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Kurdish Language

Map No.


Kurdish is spoken by 15 million people, in at least 26 territories. The largest numbers of speakers live in Iran (where Kurdish is an official language), Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, with significant numbers also living in the territories of the former Soviet Union, and Western Europe (notably Germany).

Many Kurdish people are concerned about the future of their language, an issue which is related to the lack of a recognised Kurdish state (for example see Hassanpour et al., 1996), and restricted use of Kurdish in Turkey and Syria.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial - ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For any commercial use (including in publishing) a map use license needs to be obtained.

Technical Notes

The map shows the proportion of all people who speak Kurdish as a first language that live in that territory in 2005.

The maps in the 2005 language data series are made from data on the number of people speaking a language as their first-language, that is the language they would use at home.

Data sources
This map uses data several sources, the main one being Ethnologue (15th Edition, 2005). Estimating the number of speakers of a language is fraught with difficulty on several levels (last accessed January 2009). We aim to map as complete data as possible and therefore estimate data for missing values. The language numbers we use and publish are rough estimates, and should not be taken as definitive. In some cases, missing data for very small territories is not used in the cartogram and that area is therefore omitted in the map.

All modifications to the original data source are noted in our data sheets. Data for this map will soon be available as a download.

Download data file

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