Migrations within the Ottoman Empire
Refugee victims of the break-up of the Ottoman Empire
In the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire increasingly became a land of mass migration following a series of devastating wars.
The 19th century witnessed the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Its constantly redrawn borders ended up dividing former territories in Serbia, Montenegro and Albania in the Balkans, the Crimea on the Russian border and the Kurdish zones on the Ukrainian border and elsewhere, causing communities and even villages to be split and dispersed. Millions of refugees were displaced, and 2 million Muslim refugees from the Russian Empire and Eastern Europe settled in the Ottoman Empire, particularly in Anatolia. Cities such as Aleppo, Izmir, Alexandria, Cairo and Damascus began to grow dramatically as a result, in some cases doubling their population. After World War I, the creation of the modern Republic of Turkey resulted in movements of millions of people as large-scale population exchanges took place on either side of the new international borders.
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Migrations within the Ottoman Empire

Traders and craftsmen
Refugee victims of the break-up of the Ottoman Empire
Nomadic tribes
Balkan immigrants village at Sivrihisar

19th century

Istanbul University, Nadir Eserler Kütüphanesi (Rare Books Library), Istanbul, Turkey


A series of crises redrew the map of the Balkans under Ottoman control in the 19th century. The arbitrary division of the area and the power games played took no account of populations or nationalities.

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In this Exhibition
About the Exhibition
Privateering and captivity in the Mediterranean
Migrations within the Ottoman Empire
North–South movements
The life of European immigrant communities: Egypt and Tunisia