Turkish people

Turkish people or the Turks (Turkish: Türkler), also known as Anatolian Turks (Turkish: Anadolu Türkleri), are a Turkic ethnic group and nation who mainly live in Turkey and speak Turkish, the most widely spoken Turkic language. They are the largest ethnic group in Turkey, as well as by far the largest ethnic group among the Turkic peoples. Ethnic Turkish minorities exist in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire. In addition, a Turkish diaspora has been established with modern migration, particularly in Western Europe and Northern America.

Total population
c. 80 million
Regions with significant populations
 Turkey60,000,000 - 65,000,000
 Northern Cyprus315,000[d][1][2]
Diaspora in the West 
 Germany2,000,000 - 7,000,000 [3]
 United States1,000,000[4][5][6][7]
 France1,000,000 (2012 est.)[8]
 United Kingdom500,000[9][10][11]
 Netherlands500,000 – 2,000,000[c][12][13][14][15]
 Austria360,000 – 500,000[16][17]
 Belgium250,000 - 300,000[18][19][20]
 Denmark72,000 [f][b][27]
 Canada100,000 [b][28]
 Italy50,000 [e][29]
Minorities in the Arab world and Levant
 Iraq3,000,000 - 3,500,000[30][31]
 Saudi Arabia270,000 – 350,000 [b][34][35]
 Libya50,000 [b][34]
Minorities in the Balkans
 North Macedonia77,959[45][46][47]
 Greece49,000–130,000 [g][48][49][50][51]
 Romania55,000 - 80,000[52][53][54]
 Kosovo30,000 - 50,000[55]
Minorities in the former Soviet Union
 Kazakhstan150,000 - 180,000 [h][58][59]
 Kyrgyzstan40,953–50,000 [h][59][60][61]
 Azerbaijan38,000–110,000 [h][59][62][63][64]
10,000 Meskhetian Turks (academic estimates)[65][68][69]
plus 5,394 Turkish nationals (2009)[70]
Predominantly Islam[71][72][73][74]
(Sunni · Alevi · Bektashi · Twelver Shia)
Minority irreligious[71][75] · Christianity[76][77] · Judaism[78]
Related ethnic groups
Oghuz Turks

Turks from Central Asia settled in Anatolia in the 11th century, through the conquests of the Seljuk Turks. This began the transformation of the region, which had been a largely Greek-speaking region after previously being Hellenized, into a Turkish Muslim one.[79][80][81] The Ottoman Empire came to rule much of the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East (excluding Iran, even though they controlled parts of it), and North Africa over the course of several centuries. The empire lasted until the end of the First World War, when it was defeated by the Allies and partitioned. Following the Turkish War of Independence that ended with the Turkish National Movement retaking much of the territory lost to the Allies, the Movement ended the Ottoman Empire on 1 November 1922 and proclaimed the Republic of Turkey on 29 October 1923.

Article 66 of the Turkish Constitution defines a "Turk" as "anyone who is bound to the Turkish state through the bond of citizenship". While the legal use of the term "Turkish" as it pertains to a citizen of Turkey is different from the term's ethnic definition,[82][83] the majority of the Turkish population (an estimated 70-75 percent) is of Turkish ethnicity.[78] The vast majority of Turks are Muslims.[71][72][73][74]


Etymology and definition

The first definite references to the "Turks" mainly come from Chinese sources which date back to the sixth century. In these sources, "Turk" appears as "Tujue" (Chinese: ; Wade–Giles: T’u-chüe), which referred to the Göktürks.[84][85]

There are several theories regarding the origin of the ethnonym "Turk". There is claim it may be connected to Herodotus's (c. 484–425 BC) reference to Targitaos, a king of the Scythians;[86] however, Mayrhofer (apud Lincoln) assigned Iranian etymology for Ταργιτάος Targitaos from Old Iranian *darga-tavah-, meaning "he whose strength is long-lasting".[87] During the first century AD., Pomponius Mela refers to the "Turcae" in the forests north of the Sea of Azov, and Pliny the Elder lists the "Tyrcae" among the people of the same area.;[86] yet English archaeologist Ellis Minns contended that Tyrcae Τῦρκαι is "a false correction" for Ἱύρκαι Iyrcae/Iyrkai, a people who dwelt beyond the Thyssagetae, according to Herodotus (Histories, iv. 22)[88] There are references to certain groups in antiquity whose names might have been foreign transcriptions of Tür(ü)k such as Togarma, Turukha/Turuška, Turukku and so on; but the information gap is so substantial that any connection of these ancient people to the modern Turks is not possible.[89][90]

In the 19th century, the word Türk referred to Anatolian peasants. The Ottoman ruling class identified themselves as Ottomans, not as Turks.[91][92] In the late 19th century, as the Ottoman upper classes adopted European ideas of nationalism, the term Türk took on a more positive connotation.[93]

During Ottoman times, the millet system defined communities on a religious basis, and today some Turks regard only those who profess the Sunni faith as true Turks. Turkish Jews, Christians, and Alevis are not considered Turks by some.[92] In the early 20th century, the Young Turks abandoned Ottoman nationalism in favor of Turkish nationalism, while adopting the name Turks, which was finally used in the name of the new Turkish Republic.

