By Justin Mays:
Istanbul is a surprisingly diverse city. The communities of Istanbul represent people from many different ethnicities, religions, and more. Estimates vary, but Istanbul has an official population of 15,636,000, and with numbers like that, it is no surprise that the population on the Asian side and European sides of Istanbul reflects a mosaic of people.
Foreigners in Istanbul
More than 1.7 million foreigners reside in Turkey (Turkish Statistical Institute), with 1,305,307 living in Istanbul (Istanbul Governor's office). Istanbul, one of the largest cities in the world constitutes 18.7% of the country's overall population and welcomes domestic migrants at high rates exceeding 200,000 internal migrants to the city annually. According to the CIA World Factbook, Turkey's population comprises 70-75%, Kurdish 19%, and other minorities 6-11% (2016 estimate).
Ethnicities in Istanbul
Istanbul is the epicenter of Turkey, even though Ankara is the capital, and as a result, it is home to many of the ethnic and religious minorities in Turkey. Historically this is reflected in the architecture of the city. The wooden dwellings of Arnavutkoy (Albanian village) or the European-style buildings of Beyoglu indicate the diverse groups that called these neighborhoods home. Another example is the Princes Islands; each one is associated with the minorities who vacationed there in the past. The multiculturalism of Istanbul is also reflected in the city's cuisine, lifestyle choices, and social fabric.
Of its many accolades, Istanbul boasts the following:
-Former capital of three empires and a crossroads for people from around the world
-The most densely populated area of Turkey; Istanbul, experienced rapid growth from 1950 to 2000
-The largest Kurdish population in the world is found here, with three million people moved from the Southeast of the country.
-Istanbul has the most significant Syrian population in Turkey, with 504.094 people. This is obvious in areas like Fatih, which has many Syrian businesses in the neighborhood, and you often hear Arabic in the street.
Religions in Turkey
Greeks still reside in Turkey, and in Balat, you can find the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, one of the most important sites of the Greek Orthodox Church built in the 6th century. Armenian neighborhoods shine during Easter when you can find unique baked goods and Easter eggs sold locally. Historically Catholic Levantines have also moved to Istanbul. Circassians moved to Turkey in periods of turmoil and left their mark on the city. At the same time, the Ottomans invited Jewish people to seek refuge from the Inquisition and have called Istanbul home for centuries.
Reasons to Move to Istanbul
In recent years many people from the Middle East have purchased properties in Istanbul. African migrants and students attracted by increased cooperation between Turkey and African nations like Djibouti, plus educational opportunities, have revitalized neighborhoods in Beyoglu and Eminonu.
People from the Balkans and especially from Bulgaria also call Istanbul home. For example, many Bosniaks call Bayrampasa home. At the same time, many people have been seeking domestic work from the Philippines and Central Asia and have settled communities in Istanbul. Modern and luxurious properties in Turkey are also attracting a huge number of immigrants making Turkey real estate investment a great decision.
A Place for Everyone to Fit in
Istanbul remains cosmopolitan and diverse, echoing its Ottoman past, and you will find pockets of communities as you explore the city. If you see topik (Armenian dish) on a restaurant menu, thank the Armenian Influence. If you seek historically European-style architecture, thank the French and Italians who called Istanbul home in the past. If you are Christian or Jewish, you can find places of worship open to attend. Discover the diverse people that Istanbul is known for as the world's great city celebrating diversity. If you don't have Turkish citizenship, make sure that you get your residents permit and always renew it in time.
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