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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Population: demographic situation, languages and religions


1.Political, social and economic background and trends

1.2Population: demographic situation, languages and religions

Last update: 27 November 2023

Demographic Situation

The surface area of Turkey is 785.347 km2. Turkey is divided into 81 administrative provinces and 7 geographical regions. The first census in Turkey was conducted in 1923; the census had been conducted in every year ending with 0 and 5 digits during the period falling between years 1930-1990. According to the results of the last 2016 Address Based Census, the population of Turkey is 82.003.882.

While the male population is 41.139.980 people, the female population is 40.863.902 people. According to this, 50.2% of the total population is male and 49.8% is female. In 2018, the ratio of the population in the 15-64 age group (working age) increased by 1.4% compared to the previous year and was realized as 67.8%. The proportion of the 0-14 age group, defined as the child age group, declined to 23.4%, and the proportion of the population aged 65 and over increased to 8.8%. Annual population growth rate was 8 12.4 in 2017 and ı 14.7 in 2018.

According to TurkStat data, population density is expressed as "A number of people per square kilometer," Turkey in general and has increased by 2 to 107 people in comparison for 2017. Istanbul is the province with the highest population density with 2,900 people per square kilometer. This is respectively followed by Kocaeli with 528 people and İzmir with 360 people. The province with the lowest population density is Tunceli with 12 people per square kilometer as in the previous year. The population density of Konya, which ranks first in terms of surface area, is 57 and the population density of Yalova with its smallest area is 310 people. In 2017, the proportion of those residing in provincial and district centers was 92.5%, which was 92.3% in 2018. The rate of residents living in towns and villages was 7,7%.

When Turkey's internal migration statistics are examined, 27,906,368 people were relocated between 2007-18. In 2017-2018, 3,057,606 people were relocated. In the 2017-2018 period, the highest number of provinces with the highest immigration (ie the highest number of migrants) was in Çankırı, Ordu, Sivas, Muğla and Antalya respectively. In the same period, the cities with the lowest immigration (ie the most migrating) whose net migration was negative (the most emigrated) were Istanbul, Ankara, Adana, Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa respectively.  

Based on international migration statistics released by Turkstat in 2017, the number of migrating to Turkey in 2017 increased 22.4% compared to the previous year was 466.333 people. 52.3% of this population was male and 47.7% was female. The number of people who emigrated from Turkey was 253.640 rose 42.5% in 2017 compared to the previous year. 54% of the population is male and 46% is female.

In Turkey, the number of unemployed aged 15 and above has been increased to 3.537.000 people with an increase of 83.000 persons compared to the previous year in 2018. Unemployment rate increased by 0.1 points to 11%. Unemployment rate in men increased by 0.1 percentage points to 9.5% in women and by 0.2 points to 13.9%. During the same year, non-agricultural unemployment rate was estimated to be 12.9% with 0.1 percentage points decrease compared to the previous year. The youth unemployment rate of the 15-24 age group was 20.3% with an 0.5 decrease, while this rate was 11.2% with an 0.1 increase in the 15-64 age group.

In 2018, the number of employed persons increased by 549 thousand persons compared to the previous year, reaching 28 million 738 thousand people, while employment increased by 0.3 points to 47.4%. The rate of employment for men increased by 0.1 point  and 65.7% for women and 0.5% for 29.4%.

According to TURKSTAT data, the labor force increased by 631.000persons in 2018, reaching 32 million 274 thousand persons while the labor force participation rate increased by 0.4 poins to 53.2%. LFPR was realized as 72.7% with an  0.2 increase for male and 34.2% with an 0.6 increase for female.


The official language of Turkey is Turkish language (Constitution-Anayasa 1982, Article 3). 42nd Article of the Constitution 2010 stipulates teaching of Turkish language to the Turkish citizens as the sole mother tongue in educational institutions. The same article also stipulates possibility of teaching foreign language in educational institutions or possibility of offering education in foreign language. Teaching and educating foreign language is regulated with The Law on Foreign Language Education (Yabancı Dil Eğitimi ve Öğretimi Kanunu- No. 2923). The Law determines the principles associated with the foreign languages to be taught in educational institutions of all levels and the principles that the education institutions teaching in foreign language shall be subject to. According to the 2nd article of the Law (2):

  • The foreign languages to be taught in Turkey are determined with the resolution of the President,
  • History of the Revolution and Principles of Atatürk, Language skills, Turkish Literature, History, Geography, Social Issues, Religion and Ethics courses and other courses relating to Turkish Culture cannot be taught in foreign language.
  • The courses and the schools to offer education in foreign language amongst the primary, secondary and non-formal education institutions are determined by the Ministry of National Education (Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı-MEB); while the subjects to be educated and taught in foreign language in the tertiary education institutions and the tertiary education institutions to offer education and teaching in foreign language are determined by the Higher Education Council (Yükseköğretim Kurulu-YÖK).