Article 66 of the Turkish Constitution defines a "Turk" as anyone who is "bound to the Turkish state through the bond of citizenship."[94]


Prehistory, Ancient era and Early Middle Ages

Anatolia was first inhabited by hunter-gatherers during the Paleolithic era, and in antiquity was inhabited by various ancient Anatolian peoples.[95][j] After Alexander the Great's conquest in 334 BC, the area was Hellenized, and by the first century BC it is generally thought that the native Anatolian languages, themselves earlier newcomers to the area, as a result of the Indo-European migrations, became extinct.[96][97]

The early Turkic peoples descended from agricultural communities in Northeast Asia who moved westwards into Mongolia in the late 3rd millennium BC, where they adopted a pastoral lifestyle.[98][99][100][101][102] By the early 1st millennium BC, these peoples had become equestrian nomads.[98] In subsequent centuries, the steppe populations of Central Asia appear to have been progressively replaced and Turkified by East Asian nomadic Turks, moving out of Mongolia.[103][104] In Central Asia, the earliest surviving Turkic-language texts, found on the eighth-century Orkhon inscription monuments, were erected by the Göktürks in the sixth century CE, and include words not common to Turkic but found in unrelated Inner Asian languages.[105] Although the ancient Turks were nomadic, they traded wool, leather, carpets, and horses for wood, silk, vegetables and grain, as well as having large ironworking stations in the south of the Altai Mountains during the 600s CE. Most of the Turkic peoples were followers of Tengrism, sharing the cult of the sky god Tengri, although there were also adherents of Manichaeism, Nestorian Christianity and Buddhism.[106][86] However, during the Muslim conquests, the Turks entered the Muslim world proper as slaves, the booty of Arab raids and conquests.[86] The Turks began converting to Islam after the Muslim conquest of Transoxiana through the efforts of missionaries, Sufis, and merchants. Although initiated by the Arabs, the conversion of the Turks to Islam was filtered through Persian and Central Asian culture. Under the Umayyads, most were domestic servants, whilst under the Abbasid Caliphate, increasing numbers were trained as soldiers.[86] By the ninth century, Turkish commanders were leading the caliphs’ Turkish troops into battle. As the Abbasid Caliphate declined, Turkish officers assumed more military and political power by taking over or establishing provincial dynasties with their own corps of Turkish troops.[86]

Seljuk era

During the 11th century, the Seljuk Turks, who were influenced by Persian civilization in many ways, grew in strength and succeeded in taking the eastern province of the Abbasid Empire. By 1055, the Seljuks captured Baghdad and began to make their first incursions into Anatolia.[107] When they won the Battle of Manzikert against the Byzantine Empire in 1071, it opened the gates of Anatolia to them.[108] Although ethnically Turkish, the Seljuk Turks appreciated and became carriers of Persian culture rather than Turkish culture.[109][110] Nonetheless, the Turkish language and Islam were introduced and gradually spread over the region and the slow transition from a predominantly Christian and Greek-speaking Anatolia to a predominantly Muslim and Turkish-speaking one was underway.[108]

In dire straits, the Byzantine Empire turned to the West for help, setting in motion the pleas that led to the First Crusade.[111] Once the Crusaders took Iznik, the Seljuk Turks established the Sultanate of Rum from their new capital, Konya, in 1097.[108] By the 12th century, Europeans had begun to call the Anatolian region "Turchia" or "Turkey", the land of the Turks.[112] The Turkish society in Anatolia was divided into urban, rural and nomadic populations;[113] other Turkoman (Turkmen) tribes who had arrived into Anatolia at the same time as the Seljuks kept their nomadic ways.[108] These tribes were more numerous than the Seljuks, and rejecting the sedentary lifestyle, adhered to an Islam impregnated with animism and shamanism from their central Asian steppeland origins, which then mixed with new Christian influences. From this popular and syncretist Islam, with its mystical and revolutionary aspects, sects such as the Alevis and Bektashis emerged.[108] Furthermore, intermarriage between the Turks and local inhabitants, as well as the conversion of many to Islam, also increased the Turkish-speaking Muslim population in Anatolia.[108][114]

By 1243, at the Battle of Köse Dağ, the Mongols defeated the Seljuk Turks and became the new rulers of Anatolia, and in 1256, the second Mongol invasion of Anatolia caused widespread destruction. Particularly after 1277, political stability within the Seljuk territories rapidly disintegrated, leading to the strengthening of Turkoman principalities in the western and southern parts of Anatolia called the "beyliks".[115]

Beyliks era

A map of the independent beyliks in Anatolia during the early 1300s.

