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TURKEY

General Information

Map of Turkey

Capital:

Ankara 2,782,200 (1996 est.)

Area:

780,580 sq km (300,948 sq mi)

Form of government

Republic

GDP per capita

Purchasing power parity—$6,200 (1999 est.)

Population

65,599,206 (July 1999 est.)

Ethnic composition

Turkish — 80-88%

Kurdish —- 10-20%

Arabs — 1.5%

Other — 0.3%

Updated (October 2004)

For many years Turkey has failed to recognize most of minority groups living on its territory. In conformity with this policy state authorities tried to "Turkify" national minorities, such as the Greeks and the Kurds1. Since nowadays the country seeks accession to the European Union (EU), it has to comply with the basic EU standards and the protection of minorities is one of them.

ETHNIC AND LINGUISTIC MINORITIES

 

  • The Kurdish community (15 million people) is the largest ethnic minority in Turkey. They mostly live in the southeastern and eastern part of the country, although a large number have migrated to cities in western Turkey.

     

  • The Roma population is dispersed all over the country (500,000 people according to the official records).

     

  • The Bosnian population (more than 1 million).

     

  • Although Arabs live in all parts of Turkey, they are particularly concentrated in the provinces of Antakya, Mardin and Siirt. Some define themselves rather by religion (as Alevis).

     

  • The Circassians, who number over 3 million, live throughout Turkey.

     

  • The Laz live around Artvin and Rize and in larger cities. Their population varies between 500,000 and 1 million.

     

  • The ethnic Bulgarians mostly live in Thrace.

RELIGIOUS MINORITIES

It is estimated that there are:

 

  • 60,000 Armenian Orthodox Christians

     

  • 20,000 Jews

     

  • 2,000–3,000 Greek Orthodox Christians

(These are the only groups recognized as "non-Muslim minorities")

 

  • 15,000–20,000 Syriac Orthodox Christians

     

  • 5,000–7,000 Yazidis

Additionally, there are Muslim religious minorities, in particular the large Alevi community, whose population is estimated at 12–15 million.

Source: Minority Rights Group International, Minorities in Turkey, Submission to the European Union and the Government of Turkey, July 2004, http://www.minorityrights.org/admin/download/pdf/MRG-TurkeySub.pdf


1 For example, the Greek population of the island of Imvros has fallen by over 90 percent since the 1960s, as a result of the effective ending of Greek-language education and the practice of the Orthodox religion.

Official Language(s)

Turkish

Minority Language(s)

Kurdish, Arabic, Caucasian, Greek, Hebrew

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