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Demography & statistical data on population    EN


The Ottoman Empire used to count its population by the method of tax register (tahrir) until 1831. The purpose here was not to count the actual size of population but to identify its lands and taxpayers. Beginning from the first conquests, therefore, the Ottoman Empire carried out registers in the territories it seized. Registers used to be made by a committee consisting of a presiding sealer (nişancı), a scribe (muharrir), and a sufficient number of secretaries (katip). This procedure used to start with sultan’s lands, and continue downward with other lands.[[1]] These procedures used to be recorded in tax register books named mufassal, mücvel[[2]] and ruznamçe (derdest)[[3]]. There are books showing that tax registers were made beginning from the reign of Murad I. These registers continued at regular intervals until the reign of Murad III. Thereafter, this procedure was only applied to newly conquered territories.[[4]] Reports drawn up in various time periods indicate that tax registers were made every 30 to 40 years.[[5]] However, there are also sources suggesting that this procedure was carried out every 100 years, and that it ended during the reign of Selim II.[[6]] The procedure recorded not the entire population but only tax-paying males. Therefore, the entire male population cannot be found in tax register books.[[7]] According to the procedure, urban taxpayers were recorded by their occupations, while rural taxpayers were recorded as çift (owner of 60 to 150 donums of land, where a donum is about 918 square meters), nim (half size of çift), and bennak (less than half çift). Additionally, married taxpayers were recorded as müzevvec, and singles as mücerred.[[8]] Since tax registers only recorded males, Barkan tried to estimate the general population size by assuming that each household included 5 persons on average.[[9]] The tax register procedure, which was taken as the basis for a general population census by this method, cannot be considered a population census in its modern sense.

The first relatively modern population census was the one that was started in 1831 and continued until 1847. The census of 1831, which was called “Tahrir-i nüfus-u memalik” (countrywide population register) began to be made in Istanbul first. But it failed to be completed due to the Russian War. Judicial clerks including those from among religious scholars and notables were appointed in order to deter a possible official estimation in this first population census. According to the results of the census, the entire male population in Anatolia and Rumelia was close to 5 million.[[10]] After census-takers sent the census records to Istanbul, a Census Department was established under the presidency of Said Efendi, the Chief Secretary of Ministry of Finance.[[11]] In central sanjaks, on the other hand, census directorates were established.[[12]] After 1831, another population census was conducted in 1882. Although it had been decided that this census would be conducted in 1874, the political developments, crises, and wars between the years of 1875 and 1881 intervened. The census of 1882 has two important characteristics: Firstly, women were also counted. Secondly, in the end of the census, birth certificates were distributed to individuals.[[13]] The last census was conducted between 1905 and 1906.

In the period of population census, there were 5 neighbourhoods in central Giresun. Hacı Hüseyin, Hacı Siyam and Kalekapı were Muslim neighbourhoods, while non-Muslims dwelled in Gonca and Kumyalı.[[14]] Şemseddin Sami reports that central Giresun had a total population of 8,440, of which half were Muslim, and the other half were Greeks and Armenians. He also explained that the population of the entire district including its sub-districts and villages was 64,526 people including 11,884 Greeks, 938 Armenians, and the rest being Muslims.[[15]] It is also possible to determine the population size of Giresun from yearbooks in the second half of the 19th century and in the beginning of the 20th. Accordingly, there were 2,616 households including 679 non-Muslim and 1937 Muslim households in Giresun in hijri 1286 (1869-70). These households included a total of 9,900 people including 6,809 Muslims, 2,866 Greeks, and 220 Armenians.[[16]] The yearbooks published between the years of 1287 and 1291 (1870-1875) show a total population of 8,637 people including 220 Armenians, 2,297 Greeks, and 6,110 Muslims in a total of 2,296 households including 70 Armenian, 609 Greek, and 1617 Muslim households in 5 neighbourhoods and 29 villages.[[17]] The yearbooks of 1296 and 1298 (1879-1881) gave households as a total only. Accordingly, a total of 2,882 households covered a population of 9,404 including 297 Armenians, 1,793 Greeks, and 7,314 Muslims.[[18]] The yearbooks of 1305 (1888-1889), 1311 (1893-1894) and 1313 (1896-1897) also provided the population sizes of Giresun’s districts and sub-districts. For the year 1305 alone, the number of foreigners living in the city was also recorded. Another point relating to these three yearbooks is that the number of women in the total population was also reported. According to the yearbook of 1305, there were 11,973 households in Giresun in total. The distribution of male and female population in these households is listed below:

Table 1. Population size of the district of Giresun (male and female) in 1888-1889 (hr 1305)

  Male Female
Foreigner 447 311
Armenian 662 579
Greek 6207 5079
Muslim 28619 28013
Total 80091[[19]]