When the Mongols defeated the Seljuk Turks and conquered Anatolia, the Turks became the vassals of the Ilkhans who established their own empire in the vast area which stretched from present-day Afghanistan to present-day Turkey.[116] As the Mongols occupied more lands in Asia Minor, the Turks moved further into western Anatolia and settled in the Seljuk-Byzantine frontier.[116] By the last decades of the 13th century, the Ilkhans and their Seljuk vassals lost control over much of Anatolia to these Turkoman peoples.[116] A number of Turkish lords managed to establish themselves as rulers of various principalities, known as "Beyliks" or emirates. Amongst these beyliks, along the Aegean coast, from north to south, stretched the beyliks of Karasi, Saruhan, Aydin, Menteşe and Teke. Inland from Teke was Hamid and east of Karasi was the beylik of Germiyan.

To the north-west of Anatolia, around Söğüt, was the small and, at this stage, insignificant, Ottoman beylik. It was hemmed into the east by other more substantial powers like Karaman on Iconium, which ruled from the Kızılırmak River to the Mediterranean. Although the Ottomans was only a small principality among the numerous Turkish beyliks, and thus posed the smallest threat to the Byzantine authority, their location in north-western Anatolia, in the former Byzantine province of Bithynia, became a fortunate position for their future conquests. The Latins, who had conquered the city of Constantinople in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade, established a Latin Empire (1204–61), divided the former Byzantine territories in the Balkans and the Aegean among themselves, and forced the Byzantine Emperors into exile at Nicaea (present-day Iznik). From 1261 onwards, the Byzantines were largely preoccupied with regaining their control in the Balkans.[116] Toward the end of the 13th century, as Mongol power began to decline, the Turcoman chiefs assumed greater independence.[117]

Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire was a Turkish empire that lasted from 1299 to 1922.

Under its founder, Osman I, the nomadic Ottoman beylik expanded along the Sakarya River and westward towards the Sea of Marmara. Thus, the population of western Asia Minor had largely become Turkish-speaking and Muslim in religion.[116] It was under his son, Orhan I, who had attacked and conquered the important urban center of Bursa in 1326, proclaiming it as the Ottoman capital, that the Ottoman Empire developed considerably. In 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe and established a foothold on the Gallipoli Peninsula while at the same time pushing east and taking Ankara.[118][119] Many Turks from Anatolia began to settle in the region which had been abandoned by the inhabitants who had fled Thrace before the Ottoman invasion.[120] However, the Byzantines were not the only ones to suffer from the Ottoman advance for, in the mid-1330s, Orhan annexed the Turkish beylik of Karasi. This advancement was maintained by Murad I who more than tripled the territories under his direct rule, reaching some 100,000 square miles (260,000 km2), evenly distributed in Europe and Asia Minor.[121] Gains in Anatolia were matched by those in Europe; once the Ottoman forces took Edirne (Adrianople), which became the capital of the Ottoman Empire in 1365, they opened their way into Bulgaria and Macedonia in 1371 at the Battle of Maritsa.[122] With the conquests of Thrace, Macedonia, and Bulgaria, significant numbers of Turkish emigrants settled in these regions.[120] This form of Ottoman-Turkish colonization became a very effective method to consolidate their position and power in the Balkans. The settlers consisted of soldiers, nomads, farmers, artisans and merchants, dervishes, preachers and other religious functionaries, and administrative personnel.[123]

The loss of almost all Ottoman territories during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, in 1923, produced waves of Turkish refugees, who were known as "Muhacirs", who fled from hostile regions of the Balkans, the Black Sea, the Aegean islands, the island of Cyprus, the Sanjak of Alexandretta, the Middle East, and the Soviet Union to migrate to Anatolia and Eastern Thrace.

In 1453, Ottoman armies, under Sultan Mehmed II, conquered Constantinople.[121] Mehmed reconstructed and repopulated the city, and made it the new Ottoman capital.[124] After the Fall of Constantinople, the Ottoman Empire entered a long period of conquest and expansion with its borders eventually going deep into Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.[125] Selim I dramatically expanded the empire's eastern and southern frontiers in the Battle of Chaldiran and gained recognition as the guardian of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.[126] His successor, Suleiman the Magnificent, further expanded the conquests after capturing Belgrade in 1521 and using its territorial base to conquer Hungary, and other Central European territories, after his victory in the Battle of Mohács as well as also pushing the frontiers of the empire to the east.[127] Following Suleiman's death, Ottoman victories continued, albeit less frequently than before. The island of Cyprus was conquered, in 1571, bolstering Ottoman dominance over the sea routes of the eastern Mediterranean.[128] However, after its defeat at the Battle of Vienna, in 1683, the Ottoman army was met by ambushes and further defeats; the 1699 Treaty of Karlowitz, which granted Austria the provinces of Hungary and Transylvania, marked the first time in history that the Ottoman Empire actually relinquished territory.[129]

