Capital : Ankara 39°55′N 32°50′E
Largest city : Istanbul 41°1′N 28°57′E
Official languages : Turkish
Ethnic groups : 70–75% Turks , 18% Kurds, 7–12% others
Area : Total 783,562 km2 (37th) , 302,535 sq miles
Population : 2013 estimate 75,627,384
Currency : Turkish liraa (TRY)
Time zone : EET (UTC+2) , Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Drives on the : right
Telephone Calling code : 90
Internet TLD : .tr
Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye), officially the Republic of Turkey , is a transcontinental country, located mostly on Anatolia in Western Asia and on East Thrace in Southeastern Europe. Turkey is bordered by eight countries: Bulgaria to the northwest; Greece to the west; Georgia to the northeast; Armenia, Iran and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the southeast. The Mediterranean Sea is to the south; the Aegean Sea is to the west; and the Black Sea is to the north. The Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles (which together form the Turkish Straits) demarcate the boundary between Thrace and Anatolia; they also separate Europe and Asia. Turkey’s location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia makes it a country of significant geostrategic importance.
The area now called Turkey has been inhabited since the Paleolithic, including various Ancient Anatolian civilizations and Thracian peoples. After Alexander the Great’s conquest, the area was Hellenized, which continued with the Roman rule and the transition into the Byzantine Empire. The Seljuk Turks began migrating into the area in the 11th century, starting the process of Turkification, which was greatly accelerated by the Seljuk victory over the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. The Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm ruled Anatolia until the Mongol invasion in 1243, upon which it disintegrated into several small Turkish beyliks. Starting from the late 13th century, the Ottoman beylik united Anatolia and created an empire encompassing much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. After the Ottoman Empire collapsed following its defeat in World War I, parts of it were occupied by the victorious Allies. Turkish War of Independence, initiated by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his colleagues, resulted in the establishment of the modern Republic of Turkey in 1923, with Atatürk as its first president.
Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic with a diverse cultural heritage. The country’s official language is Turkish, a Turkic language, which is spoken by approximately 85% of the population as mother tongue. Turks constitute 70% to 75% of the population. Minorities include Kurds (18%) and others (7–12%). The vast majority of the population is Muslim. Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe, NATO, OECD, OSCE and the G-20 major economies. Turkey began full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005, having been an associate member of the European Economic Community since 1963 and having joined the EU Customs Union in 1995. Turkey is also a member of the Turkic Council, Joint Administration of Turkic Arts and Culture, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Economic Cooperation Organisation. Turkey’s growing economy and diplomatic initiatives have led to its recognition as a regional power.
Etymology : Name of Turkey
The name of Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye) can be divided into two components: the ethnonym Türk and the abstract suffix –i(y)e meaning “owner”, “land of” or “related to” (derived from the Arabic suffix –iyya or Greek and Latin suffixes –ia). The first recorded use of the term “Türk” or “Türük” as an autonym is contained in the Orkhon inscriptions of the Göktürks (Celestial Turks) of Central Asia (c. 8th century).
The English name Turkey first appeared in the late 14th century, and is derived from Medieval Latin Turchia.
The Greek cognate of this name, Tourkia (Greek: Τουρκία) was used by Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus in De Administrando Imperio, though in his use, “Turks” always referred to Magyars.
Similarly, the medieval Khazar Empire, a Turkic state on the northern shores of the Black and Caspian seas, was referred to as Tourkia (Land of the Turks) in Byzantine sources. However, the Byzantines later began using this name to define the Seljuk-controlled parts of Anatolia in the centuries that followed the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.
History of Turkey
Prehistory of Anatolia and Eastern Thrace
The Anatolian peninsula, comprising most of modern Turkey, is one of the oldest permanently settled regions in the world. Various Ancient Anatolian populations have lived in Anatolia, beginning with the Neolithic period until conquest of Alexander the Great. Many of these peoples spoke the Anatolian languages, a branch of the larger Indo-European language family. In fact, given the antiquity of the Indo-European Hittite and Luwian languages, some scholars have proposed Anatolia as the hypothetical center from which the Indo-European languages radiated. European part of Turkey, called Eastern Thrace, has also been inhabited since forty thousand years ago, and entered Neolithic by about 6000 B.C. with its inhabitants starting the practice of agriculture.
The Lion Gate at Hattusa, capital of the Hittites. The city’s history dates back to before 2000 BC.
Göbekli Tepe is the site of the oldest known man-made religious structure, a temple dating to 10,000 BC, while Çatalhöyük is a very large Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlement in southern Anatolia, which existed from approximately 7500 BCE to 5700 BCE. It is the largest and best-preserved Neolithic site found to date and in July 2012 was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The settlement of Troy started in the Neolithic Age and continued into the Iron Age.
The earliest recorded inhabitants of Anatolia were the Hattians and Hurrians, non-Indo-European peoples who inhabited central and eastern Anatolia, respectively, as early as ca. 2300 BC. Indo-European Hittites came to Anatolia and gradually absorbed the Hattians and Hurrians ca. 2000–1700 BC. The first major empire in the area was founded by the Hittites, from the eighteenth through the 13th century BC. The Assyrians conquered and settled parts of southeastern Turkey as early as 1950 BC until the year 612 BC.
Following the collapse of the Hittite empire c. 1180 BC, the Phrygians, an Indo-European people, achieved ascendancy in Anatolia until their kingdom was destroyed by the Cimmerians in the 7th century BC. The most powerful of Phrygia’s successor states were Lydia, Caria and Lycia.
