Photographic Book Turkey
People and society in Turkey
Photographic Book Turkey

The population of Turkey is 71,158,647 (2007 estimate). The average population density is 92 persons per sq km (239 per sq mi). Urbanization has progressed rapidly in recent decades. In the mid-1970s, Turkey was still a predominantly rural society, with nearly 60 percent of its citizens living in the countryside. In 2005, 67 percent of the people lived in urban areas. The highest population concentrations are in İstanbul and in coastal regions.

Principal cities of Turkey

İstanbul is the largest city in Turkey, with a population of 9,451,000 (2000). It is the country’s primary cultural, financial, manufacturing, and tourism center, as well as its largest port. Ankara, the capital, has a population of 3,023,000 (2000). İzmir, population 2,409,000 (2000), is the country’s second largest port, as well as a major industrial and tourism center. Adana, population 1,294,000 (2000), is the main industrial center of the south, as well as the home of the İncirlik air base, an important North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) facility. Bursa, population 1,304,000 (2000), is an ancient city in western Anatolia that served as the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. The modern city is a manufacturing center.

Turkey has four other cities with populations exceeding 500,000. These are Gaziantep (930,000), Konya (742,690), Mersin (537,843), and Antalya (603,190). Each of these cities has grown rapidly in recent decades as migrants from rural areas have arrived seeking work in the proliferating factories. Other important cities are Kayseri (population 536,392), Diyarbakır (545,983), Eskişehir (482,793), Şanlıurfa (381,938), Samsun (363,180), and Malatya (381,081).
Population of Turkey
Turkey population picture. Picture of E. Buchot

Ethnic Groups of Turkey

trading turkish photo

About 80 percent of the people of Turkey identify themselves as ethnic Turks. Before 1900, the population of Anatolia and Eastern Thrace was more ethnically diverse, with Turks making up about 55 percent of the total; another 30 percent were Armenians and Greeks. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, several forced movements of populations resulted in the removal of most Armenians and Greeks from Anatolia. Replacing them were non-Turkish Muslims, including Albanians and Bosnians, who were forced to leave newly independent countries in the Balkan Peninsula. These countries were established out of former provinces of the Ottoman Empire. In the same period, thousands of Muslim Circassians from Russia’s Caucasus region also immigrated to Turkey to escape religious persecution in Russia. Most Balkan and Circassian Muslim immigrants were assimilated as Turks within one generation. Turkey has continued to welcome Muslim immigrants from former Ottoman areas in southeastern Europe and from Turkic-speaking regions of the Caucasus and Central Asia, taking in some 350,000 Muslim refugees between 1989 and 2000. times. In the late 1960s, many Kurds began migrating from southeastern Anatolia to İstanbul and the industrial cities of central and western Anatolia, as well as to Germany.

Ethnic conflict between Kurds and Turks increased after 1923 following the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, which implemented uniform national educational and social policies. The Kurds especially resented official efforts to discourage use of the Kurdish language and the banning of Kurdish political parties. In 1984 the Kurdistān Workers Party (PKK) launched an armed uprising against the Turkish government. The PKK’s aim was to create a separate Kurdish state, and its guerrilla war against the Turkish military continued in the rural regions of southeastern Anatolia for 15 years until it declared a de facto truce in 2000. Arabs comprise the third largest ethnic group in Turkey.

They are concentrated in the southern Mediterranean province of Hatay, with smaller communities in the adjacent provinces of Adana to the north and Gaziantep to the east, as well as in the two westernmost provinces of the southeast. Arabs constitute less than 2 percent of the country’s total population.Several smaller ethnic groups also live in Turkey. The Laz are a non-Turkic Muslim community who live along the eastern coast of the Black Sea. Muslim Georgians live in northeastern Turkey in the mountainous region bordering the Republic of Georgia. Small communities of Armenians and Greeks still reside in İstanbul. Turkey’s small population of Ladino-speaking Jews are the descendants of Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 during the Inquisition. Encarta

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