By the 19th century, the empire began to decline when ethno-nationalist uprisings occurred across the empire. Thus, the last quarter of the 19th and the early part of the 20th century saw some 7–9 million Muslim refugees (Turks and some Circassians, Bosnians, Georgians, etc.) from the lost territories of the Caucasus, Crimea, Balkans, and the Mediterranean islands migrate to Anatolia and Eastern Thrace.[130] By 1913, the government of the Committee of Union and Progress started a program of forcible Turkification of non-Turkish minorities.[131][132] By 1914, the World War I broke out, and the Turks scored some success in Gallipoli during the Battle of the Dardanelles in 1915. During World War I, the government of the Committee of Union and Progress continued to implement its Turkification policies, which affected non-Turkish minorities, such as the Armenians during the Armenian genocide and the Greeks during various campaigns of ethnic cleansing and expulsion.[133][134][135][136][137] In 1918, the Ottoman Government agreed to the Mudros Armistice with the Allies.

The Treaty of Sèvres —signed in 1920 by the government of Mehmet VI— dismantled the Ottoman Empire. The Turks, under Mustafa Kemal, rejected the treaty and fought the Turkish War of Independence, resulting in the abortion of that text, never ratified,[138] and the abolition of the Sultanate. Thus, the 623-year-old Ottoman Empire ended.[139]

Modern era

People on the Anafartalar Boulevard, Ankara in the 1950s

Once Mustafa Kemal Atatürk led the Turkish War of Independence against the Allied forces that occupied the former Ottoman Empire, he united the Turkish Muslim majority and successfully led them from 1919 to 1922 in overthrowing the occupying forces out of what the Turkish National Movement considered the Turkish homeland.[140] The Turkish identity became the unifying force when, in 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed and the newly founded Republic of Turkey was formally established. Atatürk's presidency was marked by a series of radical political and social reforms that transformed Turkey into a secular, modern republic with civil and political equality for sectarian minorities and women.[141]

Throughout the 1920s and the 1930s, Turks, as well as other Muslims, from the Balkans, the Black Sea, the Aegean islands, the island of Cyprus, the Sanjak of Alexandretta (Hatay), the Middle East, and the Soviet Union continued to arrive in Turkey, most of whom settled in urban north-western Anatolia.[142][143] The bulk of these immigrants, known as "Muhacirs", were the Balkan Turks who faced harassment and discrimination in their homelands.[142] However, there were still remnants of a Turkish population in many of these countries because the Turkish government wanted to preserve these communities so that the Turkish character of these neighbouring territories could be maintained.[144] One of the last stages of ethnic Turks immigrating to Turkey was between 1940 and 1990 when about 700,000 Turks arrived from Bulgaria. Today, between a third and a quarter of Turkey's population are the descendants of these immigrants.[143]

Geographic distribution

Traditional areas of Turkish settlement


Turkish people in Istanbul

In the latter half of the 11th century, the Seljuks began settling in the eastern regions of Anatolia. In 1071, the Seljuk Turks defeated the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert, beginning the enlargement of their empire and sphere of influence in Anatolia; the Turkish language and Islam were introduced to Anatolia and gradually spread over the region.[145] The slow transition from a predominantly Christian and Greek-speaking Anatolia to a predominantly Muslim and Turkish-speaking one was underway.[146]

Ethnic Turks make up between 70% to 75% of Turkey's population.[78]


The Turkish Cypriots are the ethnic Turks whose Ottoman Turkish forebears colonized the island of Cyprus in 1571. About 30,000 Turkish soldiers were given land once they settled in Cyprus, which bequeathed a significant Turkish community. In 1960, a census by the new Republic's government revealed that the Turkish Cypriots formed 18.2% of the island's population.[147] However, once inter-communal fighting and ethnic tensions between 1963 and 1974 occurred between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots, known as the "Cyprus conflict", the Greek Cypriot government conducted a census in 1973, albeit without the Turkish Cypriot populace. A year later, in 1974, the Cypriot government's Department of Statistics and Research estimated the Turkish Cypriot population was 118,000 (or 18.4%).[148] A coup d'état in Cyprus on 15 July 1974 by Greeks and Greek Cypriots favoring union with Greece (also known as "Enosis") was followed by military intervention by Turkey whose troops established Turkish Cypriot control over the northern part of the island.[149] Hence, census's conducted by the Republic of Cyprus have excluded the Turkish Cypriot population that had settled in the unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.[148] Between 1975 and 1981, Turkey encouraged its own citizens to settle in Northern Cyprus; a report by CIA suggests that 200,000 of the residents of Cyprus are Turkish.


Ethnic Turks continue to inhabit certain regions of Greece, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Romania, and Bulgaria since they first settled there during the Ottoman period.

