The country has an area of 301,383 square miles and a population of 70.5 million. According to the Government, 99 percent of the population is Muslim, the majority of which is Hanafi Sunni. According to the human rights nongovernmental organization Mazlum-Der and representatives of various religious minority communities, the actual percentage of Muslims is slightly lower.
In addition to the Sunni Muslim majority, academics estimate that there are between 10 million and 20 million Alevis, followers of a belief system that incorporates aspects of both Shi'a and Sunni Islam and draws on the traditions of other religious groups indigenous to Anatolia. The Government considers Alevism a heterodox Muslim sect; some Alevis and Sunnis maintain that Alevis are not Muslims.
There are several other religious groups, mostly concentrated in Istanbul and other large cities. While exact membership figures are not available, these religious groups include approximately 500,000 Shiite Caferis, 65,000 Armenian Orthodox Christians, 23,000 Jews, 15,000 Syrian Orthodox (Syriac) Christians, 10,000 Baha'is, 5,000 Yezidis, 3,300 Jehovah's Witnesses, 3,000 members of various other Protestant sects, and up to 3,000 Greek Orthodox Christians . There are also small, undetermined numbers of Bulgarian, Nestorian, Georgian, Roman Catholic, and Maronite Christians. Among these minority religious communities are a significant number of Iraqi refugees, including 3,000 Chaldean Christians.
The number of Syriac Christians in the southeast was higher before 1990; however, under pressure from government authorities and later under the impact of the war against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), many Syriacs migrated to Istanbul, western and northern Europe, or North and South America. Over the last several years, small numbers of Syriacs returned from overseas to the southeast, mostly from Europe. In most cases, older family members returned while younger ones remained abroad.