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Turkey's one migrant destination: Istanbul

ISTANBUL - Daily News with Radikal | 3/10/2011 12:00:00 AM | İPEK EMEKSİZ

Internal migration to Istanbul tripled last year after a static period, with many of the new arrivals coming from the Black Sea region, as opposed to the east and southeast.

Internal migration to Istanbul tripled last year after a static period, with many of the new arrivals coming from the Black Sea region, as opposed to previous waves that were predominantly from the East and Southeast Anatolia.

According to figures from the Turkish Statistical Institute, or TurkStat, net migration to Istanbul – which had held steady in recent years at around 30,000 people annually – increased in 2010 to 102,000 people.

The data, based on the Population Record System of citizens’ addresses, showed that the largest group of newcomers – nearly a third – moved to Turkey’s most populous city from the Black Sea area.

“In general, this is not a new thing. Istanbul has always received the highest amount of migration from the Black Sea region. Since the periodic village evacuations from Eastern and Southeast Anatolia virtually stopped, the amount of migration from those parts decreased,” Neşe Erdilek, the administrative director of Istanbul Bilgi University’s Center for Migration Research, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Wednesday.

Migrants typically follow the paths forged by their predecessors, Erdilek said, explaining that Black Sea people who have many acquaintances in Istanbul often rely on those connections when moving to the city. The Black Sea region’s geographical proximity to Istanbul is also a significant factor, she said.

Prof. Aykut Toros from Yeditepe University’s Sociology Department questioned the TurkStat figures, however, saying that the increase in migration was implausible without being provoked by a major event.

“I find this number exaggerated. Unless an extreme situation, such as a deep economic crisis, a war or a population exchange, occurs within the country, the migration number could not triple, and I have not witnessed such an incident thus far,” Toros told the Daily News on Wednesday. “It should not be forgotten that Istanbul has always [sent out] migrants while receiving [new ones].”

The TurkStat figures showed that 336,932 people left Istanbul last year, while 439,515 moved to the city, for a net migration gain of 102,583.

Experts said the high cost of living in Istanbul is a major factor in people’s decision to leave the city. “Considering traffic, rent, education and health services, people can move to other cities where life is easier,” said Toros.

Retirees and other elderly people often relocate to coastal cities where the temperature is more moderate and the cost of living is lower, said Erdilek.

“While the younger population arrives in Istanbul, the elderly population, which wants to rest, leaves the city,” she said. “In addition, the migration of young people coming to Istanbul to study should not be disregarded. There are currently around 40 universities in Istanbul and this is also a population movement.”

Following 2000, internal migration to Istanbul leveled out at an average of 30,000 people per year. The leap in 2010 came amid an expansion of the economy and the easing of the global economic crisis.

According to the research, while migration streams from Southeast and Eastern Anatolia have slowed, those from the Black Sea have increased. Out of every 100 people moving to Istanbul, 28 are from the Black Sea region, the TurkStat figures said. Overall, 125,000 people moved to Istanbul from the Black Sea area last year.

The shift could be attributed in part to difficulties faced by village men who work in tea and hazelnut production, daily Radikal reported. Last year, 21,000 people from Tokat, a province in the Eastern Black Sea, moved to Istanbul, along with 18,000 from Ordu, 13,000 from Samsun and 9,000 from Giresun. Asked why Tokat was the top source of migrants last year, Erdilek said problems in the agricultural sector and the construction of hydroelectric power plants in the area could have affected the trend.

According to TurkStat’s figures, 45,000 people moved to Istanbul last year from Southeast Anatolia and 35,000 people migrated from Central Anatolia.

[HH] Net migration to Istanbul

2008 – 26,675

2009 – 39,481

2010 – 102,538

[HH] Migrants to Istanbul per province

Tokat – 21,969

Ordu – 18,297

Trabzon – 13,918

Samsun – 13,045

Giresun – 9,580

Diyarbakır – 9,426

[HH] Migrants to Istanbul per region

Western Black Sea – 71,734

Eastern Black Sea – 52,442

Eastern Marmara – 48,458

Southeast Anatolia – 45,402

Central Anatolia – 35,752

Northeast Anatolia – 30,047

Western Marmara – 29,784

Western Anatolia – 26,765

Total from all regions: 439,515

[HH] Migrants from Istanbul by destination

Eastern Black Sea – 49,510

Eastern Marmara – 46,874

Western Black Sea – 38,940

Western Marmara – 34,497

Southeast Anatolia – 33,073

Mediterranean – 26,965

Aegean – 25,464

Central Anatolia – 20,589

Northeast Anatolia – 17.794

Total to all regions: 336,932

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