Chaldeans are Aramaic-speaking, Eastern Rite Catholics. They have a history that spans more than 5,500 years, dating back to Mesopotamia, which was known as the cradle of civilization and is present-day Iraq. Chaldeans are united with the Roman Catholic Church, but have separate Bishops and a Patriarch (Patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldeans) who oversees the Chaldean Catholic Church.
Worldwide, Syria represents the 2nd largest Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriac population with 1.6 million Christians. Many of these are Iraqi expatriates who are reliving the same horrors they fled due to the ongoing unrest in Syria. An estimated 500,000 Chaldeans/Assyrians reside throughout the United States, particularly in Arizona, California and Illinois. The population enjoys steady growth thanks to a constant influx of Christian refugees who have fled Iraq in the face of religious persecution.
Like many ethnic groups, Chaldeans began immigrating to the Metropolitan Detroit-area in the 1920s in search of better economic, religious and political freedom and opportunities. While some were lured by Henry Ford’s famous $5-a-day working wage, in true Chaldean fashion entrepreneurial endeavors quickly took hold—particularly mom and pop food markets. Today, nearly two-thirds of Chaldean households own one business and 39% own two or more. Metro Detroit has the world’s largest population outside of Iraq, with an estimated 160,000 people.
The Chaldean community is driven by its faith and close-knit family ties, with more than 12 Chaldean Catholic Churches in Metro-Detroit. According to a March 2016 DBusiness article, Chaldeans contribute more than $10.7 billion annually to Michigan’s economy. We’re proud of our ongoing growth in the United States and the culture we have rooted here in Michigan.