The geographical position of the Turkey, between the Near East and Mediterranean Europe, seems to have played the strongest role in the population, in the regional partition and in the productive organization. The stabilization of the Turkish component, a unifying factor with regard to extreme internal diversification, in medieval and modern times benefited from the exchanges between Mediterranean cultures and the Asian substratum of the interior, but did not prevent the survival of differentiated human regions, marked by social and territorial disparities largely corresponding to the morphological and climatic variety of the territory. The Ottoman Empire, in its expansionist policy, developed a substantial tolerance towards the cultural, social and religious diversities of the subject populations, but produced a seriously unbalanced territorial structure, with few areas able to exploit local resources, and vast backward regions, which remained so until the contemporary age. The events following the World War I led to the expulsion of the Greeks, the return of groups of Turks from Greece and Bulgaria and the violent repression of the independentist attempts carried out by Armenians and Kurds, settled in the eastern and south-eastern mountainous regions and subsequently affected by a vigorous emigration both towards foreign countries and towards the great cities of the western Turkey These processes have made the country’s ethnic structure less heterogeneous; the ethnically Turkish population, however, would amount to only about two thirds of the total, while the Kurds would be about 19% and numerous other groups (Azeris, Arabs, Armenians, etc.) would represent about 1% each.
Starting from the 1927 census, despite the expatriation, there was a strong demographic increase up to the 1980s; a gradual slowdown followed which preserves a very lively dynamic for the Turkish population: the average annual growth rate was 2.2% between 1988 and 1993 and 1.3% between 2001 and 2009, with a tendency towards a slight further decline, as a consequence of a contraction in the birth rate, despite a very low mortality rate (and thus an overall young population). The population density (98 residents / km 2 on average) is extremely different: the maximum peaks are recorded in the two provinces of İstanbul (European and Asian) and in the Asian regions on the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean Sea (Kocaeli and Smyrna); much lower densities are found in regions far from the sea, up to the lowest in eastern Anatolia (just over 40 residents / km 2 on a regional average, but just between 10 and 20 in some provinces). The cities – the main ones are İstanbul (almost 11 million residents), Ankara and Smyrna – mainly from the mid-20th century. they drain residents from the countryside, which remain sparsely populated; so it is for ex. in the center of the plateau, where the province of Ankara has a density of 176 residents / km 2, while the regional average value is less than a third.
The urbanized population exceeds 69% of the total (2008), but urban development structures a highly heterogeneous network of regional market centers, roughly based on the traditional armor of Greek-Byzantine origin: coastal commercial cities and modest agricultural-pastoral centers in the internal, with poor reciprocal relations of functional integration. The gap is also perceptible at the urban level: the old parts of the cities are centered on commercial-directional areas (bazaars) and arranged in neighborhoods gathered around religious centers; the new parts, where the modern center is located, are completely separate.
Industrialization has only partially transformed the urban structure of the country, accentuating the polarization on the main agglomerations. The development policy of the city of Ankara itself, despite having produced a plant of industries, tertiary infrastructures and communication routes, has only partially succeeded in supporting the development of some ancient medium-sized cities in the interior. Significant territorial effects are expected from a gigantic integrated development program (GAP, Güneydoğu Anadolu Projesi, ‘South-Eastern Anatolia Project’), which covers about 10% of the surface of Turkey. The project involves the construction of 22 dams (with 19 hydroelectric plants) along the upper courses of the Euphrates and Tigris, which should lead to the doubling of the extension of the irrigation areas (irrigating 1.7 million ha, equal to 20% of the cultivable area of the country) and a substantial boost to agricultural productivity, as well as to the doubling of hydroelectric production. The GAP involves the construction of roads and airports, industrial investments, urban planning, social interventions and so on. The construction of the water basins and other works involves the Kurdish populated area and first of all the valley bottoms, from which the residents have been expelled, causing a worsening of relations between the Turkish state and the local population, but also international protests in defense of the populations, the natural environment and archaeological evidence. The construction of the dams (more than half of the plants have been in operation since 2009) has already had a heavy impact on the quantity and quality of the water in the two rivers, to the detriment of Syria and especially Iraq.
In addition to the national language, Turkish, spoken by 86% of the population, the spread of Kurdish is significant (12%). Religion is Muslim. For Turkey religion and languages, please check ezinereligion.com.
Official literary language of the Turkey, commonly designated with the name of Turkish, is basically Osmanic, which since 1928 has abandoned the Arabic alphabetical system to adopt the Latin one.