May 09, 2007

Dismantling a Myth: Turks in Berlin

KurfurstendammBerlin is known to be a multicultural city that attracts mostly (South) Eastern European groups. Especially the area called Kreuzberg has renown as a multicultural – read: Turkish – part of the city. For many years now, the story is going around that “even within Turkey, only Istanbul has a larger population of Turks”, that is to say: Berlin would be the largest “Turkish city” outside of Turkey, and the second largest in the world.

This rumour, however, must be sent to the land of fables. And this for the simple reason that within Turkey there are at least two cities that are larger than Berlin. The Berlin Bureau of Statistics website states a figure of 3,4 million Berliners; this compares to populations of around 9 million in Istanbul and anything between 3,5 and 4,5 million in Ankara. Moreover, Wikipedia estimates that there are only 116.000 Turks in Berlin, making it at the best a provincial Turkish town outside of Turkey.

That brings up some other fabulous stories. 1) Is Paris really the second Portuguese city in the world, only after Lisbon? I have only been able to find evidence that it has the biggest population outside Portugal. 2) Poles in London. Figures of around 100.000 have been dropped; I have not been able to find anything more than something around 676.000, divided between all “other white” groups. Thus, in fact an even considerably larger number of Poles might be possible.

Who knows of other major population groups in foreign countries? Russians in Warsaw? Chinese in Singapore? Fins in Stockholm? Britons in the Algarve?

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