Total population
Estimate of 10 million[1][2][3]
Percentage of Turkish origin:
At least 5% of Libya's population[4]
5%-25% of Algeria's population.)[5][6]
25% of Tunisia's population[6]
Regions with significant populations
Sunni Islam (Hanafi school)

Kouloughlis, also spelled Koulouglis,[7] Cologhlis and Qulaughlis (from Turkish kuloğlu "children of servants" or "children of slaves", from kul "servant/slave" + oğlu "son of") was a term used during the Ottoman period to designate the mixed offspring of Turkish men and local North African women (i.e. Berber, Arab or Arab-Berber), situated in the western and central coastal regions in the Barbary coast (i.e. in Algeria,[8][9][10] Libya,[11][12][13][14] and Tunisia[15]).[16][17][18] The phrase comes from the fact that the rulers of the Ottoman Empire conquered much of Arab world and sent Turkish people to the conquered lands. Whilst the terminology was commonly used in Ottoman Algeria, Ottoman Libya, and Ottoman Tunisia, it was not used in Ottoman Egypt to refer to Turco-Egyptians. Today, the descendants of the Kouloughlis have largely integrated into their local societies after independence, however, they still maintain some of their cultural traditions (particularly food); they also continue to practice the Hanafi school of Islam (in contrast to the ethnic Arabs and Berbers who practice the Maliki school), and uphold their Turkish origin surnames.

Migration to North Africa

According to the Turco-Libyan historian Orhan Koloğlu, throughout the 300 years of Ottoman rule in the Maghreb and more generally North Africa, the Ottoman administration ensured that Turkish soldiers from the Ocak, rather than the Janissaries, formed at least 5% of the regions population.[19] Turkish-speaking Anatolians were considered to be the ideal migrants to ensure the Turkification of the region. Furthermore, the authorities placed a ban on Turkish speakers from using the Arabic language; this allowed the Turkish language to remain the prestigious language of the region till the nineteenth century.[19] Koloğlu has estimated that approximately 1 million Ottoman soldiers from Anatolia migrated to the Cezayir Eyalet (Ottoman Algeria), the Tunus Eyalet (Ottoman Tunisia), and the Eyālet-i Trâblus Gârp (Ottoman Tripolitania), usually departing from the port of Izmir.[19]

Turkish women in North Africa

Although the term "kuloğlu" implied the term "son of", the Turkish population in North Africa was not solely made up of men. Indeed, Turkish-speaking Anatolian women also migrated to the region. Moreover, the offspring of Turkish men and Arab women would have included females too. Up until the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, upper class women in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia were mostly of Turkish origin. This Turkish elite held a deep kinship for the Ottoman state, which increased further during the Italo-Turkish War in favour of the Ottoman state.[20]


In 2015 the Yeni Şafak journalist Abdullah Muradoğlu suggested that at least 10 million Turks were still living in North Africa.[1] However, another 2015 estimate in the report by the Anadolu Agency correspondent Satuk Buğra Kutlugün suggests that there is a total of at least 30 million people of Turkish origin in North Africa.[2][3]



The majority of Turkish-speaking Ottoman Muslims adhered to the Hanafi school of Islam, in contrast to the majority of the North African subjects, who followed the Maliki school.[21] Today the Hanafi school is still followed by the descendants of Turkish families who remain in the region.[22] Traditionally, their mosques are in the Ottoman architectural style and are particularly identifiable from their Turkish-style octagonal minarets.[22]


Words and expressions from the Turkish language, to varying degrees, are still used in most varieties of the Maghrebi derjas and spoken Arabic in North Africa and the Middle East. For example, in Algeria an estimated 634 Turkish words are still used today in Algerian Arabic.[23] Approximately 800 to 1,500 Turkish loanwords are still used in Egypt, in Egyptian Arabic, and between 200 and 500 in Libya and Tunisia, respectively in Libyan and Tunisian Arabic.[24] Turkish loanwords have also been influential in countries which were never conquered by the Ottomans, such as in Morocco, in Moroccan Arabic. Furthermore, the Turks also introduced words from the Persian language to the region, which were originally borrowed for the Ottoman Turkish language.[25]

The majority of Turkish loanwords in Arabic are used for private life (such as food and tools), law and government, and the military.


Ottoman rule left a profound influence on the cuisine of North Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans. Hence, even today, many dishes produced in different countries throughout these regions are derived from the same name, usually a variation of a Turkish word (such as baklava and dolma).[26]

Turkish origin word Maghrebi or Egyptian Arabic Countries using the word (in North Africa)
baklavabaqlawa, baqlewaAlgeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya[27]
bozabüza, buzaAlgeria, Egpyt, Tunisia[27]
börekbrik (tunisian variant)Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia[27]
bulgurburgul, borgholAlgeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia[27]
çevirme (döner)sawurma/sawirma/shawarmaEgypt, Libya, Tunisia[27]
dondurmadandurma, dundurmaEgypt[27]
kavurmaqawurma, qawirmaAlgeria, Egypt[27]
köftekufta/koftaEgypt, Tunisia[27]
pastırmabastirmaAlgeria, Egypt, Libya[27]
sucuksujuq, sugu'Egypt[28]
turşutorshiAlgeria, Egypt, Tunisia[28]


Turkish origin word Maghrebi or Egyptian Arabic Countries using the word English translation
baltabaltaEgypt, Libya[28]ax
çengelsankal/shengalEgypt, Tunisia[28]hook
kazanqazanAlgeria, Egypt, Tunisia[28]cauldron
kılavuzqalawuzEgypt[28]guide, leader
tavatawwayaEgypt, Tunisia[28]pan
teltayyalaAlgeria, Egypt, Tunisia[28]wire, fiber, string
tokmakduqmaqEgypt[28]mallet, door-knocker, wooden pestle
yayyayEgypt[28]straight or curved spring


Turkish origin word Maghrebi or Egyptian Arabic Countries using the word English translation
vapurbābūrLibya, Algeria, Tunisiaboat[29]

Other words

Turkish origin word Maghrebi or Egyptian Arabic Countries using the word (in North Africa) English translation
çantašǝnṭaLibya, Egyptbag[29]
çekiçšākūšLibya, Algeriahammer[29]
çeşmešīšmaLibya, Tunisiatap, fountain[29]
kâǧıtkāġǝṭLibya, Algeriapaper[29]

Arts and Literature

The capital of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople (Istanbul), was the central location where specialists in art, literature, and the scientists from all over the provinces would gather to present their work. Hence, many people were influenced here and would borrow from the masterpieces they came into contact with. Consequently, the Arabic language adopted several technical terms of Turkish origin as well as artistic influences.[30]


The cultural interaction between the Arabs and Turks influenced the music of the Arab provinces significantly. New maqamat in Arabic music emerged (i.e. Makam, a Turkish system of melody types), such as al-Hijazkar, Shahnaz and Naw’athar, as well as technical music terminologies.[30]


The Turks introduced the Karagöz puppet show, which concerns the adventures of two stock characters: Karagöz (meaning "black-eyed" in Turkish) and Hacivat (meaning "İvaz the Pilgrim"). Evening performances of the show are particularly popular during Ramadan in North Africa.[31]

