimate for the "Falasha", the Ethiopian Jews, variously estimating them at 50,000 and 200,000; the former would be comparable to their present-day population.

Population in 1900

The following table is based on a table in the "Jewish Encyclopedia" of 1901-1906, which also places these numbers in context of the distribution of world population at that time. [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/table.jsp?table_id=427&volid=11&title=STATISTICS:]

Circa 1900

Region

Population

Percent b

World

11,206,849

100.0

Americas, Total

1,549,621

13.8

North c

1,522,500

13.5

Central

1,000

0.00

South

26,121

0.2

Europe, Total

8,966,781

80.0

Russia (1897)

3,872,625

34.6

Poland (Russian)(1897)

1,316,776

11.7

Austria (Cisleithania, includes Galicia)

1,224,899

10.0

Kingdom of Hungary

851,378

7.5

Germany (1901)

586,948

7.5

Turkey a and Rumelia

282,277

2.5

Romania (1900)

269,015

2.4

United Kingdom

250,000

2.2

Other Europe

312,863

2.7

Asia, Total

300,948

2.6

Other Arabia and Asia Minor f

95,000

0.8

Palestine

78,000

0.6

Caucasus

58,471

0.05

Persia

35,000

0.3

Siberia

34,477

0.3

Other

51,392

0.4

Africa, Total

372,659

3.3

North e

322,659

2.8

Sub-Saharan

50,000

0.4

Oceania g

16,840

0.01

a Asian regions of Turkey included in Europe. Turkey at this time includes Mesopotamia, where there were 35,000 Jews in Baghdad; Adrianople had 17,000.
b Minor discrepancies due to rounding.
c U.S. and Canada.
e Including est. 50,000 for Ethiopia
f Excludes Mesopotamia, which is counted with European Turkey and Rumelia.

1900 compared to 2005

The Jewish population of each country in 1900, taken from Jewish Encyclopedia of 1901-1906 [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/table.jsp?table_id=427&volid=11&title=STATISTICS] , is compared to 2005 Jewish population (see Jewish population). The names of some of the countries were changed (Abyssinia was changed to Ethiopia, Palestine to Israel, British Isles to United Kingdom, Persia to Iran, Servia to Serbia and Montenegro). If the countries names do not match exactly, only "n/a" appears in the 2005 column below. Some other entries are also problematic: for example, "Germany" today is not exactly the same territory as "Germany" in 1900; the figure given for "Austria, Hungary, Poland" in 1900 corresponds to Austria-Hungary at that time, and would not include all of today's Poland; conversely, it would include the present-day Czech Republic, Slovakia, Transylvania, etc.

"Note: The total at the end shows the entire estimated population of the world at that time (1900), not just the listed countries"

By country

By region

These tables are based on 1900 data. For comparison with the new tables, see Jews by country. The first percentage, 4th column, is the percentage of population that is Jewish in a region (Jews in the region * 100/total population of the region). The last column shows the Jewish percentage compared to the total Jewish population of the world (Jews in the region * 100/total Jewish population of the world).

Jews in Africa, 1900
Region Total Population Jews % Jewish % of Jews total
Central Africa 16,280,556 0 0% 0%
East Africa 30,803,074 50,000 0.162% 0.444%
North Africa 21,763,736 272,659 1.253% 2.419%
Southern Africa 16,708,557 50,000 0.299% 0.444%
West Africa 49,526,638 0 0% 0%
Total 135,082,561 372,659 0.276% 3.306%

Jews in Asia, 1900
Region Total Population Jews % Jewish % of Jews total
Central Asia 23,519,135 89,635 0.381% 0.795%
East Asia 458,411,367 2,000 0.0004% 0.018%
Middle East 34,573,593 490,407 1.418% 4.35%
South Asia 246,899,507 18,228 0.007% 0.162%
Southeast Asia 177,148,927 0 0% 0%
Total 940,552,529 600,270 0.064% 5.325%

Jews in Europe, 1900
Region Total Population Jews % Jewish % of Jews total
Balkans 10,358,957 56,056 0.541% 0.497%
Central Europe 53,357,811 3,393,053 6.359% 30.099%
Eastern Europe 123,334,659 3,907,102 3.168% 34.659%
Western Europe 224,603,981 1,373,440 0.611% 12.183%
Total 411,655,408 8,729,651 2.121% 77.438%

Jews in The Americas, 1900
Region Total Population Jews % Jewish % of Jews total
Caribbean 5,923,844 0 0% 0%
Central America 13,143,968 4,035 0.031% 0.036%
North America 93,098,180 1,523,500 1.636% 13.515%
South America 44,382,509 26,121 0.059% 0.232%
Total 156,548,501 1,553,656 0.992% 13.782%

Jews in Oceania, 1900
Region Total Population Jews % Jewish % of Jews total
Oceania 5,955,956 16,840 0.283% 0.149%

Ranking

Countries ranked by total Jewish population, 1900 on the left and 2005 on the right.