Antiquity and Byzantine Period
Starting around 1200 BC, the coast of Anatolia was heavily settled by Aeolian and Ionian Greeks. Numerous important cities were founded by these colonists, such as Miletus, Ephesus, Smyrna (modern İzmir) and Byzantium (later Constantinople and Istanbul), the latter founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 657 BC. The first state that was called Armenia by neighboring peoples was the state of the Armenian Orontid dynasty, which included parts of eastern Turkey beginning in the 6th century BC. In Northwest Turkey, the most significant tribal group in Thrace was the Odyrisians, founded by Teres I.
Anatolia was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire during the 6th and 5th centuries BC and later fell to Alexander the Great in 334 BC, which led to increasing cultural homogeneity and Hellenization in the area. Following Alexander’s death in 323 BC, Anatolia was subsequently divided into a number of small Hellenistic kingdoms (including Bithynia, Cappadocia, Pergamum, and Pontus), all of which became part of the Roman Republic by the mid-1st century BC. The process of Hellenization that began with Alexander’s conquest accelerated under Roman rule, so that by the early centuries AD the local Anatolian languages and cultures has become extinct, replaced by Greek.
In 324, Constantine I chose Byzantium to be the new capital of the Roman Empire, renaming it New Rome (later Constantinople, modern Istanbul.) Following the death of Theodosius I in 395 and the permanent division of the Roman Empire between his two sons, Constantinople (Istanbul) became the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which would rule most of the territory of Turkey until the Late Middle Ages.
The Seljuks and the Ottoman Empire
The House of Seljuk was a branch of the Kınık Oğuz Turks who resided on the periphery of the Muslim world, in the Yabghu Khaganate of the Oğuz confederacy, to the north of the Caspian and Aral Seas, in the 9th century. In the 10th century the Seljuks started migrating from their ancestral homeland into Persia, which became the administrative core of the Great Seljuk Empire.
In the latter half of the 11th century the Seljuks began penetrating into the eastern regions of Anatolia. In 1071, the Seljuk Turks defeated the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert, starting Turkification of the area; the Turkish language and Islam were introduced to Anatolia and gradually spread over the region and the slow transition from a predominantly Christian and Greek-speaking Anatolia to a predominantly Muslim and Turkish-speaking one was underway.
In 1243, the Seljuk armies were defeated by the Mongols, causing the Seljuk Empire’s power to slowly disintegrate. In its wake, one of the Turkish principalities governed by Osman I would, over the next 200 years, evolve into the Ottoman Empire, expanding throughout Anatolia, the Balkans, the Levant and North Africa. In 1453, the Ottomans completed their conquest of the Byzantine Empire by capturing its capital, Constantinople.
In 1514, Sultan Selim I (1512–1520) successfully expanded the Empire’s southern and eastern borders by defeating Shah Ismail I of the Safavid dynasty in the Battle of Chaldiran. In 1517, Selim I expanded Ottoman rule into Algeria and Egypt, and created a naval presence in the Red Sea. Subsequently, a competition started between the Ottoman and Portuguese empires to become the dominant sea power in the Indian Ocean, with numerous naval battles in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. The Portuguese presence in the Indian Ocean was perceived as a threat for the Ottoman monopoly over the ancient trading routes between East Asia and Western Europe (later collectively named the Silk Road). This important monopoly was increasingly compromised following the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, which had a considerable impact on the Ottoman economy.
Territorial expansion of the Ottoman Empire in Europe, Asia and Africa between 1481 and 1683.
The Ottoman Empire’s power and prestige peaked in the 16th and 17th centuries, particularly during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. The empire was often at odds with the Holy Roman Empire in its steady advance towards Central Europe through the Balkans and the southern part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. At sea, the Ottoman Navy contended with several Holy Leagues (composed primarily of Habsburg Spain, the Republic of Genoa, the Republic of Venice, the Knights of St. John, the Papal States, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Duchy of Savoy) for control of the Mediterranean Sea. In the east, the Ottomans were occasionally at war with Safavid Persia over conflicts stemming from territorial disputes or religious differences between the 16th and 18th centuries.
From the beginning of the 19th century onwards, the Ottoman Empire began to decline. As it gradually shrank in size, military power and wealth, many Balkan Muslims migrated to the Empire’s heartland in Anatolia, along with the Circassians fleeing the Russian conquest of the Caucasus. The decline of the Ottoman Empire led to a rise in nationalist sentiment among the various subject peoples, leading to increased ethnic tensions which occasionally burst into violence, such as the Hamidian Massacres. The Ottoman Empire entered World War I on the side of the Central Powers and was ultimately defeated. During the war, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were deported and exterminated in the Armenian Genocide. The Turkish government denies that there was an Armenian Genocide and claims that Armenians were only relocated from the eastern war zone. Large scale massacres were also committed against the empire’s other minority groups such as the Greeks and Assyrians. Following the Armistice of Mudros on 30 October 1918, the victorious Allied Powers sought to partition the Ottoman state through the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres.
Republic of Turkey
The occupation of Constantinople and Smyrna by the Allies in the aftermath of World War I prompted the establishment of the Turkish national movement. Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha, a military commander who had distinguished himself during the Battle of Gallipoli, the Turkish War of Independence was waged with the aim of revoking the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres.
