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Şanlıurfa Province

Şanlıurfa Province
Şanlıurfa ili
Göbekli Tepe
Location of the province within Turkey
Location of the province within Turkey
 • MayorZeynel Abidin Beyazgül (AKP)
 • ValiHasan Şıldak
19,242 km2 (7,429 sq mi)
 • Density110/km2 (290/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+3 (TRT)
Area code0414

Şanlıurfa Province (Turkish: Şanlıurfa ili; Kurdish: Parêzgeha Rihayê),[2] also known as Urfa Province, is a province and metropolitan municipality in southeastern Turkey. The city of Şanlıurfa is the capital of the province which bears its name. Its area is 19,242 km2,[3] and its population is 2,170,110 (2022).[1] The province is considered part of Turkish Kurdistan[4] and has a Kurdish majority[5] with a significant Arab and Turkish minority.[6]


Districts of the Şanlıurfa Province

Şanlıurfa province is divided into 13 districts, listed below with their populations as at 31 December 2022 according to the official government estimates:[1]


Rainfall by season in the Urfa region [7]: 194 

  Winter (51%)
  Spring (29%)
  Summer (1%)
  Autumn (19%)
Wind rose of the Urfa region, showing the primary directions where wind blows from.[7]: 195 

With an area of 19,242 km2 (7,429 sq mi), it is the largest province of Southeast Anatolia with:

Şanlıurfa includes several major components of the Southeastern Anatolia Project (in Turkish Güneydogu Anadolu Projesi (GAP)) designed to:

  • exploit the hydropower potential of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers;
  • dramatically expand irrigation for agriculture; and
  • develop the economy of the region.

This very large-scale, state-sponsored development project involved the damming, redirecting, hydroelectric tapping and other use of rivers in this broad, semi-arid region. (The rivers then flow into Syria and Iraq). The GAP includes 22 dams and water supply for 1.8 million hectares for agricultural areas.[8]


The Urfa region is characterized by a semi-arid Mediterranean climate.[7]: 192  Rainfall mostly comes in winter, when the temperature is mildest; summers are very hot and dry.[7]: 192  Annual mean precipitation is 458.1 mm.[7]: 192  The annual mean temperature is 18.5 °C.[7]: 192  The coldest month is January, which has an average temperature of 2.7 °C, while the hottest month is July, with an average temperature of 39 °C.[7]: 192  The dry season typically begins around April, peaks in intensity around July, and ends around October.[7]: 201  Wind typically blows from the northwest, with west-northwest winds being the strongest.[7]: 195 

The area around Urfa and Viranşehir, and continuing towards Mardin further east, is the driest part of a "desert-like steppe" region in southeastern Anatolia.[7]: 190  This area is characterized by vast plains as well as "low and broad hills [that] come [one] after another".[7]: 190  As one approaches the Syrian border in the south, the climate gets drier due to less rainfall and it becomes more desert-like.[7]: 190  In some areas, however, water from karstic sources makes things greener.[7]: 190 

The plant life of this southeastern steppe region is less diverse than the steppes of central and eastern Anatolia because the dry season is longer here.[7]: 190  Perennial xerophytes like Astragalus, Verbascum, Phlomis, Centaurea, and Cirsium predominate.[7]: 190  In some sheltered valleys, though, pockets of Mediterranean flora still exist – remnants of what was once a more widespread distribution prior to a climactic shift in the region sometime in the past.[7]: 190 


Geological map of the Urfa-Harran plain and surroundings (in German)

Most of Şanlıurfa province consists of Cenozoic formations.[7]: 191  Calcareous formations are predominant on the Fatik plateau, west of the Urfa-Harran plain, and in the Tektek Mountains to the east of the plain.[7]: 191–2  Among these are vast Eocene deposits north and west of Urfa, as well as younger Oligocene-Miocene deposits on the Tektek and lower Fatik plateaus.[7]: 191–2  There are also basalt deposits, dating from the Pliocene-Quaternary periods, just north of the city of Urfa itself.[7]: 191–2  These are associated with the Karacadağ Formation.[7]: 192  These basalt deposits are generally covered by just 5 to 10 cm of soil deposits; in some places, though, there is thick enough topsoil for agriculture.[7]: 192  On the Harran plain, more recent alluvial deposits from the Quaternary period predominate.[7]: 191, 3 


