The population of villages and "beldes" [districts slightly larger than villages] significantly grew last year in Turkey, where the trend has been migrating to cities from rural areas for a while now.
The rate of population increase reached 47.6 per thousand people for villages, compared to 12.1 per thousand people in cities, the latest figures by the state-run Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) show.
The spike in increase is largely tied to the emergence of a new, rural working class as more young people join the workforce. TurkStat figures show that the rural population makes up only 7.7 percent of the total population but it increased to more than 287,000 people in 2018 compared to 2017.
Afyon, a city in the western Turkey houses the most rural population, at 300,901 people while Tunceli, a small city in the east has the lowest population in villages and beldes at 32,338 people.
The majority of those living in rural areas are people between the ages of 15 and 64 while the rest are children and people above the age of 64. Men make up 3.2 million of the rural population, a number slightly higher than 3.1 million women living in villages and beldes.
As the urban population swelled over the past few decades, Turkey has sought to reverse the trend and to stop migration from villages to big cities in the west. Farmers were handed out loans, saplings to grow forests and other incentives, while the municipality of the most populated city Istanbul, offered free transportation for families returning to their hometowns permanently.
Turkey's population grew by nearly 1.2 million in 2018 to surpass 82 million, according to the figures released on Friday. Istanbul was again Turkey's most populous city, with over 15 million people, constituting 18.4 percent of the total population. The ratio of the male population to the female population appeared to be in favor of the male population, with 41,139,980 men representing 50.2 percent of the total population and 40,863,902 women constituting 49.8 percent of the population, TurkStat data showed.
Figures also indicate that female population surpassed male population numbers in 31 cities. The number of women is higher than men in Ankara, the central city of Konya, the western city of İzmir and the northern city of Samsun. The number of men is higher in Istanbul, the western city of Çanakkale, the southern city of Hatay and Tunceli.