By 18 September 1922, the occupying armies were expelled, and the Ankara-based Turkish regime, which declared itself the legitimate government of the country in April 1920, started to formalise the legal transition from the old Ottoman into the new Republican political system. On 1 November, the newly founded parliament formally abolished the Sultanate, thus ending 623 years of Ottoman rule. The Treaty of Lausanne of 24 July 1923 led to the international recognition of the sovereignty of the newly formed “Republic of Turkey” as the continuing state of the Ottoman Empire, and the republic was officially proclaimed on 29 October 1923 in Ankara, the country’s new capital. The Lausanne treaty stipulated a population exchange between Greece and Turkey, whereby 1.1 million Greeks left Turkey for Greece in exchange for 380,000 Muslims transferred from Greece to Turkey.
Mustafa Kemal became the republic’s first President and subsequently introduced many radical reforms with the aim of transforming old Ottoman-Turkish state into a new secular republic.[page needed] With the Surname Law of 1934, the Turkish Parliament bestowed upon Mustafa Kemal the honorific surname “Atatürk” (Father of the Turks.)
Roosevelt, İnönü and Churchill at the Second Cairo Conference which was held between 4–6 December 1943.
Turkey remained neutral during most of World War II, but entered the closing stages of the war on the side of the Allies on 23 February 1945. On 26 June 1945, Turkey became a charter member of the United Nations. Difficulties faced by Greece after the war in quelling a communist rebellion, along with demands by the Soviet Union for military bases in the Turkish Straits, prompted the United States to declare the Truman Doctrine in 1947. The doctrine enunciated American intentions to guarantee the security of Turkey and Greece, and resulted in large-scale U.S. military and economic support. Both countries were included in the Marshall Plan and OEEC for rebuilding European economies in 1948, and subsequently became founding members of the OECD in 1961.
After participating with the United Nations forces in the Korean War, Turkey joined NATO in 1952, becoming a bulwark against Soviet expansion into the Mediterranean. Following a decade of Cypriot intercommunal violence and the coup in Cyprus on 15 July 1974 staged by the EOKA B paramilitary organization, which overthrew President Makarios and installed the pro-Enosis (union with Greece) Nikos Sampson as dictator, Turkey invaded Cyprus on 20 July 1974. Nine years later the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey, was established.
The single-party period ended in 1945. It was followed by a tumultuous transition to multiparty democracy over the next few decades, which was interrupted by military coups d’état in 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997. In 1984, the PKK, a Kurdish separatist group, began an insurgency campaign against the Turkish government, which to date has claimed over 40,000 lives; however, a peace process is currently ongoing. Since the liberalisation of the Turkish economy during the 1980s, the country has enjoyed stronger economic growth and greater political stability. In 2013, widespread protests erupted in many Turkish provinces, sparked by a plan to demolish Gezi Park but growing into general anti-government dissent.
Turkey is a parliamentary representative democracy. Since its foundation as a republic in 1923, Turkey has developed a strong tradition of secularism. Turkey’s constitution governs the legal framework of the country. It sets out the main principles of government and establishes Turkey as a unitary centralized state.
The President of the Republic is the head of state and has a largely ceremonial role. The president is elected for a five-year term by direct elections. Abdullah Gül was elected as president on 28 August 2007, by a popular parliament round of votes.
Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers which make up the government, while the legislative power is vested in the unicameral parliament, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature, and the Constitutional Court is charged with ruling on the conformity of laws and decrees with the constitution. The Council of State is the tribunal of last resort for administrative cases, and the High Court of Appeals for all others.
The prime minister is elected by the parliament through a vote of confidence in the government and is most often the head of the party having the most seats in parliament. The current prime minister is the former mayor of İstanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose conservative Justice and Development Party was elected for a third consecutive time in 2011 general elections. Although the ministers do not have to be members of the parliament, ministers with parliament membership are common in Turkish politics.
The Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara during a speech of U.S. President Barack Obama on 6 April 2009.
Universal suffrage for both sexes has been applied throughout Turkey since 1933, and every Turkish citizen who has turned 18 years of age has the right to vote. There are 550 members of parliament who are elected for a four-year term by a party-list proportional representation system from 85 electoral districts.
In 2004, there were 50 registered political parties in the country. The Constitutional Court can strip the public financing of political parties that it deems anti-secular or separatist, or ban their existence altogether. The electoral threshold is 10% of the votes.
Supporters of Atatürk’s reforms are called Kemalists, as distinguished from Islamists, representing two extremes on a continuum of beliefs about the proper role of religion in public life. The Kemalist position generally combines a kind of authoritarian democracy with a westernised secular lifestyle, while supporting state intervention in the economy. Since the 1980s, a rise in income inequality and class distinction has given rise to Islamic populism, a movement that in theory supports obligation to authority, communal solidarity and social justice, though it is contested what it entails in practice.
Human rights in Turkey have been the subject of some controversy and international condemnation. Between 1998 and 2008 the European Court of Human Rights made more than 1,600 judgements against Turkey for human rights violations, particularly the right to life and freedom from torture. Other issues such as Kurdish rights, women’s rights and press freedom have also attracted controversy. Turkey’s human rights record continues to be a significant obstacle to future membership of the EU.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Turkish government has waged one of the world’s biggest crackdowns on press freedoms. A large number of journalists have been arrested using charges of terrorism and anti-state activities such as the Ergenekon and Balyoz cases, while thousands have been investigated on charges such as “denigrating Turkishness” in an effort to sow self-censorship. In 2012, CPJ identified 76 journalists in jail, including 61 directly held for their published work, more than Iran, Eritrea and China. A former U.S. State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, said that the United States had “broad concerns about trends involving intimidation of journalists in Turkey.”