Modern diaspora


The Turks in Germany number about 4 million,[150][151] which constitutes the largest Turkish community in Western Europe, as well as the largest within the Turkish diaspora.

After World War II, West Germany began to experience its greatest economic boom ("Wirtschaftswunder") and in 1961 invited the Turks as guest workers ("Gastarbeiter") to make up for the shortage of workers. The concept of the Gastarbeiter continued with Turkey bearing agreements with Austria, Belgium, and the Netherlands in 1964, with France in 1965; and with Sweden in 1967.[152]

Current estimates suggests that there are approximately 9 million Turks living in Europe, excluding those who live in the European part of Turkey.[153] Modern immigration of Turks to Western Europe began with Turkish Cypriots migrating to the United Kingdom in the early 1920s when the British Empire annexed Cyprus in 1914 and the residents of Cyprus became subjects of the Crown. However, Turkish Cypriot migration increased significantly in the 1940s and 1950s due to the Cyprus conflict. Conversely, in 1944, Turks who were forcefully deported from Meskheti in Georgia during the Second World War, known as the Meskhetian Turks, settled in Eastern Europe (especially in Russia and Ukraine). By the early 1960s, migration to Western and Northern Europe increased significantly from Turkey when Turkish "guest workers" arrived under a "Labour Export Agreement" with Germany in 1961, followed by a similar agreement with the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria in 1964; France in 1965; and Sweden in 1967.[154][155][156] More recently, Bulgarian Turks, Romanian Turks, and Western Thrace Turks have also migrated to Western Europe.


The Turkish presence in the Meskheti region of Georgia began with the Turkish military expedition of 1578.[157] The majority of Meskhetian Turks, about 70,000, went to Azerbaijan.[158] According to the 2009 Azerbaijani census, there were 38,000 Turks living in the country;[62] yet in 1999, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees stated that there were 100,000 Meskhetian Turks living in the country.[63] Furthermore, in 2001, the Baku Institute of Peace and Democracy suggested that there was between 90,000 and 110,000 Meskhetian Turks living in Azerbaijan.[64]

Central Asia

However, due to the ordered deportation of over 115,000 Meskhetian Turks from their homeland in 1944, during the Second World War, the majority settled in Central Asia.[159] According to the 1989 Soviet Census, which was the last Soviet Census, 106,000 Meskhetian Turks lived in Uzbekistan, 50,000 in Kazakhstan, and 21,000 in Kyrgyzstan.[159] However, in 1989, the Meshetian Turks who had settled in Uzbekistan became the target of a pogrom in the Fergana valley, which was the principal destination for Meskhetian Turkish deportees, after an uprising of nationalism by the Uzbeks.[159] The riots had left hundreds of Turks dead or injured and nearly 1,000 properties were destroyed; thus, thousands of Meskhetian Turks were forced into renewed exile.[159] Soviet authorities recorded many Meskhetian Turks as belonging to other nationalities such as "Azeri", "Kazakh", "Kyrgyz", and "Uzbek".[159][160]

North America

Compared to Turkish immigration to Europe, migration to North America has been relatively small. According to the US Census Bureau 196,222 Americans in 2013[4] were of Turkish descent. However, the actual number of Turks is considerably larger, as a significant number of ethnic Turks have migrated to North America not just from Turkey but also from the Balkans (such as Bulgaria and North Macedonia), Cyprus, and the former Soviet Union.[161] Hence, the Turkish American community is currently estimated to number about 500,000.[5][7] Regarding the Turkish Canadian community, Statistics Canada reports that 63,955 Canadians in the 2016 census listed "Turk" as an ethnic origin, including those who listed more than one origin.[28]

The largest concentration of Turkish Americans are in New York City, and Rochester, New York; Washington, D.C.; and Detroit, Michigan. The majority of Turkish Canadians live in Ontario, mostly in Toronto, and there is also a sizable Turkish community in Montreal, Quebec. With regards to the 2010 United States Census, the U.S government was determined to get an accurate count of the American population by reaching segments, such as the Turkish community, that are considered hard to count, a good portion of which falls under the category of foreign-born immigrants.[6] The Assembly of Turkish American Associations and the US Census Bureau formed a partnership to spearhead a national campaign to count people of Turkish origin with an organization entitled "Census 2010 SayTurk" (which has a double meaning in Turkish, "Say" means "to count" and "to respect") to identify the estimated 500,000 Turks now living in the United States.[6]


