Turkey Country Overview
Where is Turkey located? Turkey is a democratic republic located in Asia and Europe. 97% of its area is on Asian soil. Therefore there is also a time difference of 2 hours between world time and Turkey. On the time zone map, countries are divided into time zones. The time zone to which a country belongs is defined by how big the time difference between this country and the official world time (also called UTC) is. Turkey is two hours ahead of the world clock and thus one hour ahead of Germany. Like the rest of Europe, Turkey also takes part in the daylight saving time changeover.
As of 2023, the latest population of Turkey is 82,017,514, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).
|Population growth rate||0.45%|
|Birth rate||15.70 births per 1,000 people|
|Overall life expectancy||73.03 years|
|Men life expectancy||71.09 years|
|Women life expectancy||75.07 years|
|65 years and above||7.79%|
|Median age||30.10 years|
|Gender ratio (Male to Female)||1.02|
|Population density||104.67 residents per km²|
|70-80% Turks, 15-20% Kurds (thereof 24% Zaza), 2% Arabs; also Circassians, Bosniaks, Georgians, Lasen, Pomaks and others|
|Muslims 99.8% (mainly Sunnis), other 0.2% (Christians and Jews)|
|Human Development Index (HDI)||0.807|
|HDI ranking||59th out of 194|
People in Turkey
Turkey’s population has grown steadily over the past hundred years. Four years after the founding of the republic in 1923, the country had just 14 million residents, today it is over 83 million.
While on the one hand the population grew, numerous Turks also left the country. For example, some went to Germany to earn money as so-called guest workers. But many also had political reasons for leaving the country.
Minorities, including Kurds, Jews, Armenians and Alevites, fled from discrimination and political persecution. The fact that the population continued to grow is due to the simultaneous immigration from other countries, especially from the Balkans. The population in Turkey has grown steadily in the last few decades, but the proportion of different population groups has shrunk or increased differently.
Who Lives in Turkey?
Due to the inflow and outflow of different groups, there are many population groups and minorities in the country. However, the figures for the respective proportions differ greatly depending on the source. It is difficult to say how many people with what ethnicity actually live in Turkey.
70 to 81 percent are Turks. The Kurds make up the largest minority, around nine to 14 percent. You can find out more about the relationship between these two ethnic groups under “History and Politics” and “Everyday Life and Children”. Other minorities such as the Zaza, Circassians and Bosniaks make up two to four percent of the total Turkish population. In addition, there are Arabs, Albanians, Laden, Georgians, Arameans, Chechens and religious minorities such as Jewish population groups in Turkey.
Problems of Germans, Turks and who are the German-Turks?
Many people from Turkey went to Germany to work there, especially in the 60s and 70s of the last century. There were jobs in Germany and so they sometimes went alone, sometimes with their families, to find work. At the beginning, many – Germans and Turks – thought that the so-called “guest workers” would eventually go back. But things turned out differently, they found work and stayed and Germany also became their home. But they often learned the German language poorly and stayed among themselves. In return, in Germany, very little was done to make these people feel good, somehow the thought remained that they would go back to Turkey and so you don’t really have to worry.
There are now many people living here in Germany whose grandparents once came as so-called “guest workers”. But you were born here, your mother tongue is German and many actually only know Turkey from their holidays when relatives are visited. But even these people sometimes still feel strange. Not all, there are many whose home is Germany and who feel at home here and still appreciate their roots in Turkey. It is often said that some are “integrated” and the others are not.
There are also people who see their real home in Turkey and especially appreciate the Turkish President. This raises questions and creates conflict.
Languages in Turkey
The official language in Turkey is Turkish. The official name is “Turkic Turkish”. 80 out of 100 people in Turkey learn it from an early age, i.e. as their mother tongue. 10 to 15 out of 100 people learn Turkish as a second language. The mother tongue of these people is often Kurdish. There are also others Languages spoken in the country, about 20 in total, including Zaza, Arabic, Azerbaijani and Bulgarian.
How does Turkish sound?
Özgür comes from Turkey. He’s telling you a Turkish tongue twister here. He says in Turkish:
“Merhaba, ben Istanbul’dan Özgür. Size bir tekerleme söyleyeceğzim:
Kartal kalkar dal tartar, dal tartar kartal kalkar.”
Translated this means: “Hello, I’m Özgür from Istanbul. I have a tongue twister for you:
‘The eagle rises, the branch sways. The branch sways, the eagle rises.'”
Religions in Turkey
By far the most strongly represented religion in Turkey is Islam. Official data say that out of 100 people 99 are of Islamic faith. Within Islam, the largest group is that of the Sunnis at around 82 percent. There are also around 16 percent Alevis and one to two percent Alawites (be careful, that’s a difference!) Among the Muslims in Turkey.
Some people in Turkey are of Christian faith, it is estimated between one and two in 100 people. There are also people of the Jewish religion and Yazidis. The large proportion of Muslims is primarily due to historical reasons, you can read more about this under “History”. But some also assume that there are actually fewer Muslims than the state indicates, because anyone who does not indicate a religion in a census is automatically counted as a Muslim. Turkey has been a so-called secular state since 1928, so religion and state are separate.