Turkey is a founding member of the OECD and the G-20 major economies.
Turkey began full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005, having been an associate member of the EEC since 1963, and having joined the EU Customs Union in 1995.
Turkey is a founding member of the United Nations (1945), the OECD (1961), the OIC (1969), the OSCE (1973), the ECO (1985), the BSEC (1992), the D-8 (1997) and the G-20 major economies (1999). On 17 October 2008, Turkey was elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Turkey’s membership of the council effectively began on 1 January 2009. Turkey had previously been a member of the U.N. Security Council in 1951–1952, 1954–1955 and 1961.
In line with its traditional Western orientation, relations with Europe have always been a central part of Turkish foreign policy. Turkey became a founding member of the Council of Europe in 1949, applied for associate membership of the EEC (predecessor of the European Union) in 1959 and became an associate member in 1963. After decades of political negotiations, Turkey applied for full membership of the EEC in 1987, became an associate member of the Western European Union in 1992, joined the EU Customs Union in 1995 and has been in formal accession negotiations with the EU since 2005.
Since 1974, Turkey has not recognized the Republic of Cyprus, but instead supports the Turkish Cypriot community in the form of the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which was established in 1983 and is recognized only by Turkey. The Cyprus dispute complicates Turkey’s relations with both NATO and the EU, and remains a major stumbling block to Turkey’s EU accession bid.
The other defining aspect of Turkey’s foreign relations has been its ties with the United States. Based on the common threat posed by the Soviet Union, Turkey joined NATO in 1952, ensuring close bilateral relations with Washington throughout the Cold War. In the post–Cold War environment, Turkey’s geostrategic importance shifted towards its proximity to the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Balkans. In return, Turkey has benefited from the United States’ political, economic and diplomatic support, including in key issues such as the country’s bid to join the European Union.
The independence of the Turkic states of the Soviet Union in 1991, with which Turkey shares a common cultural and linguistic heritage, allowed Turkey to extend its economic and political relations deep into Central Asia, thus enabling the completion of a multi-billion-dollar oil and natural gas pipeline from Baku in Azerbaijan to the port of Ceyhan in Turkey. The Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline forms part of Turkey’s foreign policy strategy to become an energy conduit to the West. However, Turkey’s border with Armenia, a state in the Caucasus, remains closed following Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijani territory during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. Under the AK Party government, Turkey’s influence has grown in the Middle East based on the strategic depth doctrine, also called Neo-Ottomanism.
The Turkish Armed Forces consists of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. The Gendarmerie and the Coast Guard operate as parts of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in peacetime, although they are subordinated to the Army and Navy Commands respectively in wartime, during which they have both internal law enforcement and military functions. The Chief of the General Staff is appointed by the President and is responsible to the Prime Minister. The Council of Ministers is responsible to the Parliament for matters of national security and the adequate preparation of the armed forces to defend the country. However, the authority to declare war and to deploy the Turkish Armed Forces to foreign countries or to allow foreign armed forces to be stationed in Turkey rests solely with the Parliament. The actual Commander of the Armed Forces is the Chief of the General Staff General Necdet Özel since August 4, 2011.
The Turkish Armed Forces is the second largest standing armed force in NATO, after the U.S. Armed Forces, with an estimated strength of 495,000 deployable forces, according to a 2011 NATO estimate. According to SIPRI, Turkish military expenditures in 2012 amounted to $18.2 billion, the 15th highest in the world, representing 2.3% of GDP, down from 3.4% in 2003.
Every fit male Turkish citizen otherwise not barred is required to serve in the military for a period ranging from three weeks to fifteen months, dependent on education and job location. Turkey does not recognise conscientious objection and does not offer a civilian alternative to military service.
Turkey is one of five NATO member states which are part of the nuclear sharing policy of the alliance, together with Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. A total of 90 B61 nuclear bombs are hosted at the Incirlik Air Base, 40 of which are allocated for use by the Turkish Air Force in case of a nuclear conflict, but their use requires the approval of NATO.
In 1998, Turkey announced a modernisation program worth US$160 billion over a twenty-year period in various projects including tanks, fighter jets, helicopters, submarines, warships and assault rifles. Turkey is a Level 3 contributor to the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.
Turkey has maintained forces in international missions under the United Nations and NATO since 1950, including peacekeeping missions in Somalia and former Yugoslavia, and support to coalition forces in the First Gulf War. Turkey maintains 36,000 troops in Northern Cyprus, though their presence is controversial. Turkey has had troops deployed in Afghanistan as part of the United States stabilisation force and the UN-authorized, NATO-commanded International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) since 2001. Since 2003, Turkey contributes military personnel to Eurocorps and takes part in the EU Battlegroups. Since 2006, Turkish troops are also part of an expanded United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Turkey is subdivided into 81 provinces for administrative purposes. Each province is divided into districts, for a total of 923 districts. An estimated 75.5% of Turkey’s population live in urban centers.