A notable scale of Turkish migration to Australia began in the late 1940s when Turkish Cypriots began to leave the island of Cyprus for economic reasons, and then, during the Cyprus conflict, for political reasons, marking the beginning of a Turkish Cypriot immigration trend to Australia.[162] The Turkish Cypriot community were the only Muslims acceptable under the White Australia Policy;[163] many of these early immigrants found jobs working in factories, out in the fields, or building national infrastructure.[164] In 1967, the governments of Australia and Turkey signed an agreement to allow Turkish citizens to immigrate to Australia.[165] Prior to this recruitment agreement, there were fewer than 3,000 people of Turkish origin in Australia.[166] According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, nearly 19,000 Turkish immigrants arrived from 1968 to 1974.[165] They came largely from rural areas of Turkey, approximately 30% were skilled and 70% were unskilled workers.[167] However, this changed in the 1980s when the number of skilled Turks applying to enter Australia had increased considerably.[167] Over the next 35 years the Turkish population rose to almost 100,000.[166] More than half of the Turkish community settled in Victoria, mostly in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne.[166] According to the 2006 Australian Census, 59,402 people claimed Turkish ancestry;[168] however, this does not show a true reflection of the Turkish Australian community as it is estimated that between 40,000 and 120,000 Turkish Cypriots[169][170][171][172] and 150,000 to 200,000 mainland Turks[173][174] live in Australia. Furthermore, there has also been ethnic Turks who have migrated to Australia from Bulgaria,[175] Greece,[176] Iraq,[177] and North Macedonia.[176]


Arts and Architecture

Safranbolu was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1994 due to its well-preserved Ottoman era houses and architecture.

Turkish architecture reached its peak during the Ottoman period. Ottoman architecture, influenced by Seljuk, Byzantine and Islamic architecture, came to develop a style all of its own.[178] Overall, Ottoman architecture has been described as a synthesis of the architectural traditions of the Mediterranean and the Middle East.[179]

As Turkey successfully transformed from the religion-based former Ottoman Empire into a modern nation-state with a very strong separation of state and religion, an increase in the modes of artistic expression followed. During the first years of the republic, the government invested a large amount of resources into fine arts; such as museums, theatres, opera houses and architecture. Diverse historical factors play important roles in defining the modern Turkish identity. Turkish culture is a product of efforts to be a "modern" Western state, while maintaining traditional religious and historical values.[180] The mix of cultural influences is dramatized, for example, in the form of the "new symbols of the clash and interlacing of cultures" enacted in the works of Orhan Pamuk, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature.[181]

Traditional Turkish music include Turkish folk music (Halk müziği), Fasıl and Ottoman classical music (Sanat müziği) that originates from the Ottoman court.[182] Contemporary Turkish music include Turkish pop music, rock, and Turkish hip hop genres.[182]


Notable individuals

Notable individuals include Nureddin, Yunus Emre, Takiyüddin, Şerafeddin Sabuncuoğlu, Bâkî, Hayâlî, Giritli Ali Aziz Efendi, Haji Bektash Veli, Ali Kuşçu, Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi, Lagâri Hasan Çelebi, Piri Reis, Namık Kemal, İbrahim Şinasi, Hüseyin Avni Lifij, Faik Ali Ozansoy, Mimar Kemaleddin, İştirakçi Hilmi, Mustafa Suphi, Ethem Nejat, Halid Ziya Uşaklıgil, Rıza Tevfik Bölükbaşı, Latife Uşşaki, Feriha Tevfik, Fatma Aliye Topuz, Keriman Halis Ece, Zeki Rıza Sporel, Cahide Sonku, Süleyman Seyyid, Abdülhak Hâmid Tarhan, Besim Ömer Akalın, Orhan Veli Kanık, Sait Faik Abasıyanık, Abidin Dino, Ahmet Ziya Akbulut, Nazmi Ziya Güran, Tanburi Büyük Osman Bey, Vecihi Hürkuş, Bedriye Tahir, Halide Edib Adıvar, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Mehmet Emin Yurdakul, Tevfik Fikret, Nâzım Hikmet, Hulusi Behçet, Nuri Demirağ, Fahrelnissa Zeid, Leyla Gencer, Ahmet Ertegün, Metin Oktay, Dilhan Eryurt, Fikri Alican, Feza Gürsey, İsmail Akbay, Oktay Sinanoğlu, Gazi Yaşargil, Behram Kurşunoğlu, Mehmet Öz, Tansu Çiller, Cahit Arf, Muhtar Kent, Efe Aydan, Neslihan Demir, Orhan Pamuk, Aziz Sancar and Mesut Özil.


Atatürk introducing the Turkish alphabet to the people of Kayseri. 20 September 1928. (Cover of the French L'Illustration magazine)

The Turkish language is also known as Istanbul Turkish is a southern Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages. It is natively spoken by the Turkish people in Turkey, Balkans, the island of Cyprus, Meskhetia, and other areas of traditional settlement that formerly, in whole or part, belonged to the Ottoman Empire. Turkish is the official language of Turkey. In the Balkans, Turkish is still spoken by Turkish minorities who still live there, especially in Bulgaria, Greece (mainly in Western Thrace), Kosovo, North Macedonia, Romania (mainly in Dobruja) and the Republic of Moldova (mainly in Gagauzia).[183] The Turkish language was introduced to Cyprus with the Ottoman conquest in 1571 and became the politically dominant, prestigious language, of the administration.[184]

One important change to Turkish literature was enacted in 1928, when Mustafa Kemal initiated the creation and dissemination of a modified version of the Latin alphabet to replace the Arabic alphabet based Ottoman script. Over time, this change, together with changes in Turkey's system of education, would lead to more widespread literacy in the country.[185][186] Modern standard Turkish is based on the dialect of Istanbul.[187] Nonetheless, dialectal variation persists, in spite of the levelling influence of the standard used in mass media and the Turkish education system since the 1930s.[188] The terms ağız or şive often refer to the different types of Turkish dialects.

