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Foreign Population

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Foreign Population

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The number of foreign-born people in Turkey is much larger than the number of foreign residents. As of 2000, approximately 2% of the entire population were born abroad. The group consists of the children of returning migrants as well as immigrants from the Balkans.

In 2006, according to figures provided by the Directorate of General Security, there were over 187 000 foreigners residing in Turkey with residence permits (see table for ten main countries of origin). While 18% of them were people with work permits and 13% were students, those remaining were mostly dependants of working and studying foreigners.

The number of foreign-born people in Turkey is much larger than the number of foreign residents. As of 2000, approximately 1.3 million persons, or 2% of the entire population, were born abroad. The group consists of the children of returning migrants, so-called second generation migrants, largely from Germany, as well as immigrants from the Balkans, especially Bulgaria.

Despite the fact that Turkey has always been a destination for international migration, it is just now developing a "real" foreign population comprised of ethnically non-Turkish immigrants. As a result, public awareness of and attention to Turkey's transformation into a country of immigration has been somewhat slow to emerge, and there is not much room for dialogue between migrants and the host community. Border controls and security are still the main issues debated around the topic of migration, and integration policies and practices aimed at migrants are at a very marginal stage.

Ten main countries of origin of foreigners in Turkey with residence permits, 2006

Staaten Residence Permits Work Permits Student Permits Total
Bulgaria 47.7464953.27651.517
Azerbaijan 7.9639022.01410.879
Germany 7.3511.5322699.152
United Kingdom 5.3881.6561857.229
Russian Federation 4.7871.5628347.183
USA 3.8292.1573956.381
Greece 3.7873262.0786.191
Iraq 4.8006045235.927
Iran 4.1938777665.836
Moldova 4.1572622554.674

Source: Bureau for Foreigners, Borders and Asylum of the Directorate of General Security of the Ministry of Interior.

Recently, a growing number of EU member-state citizens, professionals as well as retirees, have been settling in Turkey, particularly in Istanbul and some of the Mediterranean resorts. Their numbers are estimated at around 100 000 to
120 000.

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  1. For a detailed study of the retirement migration to the Mediterranean resorts in Turkey, see, for instance, Unutulmaz (2007), and Kaiser and İçduygu (2005).

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