The Kurds, speaking in Kurmanji, have primarily been traced in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The Kurdish communities can also be traced in the Central Asian Republics. The Kurds have portrayed movement from Armenia and the environs to the north (Krasnodar region of Southern Russia). The manifestation of the Kurds in the Caucasus can be traced back in the 10th century. Since the 10th century their presence have grew over the centuries, and by the end of the 19th century, following the rapid increase in the population, they requested a grant of permission to acquire Russian citizenship and be allowed to settle in Russia. The first Kurdish grammar was not published until 1787, since most of them were illiterate. In the quench of fighting, the high illiteracy levels among the Kurds, schools for the Kurds were established in Russia shortly after the 1917 Revolution in Russia. The establishment of these schools was followed by opening of more than fifty schools in the year 1925 in Azerbaijan and Armenia regions.
In the eighth and ninth century Islam spread among the Kurds. In the recent past most Kurds have become Sunni Muslim with some Shiites. Census indicated that 82% of the Kurds preferred to learn Kurdish, their native language. The Kurds lead a simplistic lifestyle, but they have some interesting cultural aspects. Their religious culture is characterized by a number of factors. The Kurds differ amongst themselves in terms of religion; some adhere to syncretistic religion referred to as Yezidism and worship stones, the sun, the moon and water. To be more specific, a number of Yezidism worship Satan. The following research paper will describe the settlement, social organization, kinship, and gender relations of the Kurdish culture (Lokman I. Meho, 2001).
2.0 Settlement of the Kurds
The Kurds population is estimated to be 11million. It has proved hard to acquire accurate information as pertains to the socio-economic and the demography circumstances of the Kurdish population in Russia, even though, their ever increasing population, as a major concern of the international politics in Europe and the Middle East attracts significant attention.
Recently there has been developments, which caused a spiky increase in the quench of knowing more about the Kurdish question: First, the struggle between the Kurdish guerrillas and the Turkish Army, which lasted for 15 years since 1984; second, approximately 600,000 Kurdish refugees entered into Turkey and Iran from Iraq and later transferred to the North America and the Western Europe for resettlement following Saddam’s atrocious attack on them in the period raging from 1989-1991; and lastly, the detainment of the leader of the Kurdistan Workers` Party (PKK) in 1999 by the government of Turkey in Kenya resulting to street demonstrations as the Greek government’s was being protested against by the Kurdish immigrants in Europe, since the claimed that the Greek government was involve in the arrest, which renewed and rejuvenated energy among the Kurds (Allison, 2010).
Turkey’s Kurdish population has a justified case of being analyzed separately, since it is the largest non-Turkish ethnic group in Turkey. Diverse and distinct characteristics of the Kurds can easily be identified from the other Turkish ethnic groups.
2.2 Predominately located in Middle East
The population of the Kurdish is located all over the heart of the Middle East, with the biggest portion settled in Turkey. According to a number of sources, the highest number based on intuitive guesses, since there is the scarcity of reliable data, more than 21million Kurds live in Iran, Armenia, Syria, Iraq and Turkey. A considerable number of Kurdish immigrants live in the European countries, more than 600,000. Defining and measuring ethnicity is a difficult and a complicated issue, which mostly falls beyond the scope of many research papers. However, previous studies have cleared the doubt about their distinct ethnicity, which makes it very easy for the research which follows. Despite the attempts to improve the freedom of expression among the Kurdish, major predicaments over the freedom still persist. For example, the use of the native language is still restricted by ensuring that the Kurdish is denied Kurdish education. There also exist political restrictions for any form of Kurdish organizations as a number of Kurdish parliamentarians were detained in 1990 and their political parties banned (Frederic P. Miller, 2009).
2.3 Live in mountainous terrain
Kurdish people are identifiable with mountainous terrain as they are amassed in the south-eastern part of the country (mountainous region). This is evident from the study carried out by Muthu, who tried to establish the area inhabited by the Kurds. According to Muthu, their proportion in the mountainous region ranges from 26 percent to 91 percent. The proportion of Kurds in the mountainous region has risen since 1964. These phenomena can be explained by the effect of migration that takes place within the borders to different parts of the country and also the high population growth rate fueled by the high futility rate.
