skip to content



Geography & Topography

Regions with significant population: Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Azerbaijan, Israel, Lebanon, Russia

Total Population: Estimated 30 to 38 million

Languages: Kurdish and Zazaki-Gorani

Religion: Sunni Islam, Shia Islam, Sufi, YazidismYarsan


The Kurds are an ethnic group who have historically inhabited the the south of Caucasus, a geographical area collectively referred to as Kurdistan. This zone usually refers to the eastern part of Turkey, northern part of Iraq, northern Syria and northwestern part of Iran. Kurdish nationalism emerged after World War I with the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire which had successfully integrated the Kurds, through the use of forced repression. Kurds backed by the United Kingdom declared independence in 1927 and established the so-called Republic of Ararat. During 1920s and 1930s, several large scale Kurdish revolts took place in this region. The government and the military force had to take action in this conflict to try to solve what remains today as a mutual distrust between Ankara and the Kurds.

Performing Arts


Kurdish music refers to music performed in the Kurdish language which is currently scattered over four states. Despite the lack of an independent state, this nation has preserved a specific music with its regional varieties. There is no such thing as a unique Kurdish musical style. They have been influenced by lots of cultures especially Iranian and Turkish culture due to the settlement of foreigners.

Traditionally, there are three types of Kurdish performers: storytellers, minstrels and bards. Many songs are epic in nature, recounting the tales of Kurdish heroes like Saladin. Love songs, dance music, weddings and other celebratory songs, erotic poetry and work songs are also popular.

The most recognizable instruments in traditional Kurdish music are:

Duduk (oboe): This instrument is originally from Armenia, but has become very popular in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East. It is exclusively made of apricot wood. This woodwind instrument can be compared to a typical clarinet or saxophone.

 Kamanche: This is a Persian bowed string instrument that is widely used in the Middle East and Western Europe. This is the ancestor of the violin.

Zurna: Also a woodwind instrument used to play folk music in the Middle East. This is the ancestor of the European shawn.




Kurdish dance is a group of traditional dances similar to those from the Balkans, Lebanon and Eastern European countries. According to the Encyclopedia of the Islam, the Kurds sing and dance in all of their festivals, birthdays, New Years, Newroz, marriages and other ceremonies.






Some interesting facts:

  • Kurdish is the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East with an estimated population of about 34 million. Fifty-five percent of the Kurdish people are estimated to live in Turkey comprising approximately 18 percent of the Turkish population.
  • The majority of Kurdish people speak at least two or more languages.
  • The Kurdish culture is derived from many different ancient cultures belonging to people who formed the Kurdish ethnicity.
  • The Kurdish people are believed to have first emerged in the Medieval Era with people from different origins and tribes.

More information on the Kurdish community: