Turkish diaspora

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Countries with significant Turkish population and descendants.
  + 1,000,000
  + 100,000
  + 10,000
  + 1,000

The Turkish diaspora (Turkish: Türk diasporası or Türk gurbetçiler) refers to ethnic Turkish people who have migrated from, or descend from, the Republic of Turkey or other countries that were once part of the former Ottoman Empire. Therefore, the Turkish diaspora is formed of not only people with roots from mainland Anatolia and Eastern Thrace (i.e. the modern Turkish borders) but also the Turkish communities from the Balkans (such as Bulgaria, Greece, North Macedonia, Romania etc.), the island of Cyprus, the region of Meskhetia in Georgia, and the Arab world (such as Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria).

Due to the large numbers of mainland Turks and Turkish minorities from other post-Ottoman states who have emigrated from their traditional homelands, there are no official statistics which represent a true indication of the total ethnic Turkish population in the host countries. For example, although official data shows that there are 52,893 Turkish citizens in the United Kingdom, the Home Affairs Committee stated in 2011 that there was 500,000 British Turks made up of 300,000 Turkish Cypriots, 150,000 Turkish nationals (i.e. people from Turkey), and smaller groups of Bulgarian Turks and Romanian Turks.[1] Despite a lack of statistics on the collective number of Turks who have immigrated from their traditional homelands, it is known that Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and France all have larger Turkish diaspora communities than the UK.[2]

In particular, most mainland Turkish migration has been to Western and Northern Europe. Meanwhile, almost all the Turkish minorities in former Ottoman lands have a large diaspora in Turkey, many having migrated as muhacirs (refugees); furthermore, the Cretan Turks have migrated throughout the Levant; Cypriot Turks have a significant diaspora in the English-speaking countries (especially the UK and Australia); the Meskhetian Turks have a large diaspora in Central Asia; and Algerian Turks and Tunisian Turks have mostly settled in France. Since Bulgarian Turks and Romanian Turks gained EU citizenship in 2007, their diasporas in Western Europe significantly increased once restrictions on movement came to a halt in 2012.


Diaspora of Mainland Anatolian Turks[edit]

According to the Republic of Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Turkish citizens (i.e. ethnic Turks as well as other minority groups holding Turkish passports) living abroad exceeds 6 million people, around 5.5 million of which live in Western Europe.[3] However, these figures do not include Turkish immigrants, and their descendants, who have acquired the citizenship of the country they now live in, nor does it include ethnic Turks who have immigrated from other countries (such as Turks from the Balkans, Cyprus, Meskhetia, or the Arab world).

In Western Europe[edit]

Due to significant Turkish migration waves to Western Europe, today, the Turkish people form the largest ethnic minority group in Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands, and the second largest minority in Austria.[4] According to The Guardian, whilst half a million Turks live in the UK, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and France all have larger Turkish communities.[2]

Turkish day in Berlin, Germany.

The largest Turkish community in Western Europe is in Germany. Estimates of the total Turkish population in Germany, including those of partial descent, have ranged considerably because the German census does not collect data on ethnicity. Academic estimates have often ranged between 2.5 and 4 million.[5][6] Official German data considering people with current or former Turkish citizenship (including ethnic minorities from Turkey, particularly the Kurds) and people who fully or partly descend from Turkish nationals gave the total number of 2.851.000 in 2015.[7] However, since the first decade of the twenty-first century, numerous academics have suggested that there are 4 million people, or "at least" or "more than" 4 million people, of full or partial Turkish origin in the country,[6][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17] or forming 5% of Germany's total population of 82 million inhabitants (which accounts to 4.1 million).[6][15][17] In addition, several academics have also distinguished the "Turkey-related population", which includes ethnic minorities from Turkey but does not include the significant populations of ethnic Turkish communities from the Balkans, Cyprus and the Arab world. Estimates suggest that the total number of people living in Germany who originate from Turkey only (including ethnic minorities from Turkey, particularly the Kurds) reaches, or is more than, five million people[18][19][20] to 5.6 million people.[21] Some academics have also quoted much higher estimates made by European officials. For example, Tessa Szyszkowitz has quoted one estimate by a European official suggesting that there are seven million Turks living in Germany, including the second generation.[22]

In North America[edit]

Diaspora of Algerian Turks[edit]