Turkey is a transcontinental Eurasian country. Asian Turkey (made up largely of Anatolia), which includes 97% of the country, is separated from European Turkey by the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles (which together form a water link between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean). European Turkey (eastern Thrace or Rumelia in the Balkan peninsula) comprises 3% of the country.
The territory of Turkey is more than 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) long and 800 km (500 mi) wide, with a roughly rectangular shape. It lies between latitudes 35° and 43° N, and longitudes 25° and 45° E. Turkey’s area, including lakes, occupies 783,562 square kilometres (300,948 sq mi), of which 755,688 square kilometres (291,773 sq mi) are in Southwest Asia and 23,764 square kilometres (9,174 sq mi) in Europe. Turkey is the world’s 37th-largest country in terms of area. The country is encircled by seas on three sides: the Aegean Sea to the west, the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean to the south. Turkey also contains the Sea of Marmara in the northwest.
Mount Ararat (Ağrı Dağı) is the highest peak in Turkey with 5,137 m (16,854 ft)
The European section of Turkey, East Thrace, forms the borders of Turkey with Greece and Bulgaria. The Asian part of the country, Anatolia, consists of a high central plateau with narrow coastal plains, between the Köroğlu and Pontic mountain ranges to the north and the Taurus Mountains to the south. Eastern Turkey has a more mountainous landscape and is home to the sources of rivers such as the Euphrates, Tigris and Aras, and contains Mount Ararat, Turkey’s highest point at 5,137 metres (16,854 ft), and Lake Van, the largest lake in the country.
Turkey is divided into seven census regions: Marmara, Aegean, Black Sea, Central Anatolia, Eastern Anatolia, Southeastern Anatolia and the Mediterranean. The uneven north Anatolian terrain running along the Black Sea resembles a long, narrow belt. This region comprises approximately one-sixth of Turkey’s total land area. As a general trend, the inland Anatolian plateau becomes increasingly rugged as it progresses eastward.
Turkey’s varied landscapes are the product of complex earth movements that have shaped the region over thousands of years and still manifest themselves in fairly frequent earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions. The Bosphorus and the Dardanelles owe their existence to the fault lines running through Turkey that led to the creation of the Black Sea. There is an earthquake fault line across the north of the country from west to east, which caused a major earthquake in 1999.
The coastal areas of Turkey bordering the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea have a temperate Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild to cool, wet winters. The coastal areas of Turkey bordering the Black Sea have a temperate Oceanic climate with warm, wet summers and cool to cold, wet winters. The Turkish Black Sea coast receives the greatest amount of precipitation and is the only region of Turkey that receives high precipitation throughout the year. The eastern part of that coast averages 2,500 millimetres annually which is the highest precipitation in the country.
The coastal areas of Turkey bordering the Sea of Marmara (including Istanbul), which connects the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea, have a transitional climate between a temperate Mediterranean climate and a temperate Oceanic climate with warm to hot, moderately dry summers and cool to cold, wet winters. Snow does occur on the coastal areas of the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea almost every winter, but it usually lies no more than a few days. Snow on the other hand is rare in the coastal areas of the Aegean Sea and very rare in the coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea.
Conditions can be much harsher in the more arid interior. Mountains close to the coast prevent Mediterranean influences from extending inland, giving the central Anatolian plateau of the interior of Turkey a continental climate with sharply contrasting seasons.
Winters on the eastern part of the plateau are especially severe. Temperatures of −30 °C to −40 °C (−22 °F to −40 °F) can occur in eastern Anatolia, and snow may lie on the ground at least 120 days of the year. In the west, winter temperatures average below 1 °C (34 °F). Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures generally above 30 °C (86 °F) in the day. Annual precipitation averages about 400 millimetres (15 in), with actual amounts determined by elevation. The driest regions are the Konya plain and the Malatya plain, where annual rainfall frequently is less than 300 millimetres (12 in). May is generally the wettest month, whereas July and August are the driest.
Turkey has the world’s 15th largest GDP-PPP and 17th largest nominal GDP. The country is among the founding members of the OECD and the G-20 major economies. During the first six decades of the republic, between 1923 and 1983, Turkey has mostly adhered to a quasi-statist approach with strict government planning of the budget and government-imposed limitations over private sector participation, foreign trade, flow of foreign currency, and foreign direct investment. However, in 1983 Prime Minister Turgut Özal initiated a series of reforms designed to shift the economy from a statist, insulated system to a more private-sector, market-based model.
The reforms, combined with unprecedented amounts of foreign loans, spurred rapid economic growth; but this growth was punctuated by sharp recessions and financial crises in 1994, 1999 (following the earthquake of that year), and 2001 resulting in an average of 4% GDP growth per annum between 1981 and 2003. Lack of additional fiscal reforms, combined with large and growing public sector deficits and widespread corruption, resulted in high inflation, a weak banking sector and increased macroeconomic volatility. Since the economic crisis of 2001 and the reforms initiated by the finance minister of the time, Kemal Derviş, inflation has fallen to single-digit numbers, investor confidence and foreign investment have soared, and unemployment has fallen.
Turkish brands like Beko and Vestel are among the largest producers of consumer electronics and home appliances in Europe.
The European Union – Turkey Customs Union, which went into force on 1 January 1996, led to an extensive liberalisation of tariff rates, and forms the pillar of Turkey’s trade policy. Turkey has gradually opened up its markets through economic reforms by reducing government controls on foreign trade and investment and the privatisation of publicly owned industries, and the liberalisation of many sectors to private and foreign participation has continued amid political debate. The public debt to GDP ratio peaked at 75.9% during the recession of 2001, falling to an estimated 26.9% by 2013.
