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Demographics of the Ottoman Empire

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Demographics of the Ottoman Empire

This article is about the demographics of the Ottoman Empire, including population density, ethnicity, education level, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.


Demographic data for most of the history of the Ottoman Empire is not quite precise. For most of the five centuries of its existence, the empire did not have easily computable valid data except figures for the number of employed citizens. Until the first official census (1881–1893), data was derived from extending the taxation values to the total population. Because of the use of taxation data to infer population size, detailed data for numerous Ottoman urban centers - towns with more than 5000 inhabitants - is accurate. This data was collaborated with data on wages and prices. Another source was used for the numbers of landlords of households in the Ottoman Empire- every household was assumed to have 5 residents.[1]

The first official census (1881–1893) took 10 years to finish. In 1893 the results were compiled and presented. This census is the first modern, general and standardized census accomplished not for taxation nor for military purposes, but to acquire demographic data. The population was divided into ethno-religious and gender characteristics. Numbers of both male and female subjects are given in ethno-religious categories including Muslims, Greeks (including Greek Macedonians, Asia Minor Greeks, Pontic Greeks, and Caucasus Greeks, all orthodoxal christians under the greek patriarchate from extremely distinct ethnic origin), Armenians, Bulgarians, Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Latins, Syriacs and Gypsies.[2][3]

After 1893 the Ottoman Empire established a statistics authority (Istatistik-i Umumi Idaresi) under which results of another official census was published in 1899.

Istatistik-i Umumi Idaresi conducted a new census survey for which field work lasted two years (1905–06). As a factual note this survey's complete (total) documentation was not published. Results of regional studies on this data were published later, which were sorted by their publication date. Included in the publication and subsequent ones was the Ottoman Empire's population as of 1911, 1912, and 1914. The substantial archival documentation on the census has been used in many modern studies and international publications. After 1906 the Ottoman Empire began to disband and a chain of violent wars such as the Italo-Turkish War, Balkan Wars and World War I drastically changed the region, its borders, and its demographics.

Population maps

Population tables

1520 1566 1683 1831 1856 The Administrative reform 1881-1893 1905–1906 1914 1919
11,692,480[4] 15,000,000[5] 30,000,000[6] 7,230,660[4] 35,350,000[4] region map vilayet sanjaks 17,388,604[4] 20,884,000[4] 20,975,345[7] 14,629,000
Before Administrative reform
File:Osmanu-vilajeti-bosnija.svg Bosnia Vilayet Region Lost NoN
Crete Province Region Lost NoN NoN
Cyprus Eyalet Region Lost NoN NoN NoN
Danube Vilayet Region Lost NoN NoN NoN
Eastern Rumelia Province Region lost NoN
Herzegovina Vilayet Region Lost NoN NoN NoN
Janina Province Region Lost NoN
Kosovo Province Region Lost NoN
Monastir Province Region Lost NoN
File:Osmanu-vilajeti-selanika.svg Salonica Province Region Lost NoN
Scutari Province Region Lost NoN
Tripolitania Province Region Lost NoN
File:Osmanu-vilajeti-arhipelags.svg Aegean Archipelago Province Region Lost NoN
Hejaz Province 400,000 Region Lost
File:Osmanu-vilajeti-edirne.svg Adrianople Province NoN
Western vilayet Dardanelles
Western Istanbul sanjak of Uskudar
Asia Minor İzmit
File:Osmanu-vilajeti-ajdina.svg İzmir Vilayet sanjaks of Manisa İzmir Aydın Denizli Mentese
File:Osmanu-vilajeti-bursa.svg Bursa Vilayet sanjaks of Balıkesir Bursa Erdogrul Kütahya Afyon
File:Osmanu-vilajeti-konja.svg Konya Vilayet sanjaks of Burdur Hamid abad Atalya Konya Nigde
File:Osmanu-vilajeti-kastamonu.svg Kastamonu Vilayet sanjaks of Bolu Çankırı Kastamonu Sinop
File:Osmanu-vilajeti-ankara.svg Ankara Vilayet sanjaks of Ankara Kırşehir Yozgat Kayseri
File:Osmanu-vilajeti-adana.svg Adana Vilayet sanjaks of Icel (Mersin) Adana Kozan Osmaniye
File:Osmanu-vilajeti-trabzon.svg Trebizond Vilayet sanjaks of Samsun Trabzon Gümüşhane Lazistan
File:Osmanu-vilajeti-sivasa.svg Sivas Vilayet sanjaks of Sivas Tokat Amasya Şebinkarahisar
File:Osmanu-vilajeti-erzuruma.svg Erzurum Vilayet
File:Osmanu-vilajeti-dijaribekra.svg Bitlis Vilayet sanjaks of Muş Genç Siirt
Diyâr-ı Bekr Vilayet sanjak of Diyarbakır and the mutasarrifate of Zor
Mamure-ul-Azil Vilayet
File:Osmanu-vilajeti-vana.svg Van Vilayet sanjaks of Van Hakkari
Ottoman Syria File:Osmanu-vilajeti-haleba.svg Aleppo Vilayet (Haleb [Halep]) Region Lost
Deir ez-Zor Province Region Lost
Beirut Province Region Lost
Syria Province[8] Region Lost
Ottoman Iraq File:Osmanu-vilajeti-musula.svg Mosul Province (from 1879) sanjaks of Mosul Sehrizor (Kirkuk) Suleymaniyeh Region Lost
Baghdad Province Region Lost
Basra Province Region Lost
Tunis Eyalet NoN
9,734,405[9] Khedivate of Egypt