Initially, the first wave of migration occurred in 1830 when many Turks were forced to leave the region once the French took control over Algeria; approximately 10,000 were shipped off to Turkey whilst many others migrated to other regions of the Ottoman Empire, including Palestine, Syria, Arabia, and Egypt.[23] Furthermore, some Turkish/Kouloughli families also settled in Morocco (such as in Tangier and Tétouan).[24]

In regards to modern migration, there are many Algerian Turks who have emigrated to Europe and, hence, make up part of Algeria's diaspora. For example, there is a noticeable Algerian community of Turkish descent living in England.[25] Many Algerians attend the Suleymaniye Mosque which is owned by the British-Turkish community.[26] There are also thousands of Algerian Turks living in France.[25] Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, and Spain are also top receiving countries of Algerian citizens.[27]

Diaspora of Bulgarian Turks[edit]

Country Population Further information
 Turkey 1,160,614 have emigrated between 1879-1992[28] not including descendants
 Sweden 30,000[29]
 Netherlands 10,000-30,000[30]
 Austria 1,000[31]

Diaspora of Cretan Turks[edit]

Country Prof Andrew Rippin (1971 estimates) Further information
 Turkey 200,000[32]
 Egypt 100,000[32]
 Libya 100,000[32]

Diaspora of Cypriot Turks[edit]

Turkish Cypriots in Victoria, Australia
Turkish Cypriots protesting in London, the United Kingdom.
Turkish Cypriots in New York, United States
Country Council of Europe
(1993 estimate)[33]
TRNC Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(2001 estimate)[34]
(2016 estimate)[35]
Other estimates Further information
 Turkey 300,000 (immigrants only) 500,000 500,000 300,000 (1968 estimate)[36]
Including descendants, exceeding 600,000 (2018 estimate)[37]
see Turkish Cypriot muhacirs
 United Kingdom 100,000 (immigrants only in England) 200,000 300,000 300,000[1][38]-400,000[39][40]
(including descendants)
British Cypriots
British Turks
 Australia 30,000 (immigrants only) 40,000 120,000 120,000[41]
(including descendants)
Turkish Australian
North America
 United States
6,000 (immigrants only)
6,000 (immigrants only)
Cypriot American
Turkish American
Turkish Canadians
 Palestine N/A N/A N/A 4,000 (early twentieth century Turkish Cypriot brides only)[42][43]
 Germany N/A N/A 2,000 2,000[41] Turks in Germany
 New Zealand N/A N/A 1,600 1,600[41] Turks in New Zealand
 South Africa N/A N/A "small community" N/A[41] Turks in South Africa
Other N/A 5,000 N/A N/A


Most Iraqi Turkmen migrate to Turkey[44] followed by Germany,[44] Denmark,[44] and Sweden.[44] There are also Iraqi Turkmen communities living in Canada,[44] the United States,[44] Australia,[44] New Zealand,[citation needed] Greece,[45] the Netherlands,[46] and the United Kingdom.[47]

There are many established Iraqi Turkmen diaspora communities, such as the Canadian Iraqi Turkmen Culture Association, based in Canada.[48]

Diaspora of Lebanese Turks[edit]

Due to the numerous wars in Lebanon since the 1970s onwards, many Lebanese Turks have sought refuge in Turkey and Europe, particularly in Germany. Indeed, many Lebanese Turks were aware of the large German-Turkish population and saw this as an opportunity to find work once settling in Europe. In particular, the largest wave of Lebanese-Turkish migration occurred once the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006 began. During this period more than 20,000 Turks fled Lebanon, particularly from Beirut, and settled in Germany.[49]

Diaspora of Macedonian Turks[edit]

Diaspora of Meskhetian Turks[edit]

Country Dr Aydıngün (2006 estimate)[50] Al Jazeera (2014 estimate)[51] Further information
 Kazakhstan 150,000 180,000
 Azerbaijan 90,000-110,000 87,000
 Russia 70,000-90,000 95,000
 Kyrgyzstan 50,000 42,000
 Turkey 40,000 76,000
 United States 15,000[52] 16,000
 Uzbekistan 15,000 38,000
 Ukraine 10,000 8,000
 Northern Cyprus 180

Diaspora of Palestinian Turks[edit]

Syrian Turks waving Turkish and Syrian flags whilst shouting slogans: "No To Demographic Changes in Syria' and 'No To Genocide' during the December 2016 protests in London.

