Lebanese Turkmen
Lübnan Türkmenleri
Total population
Turkish-Lebanese minority (only immigrants during late Ottoman rule):
80,000 (2011 estimate by Al Akhbar[1])

Plus Syrian Turkmen refugees:
200,000 (2018 estimate[2])

Total: at least 280,000
approximately 4% of Lebanon's population
(excluding recent immigrants from Turkey and Palestinian refugees of Turkish Cypriot or Palestinian Turkmen origin)
Regions with significant populations
Majority Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Turkish diaspora

Lebanese Turkmen (Turkish: Lübnan Türkmenleri; Arabic: أتراك لبنان, Atrāk Lubnān), also known as the Lebanese Turks, are people of Turkish ancestry that live in Lebanon. The historic rule of several Turkic dynasties in the region saw continuous Turkish migration waves to Lebanon during the Tulunid rule (868–905), Ikhshidid rule (935–969), Seljuk rule (1037–1194), Mamluk rule (1291–1515), and Ottoman rule (1516–1918).

Today, many of the Turkish Lebanese community are the descendants of the Ottoman Turkish settlers to Lebanon from Anatolia. However, with the declining territories of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century, ethnic Turkish minorities from other parts of the former Ottoman territories found refuge in Ottoman Lebanon, especially Algerian Turks after the French colonization of North Africa in 1830,[3] and Cretan Turks in 1897 due to unrest in Greece.

Ottoman rule in Cyprus came to an end in 1914, when control of the island passed over the British Empire. In the 1920s, the harsh economic conditions of the Great Depression led some Turkish Cypriot families to "sell" their daughters as brides in Lebanon.[4] Due to the 1947–1949 Palestine war, many of these Turkish Cypriot women were forced to leave Palestine and seek refuge with their families in Lebanon.[4] More recently, since 2011, there has been a substantial wave of Syrian Turks who have fled the Syrian civil war and have taken refuge in Lebanon. They now outnumber the long-established Turkish community which descend from the Ottoman times.

In addition to the descendants of centuries-old Turkish communities, as well as more recent refugees, since the 20th century, Lebanon has attracted Turkish economic workers who have come from the Republic of Turkey.


Tulunid rule (868–905)

See also: Tulunids

Ikhshidid rule (935–969)

See also: Ikhshidid dynasty

Seljuk rule (1037–1194)

See also: Seljuks

Mamluk rule (1291–1515)

Assaf dynasty

The Assafs were the descendants of Turkmen tribesmen settled in the Keserwan area of central Mount Lebanon, north of Beirut under the early Mamluk rulers. According to the local chronicler Tannus al-Shidyaq (d. 1861), the Turkmens were settled there by the Mamluk governor of Damascus, Aqqush al-Afram, following his punitive expedition against the rebellious Alawites, Twelver Shia Muslims, Druze and Maronites of Keserwan and the neighboring Jurd area to the south in 1305.[5] The rebels were decisively suppressed by January 1306, their lands were transferred as iqtas to Mamluk emirs in Damascus and later that year the Turkmens were settled there.[6] They were established in the villages of Ayn Shiqaq, Ayn Tura, Zuq Masba, Zuq Mikhayil, Zuq al-Amiriyya and Zuq al-Kharab, having been previously settled in the Kura region near Tripoli.[7] The Assaf or the Turkmens, in general, were entrusted by the Mamluks with maintaining a 300-strong cavalry unit to patrol the region between Beirut and Byblos and to guard entry into the Keserwan from Beirut.[8] At least part of them were resettled in Beirut by the strongman of the Mamluk Sultanate, Yalbugha al-Umari, to reinforce the Damascene troops stationed there to defend the town against a potential Crusader attack in the aftermath of the Cypriot raid on Alexandria.[9]

In 1382, the Mamluk emir Barquq usurped the throne in Cairo, establishing the Burji regime.[10] The latter were ethnic Circassians unlike their Turkmen Bahri predecessors, which resulted in frayed relations between the Turkmens of Keserwan and the new rulers.[11] Nonetheless, Barquq kept the Turkmen emirs as the lords of Keserwan, albeit in a weakened state.[10] Barquq likely kept the Turkmens in place to avoid giving the Buhturids too much power in Mount Lebanon or to avoid over-extending Buhturid forces.[10] According to the historian Kamal Salibi, only four Turkmen emirs have been named in primary sources: a certain Sa'id who ruled in 1361, his brother and successor Isa, and a certain Ali ibn al-A'ma and his brother Umar ibn al-A'ma.[12] The latter two were the Turkmen emirs involved in the rebellion against Barquq. Ali was killed in Barquq's punitive expedition, while Umar was imprisoned and released.[13]

Ottoman rule (1516–1918)

See also: Ottoman Lebanon, Ottoman Syria, Tripoli Eyalet, Mount Lebanon Emirate, and Beirut Vilayet

Turkish migration from Ottoman Anatolia

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.[14]