Agriculture is the largest economic sector in Şanlıurfa province.[9]: 41  As of 2000, 43% of the province's GDP is in agriculture, 40% service, 11% industry, and 6% in construction.[9]: 44  The total GDP is US$1.85 billion.[9]: 44 


Şanlıurfa province is a major producer of cotton, wheat, and barley.[9]: 47  Cotton production in particular increased dramatically after the GAP was initiated in 1995.[9]: 47  The influx of irrigation availability meant that many farmers could switch from dry to irrigated agriculture, and cotton's high market value enticed a majority of farmers to start planting it.[9]: 58  The province's annual cotton yield rose from 277,000 tons in 1995 to 708,602 tons in 2004.[9]: 47  By 2021, the province produces 42% of all cotton in Turkey.[10] As of 2008, the province also produced 11% of all dry legumes, 6.4% of barley, and 4% of wheat in the country.[9]: 48  Other crops include red lentil, pistachio, grape, sesame, and various vegetables.[9]: 47  In terms of animal husbandry, sheep and goats are the most important.[9]: 48  As of 2015, about 32% of the province's workforce is employed in agriculture.[11]: 258  However, the employment share of agriculture has been declining.[9]: 49  Another problem is that excessive irrigation has caused increased soil salinity.[9]: 49 

Pistachio clusters growing on a tree in Şanlıurfa province. The province is one of Turkey's leading pistachio producers.

Şanlıurfa province is among the leading producers of pistachios in Turkey.[12] As of 2021, the province has 29.7 million pistachio trees and produced 38,576 tons of pistachios — about a third of the national total of 119,000 tons.[12] However, most of the processing for the pistachios is done in Gaziantep instead.[12]

The province is also a major producer of several varieties of peppers.[13] As of 2021, Şanlıurfa province produced 77,663 tons of capia peppers; 6,180 tons of sivri peppers; and 1,296 tons of bell peppers.[13]

Agriculture in Şanlıurfa province is dominated by large-scale landowners.[11]: 259–60  Since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, an influx of Syrian refugees willing to work for cheap have changed the agricultural labor market here.[11]: 259–60  Local seasonal farm workers, who demand higher wages, are unable to find work in the province and are increasingly temporarily migrating to other provinces for seasonal farm work.[11]: 258–61 

Dairy products

Urfa cheese (Urfa peyniri) bears similarity to other cheeses in the region, such as Diyarbakır's örgü, Kahramanmaraş's Maraş-sıkma, or Gaziantep's Antep-sıkma.[14]: 90  It is mostly made from sheep and goat milk.[14]: 90  Most production is done in villages using traditional techniques and low-tech equipment and lacking hygienic standards or pasteurized milk; however, industrial-scale production has begun in recent decades.[14]: 91, 3  There is no single standardized method of production for Urfa cheese, so its qualities can vary.[14]: 91  It is aged for anywhere between 3 and 7 months.[14]: 91 

Another regional specialty is Urfa butter (Urfa yaği), a type of clarified butter made from sheep's milk.[15]: 1–2  It is made in Urfa itself as well as in other towns in the province like Siverek, Viranşehir, Ceylanpınar, and Harran.[15]: 1–2 


Industry has been increasing in employment share in Şanlıurfa province, reached 16% in 2006.[9]: 49  The biggest industries include food processing (especially baked goods and dairy products) and textiles (especially cotton fabrics), which as of 2002 together employ 54% of industrial workers in the province.[9]: 52  Other important industries (based on location quotient) include treatment and coating of metals (especially copper) and the manufacturing of pumps, compressors, and other agricultural equipment.[9]: 53 

