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Turks in the Netherlands
Total population
392,923a (2012 CBS estimate)[1]
Other estimates 400,000[2][3] to 500,000[4][5][6]
Dutch  · Turkish  · Dutch dialects
Sunni Islam ~70%  · Alevism ~17%  · Nontheism ~11%  · Orthodox Christianity ~2%.[7][8][9][10]
a This figure only includes people whose origins are from Turkey. 197,107 people had a first generation background and 195,816 had a second generation background. The CBS has not provided any figures for further generations.[1]

Turks in the Netherlands (occasionally Dutch Turks or Turkish-Dutch) (Dutch: Turkse Nederlander; Turkish: ) are the ethnic Turks living in the Netherlands who form the third largest ethnic group after the Dutch people, other Europeans and Indonesians.[11]


Number of Turkish-Dutch according to Statistics Netherlands[1][12]
Year Population Year Population
1996 271,514 2005 358,846
1997 279,708 2006 364,333
1998 289,777 2007 368,600
1999 299,662 2008 372,714
2000 308,890 2009 378,330
2001 319,600 2010 383,957
2002 330,709 2011 388,967
2003 341,400 2012 392,923
2004 351,648 2013 N/A

Until 1961, more people left the Netherlands than moved into the country. It began to face a labour shortage by the mid 1950s, which became more serious during the early 1960s, as the country experienced economic growth rates comparable to the rest of Europe.[13] At the same time, Turkey had a problem of unemployment, low GNP levels and high population rates. So the import of labour solved problems on both ends.[14] The first Turkish immigrants arrived in the Netherlands in the beginning of the 1960s at a time were the Dutch economy was wrestling with a shortage of workers.[15] On 19 August 1964, the Dutch government entered into a 'recruitment agreement' with Turkey.[16] Thereafter, the number of Turkish workers in the Netherlands increased rapidly.[17]

There were two distinct periods of recruitment. During the first period, which lasted until 1966, a large number of Turks came to the Netherlands through unofficial channels. An economic recession began in 1966. Some of the labour migrants were forced to return to Turkey. In 1968, the economy picked up again and a new recruitment period, which was to last until 1974, commenced. The peak of Turkish labour migration occurred during these years. The Turks surpassed other nationalities in numbers and came to represent the Dutch image of guest workers.[15]


Turkish immigrants first began to settle in big cities in the Netherlands such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht as well as the regions of Twente and Limburg, where there was a growing demand for industrial labour. However, not only the capital cities but also medium-sized cities, and even small villages attracted the Turks.[18]

The Turkish population is mostly concentrated in large cities in the west of the country[19] some 36% of Turks live in the Randstad region.[20] The second most common settlements are in the south, in the Limburg region, in Eindhoven and Tilburg, and in the east, in Twente region, in Enschede, Deventer, and Almelo.[18]

According to Statistics Netherlands, as of 2009, the total population of the Netherlands is 16,485,787.[21] The Turkish population is 378,330, thus 2.29% of the total population. This consisted of some 196,000 first generation Turks[22] and 183,000 second generation Turks whose parents originated from Turkey.[23] The total number of third generation Turks is not recorded in Statistics Netherlands. However, Turkish language is spoken by 700,000 people in the Netherlands.[24]

Significant population centers (2013)
City Population city ratio
Rotterdam 47,900 7.8%
Amsterdam 42,500 5.3%
The Hague 38,300 7.5%
Utrecht 13,700 4.2%
Zaanstad 11,500 7.7%
Eindhoven 10,500 4.8%
Enschede 9,200 5.8%
Arnhem 8,500 5.5%
Tilburg 8,000 3.8%
Deventer 6,900 7%
Almelo 6,000 8.3%
Hengelo 4,800 5.9%
Oldenzaal 1,300 4%

Other Turkish communities

The official estimates of the Turkish immigrant population in the Netherlands does not include Turkish minorities whose origins go back to the Ottoman Empire. In the Netherlands, there are also Bulgarian Turks and Western Thracian Turks. These populations, which have different nationalities, share the same ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious origins as Turkish nationals.

Bulgarian Turks

10,000-30,000 people from Bulgaria live in the Netherlands. The majority, of about 80%, are ethnic Turks from Bulgaria; most of them have come from the south-eastern Bulgarian district of Kurdzhali[25] and are the fastest-growing group of immigrants in the Netherlands.[26]

Western Thrace Turks

A minority of Western Thrace Turks can be found in the Netherlands, especially in the Randstad region. They are registered as Greeks due to their Greek nationality. After Germany, the Netherlands is the most popular destination for Turkish immigrants from Western Thrace.[27]



The first generation of Turkish immigrants is predominantly Turkish-speaking and has only limited Dutch competence.[28] Thus, for immigrant children, their early language input is Turkish, but the Dutch language quickly enters their lives via playmates and day-care centres. By age six, these children are often bilinguals.[29]

Adolescents have developed a code-switching mode which is reserved for in-group use. With older members of the Turkish community and with strangers, Turkish is used, and if Dutch speakers enter the scene, a switch to Dutch is made.[30] The young bilinguals therefore speak normal Turkish with their elders, and a kind of Dutch-Turkish with each other.[31]


When family reunification resulted in the establishment of Turkish communities, the preservation of Turkish culture became a more serious matter. Most Turks consider Islam to be the centre of their culture.[32] Thus, the majority of Dutch Turks adheres to Sunni Islam, although there is also a considerable Alevi fragment. According to the latest figures issued by Statistics Netherlands, approximately 5% of the Dutch population (850,000 persons), were followers of Islam in 2006. Furthermore, 87% of Turks were followers of Islam.[33] The Turkish community accounted for almost 40% of the Muslim population; thus are the largest ethnic group in the Netherlands adhering to Islam.[34]

Turks are considered to be the best organised ethnic group with its activities and organisations.[35] The Turkish Islamic Cultural Federation (TICF) which was founded in 1979, had 78 member associations by the early 1980s, and continued to grow ro reach 140 by the end of the 1990s. It works closely with the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (Diyanet), which provides the TICF with the imams which it employs in its member mosques.[36]

In April 2006, the Turkish Mevlana Mosque had been voted the most attractive building in Rotterdam in a public survey organised by the City Information Centre. It had beaten the Erasmus Bridge due to the mosques 'symbol of warmth and hospitality'.[37]


Turks generally support parties on the left (PvdA, D66, GroenLinks, and SP) over parties on the right (CDA, VVD and SGP).[38] In the past, migrants were not as eager to vote, however they are now aware that they can become a decisive factor in the Dutch political system. There has been some criticisms that certain parties (such as the Social Democrats) are becoming the parties of migrants because of the votes they receive from migrants and the increase in the number of elected Turkish candidates.[39] During the Dutch general election (2002), there were 14 candidates of Turkish origin spread out over six party lists which encouraged 55% of Turks to vote, which was a much higher turnout than any other ethnic minorities.[40]


A number of Turkish-Dutch writers have come to prominence. Halil Gür was one of the earliest, writing short stories about Turkish immigrants. Sadik Yemni is well known for his Turkish-Dutch detective stories. Sevtap Baycili is a more intellectual novelist, who is not limited to migrant themes.

Notable people

See also



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External links

  • Turks in the Netherlands (Dutch)

tr:Avrupa'da yaşayan Türk vatandaşları#Hollanda

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