Turkish migration from Ottoman Algeria

In 1830 many Algerian Turks were forced to leave Ottoman Algeria once the region came under French colonial rule. Whilst the majority went to Ottoman Anatolia,[3] some Turkish and Kouloughli families also went to Ottoman Syria which included Lebanon at the time.[3]

Turkish migration from Ottoman Crete

The history of the Cretan Turks in Lebanon began when the Ottoman Empire lost its dominion over the island of Crete.[15] 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.[15] 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.[15]

Modern migration

Turkish Cypriot brides (1910s–1950s)

See also: Turkish Cypriots and Turkish Cypriot diaspora

Ottoman rule in Cyprus came to an end in 1914, when control of the island passed over the British Empire. In the 1920s, the harsh economic conditions of the Great Depression led many Turkish Cypriot families in the poorest villages, facing debt and starvation, to marry off their daughters to Arab men- mainly in Palestine, but also to other Arab-majority regions such as neighbouring Lebanon.[16][4][17] Such payments had not been part of Cypriot tradition, and Turkish Cypriots typically describe the girls in these forced marriages as having been "sold"; Arabs however, often object to this characterization.[18] Mostly between the ages of 11 and 18, the majority of the girls lost contact with their families in Cyprus, and while some had successful marriages and families, others found themselves little more than domestic servants, abused, or ended up working in brothels.[19] The marriages were sometimes arranged by brokers, who presented the prospective husbands as wealthy doctors and engineers.[4] However, Neriman Cahit, in her book "Brides for Sale", found that in reality many of these men had mediocre jobs or were already married with children. Unaware of these realities, Turkish Cypriot families continued to send their daughters to the Arab world until the 1950s.[4]

Turkish Cypriot refugees from Palestine to Lebanon (1947–1949)

Approximately 4,000 Turkish Cypriot brides were sent to Palestine.[20] Whilst the total number originally sent to Lebanon is unknown, Turkish Cypriot women who formed their new families in Palestine soon found themselves as Palestinians refugees in Lebanon (as well as in Jordan) after fleeing the 1947–1949 Palestine war.[4]

Palestinian Turkmen refugees to Lebanon (1947–1949)

See also: Turks in Palestine and Palestinians in Lebanon

Mainland Turkish workers (1950s–present)

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.[21] Many of these migrants settled in Beirut and could already speak Arabic. Therefore, they quickly adapted to life in Lebanon.[21]

Syrian Turkmen refugees (2011–present)

See also: Syrian Turkmen and Syrian refugees in Lebanon

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.[22]



Turkish minority (Ottoman descendants)

In 2011 Al Akhbar reported that the number of Turks in Lebanon who descend from settlers who arrived in the region during the late Ottoman period was 80,000.[1] This, however, does not include the descendants of the much earlier Turkish migrants to Lebanon.

Syrian Turkmen refugees

The Turkish-Lebanese population has increased significantly with the arrival of Syrian Turkmen refugees during the Syrian civil war. In 2015, there were approximately 120,000–150,000 Syrian Turkmen refugees in the country.[22] Approximately 90,000 Syrian Turkmen were living in Arsal.[23] By 2018, the number of Syrian Turkmen refugees throughout Lebanon had increased to approximately 200,000.[2]

Areas of settlement

The descendants of the early Ottoman Turkish settlers mainly live in Akkar (including the villages of Kouachra and Aydamun) and Baalbeck,[24] while the descendants of the later Ottoman Turkish arrivals, mainly the Cretan Turks, currently live in Tripoli.[24] More recent Turkish arrivals to modern Lebanon from Turkey and Syria (Syrian Turks) live in Beirut[24] and Arsal. There are also Turkmen living in villages around Dinniye in the North Governorate.


