Religion in Turkey

Turkey is a fascinating country located in the Middle East. It has a long and rich history, having been a major power in the region for centuries. It is bordered by eight countries, including Syria, Iraq, and Iran. The population of Turkey is over 80 million people, making it the 18th most populous country in the world. The official language of Turkey is Turkish, but Kurdish and Arabic are also widely spoken. The capital of Turkey is Ankara, which is home to many important government buildings and monuments. Its culture has been heavily influenced by its diverse geography; it has both Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts, as well as large mountain ranges in the east and south-east. As a result of this diversity, Turkey offers some amazing food options! From traditional Turkish cuisine to regional specialties – there’s something for everyone! See for other countries that start with letter T.


Since the first official census of 1927 (13.6 million residents), Turkey’s population has more than quadrupled. The rate of increase is relatively high but declining. The average population density is 106 residents per km2, but the regional differences are large; the inland is less populated than the coastal areas.

In 2019, 75 percent of the population lived in cities, and the rate of urbanization is high. The country’s largest cities are Istanbul (14 million residents, 2015), Ankara (4.6 million) and Izmir (2.8 million).

The majority, about 85 percent, of the population are Turks. As part of Kemal Atat邦rk’s nationalist modernization of the country during the 1920s and 1930s, the national Turkish culture was given a relatively unified character; social and cultural differences are mainly noticed between urban and rural residents.

The country’s significant minority of Armenians were expelled or annihilated by the 1915-20 genocide (see Armenia, History), while Greeks and Assyrians/Syrians have largely emigrated. Other ethnic minorities have been partially assimilated into Turkish culture, although a surprisingly large linguistic, ethnic and cultural diversity remains in the villages. An exception is the Kurds in the eastern part of the country, which for decades have been subjected to political and military persecution by the government. Estimates of the number of Kurds in Turkey range from 10 million to 15 million or 20 percent of the population.

People in Turkey


Turkish (Turkic) is the official language and is spoken by about 67 million. Added to this are mainly the Iranian languages Kurdish (kurmanji) and zaza, which have at least 10 million speakers; Ossetic is spoken by a small minority in the Caucasus. Larger Arabic-speaking groups are mainly found in the border area against Syria. The former major native languages of Greek and Armenian are now spoken only by smaller groups, mainly in Istanbul. Among other languages spoken by small minorities are Caucasian languages (Lazy, Georgian, Abkhazian, Cherkessian, Chechen, Lezgian, etc.), South Slavic (Bulgarian, Serbian, etc.), Ladino, Romani and Eastern Aramaic (Turabdinian). Several Eastern Turkic languages are spoken by smaller immigrant groups.


According to thesciencetutor, Turkey is a secular country, but the majority of the population is Sunni Muslims. In addition, there is a significant proportion of Aleppo and some smaller Muslim groups. In Eastern Turkey there are also Shiites, though it is unclear how many.

Greek Orthodox (2,500), Armenian-Apostolic (65,000) and Jewish (23,000) minorities are found mainly in Istanbul and to some extent in Izmir. These three religious minorities have special protection under the Lausanne Agreement of 1923. The Patriarch of Constantinople is considered the foremost of the Orthodox Church. In addition, there are claimed to be a Syrian Orthodox (35,000) population in the southeastern part of the country, but most have emigrated or reside in Istanbul. The religious landscape also includes small groups of Nusayrians, Judaism, Karaites, Yazidis, Baha’is, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and smaller Christian groups (Catholics and members of various unified churches). Many religious minorities with old claims in Turkey have decreased in number as a result of emigration over the past 30 years. For example, the Yazidis were estimated at 20,000 in 1984; in 2000, 400 remained.

Since the 13th century, various Sufi orders have played a significant role in cities and in the countryside, and despite the fact that secular chemicalism has tried to suppress them, they have survived and in recent years have begun to operate in public. Kemal Atat邦rk’s reforms in the 1920s meant that religion would no longer act politically, and constitutional secularism was introduced in 1937. It was not until 1989 that religious groups became easier to operate in T. During the 1990s, increased Islamization was also noticed in various parts of it. Turkish society. It is parts of the Turkish middle class and the armed forces that carry the secular tradition.

Alongside an almost government-controlled Islam with popular support, various modernist and Islamist groups have grown in postwar Turkey, of which the conservative Nurculi movement is the most influential. The constitution allows religious freedom for the individual, although there are certain restrictions on religious expression in, for example, administration and school systems. Since the 1980s there has been a growing polarization between secularized and more or less programmatic Islamist groups. At the 2002 election, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) won, which claimed to base its policy on Islamic values. In particular, the focus of the religious-political conflicts has been women’s right to wear religious clothing (shawls) as public servants and students. This is being challenged by the current government. For example, President Hayr邦nnisa G邦l wears shawls in public contexts. According to surveys, two-thirds of the country’s women wear shawls. In the summer of 2008, the Constitutional Court examined whether the ruling party AKP threatened the country’s secular principles (seeTurkey, State and Politics)

In recent years, the Alevites have often emerged as defenders of the country’s constitutional secularism. The Alevites have long been subject to open persecution by Sunnis, culminating in a massacre in Sivas in 1993, where 37 intellectuals were killed. The guilty were sentenced to harsh punishment. Nowadays, the Alevites seem open in the country. Persons from the religious minorities in Turkey have continued to emigrate, citing, inter alia, discrimination and persecution in a Muslim environment. However, foreign Christian missionaries are allowed to operate in the country.

The coup attempt in 2016

On July 16, 2016, a military coup attempt was made against the government. There were parts of the military behind, but it was quickly stopped because other parts of the military, along with the police, supported the government. A declaration of power was read on the state television channel TRT, on behalf of a group called itself the Peace Council, without its members being presented. The reason for the takeover was stated to be the government’s undemocratic power and the threat to Atatürk’s secular constitution, corruption and a failed counter-terrorism strategy. It is subsequently speculated that this was a deliberate attempt to create a false impression of a secular junta, while it was in fact the Gülen allies behind it.

Erdoğan immediately accused his former ally, US-based preacher Fetullah Gülen of being behind the coup attempt, and asked the US to extradite him to Turkey. Gülen denied any deal with the coup attempt.

After the coup, Erdoğan introduced a state of emergency, violating the European Convention on Human Rights. The state of emergency has still not been lifted (September 2017). Around 40,000 people were imprisoned after the coup, and among them several fictional writers and journalists who obviously have no connection to Gülen, but who are accused of supporting or being affiliated with the PKK. Thousands of police officers, teachers, bureaucrats and academics lost their positions, and thousands of academics were banned from leaving. Many commentators believe that Erdoğan has used the coup as yet another opportunity to get rid of opposition and criticism, and to replace critical government officials with his own, in a state of emergency where he has very wide powers. The opposition believes that the coup is used as a justification for continuing the purge of Gülen supporters and at the same time to strike the secularist opposition, which was attacked through the Ergenekon investigation (see above). Authorities closed more than 140 media channels following the coup.

The new presidential system

In a referendum on April 16, 2017, a scarce majority agreed to extend the powers of the president. It was a yes to change the constitution in the direction of a presidential system, where the president has an executive power, and not primarily a ceremonial role. The most important changes are that the president can be a member of a party, he can appoint Supreme Court judges, he can appoint ministers, and he can govern through decrees and declare state of emergency. The Prime Minister’s Office will be abolished when the new system comes into force in 2019. The president is to be elected for five years, and can sit for a maximum of two periods. This means that Erdoğan can sit until 2029. This is a strong concentration of power, and that entails a radical change in the political system.

Turkey Religion