Taking into consideration all educational levels, it is possible to mention the following regarding the foreign language education: The foreign language education starts during the early years of primary education (since the 2nd grades in schools) and perpetuates until graduation from the tertiary education. Furthermore, it is possible to establish educational institutions or curricula for teaching in foreign language in upper secondary education and tertiary education stages (excluding subjects such as History, Turkish Language etc.). Currently there are many upper secondary education and tertiary education institutions offering education partially or completely in foreign language. The most widespread foreign language among the institutions is English.

The rights of the minority schools and foreign institutions based on the Lausanne Peace Treaty (Lozan Antlaşması) are protected with the Constitution (Anayasa) and these schools offer education in their native tongue. The schools included under this scope are the private foreign schools established by the French, German, Italian, Australian and Americans and these schools admit Turkish pupils for enrolment. On the other hand, there are also the minority schools established by the Greek, Armenian and Jewish minorities (primary and secondary education schools). The pupils of Turkish Republic nationality and members of the minority class can attend to these schools and the schools are authorized to educate in their own language. 

In 2018-2019 educational year, there are 78 minority schools, 6 of which pre-school education, 23 primary education, 21 lower secondary education, and 11 upper secondary education in Turkey.  Also, there are special minority elementary schools consisting of a total of 34 units. At this point, the number of minority schools in Turkey has reached 62 increased since 2009 (Ministry of National Education Statistics in 2017/2018). 

As of the first semester of the 2020-2021 academic year, there are 4 minority schools providing pre-school education, 23 providing primary education, 20 providing secondary education, 11 minority schools providing high school education, and 88 international schools at different education levels. (National Education Statistics 2020-21). In all schools where education is given in a foreign language, Turkish lessons and lessons related to Turkish culture are held in Turkish.

Foreign language courses in all schools provide education in Turkish and Turkish culture-related courses in Turkish. It is possible to establish private courses in order to educate different languages and dialects used traditionally during the daily life of Turkish citizens. Furthermore, it is possible to teach language and dialect subjects in other courses (Law of Private Education Institutions-Özel Öğretim Kurumları Kanunu). Accordingly, the President decides on which languages and dialects will be educated and instructed in Turkey. Such courses and subjects admit pupils enrolled to and graduating from primary and upper secondary education institutions, as minimum, and pupils and adults departing from upper secondary education institutions. The individuals not attending to school at the age of primary education are not admitted to the school. The age and educational status of the disabled children of pre-school or primary education age are not taken into consideration. The courses offer coeducation in line with the Regulation on Foreign Language Education in Higher Education Institutions and Rudiments to Conform within Foreign Language Education (Türk Vatandaşlarının Farklı Dil ve Lehçelerin Öğrenilmesi Hakkında Yönetmelik).


Turkey is a secular state (Constitution-Anayasa 1982, Article 2). The freedom of faith is under the protection of the Constitution. Each and every individual has the freedom of conscience, faith and contentment. The Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı) serves as an organization affiliated to the Presidency for the purpose of supervision of religious affairs by the government.

Great majority of the Turkish Nation are Muslims (99%). However, each and every Turkish citizen is denominated as "Turk", regardless of religious or ethnic origin. In Turkey there are also various communities belonging to different religious beliefs. These are comprised of Christian denominations (Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Syriac, Chaldean), Judaism, Yezidism and various others. The rights of the non-Moslem minorities are secured with the Lausanne Peace Treaty (Lozan Barış Antlaşması) and they are allowed for establishing their own temples and the religious services of these minorities are regulated by their community. Secularity is one of the fundamental principles of the Turkish national education system (Basic Law of National Education-Milli Eğitim Temel Kanunu, Article 12). Education on religious affairs is conducted under the supervision and audit of the State. The religious affairs and ethics education are among the compulsory subjects taught in primary and secondary education institutions (Constitution-Anayasa 1982, Article 24).