The Middle East, which nurtured some of the world's earliest civilizations, is today a region of diverse peoples and cultures. It is also a region beset by political, social, and religious conflicts, a situation that has spurred many people to leave their homelands in hopes of finding a better life elsewhere. Middle Eastern immigrants have been arriving on North American shores since the late 1800s, but in recent decades their numbers have risen dramatically. By the early 21st century, there were an estimated 1.5 million immigrants from the Middle East living in the United States, and about 340,000 living in Canada. Though the contributions of Middle Easterners have long enriched North American society, the future of Middle Eastern immigration appears uncertain in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
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