Turkey’s population is now 84.6 million, Istanbul reverts to rise

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Turkey’s population grew but got older while Istanbul, the most populated city, held on to the title after a rare drop in 2020, according to the latest population figures released on Friday by country’s statistics agency.

The Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) announced Friday that the population of Turkey increased by 1.06 million in 2021 and the total population of the country now exceeds 84.6 million.

According to Address Based Population Registration System results, the annual population growth rate increased to 12.7 per 1,000 in 2021, from 5.5 per 1,000 in the previous year. Men made up 50.1% of the population. Foreigners residing in Turkey also increased by 458,626 and reached more than 1.7 million.

The country’s most crowded city Istanbul dominated the list of most populated cities once again, with the addition of 378,448 people to its population, which reached more than 15.8 million, ahead of the capital Ankara where more than 5.7 million live. The city reported a drop in the population for the first time in two decades in 2020.

The statistics show that the longstanding trend of increasing urbanization kept its momentum in 2021, with the rate of people living in province and district centers reaching 93.2% while the rural population slightly dropped, though the isolated settlements in the countryside gained popularity amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

After Istanbul, which constitutes 18.7% of the country’s overall population and Ankara, Izmir kept the title of the third-largest province with 4.4 million inhabitants, ahead of Bursa, an industrial hub south of Istanbul. Antalya became the fourth most populated and only province in regions outside central and western Turkey with the highest population with more than 2.6 million people.

Not much changed for provinces with the least population. Tunceli in the east once again had the lowest number of residents at around 83,000 people, ahead of Bayburt, Ardahan, Kilis and Gümüşhane.

Though the population changes may appear slight, they highlight a danger awaiting the country in the future: an aging population. TurkStat’s report on the issue was included with population pyramids on changes in the age-gender structure of the population.

The pyramids for 2021 – compared to 2007, the year with the latest available data – show that the elderly population and median age increased in the country, something TurkStat linked to a decline in fertility and mortality rates. Experts link the aging trend to several factors, particularly to better health care that prolongs life in the country, where longevity showed a rise in recent years.

Although Turkey strives to boost the young population, especially through incentives for the married with children and prospective couples, the rate of senior citizens is expected to grow further and reach 11% of the population in 2025, according to projections by TurkStat.

The median age, which refers to the age that divides the population into two parts of equal size, rose to 33.1 from 32.7 in 2020. The increase was higher for women, who usually outlive men in Turkey, according to statistics from the past years.

Sinop, a province with a high concentration of elderly people had the highest median age with 41.8 in 2021, while Şanlıurfa, one of the “youngest” provinces in the country had the lowest, with 20.6

TurkStat figures also show the working-age population, those between the ages of 15 and 64, increased only about 1% between 2007 and 2021 while the proportion of the child population dropped to 22.4% in 2021 from 26.4% in 2007. The senior population, or those at the age of 65 and above, rose to 9.7% from 7.1% in the same period.

The child dependency ratio, which indicates the total number of children per person in the working-age group, decreased from 33.7% to 33%. The elderly dependency ratio, which indicates the number of people aged 65 and over per person of working age, increased from 14.1% to 14.3%. In other words, every group of 100 people of working age was responsible for 33 children and 14.3 elders in Turkey in 2021.

Population density increased by only one person and reached an average of 110 in 2021. Istanbul had the highest population density with 3,049 people per square kilometer.