See also


  1. 1 2 Yeni Şafak. "Kuloğlu'nun ahvâlini sorana." Retrieved 2016-05-15.
  2. 1 2 Milli Gazete. "Osmanlı torunları Libya'da dernek kurdu". Retrieved 2016-05-15. Libya’da 1,5 milyonuz ama komşu ülkelerdekilerle birlikte en az 30 milyon Köroğlu Türkü var.
  3. 1 2 Anadolu Agency. "Osmanlı torunları Libya'da dernek kurdu". Retrieved 2016-05-15.
  4. Pan 1949, 103.
  5. Oxford Business Group (2008), The Report: Algeria 2008, Oxford Business Group, p. 10, ISBN 1-902339-09-6, ...the Algerian population reached 34.8 million in January 2006...Algerians of Turkish descent still represent 5% of the population and live mainly in the big cities [accounting to 1.74 million]
  6. 1 2 Hizmetli 1953, 10.
  7. Britannica (2012), Koulougli, Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  8. Stone, Martin (1997), The Agony of Algeria, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, p. 29, ISBN 1-85065-177-9, During the Ottoman era urban society in the coastal cities evolved into a fascinating ethnic mix of Turks, Arabs, Berbers, Kouloughlis (people of mixed Turkish and central Maghrebi blood)...
  9. Ruedy, John Douglas (2005), Modern Algeria: The Origins and Development of a Nation, Indiana University Press, p. 35, ISBN 0253217822, As sons of Turkish fathers, Kouloughlis naturally shared the paternal sense of superiority and desired to continue in the privilege to which they had been born.
  10. Martinez, Luis (2000), The Algerian Civil War, 1990-1998, C. Hurst & Co., p. 12, ISBN 1850655170, The Kouloughlis were children of Turks and native women, whom the Janissaries according to R. Mantran "strove with perseverance to exclude from power".
  11. Ahmida, Ali Abdullatif (1994), The Making of Modern Libya: State Formation, Colonization, and Resistance (Print), Albany, N.Y: SUNY Press, p. 189, ISBN 0791417611, Cologhli or Kolughli. from Turkish Kolughlu, descendants of intermarriage between Turkish troops and local North African women
  12. Malcolm, Peter; Losleben, Elizabeth (2004), Libya, Marshall Cavendish, p. 62, There are some Libyans who think of themselves as Turkish, or descendants of Turkish soldiers who settled in the area in the days of the Ottoman Empire.
  13. Ahmida, Ali Abdullatif (2011), Making of Modern Libya, The: State Formation, Colonization, and Resistance, Second Edition, 10, SUNY Press, p. 44, ISBN 1438428936, The majority of the population came from Turkish, Arab, Berber, or black backgrounds,...Some inhabitants, like the Cologhli, were descendants of the old Turkish ruling class
  14. "Libya", The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 10, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1983, p. 878, ISBN 085229400X, The population of the west is far more cosmopolitan than that of the east and includes a higher proportion of people with Berber, Negro, and Turkish origins.
  15. Perkins, Kenneth J. (2016), Historical Dictionary of Tunisia, Rowman & Littlefield, p. 141, ISBN 1442273186, KOULOUGHLIS. Offspring of mixed marriages between Tunisian women and Turkish soldiers..
  16. Miltoun, Francis (1985), The spell of Algeria and Tunisia, Darf Publishers, p. 129, ISBN 1850770603, Throughout North Africa, from Oran to Tunis, one encounters everywhere, in the town as in the country, the distinct traits which mark the seven races which make up the native population: the Moors, the Berbers, the Arabs, the Negreos, the Jews, the Turks and the Kouloughlis… descendants of Turks and Arab women.
  17. Daumas 1943, 54.
  18. Lorcin 1999, 2.
  19. 1 2 3 Orhan, Koloğlu (2016). "Osmanlı'nın Türklüğünün örneği: Kuzey Afrika'daki Ocaklılar". Turk Solu. Retrieved 2016-05-15.
  20. Khalidi 1991, xvii.
  21. Kia 2011, 153.
  22. 1 2 Jacobs & Morris 2002, 460.
  23. Benrabah 2007, 49.
  24. Prochazka 2004, 191.
  25. Abu-Haidar 1996, 119.
  26. Kia 2011, 225.
  27. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Prochazka 2004, 194.
  28. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Prochazka 2004, 195.
  29. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Benkato 2014, 90.
  30. 1 2 İhsanoğlu 2003, 111.
  31. Box 2005, 27.


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