The territory of Turkey has been home to ethnically and culturally
distinct groups from the ancient Hittites, Phrygians, and Assyrians
to Greeks, Persians, Romans, and Arabs.
The nomadic forebears of the modern Turks, who form the majority
of the population, came from central Asia in the 11th century AD
and established the dominant Turkish culture.
More than 20 percent of the population, however, belongs to various
ethnic groups that continue to maintain their individual identities,
particularly the Kurds, Greeks, Arabs, Armenians, and Jews. Some
70 percent of Turkey's population (63,528,225 1997 estimate) lives
in urban areas.
The official language is Turkish, although 10 percent of the population
speaks Kurdish or Arabic. Virtually the entire population is Muslim.
Christians account for less than 0.2 percent of the population,
and the Jewish community numbers 20,000.
Islam ceased to be the official state religion of Turkey in 1928.
Nevertheless, 99 percent of the population is Muslim - about four-fifths
of whom are Sunnites, and the remainder mostly Shiites found in
Christians account for less than 0.2 percent of the population.
The Jewish community numbers about 20,000.