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The Kurds are a people of Indo-European origin. They speak an Iranian language known as Kurdish, and comprise the majority of the population of the region – however, included therein are Arab, Armenian, Assyrian,[72] Azerbaijani, Jewish, Ossetian, Persian, and Turkish communities. Most inhabitants are Muslim, but adherents to other religions are present as well – including Yarsanism, Yazidis, Alevis, Christians,[73] and in the past, Jews, most of whom emigrated to Israel.[74]


According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, Kurdistan covers about 190,000 km² (or 73,000 square miles), and its chief towns are Diyarbakır (Amed), Bitlis (Bedlîs) and Van (Wan) in Turkey, Erbil (Hewlêr) and Slemani in Iraq, and Kermanshah (Kirmanşan), Sanandaj (Sine), Ilam and Mahabad (Mehabad) in Iran.[75] According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, Kurdistan covers around 190,000 km² (73,000 sq. mi.) in Turkey, 125,000 km² (48,000 sq. mi.) in Iran, 65,000 km² (25,000 sq. mi.) in Iraq, and 12,000 km² (5,000 sq. mi.) in Syria, with a total area of approximately 392,000 km² (151,000 sq. mi.).[76]

Iraqi Kurdistan is divided into six governorates, three of which (and parts of others) are under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Iranian Kurdistan encompasses Kurdistan Province and the greater parts of West Azerbaijan, Kermanshah, and Īlām provinces. Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdish: Rojavayê Kurdistanê) is located primarily in northern Syria, and covers the province of Al Hasakah and northern Raqqa Governorate, northern Aleppo Governorate and also Jabal al-Akrad (Mountain of the Kurds) region. The major cities in this region are Qamishli (Kurdish: Qamişlo) and Al Hasakah (Kurdish: Hasakah).

Turkish Kurdistan encompasses a large area of Eastern Anatolia Region and southeastern Anatolia of Turkey and it is home to an estimated 6 to 8 million Kurds.[77] There are another 9 to 12 million Turkish citizens of Kurdish descent in predominantly Turkish regions of Turkey as the majority of Turkish Kurds no longer live in Southeastern Anatolia.