Important industries in Şanlıurfa province (as of 2002)[9]: 54–5 
Industry Number of firms Number of employees
Manufacture of crude oils and fats 9 86
Dairy products and cheese making 6 1,727
Ice cream manufacturing 9 19
Grain mills 142 324
Bread, pastry, and other baked goods 803 3,315
Preparing and spinning of cotton fabrics 57 966
Wood carpentry and joinery 366 766
Baked clay bricks, tiles, and other construction products 57 189
Concrete construction products 8 121
Plaster construction products 5 22
Ready-mix concrete 6 105
Metal carpentry and joinery 106 270
Forging, pressing, stamping, and roll forming of metals; as well as powder metallurgy 47 105
Treatment and coating of metals 183 317
Manufacture of pumps and compressors 19 92
Tractor manufacturing 11 34
Manufacture of non-electric domestic appliances 42 106
Manufacture of electric motors, generators, and transformers 10 73
Jewellery making 82 103
Collection, purification, and distribution of water 8 224
Test drilling and boring 7 14
General construction 67 1,993
Construction of water projects 3 794


The largest part of the service sector in Şanlıurfa province, both in GDP and employment, is wholesale and retail trade.[9]: 56  Many wholesalers and retailers in the province are closely linked to the agricultural sector - for example, through wholesale of seeds for farmers, wholesale of dairy products, retail sale of meat products, or retail sale of textiles.[9]: 56  Another important activity in this sector is freight transport by road, which has a high location quotient for the province because it lies on the main road connection between the port of Mersin and the Habur border crossing into Iraq.[9]: 56 


As of 2000, the province has a population growth rate of 30.9%, which is well above the national rate of 14.9%.[9]: 42  Average household size in the province is 6.87 people, which is above the national average of 4.5.[9]: 42  About 42% of the province's population lives in rural areas and 58% in urban areas - a somewhat lower rate of urbanization than the country as a whole, which is 65% urban.[9]: 43  The average per capita income is US$1,300 annually.[9]: 44  The province has a low literacy rate - especially among women, who are only 52% literate in the province compared to 80% nationwide.[9]: 43  The province also has high out-migration.[9]: 43 

Şanlıurfa province has the highest population of Syrian refugees in Turkey.[11]: 258–9  There are an estimated 350,000 to 400,000 Syrian refugees in the province, including some 80,000 living in 4 refugee camps.[11]: 258–9  The presence of large Kurdish and Arab populations in the province means that there is less of a language barrier for Syrians in Şanlıurfa province than in other parts of Turkey, and the similar cultural and religious values make the province a more comfortable setting for many migrants as well.[11]: 259  As a result, tensions between locals and refugees are somewhat lower in Şanlıurfa province than elsewhere.[11]: 259 

Employment for Syrians is concentrated most heavily in the construction, retail and wholesale, and agricultural sectors.[11]: 259–60  Syrian labor is desirable for many employers because they are willing to work for lower wages than locals.[11]: 259–60  For example, while mechanized cotton harvesting is an option for farmers, it is cheaper for them to hire Syrian workers to pick cotton by hand.[11]: 260  Competition between Syrian and local seasonal farm workers has contributed to tension between the two groups, as the influx of Syrian labor has driven local farm workers to migrate to other provinces for seasonal farm work.[11]: 259–61 

Şanlıurfa province has one of the highest rates of child marriage in Turkey.[16] According to TÜİK, there were 955 marriages of girls under the age of 18 in Şanlıurfa province in 2021, which was the second-highest in the country behind Gaziantep.[16]


The traditional culture of the city of Urfa differs from the rest of the province.[17]


The famous çiğ köfte belongs to the culinary traditions of the city and was unknown to the rural population until 1980s.[17] Tırşik is a traditional dish of the rural population within the province.[17]

Games and dance

"Çan Çekiç Oyunu" is a traditional dice game of Urfa played with eight dice for money.[18]: 873  "Dörtlü Oyunu" is a traditional dance of Urfa involving four people who each hold a red handkerchief in the right hand and a white one in the left hand.[18]: 873  It is set to music played on the zurna and davul (types of horn and drum, respectively).[18]: 873 

Playground games

"Derrebu Derinebu" is a tag-like playground game from Urfa that is a variant of the game "Darabil" from Gaziantep.[19]: 292  In Derrebu Derinebu, players form two teams that face each other.[19]: 292  A player from one team attempts to cross over to the other team, tag any number of players, and return, all while singing a rhyme without pausing for breath.[19]: 292  The game locally known as "Arası Kesme" (called "Ara Kesme", "Esir Almaca", or other names in other parts of Turkey) is a capture-style game where one team tries to retrieve players from a designated area while the other team tries to stop them.[19]: 296  A local variety of hide-and-seek (Saklambaç) is known as "Ebe Saklama".[19]: 303  "Alkuç Balkuç" is an object-hiding game from Urfa where players stand in a circle and secretly pass an object from hand to hand.[19]: 303  "Çukur Atma" is a marbles-type game of Urfa, except played with plum or apricot seeds instead of actual marbles.[19]: 290  Another game particular to Urfa is "İğne Miğne Kiraz" and the finger-and-hand-based games "Beş Parmağı Yüz veya Bin Yapmak" and "Açıl Kilidim Açıl".[19]: 316 


A rich body of folk literature from Urfa is the mâni — a type of sung, single-stanza folk poetry consisting of seven lines with an A-A-B-A rhyme scheme.[20]: 151  The hoyrat is a local subgenre of the mâni where the first line is missing a syllable.[20]: 151  The hoyrat is a cultural tradition also present at Kirkuk in Iraq.[20]: 151 


On 1 January 1928 the province was included into the First Inspectorate-General over which an Inspector-General ruled according to the policies recommended in Report for Reform in the East.[21] The Inspectorate was governed with martial law and span over the provinces of Hakkâri, Siirt, Van, Mardin, Bitlis, Şanlıurfa, Elaziğ and Diyarbakır.[22] The office of the Inspector General was dissolved in 1952.[22]

Şanlıurfa once being a relatively competitive province between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the True Path Party (DYP), it is now one of the most solid AKP provinces.

While the AKP managed to win Şanlıurfa with a comfortable 43.04% during the 2004 local elections, it has since then increased its margins of victory here. Following the diminishing popularity of smaller parties such as the DYP, Şanlıurfa heavily shifted towards the AKP, winning the November 2015 election with 64.55% of the votes. Şanlıurfa once again showed its status as an AKP stronghold in the 2017 referendum, with the Yes vote winning with a wide margin of 41.8%.

The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) came in second with 38.1 in the general elections in June 2015,[23] and with 28.2% the HDP was also second in the November 2015 general election.[24]

The far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) scored an exceptional 7.18% in the 1999 local elections. Its vote share eventually ebbed to a more usual 2.97% in the 2004 local elections. The MHP showed a significant recovery in the indecisive June 2015 election by winning 5.56% of the votes. However, the MHP went on to suffer from a nationwide loss in the upset November 2015 election, with its vote share declining to 2.75% in Şanlıurfa.

The centre-left Republican People's Party (CHP) usually maintains a modest share of slightly below 5%. Similar to the other two opposition parties, the CHP suffered a loss in Şanlıurfa, going from 4.10% in the June 2015 election to 2.70% in the November 2015 election.

The current Governor of Sanliurfa is Abdullah Erin.[25]

Places of interest

The province is famous for its Abrahamic sites such as Balıklıgöl, where Prophet Abraham was cast by Nimrod into fire that is believed to have turned to water. Also the Mevlid-i Halil Mosque, where Abraham is believed to be born in the cave next to the mosque is well known.[26] Within the province, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa, is the pre-historic site of Göbekli Tepe, where continuing excavations have unearthed 12,000-year-old sanctuaries dating from the early Neolithic period, considered to be the oldest temples in the world, predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years.

The following tombs and sacred spots are located within the province:[27]



  1. ^ a b c "Address-based population registration system (ADNKS) results dated 31 December 2022, Favorite Reports" (XLS). TÜİK. Retrieved 19 September 2023.
  2. ^ "Li Rihayê 15 roj qedexe hat ragihandin" (in Kurdish). Rûdaw. 8 October 2019. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  3. ^ "İl ve İlçe Yüz ölçümleri". General Directorate of Mapping. Retrieved 19 September 2023.
  4. ^ "Kurds, Kurdistān". Encyclopaedia of Islam (2 ed.). BRILL. 2002. ISBN 9789004161214.
  5. ^ Mutlu, Servet (1996). "Ethnic Kurds in Turkey: A Demographic Study". International Journal of Middle East Studies. 28 (4): 527. doi:10.1017/S0020743800063819. ISSN 0020-7438. JSTOR 176151. S2CID 154212694.
  6. ^ Mehmet Gürses (2018). Anatomy of a Civil War: Sociopolitical Impacts of the Kurdish Conflict in Turkey. University of Michigan Press. p. 11. ISBN 9780472131006.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Kaya, Ömer Faruk (2011). "New steppic syntaxa from southeastern Anatolia (Şanliurfa, Turkey)". Acta Botanica Gallica. 158 (2): 189–204. doi:10.1080/12538078.2011.10516266. S2CID 85118123. Retrieved 15 February 2023.
  8. ^ "GAP Regional Development Administration". Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Pirili, Menevis Uzbay; Barbaros, R. Funda (2008). "Regional Development in Şanlıurfa Province, the Center of South Eastern Anatolian Project (GAP): Key Sector Analysis". International Conference on Emerging Economic Issues in a Globalizing World, ĐIzmir, 2008: 41–71. Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  10. ^ Şimşek, Yağmur Melis (12 October 2021). "Şanlıurfa expects high yield in cotton". Textilegence. Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Lordoğlu, Kuvvet; Aslan, Mustafa (2015). "Beş Sınır Kenti ve İşgücü Piyasalarında Değişim: 2011-2014". Goc Dergisi. 2 (2): 249–67. doi:10.33182/gd.v2i2.565. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
  12. ^ a b c Ayaydın, Eşber (10 June 2022). "Gaziantep ve Şanlıurfa arasında ismi paylaşılamayan lezzet: Fıstık". Anadolu Agency. Retrieved 24 December 2022.
  13. ^ a b "Urfa biber üretiminde önemli yere sahip". AjansUrfa. 11 May 2022. Retrieved 25 December 2022.
  14. ^ a b c d e Yalçın, Suzan; Ardıç, Mustafa; Nizamlıoğlu, Mustafa (2007). "Urfa Peynirinin Bazı Kalite Nitelikleri" (PDF). Atatürk Üniversitesi Vet. Bil. Derg. 2 (3): 90–95. Retrieved 27 December 2022.
  15. ^ a b Şanlıurfa Sade Yaği (PDF). Şanlıurfa Tıcaret Borsasi. Retrieved 27 December 2022.
  16. ^ a b "Şanlıurfa çocuk gelin sayısıyla utandırdı". AjansUrfa. 14 December 2022. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
  17. ^ a b c Sayğan, Mehmet Serdar. "Hangi Urfa- Hangi Urfalı?". Urfa Gaste. Archived from the original on 19 January 2023. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  18. ^ a b c Pinar, Mehmet; Özdurğun, Yunus (April 2016). "Urfa Halkevi ve Faaliyetleri (1934-1951)". Uluslararası Sosyal Araştırmalar Dergisi. 9 (43): 870–81. doi:10.17719/jisr.20164317656. ISSN 1307-9581. Retrieved 7 December 2022.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h And, Metin (2003). Oyun ve Bügü (PDF). Yapi Kredi Yayinlari. ISBN 9789750806476. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  20. ^ a b c Saraç, Mehmet Adil (2018). Tanıklarıyla Urfalı Urfalıca (PDF). Istanbul: Şanlıurfa Metropolitan Municipality. ISBN 978-975-8165-40-7. Retrieved 28 December 2022.
  21. ^ Üngör, Umut. "Young Turk social engineering : mass violence and the nation state in eastern Turkey, 1913– 1950" (PDF). University of Amsterdam. p. 258. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  22. ^ a b Jongerden, Joost (1 January 2007). The Settlement Issue in Turkey and the Kurds: An Analysis of Spatical Policies, Modernity and War. BRILL. p. 53. ISBN 978-90-04-15557-2.
  23. ^ "Şanlıurfa Haziran 2015 Genel Seçimi Sonuçları". Yeni Safak. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  24. ^ Şafak, Yeni (28 March 2020). "Şanlıurfa Seçim Sonuçları 2015 – Genel Seçim Kasım 2015". Yeni Şafak (in Turkish). Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  25. ^ "Şanlıurfa Valiliği". Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  26. ^ Delanghe, Cyriane (20 August 2018). Harper & Hicks: 2 – Les larmes de Zénobie (in French). Voy'el. p. 18. ISBN 978-2-36475-431-7.
  27. ^ TÜRBELER
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Şanlıurfa Province
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