The real GDP growth rate from 2002 to 2007 averaged 6.8% annually, which made Turkey one of the fastest growing economies in the world during that period. However, growth slowed to 1% in 2008, and in 2009 the Turkish economy was affected by the global financial crisis, with a recession of 5%. The economy was estimated to have returned to 8% growth in 2010. According to Eurostat data, Turkish GDP per capita adjusted by purchasing power standard stood at 52% of the EU average in 2011.
In the early years of this century the chronically high inflation was brought under control and this led to the launch of a new currency, the Turkish new lira, on 1 January 2005, to cement the acquisition of the economic reforms and erase the vestiges of an unstable economy. On 1 January 2009, the new Turkish lira was renamed once again as the Turkish lira, with the introduction of new banknotes and coins. As a result of continuing economic reforms, inflation dropped to 8% in 2005, and the unemployment rate to 10%.
Tourism in Turkey has experienced rapid growth in the last twenty years, and constitutes an important part of the economy. In 2011, 33.3 million foreign visitors arrived in Turkey, making the country the sixth most-popular tourism destination in the world; they contributed $23 billion to Turkey’s revenues. Other key sectors of the Turkish economy are banking, construction, home appliances, electronics, textiles, oil refining, petrochemical products, food, mining, iron and steel, machine industry and automotive. Turkey has a large automotive industry, which produced 1,072,339 motor vehicles in 2012, ranking as the 16th largest producer in the world.
Turkey ranks 16th in motor vehicle production in the world and Turkish automotive companies like TEMSA, Otokar, and BMC are among the world’s largest van, bus and truck manufacturers.
The Turkish shipbuilding industry realized exports worth US$ 1.2 billion in 2011. The major export markets are Malta, Marshall Islands, Panama and the United Kingdom. Turkish shipyards have 15 floating docks of different sizes and one dry dock. Tuzla, Yalova, and İzmit have developed into dynamic shipbuilding centres. In 2011, there were 70 active shipyards in Turkey, with another 56 being built. Turkish shipyards are considered to be highly ranked in the production of chemical and oil tankers up to 10,000 dwt. Turkish yards are also highly regarded in the production of mega yachts.
In 2010, the agricultural sector accounted for 9% of GDP, while the industrial sector accounted for 26% and the services sector 65%. However, agriculture still accounted for 24.7% of employment. In 2004, it was estimated that 46% of total disposable income was received by the top of 20% income earners, while the lowest 20% received 6%. The rate of female employment in Turkey was 29.5% in 2012, the lowest among all OECD countries.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) was $8.3 billion in 2012, a figure expected to rise to $15 billion in 2013. In 2012 Fitch Group upgraded Turkey’s credit rating to investment grade after an 18-year gap; this was followed by a ratings upgrade by Moody’s in May 2013, as the service lifted Turkey’s government bond ratings to the lowest investment grade Baa3.
By 2009 exports were $110 bn and in 2010 it was $117 bn (main export partners in 2009: Germany 10%, France 6%, UK 6%, Italy 6%, Iraq 5%). However larger imports, which amounted to $166 billion in 2010, threatened the balance of trade (main import partners in 2009: Russia 14%, Germany 10%, China 9%, US 6%, Italy 5%, France 5%).
In the decade to 2013, the energy consumption has increased from 130 billion kilowatt hours to 240 billion. As Turkey imported 72% of its energy in 2013, the government decided to invest in nuclear power to reduce imports. Three nuclear power stations are to be built by 2023.
Year Pop. ±% p.a.
1927 13,554,000 —
1930 14,440,000 2.13%
1940 17,728,000 2.07%
1950 20,807,000 1.61%
1960 27,506,000 2.83%
1970 35,321,000 2.53%
1980 44,439,000 2.32%
1990 55,120,000 2.18%
2000 64,252,000 1.54%
2010 73,003,000 1.29%
2011 73,950,000 1.30%
2012 75,627,000 2.27%
The last official census was in 2000 and recorded a total country population of 67,803,927 inhabitants. According to the Address-Based Population Recording System of Turkey, the country’s population was 74.7 million people in 2011, nearly three-quarters of whom lived in towns and cities. According to the 2011 estimate, the population is increasing by 1.35% each year. Turkey has an average population density of 97 people per km². People within the 15–64 age group constitute 67.4% of the total population; the 0–14 age group corresponds to 25.3%; while senior citizens aged 65 years or older make up 7.3%. In 1927, when the first official census was recorded in the Republic of Turkey, the population was 13.6 million.
Life expectancy stands at 71.1 years for men and 75.3 years for women, with an overall average of 73.2 years for the populace as a whole.
Article 66 of the Turkish Constitution defines a “Turk” as “anyone who is bound to the Turkish state through the bond of citizenship”; therefore, the legal use of the term “Turkish” as a citizen of Turkey is different from the ethnic definition. However, the majority of the Turkish population are of Turkish ethnicity. They are estimated at 70–75% by the CIA World Factbook.
