Azerbaijanis in Turkey

Azeris in Turkey

This article is about Azeris in Turkey. For Azeris in general, see the respective article.
It is hard to determine how many ethnic Azeris currently reside in Turkey because ethnicity is a rather fluid concept in this country. According to some sources, there are about 800,000 Azeris, however this figure may differ substantially from the real one. Up to 300,000 of Azeris who reside in Turkey are citizens of Azerbaijan.


Azeris first settled in what is now Turkey during the period of Safavi governance over Kars and neighbouring areas. Their numbers grew at the beginning of the 19th century, when according to the Gulistan and Turkmenchay treaties between Persia and Russia, the latter gained sovereignty over the khanates of Karabakh (1813), Nakhchevan (1828) and Erivan (1828), among others, and the Treaty of Adrianople gave Christians and Muslims the right to choose a place of residence between Russia and Turkey. Similarly to those of the North Caucasus, large groups of local Muslim population refused to live within Russian boundaries and migrated to Turkey, settling in its eastern regions, especially Erzurum and Ağrı (the Turkish dialect of Erzurum preserved most of the Azeri vocabulary and grammar, appearing to be the closest of all to Azeri). Half a century later, in 1878, Russia expanded to Kars, forcing a portion of Azeris to move deeper into Anatolia.

Another wave of Azeri immigration to Turkey took place in 1918–1925, when many Muslim residents of then newly independent Armenia fled to the Turkish-controlled lands. According to one Russian source, and another by Andrew Andersen, they were escaping massacres by armed bands of Armenian nationalists. They were followed by former members of the overthrown government of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan and their families, as well as many upper-class Azeris, who fled to Turkey (as well as France and Eastern Europe) in fear of persecution by the Bolsheviks and settled primarily in İstanbul, Bursa and Ankara. In the 1930s hundreds, if not thousands of Azeri families from all over South Caucasus took advantage of the Soviet-Turkish border being open and settled in Kars, Iğdır and Amasya.

After the failure of the USSR created regional government (21 Azar) in Iran(1946), political immigrants from Iran increased the numbers of Azeris in Turkey. Finally, starting from the early 1990s tens of thousands of immigrants from the newly independent Azerbaijan have made their way to Turkey due to economic reasons, settling mostly in big cities.

The Terekeme people are often considered ethnic Azeris of Sunni Muslim background.

In general, the Azeri population in Turkey is considered well-integrated into Turkish society, mainly due to cultural and linguistic affinities between Azeris and Turks. Nevertheless, differences still remain in the areas of religion (Azeris are mainly Shi'a, whereas Turks are mostly Sunni Muslims), dialect, and self-conception in terms of historical memory and ethnic/national consciousness.

Famous Azeris of Turkey

See also

Notes and references

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