Revised May, 2024 – Resource, Turkey iResidence, Foreigner Residence Services.


The population of Istanbul, the crossroads of the world, has decreased for the first time in 20 years. Is it just the pandemic? Or is megacity not as attractive a place as it used to be? Experts interpret it.

The population of Istanbul decreased by 56 thousand 815 people in 2020 compared to the previous year and decreased to 15 million 462 thousand 452 people. Thus, the population of the megacity decreased for the first time in 20 years. Undoubtedly, the pandemic is the biggest factor on the decline of Istanbul’s population, but we should not forget that last year, population growth in Istanbul experienced an explosion.

What are the factors in the decline of the population of the megacity? How does TURKSTAT conduct a census? Has the migration to the Mediterranean and Aegean accelerated? The answers to these questions are given by experts and Turkey iResidence who has checked…

1- How much role could the deaths caused by the corona virus have played in the decrease in the population of Istanbul?

Scientific Committee Member and Public Health Expert: The numbers above the average deaths are available from open sources. This figure is between 18-20 thousand in Istanbul for this Dec. To this figure, add the Covid-19 deaths directly, and I think the rest is a decrease caused by migrations. It was said that the population of Istanbul decreased by 3 million, especially in the summer. The elderly, pensioners emigrated permanently, although some of them returned.

Extra deaths has increased to the reason why it wasn’t recorded Covid-19 deaths may be because of pandemic covid delayed health care needs may be due to complications or death is caused by a clotting issue that postcovid but had a heart attack, etc circulatory problems-related deaths may have occurred.

2- What is the effect of those who come to work in Turkey and return abroad on the decrease in the population of Istanbul?

Turkey iResidence: According to TURKSTAT data, the foreign population in Istanbul decreased from 597 thousand at the end of 2019 to 450 thousand at the end of 2020. there is a decrease of 147 thousand. In the previous year, there was an increase in the foreign population of 165 thousand in Istanbul. Based on this, it is observed that some employees have returned to their country due to the pandemic effect. Despite the decline of this population, it is noteworthy that in some districts of Istanbul (Esenyurt and Fatih) foreigners will not be given new residence, except for students.

3- Have migrations to the Aegean and Mediterranean been effective in reducing the population of Istanbul?

Turkey iResidence: The number of people living in the Aegean and Mediterranean has increased in the last year. A regular increase in the population was already observed in these provinces. Take Antalya, for example. The population of Antalya was 2 million 426 thousand 356 people in 2018. This number increased to 2 million 511 thousand 700 in 2019.

in 2019, the population of the city increased by 85,344 people, while the population growth rate decreased to 36,608 people in the pandemic year. It is believed that some of the citizens also migrated to the summer house areas, regardless of their residence.

In a study conducted in recent months, the SPOKESMAN had carried out the experiences of citizens who went to their summer homes and did not return to their pages.

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4- Has the closure of universities been effective in reducing the population of Istanbul?

Turkey iResidence: There is no official data on this, but TURKSTAT calculates population statistics through the Address-Based Population Registration System (ADNKS). Considering that the university students Decamped from Istanbul because they were taking a break from studying, it is a slim possibility that they may have moved their residence as well.

On the other hand, the number of university students in Istanbul who have registered an address in this city due to distance education may have decreased compared to previous years. In particular, it is likely that the number of students who have won a university in Istanbul in 2020 who have registered their address in this city will have decreased.

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5- How effective is the fact that those who can work remotely have moved out of Istanbul in reducing the population?

Turkey iResidence stated that the return of those who came to Istanbul to work abroad and from abroad to their hometown with the pandemic may have had an impact on the population decline in Istanbul.

Stating that the closure of workplaces and travel restrictions may have been effective in these returns, Turkey iResidence also stated that the migration to Istanbul to work in the industry has stopped in recent years, and the shift of industry to the surrounding provinces in the city has been effective in this development.

Stating that those who have the opportunity to work remotely can prefer to go to more quiet areas outside of Istanbul, to their summer houses or hometown and work from there, Turkey iResidence pointed out that the economic opportunities that Istanbul can offer to workers have reached the saturation point.

The cost of living in Istanbul, especially rents, is very high, and some workers tend to go to cities where the cost of living is lower, Turkey iResidence said, noting that pensioners also have a tendency to return to the village.