The three minority groups officially recognised in the Treaty of Lausanne are Armenians, Greeks and Jews. The formerly numerous Greek population was greatly reduced by population exchange between Greece and Turkey carried out in the 1920s. Following decades of state-sponsored discrimination, the formerly 110,000-strong Greek community of Istanbul has now shrunk to approximately 3,000. Other ethnic groups include Abkhazians, Albanians, Arabs, Assyrians, Bosniaks, Circassians, Georgians, Hamshenis, Laz, Pomaks (Bulgarians), Roma.
The Kurds, a distinct ethnic group concentrated mainly in the southeastern provinces of the country, are the largest non-Turkic ethnicity, variously estimated around 18%. Minorities besides the Kurds are thought to make up an estimated 7–12% of the population. Minorities other than the three officially recognized ones do not have specific minority rights, while the term “minority” itself remains a sensitive issue in Turkey and the Government of Turkey is frequently being criticized for its treatment of minorities, with Human Rights Watch stating in 2012: “The government’s ‘democratic opening’, announced in the summer of 2009 to address the minority rights of the Kurds in Turkey, did not progress.”
Minorities of West European origin include the Levantines (or Levanter, mostly of French, Genoese and Venetian descent) who have been present in the country (particularly in Istanbul and İzmir) since the medieval period.
Reliable data on the ethnic mix of the population is not available, because Turkish census figures do not include statistics on ethnicity.
An estimated 71% of the population live in urban centers. In all, 18 provinces have populations that exceed 1 million inhabitants, and 21 provinces have populations between 1 million and 500,000 inhabitants. Only two provinces have populations less than 100,000.
The country’s official language is Turkish, which is spoken by approximately 85% of the population as mother tongue. Around 12% of the population speaks Kurdish as mother tongue. Arabic and Zaza are the mother tongues of more than 1% of the population each, and several other languages are the mother tongues of smaller parts of the population.
Endangered languages in Turkey include Abaza, Abkhaz, Adyge, Cappadocian Greek, Gagauz, Hértevin, Homshetsma, Judezmo, Kabard-Cherkes, Laz, Mlahso, Pontic Greek, Romani, Suret, Turoyo, Ubykh, Western Armenian, Zazaki.
Turkey is a secular state with no official state religion; the Turkish Constitution provides for freedom of religion and conscience. Islam is the dominant religion of Turkey; it exceeds 99% if secular people of Muslim background are included, with the most popular sect being the Hanafite school of Sunni Islam. The highest Islamic religious authority is the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Turkish: Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı), it interprets the Hanafi school of law, and is responsible for regulating the operation of the country’s 80,000 registered mosques and employing local and provincial imams. Academics suggest the Alevi population may be from 15 to 20 million. According to Aksiyon magazine, the number of Shiite Twelvers (excluding Alevis) is 3 million (4.2%). There are also some Sufi practitioners.
The percentage of non-Muslims in Turkey had fallen from 19.1% in 1914 to 2.5% in 1927. Currently, there are about 120,000 people of different Christian denominations, representing less than 0.2% of Turkey’s population, including an estimated 80,000 Oriental Orthodox, 35,000 Roman Catholics, 5,000 Greek Orthodox and smaller numbers of Protestants. Today there are 236 churches open for worship in Turkey. The Eastern Orthodox Church has been headquartered in Istanbul since the 4th century.
Furthermore, there are about 26,000 people who are Jewish, the vast majority of whom are Sephardi. The Bahá’í Faith in Turkey has roots in Bahá’u’lláh’s, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, being exiled to Constantinople, current-day Istanbul, by the Ottoman authorities. Bahá’ís cannot register with the government officially, but there are probably 10 to 20 thousand Bahá’ís, and around a hundred Bahá’í Local Spiritual Assemblies in Turkey.
The role of religion has been a controversial debate over the years since the formation of Islamist parties. The wearing of the Hijab is banned in universities and public or government buildings as some view it as a symbol of Islam – though there have been efforts to lift the ban. In a KONDA survey, 69.4% of the respondents reported that they or their wives cover their heads (1.3% reporting chador), although this rate decreases in several demographics: 53% in ages 18–28, 27.5% in university graduates, 16.1% in masters-or-higher-degree holders. There are also regional variations, with 30% of women in Istanbul reporting covering their hair.
According to the KONDA Research and Consultancy survey carried out throughout Turkey on 2007: 9.7% defined themselves as “a fully devout person fulfilling all religious obligations” (fully devout); 52.8% defined themselves as “a religious person who strives to fulfill religious obligations” (religious); 34.3% defined themselves as “a believer who does not fulfill religious obligations” (believer); 2.3% defined themselves as “someone who does not believe in religious obligations” (non-believer/agnostic); and 0.9% defined themselves as “someone with no religious conviction” (atheist).
Turkey has a very diverse culture that is a blend of various elements of the Oğuz Turkic, Anatolian, Ottoman (which was itself a continuation of both Greco-Roman and Islamic cultures) and Western culture and traditions, which started with the Westernisation of the Ottoman Empire and still continues today. This mix originally began as a result of the encounter of Turks and their culture with those of the peoples who were in their path during their migration from Central Asia to the West.
As Turkey successfully transformed from the religion-based former Ottoman Empire into a modern nation-state with a very strong separation of state and religion, an increase in the modes of artistic expression followed. During the first years of the republic, the government invested a large amount of resources into fine arts; such as museums, theatres, opera houses and architecture. Diverse historical factors play important roles in defining the modern Turkish identity. Turkish culture is a product of efforts to be a “modern” Western state, while maintaining traditional religious and historical values. The mix of cultural influences is dramatized, for example, in the form of the “new symbols of the clash and interlacing of cultures” enacted in the works of Orhan Pamuk, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Turkey won the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time with “Everyway That I Can” by Sertab Erener in Riga, 2003.
