Is there a record or estimate of the Muslim population count in Iberia (Spain/Portugal) during the peak of Islamic rule? Probably 10th or 11th century?

And how big was this in percent of all Iberian population or percent of Iberian population under Islamic rule? Were they mostly from native population, or immigrants from other parts of the Islamic world such as North Africa?

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    Córdoba was at one time the largest city in Europe, possibly the world, (whatcordoba.com/history-cordoba.html, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C3%B3rdoba,_Andalusia) and had the largest mosque in the west. I've no definitive figures (so comment rather than answer) but the population must have been quite significant. Feb 3, 2013 at 2:13
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    Correction. Constantinople was either tied with or larger than Cordoba during the height of the Middle Ages.
    – user26763
    Oct 21, 2017 at 21:11
  • Kaifeng, the capital of China in the Song dynasty, had more than half a million inhabitants in this period. Baghdad had over a million until the Mongol conquest. These figures are similar to Cordoba's and Constantinople's, but a little larger. Jan 15, 2023 at 18:44

2 Answers 2


According to Colin McEvedy, in 737 AD, after the Muslim conquest of Visigothic Hispania, the population on the Peninsula was around 4 million. Nearly all of that would have been in Muslim-held territory, as there simply wasn't much else but a couple of little strips of land in the mountainous northern coastal region. Toledo was the only city of any real size in Western Europe at the time (population of 15-22 thousand).

Over the next several hundred years, the northern Christian kingdoms slowly ground away at the Muslim position in Hispania. By 1000 AD Leon was south of the Douro. At this time, as @mh01 mentioned, Cordoba had passed Toledo, and was in the 23-49 thousand range, making it the largest city west of Constantinople (50-125 thousand). No city in all the territory under Papal authority could even boast 15 thousand. Colin figures the closest was Venice at around 8-9 thousand.

By 1100 AD, Leon had captured Toledo, and by the latter half of the 13th century, the Christians took Seville and Cordoba as well. This left Muslim Hispania only the little Emirate of Granada on the southern Mediterranean coast.

This is where things stood in 1346 AD, which is the next time Mr. McEvedy deigns to give me population numbers again. At this point there were roughly 9 million people living on the Iberian peninsula, with perhaps around 2 million of those in Muslim territory.

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    But I think the OP also wants to know, of the 4 million in 737 or the 9 million in 1346, do we know how many or what percentage were Muslims as opposed to Christians (or Jews or other)?
    – choster
    Feb 25, 2013 at 17:18
  • @choster - If we can assume (for the sake of our already very rough calculation) that the vast majority of the inhabitants of Muslim-controlled areas were Muslim, and Christian-controlled areas were Christian, then you can get at that. Depending on what he wants to glean from his numbers, this may be a good simplification. If not, well I'm sorry. These are the best numbers I have access to.
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 25, 2013 at 17:25
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    @t-e-d Though the Almoravids and their successors were less tolerant of religious minorities than the Umayyads, there is no record of anything comparable to the Spanish Inquisition to convert or stamp out non-believers. I don't, therefore, think we can assume that the non-Muslim population would have been reduced to a marginal population. They might have been <1%— but they might have been 10% or more.
    – choster
    Feb 25, 2013 at 17:42

The Wikipedia article on Al Andalus mentions this:

Arabs, and Berbers comprised eighty percent of the population of Al-Andalus by around 1100.

BTW as well as this:

Jews constituted more than five percent of the population.

If you are looking for a source published in book form, I would recommend Ibn Khaldun: The Mediterranean in the 14th century: Rise and Fall of Empires. This is the scientific catalog of an impressive exhibition I was privileged to see in Seville, Spain, in ca. 2006, and it includes several articles on demography, although with a somewhat wider geographic scope. Ibn Khaldun (1332 – 1406) was born in Tunis on the North African coast but his family had roots in Andalusia and he traveled widely.

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