The concentration of the Kurds in the mountainous region lowers the rate of urbanization. Due to the conflict in the regions populated by Kurds, they prefer remaining in the mountainous region as a defense mechanism for the enemies and the government in the attempt of restoring piece in the region.
2.4 Mode of subsistence is Pastoral
The Kurds practice pastoralism, extensively making use of grazing land in the ranges for production of livestock, which is one of the key production system and one of the means of acquiring livelihood among the Kurds. The reputation of this practice in the past has been of a good reputation among the Kurds based on the fact that they are based in a terrain that is favorable for livestock production. The Kurds have risen and fallen in some instances, at times seeing inevitable stages in the development of livestock.
3.0 Social Organization
The Kurdish population is based predominantly in the least industrialized part of the country, their contact with a number of facilities including education, health and employment are limited. This brings about a major disparity between the Kurdish and the other ethnic groups in areas, such as pre-natal care and education attainment.
3.1 Tribal society
The Kurds are not composed of a uniform ethnic group and there exists a large difference in language, religion and ways of life. Some groups of the Kurdish population speak Zaza, which is definitely not mutually intelligible with Kurmanji, or are subjects to Alevi faith, a non uniform branch of Islam with strong non-Islamic features. There exists an overlapping of these groups, where a large number of the Kurds are both Alevi and Zaza-speaking. Consequently there is a key disparity among the Kurds, a fact stressed by a number of analysts as a significant reason for their deficiency of political unity. Interestingly among the Sunni Kurds, loyalty to dissimilar religious orders has been a devising factor. A significant characteristic of the problem is the social organization of the Kurdish, which has customarily been, and most importantly remains, feudal and tribal.
The relationship between the States and a tribal society is by no any means simple. As shown not only in the areas populated by the Kurdish, but also in areas such as Chechnya and Afghanistan, there is a basic incompatibility between the modern nation-state and the tribal hierarchy. Tribal leaders “act as allocators of the scarce resources and dispute arbitrators, duties and benefits”. Basically, there exists two ways for state to practice control over all nations: either to use the existing tribal leaders as instruments of power or dismantle the tribal structures and incorporate the groups into states’ social structures.
3.2 Leader can be elected or hereditary
Kurdshave always fought for political autonomy in the attempt acquiring freedom to the extent of becoming a federal state. During a referendum in Iraq the Kurds supported it fully, since it appeared to be the avenue of their long time desired goals and significant demands to them. The constitution did not only support the substantial Kurdish autonomy, but also incorporated the Kurds’ insistence of “federalism”-official creation of counties each constituted of its own regional government. Following the successful referendum, the Kurdish region fully participated in the 2005 Iraqi general elections, which incorporated the Kurdistan National Assembly (KNA).
Post-Saddam politics and the 2005 constitution gave the Kurds considerable political strength. This left most of the citizens in Iraq with the view that Kurds were asserting excessive demand and intimidating the integrity of Iraq. Gradually, the Kurds have been in a position of organizing themselves politically to the extent of contending for seats in Iraq. Elections remain the only way of acquiring new leaders among the Kurds, though, heredity was once experienced, but this was long before they acquired political autonomy (Kurdish Human Rights Project, 2004).
Education is an important social aspect in the lives of all the human beings, Different scholars have always associated education with economic well being of any nation. Among the Kurdish, there arise two extremes of educational attainments levels, those with secondary education and those with no education at all, that can be examined according to the region, sex, residence place and ethnic differences. According to Miller, almost 50 percent of the Kurdish population has no education, although differences in gender are dominant. The asymmetry between the two groups is prevalent for the secondary school graduates or advanced levels of education; approximately only 7 percent of the Kurdish population have entered higher education or have a secondary school degree.