During and after the 1947–1949 Palestine war, some of the Turkish minority fled the region (particularly the Jezreel Valley region and Golan Heights) and settled in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.[53] [54] In Jordan, there is approximately 55,000 Palestinian-Turkish refugees in Irbid[55] 5,000 near Amman[55] 5,000 in El-Sahne[55] 3,000 in El-Reyyan[55] 2,500 in El-Bakaa[55] 1,500 in El-Zerkaa[55] and 1,500 in Sahab[55]

Diaspora of Romanian Turks[edit]

Diaspora of Syrian Turks[edit]

Since the Syrian Civil War hundreds of thousands of Syrian Turkmen have been internally displaced and/or have been forced to leave the country, especially to neighbouring states but also to Western Europe. In particular, approximately 300,000[56] to 500,000[57] Syrian Turkmen have taken refuge in the Republic of Turkey. Moreover, there is between 125,000 and 150,000[58][59] Syrian Turkmen refugees in Lebanon, outnumbering the long-established Turkish minority of Lebanon.

In 2020 it was reported that there are now 1 million Syrian Turkmen in Turkey and that they are demanding for Turkish citizenship.[60][61]

Diaspora of Western Thrace Turks[edit]

Between 300,000 and 400,000 Turks have left Greece's region of Western Thrace since 1923, most of which emigrated to Turkey.[62][63] 25,000 to 40,000 Western Thrace Turks have emigrated to Western Europe, about 80% are living in Germany.[64] Western Thrace Turks have also emigrated to the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Austria and Italy.[65]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Home Affairs Committee (2011). "Implications for the Justice and Home Affairs area of the accession of Turkey to the European Union" (PDF). The Stationery Office. p. Ev 34.
  2. ^ a b The Guardian (1 August 2011). "UK immigration analysis needed on Turkish legal migration, say MPs". Retrieved 1 August 2011. The Home Office says that there are about 150,000 Turkish nationals living in Britain at present, with about 500,000 people of Turkish origin living in the country altogether.
  3. ^ Communities and Local Government (2009), Turkish Citizens Living Abroad, retrieved 8 October 2017
  4. ^ Al-Shahi, Ahmed; Lawless, Richard (2013), "Introduction", Middle East and North African Immigrants in Europe: Current Impact; Local and National Responses, Routledge, p. 13, ISBN 1136872809
  5. ^ Conradt, David P.; Langenbacher, Eric (2013), The German Polity, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, pp. 114–115, ISBN 1442216468, Turks are by far the largest minority group, with 2.5 to 4 million residents of Germany having full or partly Turkish ancestry.
  6. ^ a b c Curtis, Michael (2013), Jews, Antisemitism, and the Middle East, Transaction Publishers, p. 69, ISBN 1412851416, In Germany today about three to four million Turks, about 5 percent of the total population, reside.
  7. ^ https://www.bamf.de/SharedDocs/Anlagen/DE/Publikationen/Migrationsberichte/migrationsbericht-2015.pdf?__blob=publicationFile
  8. ^ Kötter, I; Vonthein, R; Günaydin, I; Müller, C; Kanz, L; Zierhut, M; Stübiger, N (2003), "Behçet's Disease in Patients of German and Turkish Origin- A Comparative Study", in Zouboulis, Christos (ed.), Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, Volume 528, Springer, p. 55, ISBN 0-306-47757-2, Today, more than 4 million people of Turkish origin are living in Germany.
  9. ^ Rizvi, Kishwar (2015), The Transnational Mosque: Architecture and Historical Memory in the Contemporary Middle East, University of North Carolina Press, p. 36, ISBN 1469621177, ...at least 4 million people of Turkish descent living in Germany.
  10. ^ Audretsch, David B.; Lehmann, Erik E. (2016), The Seven Secrets of Germany: Economic Resilience in an Era of Global Turbulence, Oxford University Press, p. 130, ISBN 0190258691, By 2010 the number of Turkish descent living in Germany had increased to four million.
  11. ^ Weaver-Hightower, Rebecca (2014), "Introduction", in Weaver-Hightower, Rebecca; Hulme, Peter (eds.), Postcolonial Film: History, Empire, Resistance, Routledge, p. 13, ISBN 1134747276, By the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century there were around four million people of Turkish descent living in Germany...
