Afro-Turks are people of Zanj (Bantu) descent in Turkey. Like the Afro-Abkhazians, they trace their origin to the Ottoman slave trade.
|up to 100,000|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Muğla, Izmir, Antalya|
|Turkish, Arabic, Cretan Greek, Romanian (in Romania)|
|majority Islam, minority Christianity|
Beginning several centuries ago, a number of Africans, usually via Zanzibar as Zanj and from places such as Niger, Arabia, Libya, Kenya and Sudan, came to the Ottoman Empire settled by the Dalaman, Menderes and Gediz valleys, Manavgat, and Çukurova. African quarters of 19th-century İzmir, including Sabırtaşı, Dolapkuyu, Tamaşalık, İkiçeşmelik, and Ballıkuyu, are mentioned in contemporary records.
Some came from Crete following the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923. They settled on the Aegean coast, mainly around İzmir. Africans in Ayvalık declare that their ancestors from Crete spoke Greek when they came to Turkey and learned Turkish later. Afro-Turks living in İzmir celebrated the traditional spring festival Dana Bayramı (“Calf Festival”) until the 1960s. Dana Bayramı has currently been revived among the younger generation of Afro-Turks.
The Ottoman Army counted thousands of black African soldiers in its ranks. The army sent to the Balkans during the Austro-Turkish War of 1716–18 included 24,000 men from Africa. One of the first black pilots in history, Ahmet Ali Çelikten, was an Ottoman war pilot during World War I.
Areas with significant populations are in the Aegean Region, especially İzmir, Aydın, and Muğla. There are also people of African ancestry living in some villages and municipalities of Antalya and Adana provinces. Some of the descendants of the African settlers remain, mixed with the rest of the population in these areas, and many migrated to larger cities. These factors make it difficult to guess the number of Afro-Turks.
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