From East to West, the percentage of the Kurdish population without formal education ranges from 29 to 41 percent for males and 49 to 67 percent for females. A slow decrease in the proportion of the Kurdish community without education is common in both genders, but notable differences are still there. For example, for every two Kurdish women one has no education and, on the other hand, for every eight Kurdish men one man has no education. This disparity on the level of education is a major issue and should be addressed with immediate effect.
4.1 Patrilineal decent
Patrilineal decent forms the basis for Kurdish kinship groups. A number of generations of an individual’s descendant represent a lineage. Such lineages constitute a clan. All members of the clan are assumed to be related via common ancestor (male), but it should be noted that groups from outside may attach themselves to an influential society and, following a number of generations, they attain full membership into the clan and the tribe. A tribe is composed of a number of tribes. Kinship in Kurdish does not offer a clear cut difference between paternal and maternal grandparents.
4.2 Marriage patterns
The patterns of marriage are based on Koranic Law. Kingroup endogamy is practiced by the Kurds with the statistically and the preferred mate being the parallel cousin. Bride price is not fixed to a certain amount, but this is purely dependent on the status and the wealth of the families involved.
Polygamy, though allowed by the Islam, is rarely practiced among the Kurds. According to the Muslim law, a husband has a right of divorcing his wife without giving any reasons. Consequently, the wife is expected to return back to her father’s house and leave the children behind with their father.
5.0 Gender relations
On gender relation, a major headship disparity is indicated among the Kurd people; 93.6 percent of the households are headed by males (constitutes 91 percent of the whole population). However, amusingly females dominate the headship of the Kurdish households in the rural areas. A family of two or more characterizes Kurdish households; there are very rare cases of households with single members or two members of the same sex.
A large proportion of the Kurdish population is composed of young people whose ages range between 0 to16, indicating a large percentage of the Kurdish population in the economically energetic age. The entire image of the Kurdish community differs with its lower percentage in the younger age groups (17.1 and 16.9); and a high proportion of the community in the working age groups (28.9 and 31.2): and a low percentage of the community in the elderly age groups respectively 2.6 and 2.9 for males and female respectively. The elderly age groups for the Kurds are smaller, but the age dependency ratio is approximated to be 97.3 showing 91.7 child dependency and 4.1 old age dependency (Tejel, 2009).
The Kurds do not practice inter-ethnic marriage. Both Turkish and Kurdish women tremendously prefer to marry with a male of the same ethnic group, it is approximated that only about 7 percent of the Turkish women are married to the Kurdish men. Steady rates between age cohorts display a constant endogamy preference. These proportions are highly influenced by the limitation of the marital market, which is highly composed of Turks as the make up 80 percent of the whole population and also based on ethnic segregation. The Turks are based in the Western region, while the Kurds are based in the Eastern region. Based on the aforementioned factors women are reluctant in marrying men from other ethnicities.
5.3 Western influence
A group of intellectuals introduced the Western influences in 1860s; they attempted to merge the cultural forms of the West with a simpler form of the Kurdish language. This trend continued throughout the eighteenth century and just before the First World War, it was more pronounced. This attempted to change the Kurds and after 1931, a number of poets, novelists and musicians were raised from the Kurds (James S. Duncan, 2004).
In a nutshell, this research paper has tried to unveil different social, economic, political and cultural aspects of the Kurds. It is worth noting that, the Kurds cultural characteristics are very interesting. Ethnicity is a very crucial aspect, which goes beyond socio-economic and demographic disparities that differentiates the population sector. In this consideration, the analysis of the Kurd population highlights very crucial differences ranging from sex structures, age, and educational attainment to conditions in the households and household composition.
Moreover, the tribal society must be put into consideration of analysis on the Kurdish population and the policy makers need to note the differences and put in place the right preferences. The pattern displayed on the level of education among the Kurdish population is paramount, and in any analysis is to be conducted. From close examination of the Kurds in this research paper, it has achieved the objective, which was sought to achieve; a better understanding of the Kurd culture and how the aspects of the culture fit into the lifestyle they lead. Their surroundings can be extreme and social environment is different from the western culture.