The population size was given a total of the entire district in the yearbooks of 1311 (1893-1894) and 1313 (1896-1897):

Table 2. Population size of the district of Giresun (male and female) in 1893-1894 (hr 1313)

  Male Female Total
Muslim 31270 29926 61196
Greek 5612 6710 12322
Armenian 680 760 1440
Total 36223 38740 74963

As for the period from 1869 to 1897, a significant Greek and Armenian population in Giresun attracts attention. The demographic evidence, however, of both Giresun and its district indicates that the size of population gradually decreased. The population of 9,900 people in 1869 decreased to 8,632 in 1875. Likewise, the population of 80,091 in 1889 fell to 74,963 people in 1897.


[[1]] Mehmed Zeki Pakalın, Osmanlı Tarih Deyimleri ve Terimleri Sözlüğü, MEB Yayınları, Istanbul, 1983, p. 376

[[2]] A. Timur Bilgiç, Tarih Terimleri Sözlüğü, Toplumsal Dönüşüm Yayınları, Istanbul, 2012, p. 375; Pakalın, Tarih Deyimleri…, p. 377.

[[3]] Atilla Çetin, “Arşiv Terimleri ve Deyimleri”, Vakıflar Dergisi XII, 1978, p. 373.

[[4]] Ömer Lütfi Barkan, “Türkiye’de İmparatorluk Devirlerinin Nüfus ve Arazi Tahrirleri ve Hakana Mahsus İstatistik Defterleri”, İktisat Fakültesi Mecmuası / Journal of Faculty of Economics, Istanbul University, vol. II, issue 1 (1940-1941), p. 33.

[[5]] Enver Ziya Karal, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda İlk Nüfus Sayımı 1831, Devlet İstatistik Enstitüsü Yay., Ankara, 2010, p. 6.

[[6]] Mustafa Nuri Paşa, Netayicü’l-Vukûʻat, vol. I, Matbaʻa-i Amire, 1294 (1878), p. 145.

[[7]] Mübahat S. Kütükoğlu, Menteşe Sancağı 1830 (Nüfus ve Toplum Yapısı), TTK Yay., Ankara, 2010, p. 1.

[[8]] Mehmet Öz, “Tahrir Defterlerinin Osmanlı Tarihi Araştırmalarında Kullanılması Hakkında Bazı Düşünceler”, Vakıflar Dergisi XXII, 1991, pp. 433-436.

[[9]] Ömer Lütfi Barkan, “Tarihî Demografi Araştırmaları ve Osmanlı Tarihi” Türkiyat Mecmuası / Journal of Turcic Studies, Istanbul University, X (1951-1953), pp. 9-12.

[[10]] Ahmed Lütfî, Tarih-i Lütfî, vol. III, Matbaʻa-i Amire, 1292 (1876), p. 142.

[[11]] Ahmed Lütfî, Tarih-i Lütfî, vol. III, Matbaʻa-i Amire, 1292 (1876), p. 147.

[[12]] Musa Çadırcı, “1830 Genel Sayımına Göre Ankara Şehir Merkezi Nüfusu Üzerine Bir Araştırma”, Osmanlı Araştırmaları I, Istanbul, 1980, p. 111.

[[13]] Hasan Yüksel, “Osmanlı’da Modern Anlamda Yapılan İlk Nüfus Sayımına Göre Divriği’nin Demografik Yapısı” Nüfus Bilim Dergisi / Turkish Journal of Population Studies, 2006-07, issue 28-29, p. 73; Kütükoğlu, Menteşe Sancağı…, p. 5-6.

[[14]] İsmail Kıvrım, “Nüfus Ceride Defterlerine Göre 19. Yüzyılın Ortalarında Giresun’un Nüfus Yapısı” Karadeniz İncelemeleri Dergisi, Spring 2011, issue: 10, p. 57.

[[15]] Şemseddin Sami, Kamus’ul-Âlâm, vol. V, Mihran Matbaası, Istanbul, 1314 (1896), p. 3935.

[[16]] 1286 Trabzon Vilayet Salnamesi, p. 64.

[[17]] 1287 Trabzon Vilayet Salnamesi, p. 89; 1288 Trabzon Vilayet Salnamesi, pp. 96-97; 1289 Trabzon Vilayet Salnamesi, p. 94-95; 1290 Trabzon Vilayet Salnamesi, pp. 82-83; 1291 Trabzon Vilayet Salnamesi, pp. 84-85.

[[18]] 1296 Trabzon Vilayet Salnamesi, pp. 118-119; 1298 Trabzon Vilayet Salnamesi, pp. 134-135.

[[19]] 1305 Trabzon Vilayet Salnamesi, p. 141.