There are three major Anatolian Turkish dialect groups spoken in Turkey: the West Anatolian dialect (roughly to the west of the Euphrates), the East Anatolian dialect (to the east of the Euphrates), and the North East Anatolian group, which comprises the dialects of the Eastern Black Sea coast, such as Trabzon, Rize, and the littoral districts of Artvin.[189][190] The Balkan Turkish dialects are considerably closer to standard Turkish and do not differ significantly from it, despite some contact phenomena, especially in the lexicon.[191] In the post-Ottoman period, Cypriot Turkish was relatively isolated from standard Turkish and had strong influences by the Cypriot Greek dialect. The condition of coexistence with the Greek Cypriots led to a certain bilingualism whereby Turkish Cypriots knowledge of Greek was important in areas where the two communities lived and worked together.[192] The linguistic situation changed radically in 1974, when the island was divided into a Greek south and a Turkish north (Northern Cyprus). Today, the Cypriot Turkish dialect is being exposed to increasing standard Turkish through immigration from Turkey, new mass media, and new educational institutions.[184] The Meskhetian Turks speak an Eastern Anatolian dialect of Turkish, which hails from the regions of Kars, Ardahan, and Artvin.[193] The Meskhetian Turkish dialect has also borrowed from other languages (including Azerbaijani, Georgian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Russian, and Uzbek), which the Meskhetian Turks have been in contact with during the Russian and Soviet rule.[193]


According to the CIA factbook, 99.8% of the population in Turkey is Muslim, most of them being Sunni (Hanafi). The remaining 0.2% is mostly Christian and Jewish.[78] There are also some estimated 10 to 15 million Alevi Muslims in Turkey.[194] Christians in Turkey include Assyrians/Syriacs,[195] Armenians, and Greeks.[196] Jewish people in Turkey include those that descend from Sephardic Jews who escaped Spain in 15th century and Greek-speaking Jews from Byzantine times.[197] There is an ethnic Turkish Protestant Christian community most of them came from recent Muslim Turkish backgrounds, rather than from ethnic minorities.[76][198][199][200]

According to KONDA research, only 9.7% of the population described themselves as "fully devout," while 52.8% described themselves as "religious."[71] 69.4% of the respondents reported that they or their wives cover their heads (1.3% reporting chador), although this rate decreases in several demographics: 53% in ages 18–28, 27.5% in university graduates, 16.1% in masters-or-higher-degree holders.[71] Turkey has also been a secular state since the republican era.[201] According to a poll, 90% of respondents said the country should be defined as secular in the new Constitution that is being written.[202]


Turkish genomic variation, along with several other Western Asian populations, looks most similar to genomic variation of South European populations such as southern Italians.[203] Data from ancient DNA – covering the Paleolithic, the Neolithic, and the Bronze Age periods – showed that Western Asian genomes, including Turkish ones, have been greatly influenced by early agricultural populations in the area; later population movements, such as those of Turkic speakers, also contributed.[203]

The only whole genome sequencing study of Turkish genetics (on 16 individuals) concluded that the Turkish population forms a cluster with Southern European/Mediterranean populations, and the predicted contribution from ancestral East Asian populations (presumably Central Asian) is 21.7%. Meanwhile, East Asian impact on Kazakh genome (another Turkic ethnic group) is only %55 percent.[204][205] However, that is not a direct estimate of a migration rate, due to reasons such as unknown original contributing populations.[205] Moreover, the genetic variation of various populations in Central Asia "has been poorly characterized"; Western Asian populations may also be "closely related to populations in the east".[203]

A study in 2015 found "7.9% (±0.4) East Asian ancestry in Turks", and the authors suggested that Turks are "genetically shifted towards modern Central Asians" in line with historical mixture of populations from this region.[206] A 2019 study found that Turkish people cluster with Southern and Mediterranean Europe populations along with groups in the northern part of Southwest Asia (such as the populations from Caucasus, Northern Iraq, and Iranians).[207] Another study found the Circassians are closest to the Turkish population among sampled European (French, Italian, Sardinian), Middle Eastern (Druze, Palestinian), and Central (Kyrgyz, Hazara, Uygur), South (Pakistani), and East Asian (Mongolian, Han) populations.[208] Another 2019 study found that Turkish people have the lowest Fst distances with Caucasus population group and Iranian-Syrian group, compared to East-Central European, European (including Northern and Eastern European), Sardinian, Roma, and Turkmen groups or populations. Caucasus group in the study included samples from "Abkhazians, Adygey, Armenians, Balkars, Chechens, Georgians, Kumyks, Kurds, Lezgins, Nogays, and North Ossetia."[209]