1881-1893 Ottoman Census

The first official census (1881–1893) took 10 years to finish. In 1893 the results were compiled and presented. This census is the first modern, general and standardized census accomplished not for taxation nor for military purposes, but to acquire demographic data. The population was divided into ethno-religious and gender characteristics. Numbers of both male and female subjects are given in ethno-religious categories including Muslims, Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians, Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Latins, Syriacs and Gypsies[2][10]

In 1867 the Council of States took charge of drawing population tables, increasing the precision of population records. They introduced new measures of recording population counts in 1874. This led to the establishment of a General Population Administration, attached to the Ministry of Interior in 1881-1882. Somehow, these changes politicized the population counts.

Ottoman Census Values
Administrative Unit Total Pop Armenian Pop % to Total
Van Vilayet 132,007 55,051 41.70%
Bitlis Vilayet 338,642 108,050 31.91%
Izmit 228,443 44,953 19.68%
Erzurum Vilayet 637,015 120,147 18.86%
Dersaadet 903,482 166,185 18.39%
Vilayet of Mamuret-ul-Aziz 466,579 83,394 17.87%
Diyarbekir Vilayet 414,657 60,175 14.51%
Sivas Vilayet 980,876 129,085 13.16%
Adana Vilayet 398,764 36,695 9.20%
Halep Vilayet 819,238 70,663 8.63%
Ankara Vilayet 1,018,744 81,437 7.99%
Hüdavendigar Vilayet 1,454,294 70,262 4.83%
Trabzon Vilayet 1,164,595 49,782 4.27%
Sehremanati Mülhakati 88,306 3,074 3.48%
Edirne 985,962 18,458 1.87%
Çatalca 61,001 979 1.60%
Biga 143,904 1,842 1.28%
Konya 1,022,834 10,972 1.07%
Aydin 1,478,424 15,229 1.03%
Zor 51,270 474 0.92%
Kastamonu 968,884 6,652 0.69%
Kudüs 258,860 1,610 0.62%
Beyrut 620,763 2,921 0.47%
Suriye 551,135 1,478 0.27%
Selanik 1,038,953 51 0.00%
Cezayir-i Bahri Sefid 286,736 10 0.00%
Manastir 711,466 22 0.00%

1906 Ottoman census

Population distribution of the Millets in the Ottoman Empire in 1906, according to the official census[11]-[12]
Millet Inhabitants % of total
Muslimsa 15,498,747 - 15,518,478 76.09% - 74.23%
Greeksb 2,823,065 - 2,833,370 13.86% - 13.56%
Armeniansc 1,031,708 - 1,140,563 5.07% - 5.46%
Bulgarians 761,530 - 762,754 3.74% - 3.65%
Jews 253,435 - 256,003 1.24% - 1.23%
Protestantsd 53,880 0.26%
Othersd 332,569 1.59%
Total 20,368,485 - 20,897,617 100.00%
Notes: a The Muslim Millet includes all Muslims. The largest of them being Turks, Arabs and Kurds.
b The Greek Millet includes all Christians part of the Greek Orthodox Church. This includes Slavs and Albanians.
c This includes the various Assyrian Churches.
d The first source doesn't include Protestants and "others".

