Turks in the Balkans

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The Balkan Turks refers to the Turkish people who have been living in the Balkans since the Ottoman rule as well as their descendants who still live in the region today. The Turks are officially recognized as a minority in Bosnia and Herzegovina,[1] Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, the Republic of Macedonia, and Romania; in Greece the Turkish minority are recognized as "Greek Muslims". Furthermore, the Turkish language is an official language of Kosovo and has minority status in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Macedonia, and Romania. The Ottoman Empire conquered parts of the Balkans between the 14th and 16th century.

Turkish communities in the Balkans
State or region Community Current status
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnian Turks The 1991 Bosnian census showed that there was a minority of 267 Turks.[2] However current estimates suggest that there are actually 50,000 Turks living in the country.[3]
Bulgaria Bulgarian Turks In the 2011 Bulgarian census, which did not receive a response regarding ethnicity by the total population, 588,318 people, or 8.8% of the self-appointed, determined their ethnicity as Turkish;[4] while the latest census which provided answers from the entire population – the 2001 census - recorded 746,664 Turks, or 9.4% of the population.[5] Other estimates suggests that there are 750,000[6] to up to around 1 million Turks in the country.[7]
Albania Albanian Turks More than 2000 Turks live in the Albania. They can be found in Tirana, Shkodra and Elbasan. Yoruk Turks came in Elbasan region around 1480-1600. The majority use to speak Rumeli dialect of Turkish.[citation needed] From the population registration of 2011 in Albania, more than 800 people registered Turkish as their first language. [8]
Croatia Croatian Turks According to the 2001 Croatian census the Turkish minority numbered 300.[9] More recent estimates have suggested that there are 2,000 Turks in Croatia.[10]
Rhodes (in Greece)
Kos (in Greece)
Dodecanese Turks Some 5,000 Turks live in the Dodecanese islands of Rhodes and Kos.[11]
Kosovo Kosovan Turks[12] There are approximately 50,000 Kosovar Turks living in Kosovo, mostly in Mamuša, Prizren, and Priština.[3]
Republic of Macedonia Macedonian Turks[13] The 2002 Macedonian census states that there were 77,959 Macedonian Turks, forming about 4% of the total population and constituting a majority in Centar Župa and Plasnica.[14] However, academic estimates suggest that they actually number between 170,000–200,000.[6][15] Furthermore, about 200,000 Macedonian Turks have migrated to Turkey during World War I and World War II due to persecutions and discrimination[16]
Serbia Serbian Turks There were 647 Serbian Turks living in the country according to the 2011 census.[17]
Slovenia Slovenian Turks There are very few Serbian Turks living in Slovenia.
Montenegro Montenegrin Turks There were 104 Montenegrin Turks according to the 2011 census.[18] The majority left their homes and migrated to Turkey in the 1900s.[19]
Dobruja (in Romania) Romanian Turks[20] There were 28,226 Romanian Turks living in the country according to the 2011 Romanian census.[21] However, academic estimates suggest that the community numbers between 55,000[3][22] and 80,000.[23]
Western Thrace (in Greece) Western Thrace Turks The Greek government refers to the community as "Greek Muslims" or "Hellenic Muslims" and denies the existence of a Turkish minority in Western Thrace.[24] Traditionally, academics have suggested that the Western Thrace Turks number about 120,000–130,000,[24] although more recent estimates suggest that the community numbers 150,000.[25] Between 300,000 and 400,000 immigrated to Turkey since 1923.[26]

Historically, from the Ottoman conquest up to and including the 19th century, ethnically non-Turkish, especially South Slavic Muslims of the Balkans were referred to in the local languages as "Turks". This usage is common in literature, for example in the works of Ivan Mažuranić and Petar II Petrović-Njegoš. However, during the 20th century it gradually fell out of favour. Today, the largest mainly Muslim Slavic ethnic group is known as the Bosniaks.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ OSCE. "National Minorities in BiH". Retrieved 2013-12-29. 
  2. ^ Federal Office of Statistics. "Population grouped according to ethnicity, by censuses 1961–1991". Retrieved 16 October 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Sosyal 2011, 368
  4. ^ National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria (2011). "2011 Census (Final data)". National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria. p. 4. 
  5. ^ National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria (2001). "2001 Census". National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria. 
  6. ^ a b Sosyal 2011, 369
  7. ^ Novinite. "Scientists Raise Alarm over Apocalyptic Scenario for Bulgarian Ethnicity". Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  8. ^ http://www.instat.gov.al/media/177354/main_results__population_and_housing_census_2011.pdf
  9. ^ Croatian Bureau of Statistics. "POPULATION BY ETHNICITY, BY TOWNS/MUNICIPALITIES, CENSUS 2001". Croatian Bureau of Statistics. 
  10. ^ Zaman. "Altepe'den Hırvat Müslümanlara moral". Retrieved 9 September 2011. 
  11. ^ Clogg 2002, 84.
  12. ^ Elsie 2010, 276.
  13. ^ Evans 2010, 11.
  14. ^ Republic of Macedonia State Statistical Office 2005, 34.
  15. ^ Abrahams 1996, 53.
  16. ^ Evans 2010, 228.
  17. ^ Попис становништва, домаћинстава и станова 2011. у Републици Србији: Становништво према националној припадности - „Oстали“ етничке заједнице са мање од 2000 припадника и двојако изјашњени
  18. ^ Statistical Office of Montenegro. "Population of Montenegro by sex, type of settlement, etnicity, religion and mother tongue, per municipalities" (PDF). p. 7. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  19. ^ "Turks in Montenegrin town not afraid to show identity anymore". Today's Zaman. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  20. ^ Brozba 2010, 48.
  21. ^ National Institute of Statistics 2011, 10
  22. ^ Phinnemore 2006, 157.
  23. ^ Constantin, Goschin & Dragusin 2008, 59
  24. ^ a b Whitman 1990, i.
  25. ^ Ergener & Ergener 2002, 106"[full citation needed]
  26. ^ Whitman 1990, 2.


  • Sosyal, Levent (2011), "Turks", in Cole, Jeffrey, Ethnic Groups of Europe: An Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, ISBN 1598843028.
  • Republic of Macedonia State Statistical Office (2005), Republic of Macedonia – State Statistical Office, Republic of Macedonia – State Statistical Office
  • Abrahams, Fred (1996), A Threat to "Stability": Human Rights Violations in Macedonia, Human Rights Watch, ISBN 1-56432-170-3.
  • Evans, Thammy (2010), Macedonia, Bradt Travel Guides, ISBN 1-84162-297-4.
  • Phinnemore, David (2006), The EU and Romania: Accession and Beyond, The Federal Trust for Education & Research, ISBN 1-903403-78-2.
  • Constantin, Daniela L.; Goschin, Zizi; Dragusin, Mariana (2008), "Ethnic entrepreneurship as an integration factor in civil society and a gate to religious tolerance. A spotlight on Turkish entrepreneurs in Romania", Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 7 (20): 28–41.
  • Whitman, Lois (1990), Destroying ethnic identity: the Turks of Greece, Human Rights Watch, ISBN 0-929692-70-5.
  • Clogg, Richard (2002), Minorities in Greece, Hurst & Co. Publishers, ISBN 1-85065-706-8.