  12. ^ Volkan, Vamik D. (2014), Enemies on the Couch: A Psychopolitical Journey Through War and Peace, Pitchstone Publishing, ISBN 1939578116, Today, for example, it is estimated that more than four million Turks and German citizens with part of full Turkish ancestry live in Germany alone.
  13. ^ Fernández-Kelly, Patricia (2015), "Assimilation through Transnationalism: A Theoretical Synthesis", in Portes, Alejandro; Fernández-Kelly, Patricia (eds.), The State and the Grassroots: Immigrant Transnational Organizations in Four Continents, Berghahn Books, p. 305, ISBN 1782387358, Nearly fifty years later, close to four million Turks and their children continue to reside in the margins of German society
  14. ^ Taras, Raymond (2015), ""Islamophobia never stands still": race, religion, and culture", in Nasar, Meer (ed.), Racialization and Religion: Race, Culture and Difference in the Study of Antisemitism and Islamophobia, Routledge, p. 46, ISBN 1317432444, ...about four million Turks are thought to live in Germany.
  15. ^ a b Fischer, Tristan (2015), History Future Now, Lulu Press, p. 122, ISBN 132970746X, By 2012 over 4 million people, around 5% of the German population, were of Turkish descent.
  16. ^ Feltes, Thomas; Marquardt, Uwe; Schwarz, Stefan (2013), "Policing in Germany: Developments in the Last 20 Years", in Mesko, Gorazd; Fields, Charles B.; Lobnikar, Branko; Sotlar, Andrej (eds.), Handbook on Policing in Central and Eastern Europe, Springer, p. 93, ISBN 1461467209, Approximately four million people with Turkish roots are living in Germany at this time [2013].
  17. ^ a b Temel, Bülent (2013), "Candidacy versus Membership: Is Turkey the Greatest Beneficiary of the European Union?", The Great Catalyst: European Union Project and Lessons from Greece and Turkey, Lexington Books, p. 345, ISBN 0739174495, Today, there are nearly four million people with Turkish ancestry in Germany, which makes them the largest minority in Germany (5 percent of 82 million people).
  18. ^ Darke, Diana (2014), Eastern Turkey, Bradt Travel Guides, p. 79, ISBN 184162490X, ...five million in Germany...
  19. ^ Karanfil, Gökçen; Şavk, Serkan (2014), "An Introduction from the Editors", in Karanfil, Gökçen; Şavk, Serkan (eds.), Imaginaries Out of Place: Cinema, Transnationalism and Turkey, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, p. 3, ISBN 1443868604, Today, with the numbers reaching nearly five million, Germany accommodates the largest Turkey-related population by far in comparison to any other country.
  20. ^ Markovic, Nina; Yasmeen, Samina (2016), "Engaging Europe's Muslims: The European Union and Muslim Migrants during Eurozone Crisis", in Yasmeen, Samina; Markovic, Nina (eds.), Muslim Citizens in the West: Spaces and Agents of Inclusion and Exclusion, Routledge, p. 65, ISBN 1317091213, Demographic data on religious and ethnic backgrounds is difficult to gather as much of the data collection in Germany is based on nationality by country rather than ethnic group or religion...General consensus, however, suggests that Germany has 82 million residents...of which more than 5 million are considered to be Turkish origin. Many Turks and Kurds came to West Germany between the 1950s and 1970s...
  21. ^ Hanlon, Bernadette; Vicino, Thomas J. (2014), Global Migration: The Basics, Routledge, p. 47, ISBN 1134696876, Approximately 1.6 million Turkish immigrants live in Germany, and another 4 million people have at least one parent that was a Turkish immigrant [totalling 5.6 million].
  22. ^ Szyszkowitz, Tessa (2005), "Germany", in Von Hippel, Karin (ed.), Europe Confronts Terrorism, Palgrave Macmillan, p. 53, ISBN 0230524591, A Senior European official in Brussels...remarking..."It is a little late to start the debate about being an immigrant country now, when already seven million Turks live in Germany".
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  34. ^ "Briefing Notes on the Cyprus Issue". Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defence, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. May 2001. Archived from the original on 9 July 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2010. there are currently about 500,000 Turkish Cypriots living in Turkey; 200,000 in Great Britain; 40,000 in Australia and some 10,000 in North America and 5,000 in other countries.
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