A study involving mitochondrial analysis of a Byzantine-era population, whose samples were gathered from excavations in the archaeological site of Sagalassos, found that Sagalassos samples were closest to modern samples from "Turkey, Crimea, Iran and Italy (Campania and Puglia), Cyprus and the Balkans (Bulgaria, Croatia and Greece)."[210] Modern-day samples from the nearby town of Ağlasun showed that lineages of East Eurasian descent assigned to macro-haplogroup M were found in the modern samples from Ağlasun. This haplogroup is significantly more frequent in Ağlasun (15%) than in Byzantine Sagalassos, but the study concluded that there is "no genetic discontinuity across two millennia in the region."[211] Another study concluded that the true Central Asian contributions to Anatolia was 13% for males and 22% for females (with wide ranges of confidence intervals), and the language replacement in Turkey and Azerbaijan might not have been in accordance with the elite dominance model.[212]

See also


^ a: According to the Home Affairs Committee this includes 300,000 Turkish Cypriots.[213] However, some estimates suggest that the Turkish Cypriot community in the UK has reached between 350,000[214] to 400,000.[215][216]
^ b: Includes people of mixed ethnic background.
^ c: A further 10,000–30,000 people from Bulgaria live in the Netherlands. The majority are Bulgarian Turks and are the fastest-growing group of immigrants in the Netherlands.[217]
^ d: This includes Turkish settlers. 2,000 of these Turkish Cypriots currently reside in the southern part of the island, the rest on the northern.[218]
^ e: This figure only includes Turkish citizens. Therefore, this also includes ethnic minorities from Turkey; however, it does not include ethnic Turks who have either been born and/or have become naturalised citizens. Furthermore, these figures do not include ethnic Turkish minorities from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Iraq, Kosovo, Macedonia, Romania or any other traditional area of Turkish settlement because they are registered as citizens from the country they have immigrated from rather than their ethnic Turkish identity.
^ f: In addition to Turkish citizens, this figure includes people with ancestral background related to Turkey, so it includes ethnic minorities of Turkey.
^ g: This figure only includes Turks of Western Thrace. A further 5,000 live in the Rhodes and Kos.[219]
^ h: These figures only include the Meskhetian Turks. According to official census's there were 38,000 Turks in Azerbaijan (2009),[62] 97,015 in Kazakhstan (2009),[220] 39,133 in Kyrgyzstan (2009),[60] 109,883 in Russia (2010),[56] and 9,180 in Ukraine (2001).[221] A further 106,302 Turks were recorded in Uzbekistan's last census in 1989[222] although the majority left for Azerbaijan and Russia during the 1989 pogroms in the Ferghana Valley. Official data regarding the Turks in the former Soviet Union is unlikely to provide a true indication of their population as many have been registered as "Azeri", "Kazakh", "Kyrgyz", and "Uzbek".[160] In Kazakhstan only a third of them were recorded as Turks, the rest had been arbitrarily declared members of other ethnic groups.[223][224] Similarly, in Azerbaijan, much of the community is officially registered as "Azerbaijani"[225] even though the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported, in 1999, that 100,000 Meskhetian Turks were living there.[63]
^ i: A further 30,000 Bulgarian Turks live in Sweden.[226]
^ j: "The history of Turkey encompasses, first, the history of Anatolia before the coming of the Turks and of the civilizations—Hittite, Thracian, Hellenistic, and Byzantine—of which the Turkish nation is the heir by assimilation or example. Second, it includes the history of the Turkish peoples, including the Seljuks, who brought Islam and the Turkish language to Anatolia. Third, it is the history of the Ottoman Empire, a vast, cosmopolitan, pan-Islamic state that developed from a small Turkish amirate in Anatolia and that for centuries was a world power."[227]
^ k: The Turks are also defined by the country of origin. Turkey, once Asia Minor or Anatolia, has a very long and complex history. It was one of the major regions of agricultural development in the early Neolithic and may have been the place of origin and spread of lndo-European languages at that time. The Turkish language was imposed on a predominantly lndo-European-speaking population (Greek being the official language of the Byzantine empire), and genetically there is very little difference between Turkey and the neighboring countries. The number of Turkish invaders was probably rather small and was genetically diluted by the large number of aborigines."
"The consideration of demographic quantities suggests that the present genetic picture of the aboriginal world is determined largely by the history of Paleolithic and Neolithic people, when the greatest relative changes in population numbers took place."[228]


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Further reading

External links


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