Kurdish Diaspora

kurdish diaspora

With a population estimated around 30 million, the Kurds are one of the largest groups of people without a proper nation state. Their traditional homeland, Kurdistan, was forcibly broken up through centuries of political turmoil in the Middle East. The land that was once Kurdistan is currently divided along the borders of Iran, Turkey, Iraq, and Syria.

The Kurdish population is estimated to be over 30 million.

The Kurds who inhabit this land have suffered from persecution for centuries. As early as the 16th century, Kurds were subject to a program of relocation and deportation as punishment for rebellion against the Safavid dynasty. In more recent history, the Pahlavi dynasty persecuted Kurds from WWI until its fall in 1979, and Saddam Hussein’s infamous al-Anfal campaign resulted in tens of thousands of Kurdish deaths in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Although the majority of Kurds still live in Kurdistan, many Kurds have left the region as a result of this continued persecution. While there is no recent, accurate census of the Kurdish diaspora, widely accepted figures estimate around 1.2 million Kurds living outside Kurdistan, with around half of those Kurds living in Germany. Population numbers can be seen in the table below.

The majority of Kurds living in the west are from Turkey (approximately 80%), and Kurds from Iraq make up the second largest group of Kurds in the west.

kurdish diasporaSource: Council on Foreign Relations

The Kurds living outside of Kurdistan have been widely recognized for their use of literature, film, and art in the promotion of Kurdish culture and political awareness.

Kurdish awareness in the west has been promoted by numerous organizations including the Kurdish Institute of Paris, the Kurdish Institute of Brussels, and the Kurdish American Society

Country Estimated Population (mid to late 90’s)
Germany 650000
France 120000
Netherlands 80000
Switzerland 70000
Belgium 60000
Austria 60000
Sweden 30000
Great-Britain 25000
Greece 25000
United States 20000
Danmark 10000
Canada 7000
Norway 5000
Italy 4000
Finland 3000
Totals 1169000

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