Skip to main content

Russian migration to Turkey spikes by 218% in aftermath of Ukraine war

Nationals of Iran and Iraq, meanwhile, constitute the largest group of foreigners who left Turkey in 2022.
Turkish Airlines planes are parked at the new Istanbul Airport, Istanbul, Turkey, April 6, 2019.

ANKARA — Nearly 100,000 Russian citizens migrated to Turkey last year, topping the list of foreigners who moved to the country and marking an increase of more than 218% from 2021, official data showed on Monday.

Nearly 400,000 foreigners migrated to Turkey in 2022, the country’s official Statistical Institute (TUIK) said in its 2022 International Migration Statistics report. In total, overall migration to Turkey declined by more than 33% from 2021. 

Russians made up 25% of the total number of foreigners, topping the list of foreign nationals who entered the country.

Ukrainians were the second-largest group of foreign nationals — at 8%, or nearly 40,000 Ukrainians — according to the statistics. 

The massive jump stems from the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine. Russia invaded its neighbor in February 2022, which caused a mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of Russians opposing the war and looking to flee the draft to other countries. Turkey has called for the end of the conflict but has shown a neutral stance throughout the war, acting as a partner to both countries.

Nearly 26,000 people from Iran, more than 21,500 from Afghanistan and nearly 20,000 Iraqis migrated to Turkey in 2022.  

Turkey’s largest metropolis Istanbul has the biggest foreign migrant population, with 34.5% of foreign nationals in Turkey living in the city. Istanbul was followed by the Mediterranean province of Antalya, home to 14.8% of foreign nationals, the Turkish capital of Ankara with 5.4%, Bursa with 3.9% and Mersin with 3.8%.

Antalya is particularly popular among Russian and Ukrainian migrants, with skyrocketing housing and rental prices in the province, fueling complaints from locals amid high inflation and an acute cost-of-living crisis.

In 2021, Iraqi and Iranian citizens ranked as the first and second-largest group of foreign nationals respectively who arrived in the country. Iraqis and Iranians made up the largest group of foreigners who left Turkey, among more than 325,000 foreign nationals who left the country, the 2022 report showed. More than 65,000 Iraqis and nearly 33,000 Iranians moved out of Turkey in 2022.

According to the statistics released on Monday, some 140,000 Turkish nationals left their homeland, a nearly 40% jump from 2021. 

The report showed the total number of foreign migrants and Turkish nationals who left Turkey increased by 62% from 2021.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in