Turkey’s population expanding, Istanbul still most crowded city

Published 28.01.2016 10:17
Updated 28.01.2016 15:33
Turkey’s population expanding, Istanbul still most crowded city

New figures released on Thursday for 2015 show Turkey’s population grew to more than 78.4 million with more than 1.04 million new residents in the country, while Istanbul kept its place on the list as the most populated and crowded city in the country with a population of 14.6 million residents

Turkey's population is growing at a slow but steady rate, according to the latest figures from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat). Figures for 2015 indicate a growth rate of 13.4, higher than the 13.3 of the previous year. The population grew by 1.45 million people in the past year to 78,741,053, according to official records. The most densely populated city in Turkey is, of course, Istanbul, where 18.6 percent of the total population is concentrated with more than 14.6 million people. The city is also the most crowded, with the total number of people per square kilometer of 2,821.

The slow growth rate may renew concerns regarding an aging population. According to figures from 2014, Turkey has a vast elderly population of 6.1 million people aged 65 and above - a number that surpasses the total population of several European countries. Although the elderly made up 8 percent of Turkey's total population in 2014, projections made by TurkStat show that the elderly's population numbers will increase to 10.2 percent by 2023 and rise even further in the following decade. Experts link these projections to a decline in fertility and new treatments being available to increase longevity. Turkey hopes to boost its population numbers by offering incentives to larger families such as longer paid leave and social benefits. Since his tenure as prime minister began, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has continued to promote population growth, advocating that families should have at least three children to restore Turkey's population.

Figures published by TurkStat for 2015 show that more than half of the Turkish population is male and 49.8 percent is female.

With Turkey's growing economy being fueled by industrial investments and a booming service sector, the country has also seen populations increase in smaller cities and towns. The percentage of Turkey's total population residing in cities and district centers increased to 92.1 percent from 91.8, according to the latest statistics.

Figures show the average age of the population increased to 31 from 30.7. The median age was higher among women while the highest median age was in the city of Sinop in the Black Sea region, at 39.3. Sinop, a small city on the northern tip of Turkey, is widely known as being home to the "happiest people," according to a recent life satisfaction survey. The city also had the highest mortality rate in 2014. Şanlıurfa and Şırnak, two cities in Turkey's southeast, had the lowest median age, at 19.3 and 19.5, respectively.

TurkStat figures also revealed that the number of people who are of working age – between the ages of 15 and 64 – exceeds that of children. The percentage of children who are under 14 years of age dropped to 24 percent while the percentage of elderly people 65 and over increased to 8.2 percent.

As for the population density, the average number of people per-square-kilometer has increased only by one person compared to 2014, reaching 102 in 2015. Istanbul once again has the highest number of people per-square-kilometer with 2,821 people, followed by the neighboring city of Kocaeli, an industrial hub, as well as the western city of İzmir. Tunceli, a small city in eastern Turkey, had the lowest population density with only 12 people per-square-meter in 2015.

Konya, the country's largest city geographically, had only 55 people per-square-kilometer, leaving the central Turkish city situated on a vast plain in one of the least-populated places.

Bayburt, a sleepy province in northern Turkey that has been the butt of jokes on social media as a place no one ever visits, was once again at the top of the list of cities with the lowest population of 78,550.

Turkey switched to an "address-based census" in the early 2000s, replacing traditional censuses that were held every five years under restrictive timespans with an electronic registration system, making registration with Turkey's census agency mandatory for all citizens.

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