People in Turkey

Looking for some facts and information on the people in Turkey? Here we offer a brief guide to the cultures, ethnicities and religion of people in Turkey.

About four fifths of the total number of people in Turkey claim to be ethnic Turks, i.e. people who originated in Central Asia and settled on the plains of Anatolia at around 300 years after the birth of Christianity. The ancestors of the current people in Turkey are believed to have been a powerful warrior people who held influence in Central Asia and ruled over a number of other peoples in the region. It was the rise to power of the Mongols under their leader Genghis Khan that forced a Mongol expansion pressuring the Turks to move westward and settle around the land that is today Turkey.

The history of the people of Turkey has strong ties to horsemanship which enabled them to excel in combat and gradually gain influence through assuming high position in the armies of the Arab Muslim rulers they served before eventually assuming control for themselves and giving rise to the Ottoman Empire.

Turkish People and Religion

The Turks originally followed some type of shamanist religion however upon settling in Anatolia and coming into contact with other civilizations Turks were exposed to several of the world’s great religions including Islam which they finally settled on. 99.8% percent of the people in Turkey today are Muslims belonging to the Sunni denomination although there are religious minorities including Jews and Christians.

The Christian people in Turkey, in the west of the country, are mainly Greek orthodox and number approximately 10,000 while there are much larger numbers of Armenian Christians in the East of the country. Armenian people in Turkey have been living in the East of the country for thousands of years experiencing the rule of various empires throughout history from the Romans and Byzantines to the Persians, Seljuk’s and Ottomans. The Jewish people in Turkey are also a well established community dating back to the sixteenth century where they were welcomed by the Ottoman government after fleeing from the persecution of the Church in Spain.

Kurdish People in Turkey

Approximately 10 million of the people in Turkey are ethnic Kurds who live primarily in the East of the country although communities of Kurds can be found all over the Country. Although Kurds share the same religion as the majority Turks they are nevertheless a distinct ethnic group with their own historical origins, culture and language. The Kurds are believed to have emigrated from Europe thousands of years ago and settled in Eastern Turkey as well as parts of Syria, Iraq and Iran.

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