By population
Rank Country Jews (1900) % Jewish (1900) Country Jews (2005) % Jewish (2005)
1 Russia 3,872,625 3.29% United States 5,914,682 2%
2 Austria, Hungary, and Poland 3,393,053 6.36% Israel 5,021,506 80%
3 United States 1,500,000 1.97% Russia 800,000 0.5%
4 Germany 586,948 1.04% France 606,561 1%
5 Turkey and Eastern Rumelia 282,277 4.91% Argentina 395,379 1%
6 Romania 269,015 4.99% Canada 393,660 1.2%
7 United Kingdom 250,000 0.57% United Kingdom 350,207 0.5%
8 Morocco 109,712 2.11% Ukraine 142,276 0.3%
9 Netherlands 103,988 2% Germany 107,160 0.13%
10 France 86,885 0.22% Brazil 95,125 0.051%
11 Palestine 78,000 12% Australia 90,406 0.45%
12 Asia Minor and Syria 65,000 0.55% South Africa 88,688 0.2%
13 Tunisia 62,545 4.16% Belarus 72,103 0.7%
14 Caucasus 58,471 0.77% Hungary 60,041 0.6%
15 Algeria 51,044 1.07% Mexico 53,101 0.05%
16 South Africa 50,000 4.54% Belgium 51,821 0.5%
17 Ethiopia 50,000 1% Spain 48,409 0.12%
18 Iran 35,000 0.39% Netherlands 32,814 0.2%
19 Italy 34,653 0.1% Moldova 31,187 0.7%
20 Siberia 34,477 0.6% Uruguay 30,743 0.9%
21 Bulgaria 33,663 0.9% Italy 30,213 0.052%
22 Egypt 30,678 0.31% Venezuela 25,375 0.1%
23 Arabia 30,000 0.42% Poland 24,999 0.065%
24 Canada 22,500 0.42% Chile 20,900 0.131%
25 Argentina 20,000 0.42% Iran 20,405 0.03%
26 Tripoli 18,680 2.33% Ethiopia 20,000 0.027%
27 Turkestan and Afghanistan 18,435 0.22% Sweden 18,003 0.2%
28 India 18,228 0.06% Uzbekistan 17,453 0.065%
29 Australia 15,122 0.49% Turkey 17,415 0.025%
30 Russian Central Asia 12,729 0.16% Switzerland 14,978 0.2%
31 Switzerland 12,551 0.38% Panama 10,029 0.33%
32 Belgium 12,000 0.18% Latvia 9,092 0.397%
33 Greece 8,350 0.34% Austria 8,184 0.1%
34 Bosnia and Herzegovina 8,213 0.58% Georgia 7,951 0.17%
35 Serbia and Montenegro 5,102 0.2% Azerbaijan 7,911 0.1%
36 Spain 5,000 0.02% Denmark 7,062 0.13%
37 Norway and Sweden 5,000 0.07% Romania 6,029 0.027%
38 Denmark 5,000 0.2% New Zealand 5,447 0.135%
39 Central America 4,035 0.12% India 5,401 0.0005%
40 Guiana, Venezuela and Colombia 2,000 0.03% Greece 5,334 0.05%
41 China and Japan 2,000 0.0004% Morocco 5,236 0.016%
42 Brazil 2,000 0.01% Kazakhstan 4,100 0.027%
43 New Zealand 1,611 0.2% Lithuania 3,596 0.1%
44 Portugal 1,200 0.02% Colombia 3,436 0.008%
45 Luxembourg 1,200 0.5% Czech Republic 3,072 0.03%
46 Suriname 1,121 1.97% Slovakia 3,041 0.056%
47 Mexico 1,000 0.008% Peru 2,792 0.01%
48 Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile,Uruguay 1,000 0.01% Costa Rica 2,409 0.06%
49 Crete 728 0.24% Bulgaria 2,300 0.031%
50 Cyprus and Malta 130 0.03% Estonia 1,818 0.136%
51 Tasmania 107 0.07% Tunisia 1,813 0.018%

References

* Jewish Encyclopedia of 1901-1906 [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/table.jsp?table_id=427&volid=11&title=STATISTICS]

ee also

* Who is a Jew?
* Jewish population
* Jews by country


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Jewish population — refers to the number of Jews in the world. Precise figures are difficult to calculate because the definition of Who is a Jew remains a source of controversy.Total populationAccording to the estimates for 2007 of the Jewish People Policy Planning… …   Wikipedia

  • Jewish history — is the history of the Jewish people, faith, and culture. Since Jewish history encompasses nearly four thousand years and hundreds of different populations, any treatment can only be provided in broad strokes. Additional information can be found… …   Wikipedia

  • Jewish diaspora — Part of a series of articles on Jews and Judaism …   Wikipedia

  • Jewish exodus from Arab lands — The Jewish exodus from Arab lands refers to the 20th century expulsion or mass departure of Jews, primarily of Sephardi and Mizrahi background, from Arab and Islamic countries. The migration started in the late 19th century, but accelerated after …   Wikipedia

  • Jewish philosophy — Jewish theology redirects here. Philosophy and Kabbalah are two common approaches to Jewish theology Part of a series on …   Wikipedia

  • Jewish ethnic divisions — Part of a series of articles on Jews and Judaism …   Wikipedia

  • Jewish culture — For religious Jewish culture, see Judaism and Yiddishkeit. Jewish culture Visual Arts …   Wikipedia

  • Jewish Schisms — Part of a series of articles on Jews and Judaism …   Wikipedia

  • Jewish religious movements — Part of a series on …   Wikipedia

  • List of Jewish history topics — This list covers topics related to Jewish history and religion. Changes to the articles listed here may be monitored by clicking on the Related changes link in the sidebar. Please do not remove non existent articles from this list, unless they… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.