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

Etel Adnan, poet and visual artist
Fawzi al-Qawuqji, leader of the Arab Liberation Army.
Ahmad Nami, second President of Syria
Ahmad Shukeiri, first Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Al-Akhbar. "Lebanese Turks Seek Political and Social Recognition". Al Akhbar. Archived from the original on 20 June 2018. Retrieved 2012-03-02. Erdogan's envoys were surprised to find out that Turks who immigrated 100 years ago today number nearly 80,000.
  2. ^ a b "Suriye Türkmenlerinin sorunlarına ilişkin gündem dışı konuşması". Grand National Assembly of Turkey. 2018. Retrieved 17 December 2020. Yaklaşık olarak 200 bin Türkmen'in Lübnan'da yaşadığı tahmin edilmektedir.
  3. ^ a b c Kateb, Kamel (2001), Européens: "Indigènes" et juifs en Algérie (1830-1962) : Représentations et Réalités des Populations, INED, pp. 50–53, ISBN 273320145X
  4. ^ a b c d e f Cahit, Neriman (2014), Brides for Sale, Turkish Cypriot Association of University Women, ISBN 9789963737345
  5. ^ Salibi 1959, pp. 121, 220 note 1.
  6. ^ Salibi 1959, pp. 119–120.
  7. ^ Salibi 1959, p. 220.
  8. ^ Harris 2012, p. 71.
  9. ^ Salibi 1959, p. 220, note 4.
  10. ^ a b c Harris 2012, p. 76.
  11. ^ Salibi, p. 103.
  12. ^ Salibi 1967, p. 148.
  13. ^ Salibi 1967, pp. 147–148.
  14. ^ Orhan 2010, 7.
  15. ^ a b c Orhan 2010, 13.
  17. ^ Mert, Kadir; Ali-Aybar, Mehmet; Rize, Ekrem (1994), "Kıbrıslı Türk Kimliği", K.K.T.C. Milli Eğitim Ve Kültür Bakanlığı Yayınları, 97 (17): 95
  18. ^ Andreou, Evie (29 July 2018). "Searching for the missing brides of Cyprus". Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  19. ^ Paraskos, Michael (17 November 2015). "Brides for Sale, by Neriman Cahit". Women's Studies. 44 (8): 1200–1203. doi:10.1080/00497878.2015.1084166. hdl:10044/1/71142. ISSN 0049-7878. S2CID 146127415.
  20. ^ Sabah. "Küçük adanın talihsiz kızları". Retrieved 26 October 2015.
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  26. ^ An Artisan of Beauty and Truth:Etel Adnan in conversation with David Hornsby and Jane Clark, Beshara Magazine, 2019, Etel: Well, my father was a Turk and a Muslim, and my mother was a Greek and a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, at a time when intermarriages were not common at all. He was a top officer and a classmate of Atatürk; they were at the military academy together. My father was already married with three children when he met my mother; he lived in Damascus and had his first family there. My mother was twenty years younger, and I was the only child of their marriage.
  27. ^ Parsons, Laila (2017). The Commander: Fawzi al-Qawuqji and the Fight for Arab Independence 1914–1948. Saqi Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0863561764.
  28. ^ Mastroianni, Brian (2020), Worldwise: Luxury Homeware Label Nimerology's Founder Nour al Nimer on Staying Zen While Sheltering at Home, Barron's, retrieved 19 December 2020, Her lineage, like her designs, spans different cultures. She was born in Beirut to a Palestinian father, an art collector, and a Turkish mother, both of whom instilled a passion for exploring the world around her.
  29. ^ Body Building. "Sacrificing To Compete: An Interview With Dina Al-Sabah!". Retrieved 2012-03-02.
  30. ^ Harding University. "L.C. Sears Collegiate Seminar Series". Retrieved 2012-04-05. Nabil A. Bayakly was born in Kumasi, Ghana in West Africa to Lebanese parents of Turkish descent
  31. ^ "Safia Chamia dies", Al Bawaba, 2004, retrieved 19 December 2020, The famous Tunisian singer, Safia Chamia died last Thursday at the age of 73. The Tunisian cultural magazine Tunis Hebdo describes how she was actually born in Lebanon to an Algerian father and Turkish mother. Her talent was spotted by the famous Mohieddine Salem, the father of Najeh Salem.
  32. ^ a b Ghata, Yasmine (2019), "For A Long Time, Afraid Of The Night: A Novel", Beshara Magazine, Schaffner Press, ISBN 978-1943156764, Ms. Ghata is the daughter of the renowned Turkish-Lebanese poet, Vénus Khoury-Ghata.
  33. ^ Julien, Par Bisson (2007), Yasmine Ghata: La romancière Yasmine Ghata tisse une belle histoire sur l'hérédité et ses conséquences, L'Express, retrieved 19 December 2020, C'est décidément une affaire de famille. Révélée en 2004 avec La nuit des calligraphes, un premier roman plein de délicatesse où elle évoquait le souvenir de sa grand-mère paternelle, artiste turque portée sur les arabesques, Yasmine Ghata, fille de la romancière et poète Vénus Khoury-Ghata, prouvait par là même que le talent pouvait être héréditaire.
  34. ^ Today's Zaman. "In memory of Osman Selim and his service at Çanakkale". Retrieved 2012-04-05.
  35. ^ Dancing the Cuban dream, Union Bancaire Privée, retrieved 19 December 2020, ...the Swiss–Lebanese director with Turkish origins says...
  36. ^ Fahim, Joseph (2016). "Beirut's Horror, Sci-Fi Film Fest a Hit Success". Middle East Institute. Retrieved 30 November 2017. Lebanese-Turkish director Hussen Ibraheem alludes...
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  40. ^ Cooke, Miriam (2007), Dissident Syria: making oppositional arts official, Duke University Press, p. 40, ISBN 978-0822340355, One day, she [Houda Naamani] invited me along with a group of women from the "old bourgeoisie." Over tea and fruit they talked about the good old days, their Turkish grandparents, and the lost world of courtly etiquette…
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