Beginning several centuries ago, a number of sub-Saharan Africans, usually via Zanzibar and from places in Kenya, Sudan, Ghana, Nigeria were brought by Turkish slave traders during the Ottoman Empire to plantations around Ayvalık, Manavgat, Dalaman, Menderes and Gediz valleys, and Çukurova. Some of their descendants remain, mixed with the rest of the population, in these areas, though many migrated to larger cities. These factors make it difficult to guess the number of Turks of African ancestry.
Mustafa Olpak, writer and a prominent Afro-Turk, gives an estimate of 2,000,000 for the people of African ancestry who live on the littoral between Antalya and İstanbul . In 2006, Olpak founded the first officially recognised organisation of Afro-Turks, the Africans' Culture and Solidarity Society (Afrikalılar Kültür ve Dayanışma Derneği) in Ayvalık. The opening ceremony was attended by Ali Moussa Iye, the Chief of UNESCO Slave Routes Project . A principal aim of the association is to promote studies of oral history on Afro-Turks, a community history of whom was usually ignored by official historiography in Turkey. Olpak's story is told in the Turkish film Baa Baa Black Girl, which discusses how his grandfather was whose African grandfather was purchased as a household slave by an Turkish family, but later moved to Istanbul after the Turkish Revolution in 1922.