The term 'South Asian' refers to people who originate from the following Asian countries . . . .

Myanmar (Burma)*
Sri Lanka

These countries are linked by the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation.

The term 'diaspora' refers to a dispersion of a people from their original homeland. It was originally used to refer to the dispersion of the Jews from Palestine, following the Babylonians' conquest of the Judean Kingdom in the 6th century BC. Until fairly recently, it was used to refer to Jews living outside of modern day Israel. Now it is used more widely for all the movements of peoples away from their homelands, such as Chinese, Filipino, Nigerian and Iranian, to name just a few.

So when we talk about the South Asian Diaspora, we mean people of South Asian descent who are not living in their original homeland – Indians in Durban, Pakistanis in New York, Sri Lankans in Oslo, and so on. Some people of the South Asian diaspora may never have set foot in their original 'homeland'.

Photo above by Nishi Sharma / South Asian Concern

It is estimated that there are about 20 million members of the South Asian diaspora, though it's difficult finding accurate statistics for every country. To get an idea of how the diaspora is scattered throughout the world, see the diaspora map.

Map of South Asia

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar (Burma)*, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka

* Myanmar (Burma) can be considered part of either South Asia or South East Asia, depending on who you talk to. It is more often classified as the latter, so we have included it on our diaspora map as a South East Asian country.

South Asian Concern