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Historical Background to the Connections of Ethnic Tourism

During the twentieth century, great population mobility was experienced both within and beyond the national boundaries of countries. The formation of ethnically and religiously homogeneous nation states upon the end of empires was among the main issues which stood out in the last century. These developments caused people to abandon the places that they had once known as a “home” and to migrate to other places either forcefully or willingly (Castles and Miller 2013, cited by Ipduygu and Biehl 2012: 9). The period during and after World War I, and especially after the proclamation of the Republic in 1923, was characterized by major population movements that led to a complete change in the ethnic structure of Turkey’s population (Ipduygu and Biehl 2012). For example, many Armenians were forced into exile in 1915 and 1916 and, at the Treaty of Lausanne, Greece and Turkey agreed on a population exchange. Consequently, in 1922 and 1923, some 1.3 million Muslims living in the Balkans were exchanged for about 3 million Christians living in Anatolia. Rums (Greeks) living in Istanbul and on the islands of Bozcaada (Tenedos) and Gokpeada (Imbros) as well as Turks from Eastern Thrace were excluded from the agreement; however, other political events that followed in the 1930s-1970s (i.e. the 1934 Thrace events, the Wealth Tax Law dated 19421944, the foundation of the Israeli state in 1948, the events of 6-7 September 1955, and the events experienced due to the Cyprus Issue in the 1960s and 1970s) forced most Greeks and many Jews to leave Turkey.

Besides the departure of non-Muslim minorities from Turkey, another important development in the early 1900s was the arrival of Muslim and Turkish immigrants to Turkey from the Balkans and Caucasia as a result of the struggles to found nation states in the former territories of the Ottoman Empire. The 1912-1913 Balkan Wars culminated in the mass emigration of Muslim populations from the Balkans to

Anatolia. The migration of Muslim and Turkish migrants to Turkey continued throughout the twentieth century. It is estimated that some 1.7 million people migrated from Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Yugoslavia—the former Ottoman territories—to Turkey in the period between 1923 and 1997 (Ipduygu and Biehl 2012: 11-12).

Various minorities and ethnic groups living in the Republic of Turkey today are substantially the cultural heritage of the Ottoman Empire. The two-way migrations that developed depending on the processes in which the Ottoman Empire disintegrated and withdrew to Anatolia shaped the ethnic structure of Anatolia and its ethnicity-based political relations. The migrations which lasted for a long period of time in a sense diversified the areas that Turkey is forming relations through ethnic relations today and helped with the development of strong ties with these areas.

In Turkey, the concepts of minority and ethnicity have somewhat different understandings than their internationally accepted definitions. The minorities officially recognized by the Republic of Turkey are based on the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. These are the Rums, the Jews, and the Armenians who are the non-Muslim citizens of the Republic of Turkey. Hence, the other non-Turkish populations inhabiting Turkey are merely considered ethnic groups (Efe and Akgfil 2011: 92). According to an estimate in 2004, 85 % of the population in Turkey consisted of Turks, whereas 15 % was comprised of other ethnic groups (§ener 2004: 40-50). The rate of non-Muslim minorities was calculated as 2 per thousand in 2005 (Ipduygu and Biehl 2012: 11).

Among the larger ethnic groups living in Turkey, we could mention the Kurds, Zazas, Arabs, Albanians, Bosnians, the Gajal, Romanies, Azeri Turks, Circassians, Abkhazians, Chechens, people of Daghestan, Balkars, Tatars, Georgians, the Laz, and the Hemshin. Of them, the Kurds are the most numerous. From a religious perspective, Turkey houses larger or smaller communities of Armenians, Christian Orthodox Rums, Jews, Syriacs, Nestorians, Chaldeans, and Yezidis. Even the majority Muslim population can be divided along sectarian lines (e.g. Sunni, Alevi, and Shiite). Other very small ethnic groups are represented by Pomaks, Kuban Kazakhs, White Russians, and Poles.

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