1914 Ottoman census

1914 Official Census Values (Male-Female Aggregated)[13]
Province Muslim Armenian Greek
Adana 341.903 52.650 8.974
Ankara 877.285 51.556 20.240
Antalya 235.762 630 12.385
Aydın (İzmir) 1.249.067 20.287 299.097
Bitlis 309.999 117.492 0
Bolu 399.281 2.970 5.115
Canik 265.950 27.319 98.739
Çatalca 20.048 842 36.791
Diyarbekir 492.101 65.850 1.935
Edirne 360.411 19.773 224.680
Erzurum 673.297 134.377 4.864
Eskişehir 140.678 8.592 2.613
Halep 576.320 40.843 21.954
Harput 446.379 79.821 971
Hüdavendigâr 474.114 60.119 74.927
İçil 102.034 341 2.507
İzmit 226.859 55.852 40.048
Kale-i Sultaniye 149.903 2.474 8.550
Kastamonu 737.302 8.959 20.958
Karahisar-ı Sahib 277.659 7.439 632
Karesi 359.804 8.653 97.497
Kayseri 184.292 50.174 26.590
Konya 750.712 12.971 25.150
Kostantiniyye 560.434 82.880 205.752
Menteşe 188.916 12 19.923
Kütahya 303.348 4.548 8.755
Maraş 152.645 32.322 34
Niğde 227.100 4.936 58.312
Sivas 939.735 147.099 75.324
Trabzon 921.128 38.899 161.574
Urfa 149.384 16.718 2
Van 179.380 67.792 1
Zor 65.770 232 45
Total 13.390.000 1.173.422 1.564.939

Special Reports

Arnold J. Toynbee

During the World War I; The treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was a book by Viscount Bryce and Arnold J. Toynbee which compiled statements from eyewitnesses from other countries including Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland, who similarly attested to Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during 1915-1916. The publication presents Arnold J. Toynbee's analysis on Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire. A summary table of his analysis included in the page 199. In the "vilayet of Van", there were two portions, portions in modern use corresponds to county. As explained by Arnold J. Toynbee in the footprint at page 199, he developed his analysis by excluding certain portions of the province where he said "Armenians were a minor". Arnold Toynbee in finding the ratio of Armenians in vilayet of Van; he removed the values originating from portions of Van (listed in the foot print) where Armenians were in minority. The presented table in page 1999 shows the re-calculated values by Arnold J. Toynbee of these selected provinces using values of the parts (counties, sanjacks) which Armenians were not in minority. The presented map shows the re-calculated values of the stated provinces using values where Armenians are not in minority.

See also

Articles discussing the demographics of the Ottoman Empire:


  1. ^ Behar, Cem, ed. 1996. Osmanlı Đmparatorluğu'nun ve Türkiye'nin nüfusu, 1500-1927. Ankara: T.C. Basbakanlık Devlet Đstatistik Enstitüsü = State Institute of Statistics Prime Ministry Republic of Turkey.
  2. ^ a b (Karpat & 1978 pp.237-274)
  3. ^ (Shaw & 1978 p.323-338)
  4. ^ a b c d e Kabadayı p3
  5. ^ (Kinross & 1979 p. 206)
  6. ^ (Kinross & 1979 p. 281)
  7. ^ (Shaw 1977, pp. 239–241)
  8. ^ Damascus
  9. ^ McCarthy J. 1976. Nineteenth-Century Egyptian Population. Middle Eastern Studies 12.3: 1–39; Panzac D. 1987. The Population of Egypt in the Nineteenth Century. Asian and African Studies 21: 11–32.
  10. ^ (Shaw & 1978 p.323-338)
  11. ^ Studies on Ottoman social and political history, Kemal H. Karpat, p.766, 2002
  12. ^ History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Stanford Jay Shaw, p.241, 1977
  13. ^ 1914 Ottoman Census table from


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