Turks in Lebanon

Turks in Lebanon
Total population

Turkish minority: 50,000-80,000[1][2][3]

1%-1.7% of Lebanese population

Syrian Turkmen refugees: 120,000-150,000[4]
Regions with significant populations
Sunni Islam

Turks in Lebanon, also known as Lebanese Turks (Turkish: Lübnan Türkleri), are people of Turkish ancestry that are living in Lebanon. Turks living in Lebanon have enjoyed a thriving presence in Lebanon since the Ottoman period.


Ottoman rule

Lebanon became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1516, and Turks were brought into the region along with Sultan Selim I’s army during his campaign to Egypt and were settled in the conquered lands. Turkish colonists were encouraged to stay in Lebanon by being rewarded with land and money.[5] This has seen a remaining legacy, as large amounts of ethnic Lebanese, mainly within the Sunni community, have a recent Turkish ancestor.

Cretan Turks

The history of the Cretan Turks in Lebanon began when the Ottoman Empire lost its dominion over the island of Crete.[6] After 1897, when the Ottoman Empire lost control of the island, they sent ships to protect the island’s Cretan Turks. Most of these Turks were settled in Izmir and Mersin, but some of them were also sent to Tripoli and Damascus.[6] After World War I, the Ottoman Empire lost Lebanon, however, some of the Cretan Turks remained in Tripoli where their relatives lived. Today, there are about 10,000 Cretan Turks remaining in Tripoli.[6]

Mainland Turkish migration

In the 1950s, thousands of Turks left the city of Mardin and headed for Lebanon because of the economic crisis and high unemployment rate in Turkey.[7] Many of these migrants settled in Beirut and could already speak Arabic. Therefore, they quickly adapted to life in Lebanon.[7]

Syrian Turkmen refugees

In October 2015 the Syrian independent newspaper Zaman Al Wasl reported that 125,000 to 150,000 Syrian Turkmen refugees, who have escaped from the Syrian civil war, have settled in Lebanon, and hence they now outnumber the Turkish minority of Lebanon.[4]



The Turkish community in Lebanon currently numbers about 80,000.[1] In addition, there is 120,000-150,000 Syrian Turkmen refugees living in the country.[4]

Areas of settlement

The descendants of the early Ottoman Turkish settlers mainly live in Akkar (including the villages of Kouachra and Aydamun) and Baalbeck,[8] while the descendants of the later Ottoman Turkish arrivals, mainly the Cretan Turks, currently live in Tripoli.[8] More recent Turkish arrivals to modern Lebanon from Turkey and Syria (Syrian Turks) live in Beirut.[8]


The Turkish community is becoming more politically active by seeking better representation locally and support from the Turkish embassy in Beirut.[1]


Established in 1997, the "Future Youth Association", located in Beirut's Witwat neighborhood, is the most active Turkish association in Lebanon. Because of confusion over its name with the Future Movement, its office sustained damage during the 7 May 2008 armed clashes in Beirut between pro-Hariri and pro-Hezbollah forces.[1] The Future Youth Association organises Turkish language classes in Beirut using teachers sent from Turkey’s Ministry of Education. The turnout for these classes have so far exceeded expectations, with many Lebanese of Turkish origin attending classes.[1]

Notable people

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Al-Akhbar. "Lebanese Turks Seek Political and Social Recognition". Retrieved 2012-03-02.
  2. Today's Zaman. "Tension adds to existing wounds in Lebanon". Retrieved 2012-03-02.
  3. Zaman. "Siyasî gerilim, Lübnan'ın yaralarını derinleştiriyor". Retrieved 2012-03-02.
  4. 1 2 3 Ahmed, Yusra (2015), Syrian Turkmen refugees face double suffering in Lebanon, Zaman Al Wasl, retrieved 11 October 2016
  5. Orhan 2010, 7.
  6. 1 2 3 Orhan 2010, 13.
  7. 1 2 Today's Zaman. "Turkish migrants grieve for Beirut from exile". Retrieved 2012-03-02.
  8. 1 2 3 Orhan 2010, 8.
  9. Harding University. "Bilal Aziz Özer". Retrieved 2012-04-05.
  10. Turkish Football Federation. "L.C. Sears Collegiate Seminar Series". Retrieved 2012-04-05.
  11. Today's Zaman. "In memory of Osman Selim and his service at Çanakkale". Retrieved 2012-04-05.
  12. Khal 1988, 175.
  13. Rogan 2009, 344.


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