Turkish music and literature form great examples of such a mix of cultural influences, which were a result of the interaction between the Ottoman Empire and the Islamic world along with Europe, thus contributing to a blend of Turkic, Islamic and European traditions in modern-day Turkish music and literary arts. Turkish literature was heavily influenced by Persian and Arabic literature during most of the Ottoman era, though towards the end of the Ottoman Empire, particularly after the Tanzimat period, the effect of both Turkish folk and European literary traditions became increasingly felt. The Tanzimat reforms of 1839–1876 brought changes to the language of Ottoman written literature, and introduced previously unknown Western genres, primarily the novel and the short story.
Many of the writers in the Tanzimat period wrote in several different genres simultaneously: for instance, the poet Nâmık Kemal also wrote the important 1876 novel İntibâh (Awakening), while the journalist Şinasi is noted for writing, in 1860, the first modern Turkish play, the one-act comedy “Şair Evlenmesi” (The Poet’s Marriage). Most of the roots of modern Turkish literature were formed between the years 1896 and 1923. Broadly, there were three primary literary movements during this period: the Edebiyyât-ı Cedîde (New Literature) movement; the Fecr-i Âtî (Dawn of the Future) movement; and the Millî Edebiyyât (National Literature) movement. The Edebiyyât-ı Cedîde (New Literature) movement began with the founding in 1891 of the magazine Servet-i Fünûn (Scientific Wealth), which was largely devoted to progress (both intellectual and scientific) along the Western model. Accordingly, the magazine’s literary ventures, under the direction of the poet Tevfik Fikret, were geared towards creating a Western-style “high art” in Turkey.
The first radical step of innovation in 20th century Turkish poetry was taken by Nâzım Hikmet, who introduced the free verse style. Another revolution in Turkish poetry came about in 1941 with the Garip Movement led by Orhan Veli Kanık, Melih Cevdet Anday and Oktay Rıfat. Explicitly opposing themselves to everything that had gone in poetry before, they sought instead to create a popular art. They employed not only a variant of the free verse introduced by Nâzım Hikmet, but also a highly colloquial language, and wrote primarily about mundane daily subjects and the ordinary man on the street. The reaction was immediate and polarized: most of the academic establishment and older poets vilified them, while much of the Turkish population embraced them wholeheartedly.
Architectural elements found in Turkey are also testaments to the unique mix of traditions that have influenced the region over the centuries. In addition to the traditional Byzantine elements present in numerous parts of Turkey, many artifacts of the later Ottoman architecture, with its exquisite blend of local and Islamic traditions, are to be found throughout the country, as well as in many former territories of the Ottoman Empire. Mimar Sinan is widely regarded as the greatest architect of the classical period in Ottoman architecture. Since the 18th century, Turkish architecture has been increasingly influenced by Western styles, and this can be particularly seen in Istanbul where Tanzimat era buildings like the Dolmabahçe, Çırağan, Beylerbeyi and Küçüksu Palaces (designed by court architects from the Ottoman Armenian Balyan family) are juxtaposed next to numerous modern skyscrapers, all of them representing different traditions.
Turkish television dramas are increasingly becoming popular beyond Turkey’s borders and are among the country’s most vital exports, both in terms of profit and public relations.
The most popular sport in Turkey is association football (soccer). Turkey’s top teams include Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor. The Turkish national team finished third in the 2002 World Cup Finals. Other mainstream sports such as basketball and volleyball are also popular. Efes Pilsen S.K. won the Korać Cup in 1996, finished second in the Saporta Cup of 1993, and made it to the Final Four of Euroleague and Suproleague in 2000 and 2001. Turkish basketball players such as Mehmet Okur and Hedo Turkoglu have also been successful in the NBA. Women’s volleyball teams, namely Fenerbahçe, Eczacıbaşı and Vakıfbank Güneş Sigorta have won numerous European championship titles and medals.
The traditional Turkish national sport has been yağlı güreş (oiled wrestling) since Ottoman times. Edirne has hosted the annual Kırkpınar oiled wrestling tournament since 1361. International wrestling styles governed by FILA such as Freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling are also popular, with many European, World and Olympic championship titles won by Turkish wrestlers both individually and as a national team.
Turkish weightlifters, both male and female, have broken numerous world records and won several European, World and Olympic championship titles. Naim Süleymanoğlu and Halil Mutlu have achieved legendary status as one of the few weightlifters to have won three gold medals in three Olympics.
The Rally of Turkey was included in the FIA World Rally Championship calendar in 2003, while Formula One race weekends held at the Istanbul Park racing circuit occurred annually between the 2005 and 2011 Formula One seasons, though not in 2012.
Education in Turkey is governed by a national system which was established in accordance with Atatürk’s reforms after the foundation of the Republic in 1923. It is a state-supervised system designed to produce a skilful professional class for the social and economic institutes of the nation. The adult literacy rate in 2011 was 94.1%.
The Ministry of National Education is responsible for pre-tertiary education. New legislation introduced in March 2012 prolonged compulsory education to twelve years, divided in four years of primary school, four years of middle school and four years of high school. Among Turkish people in the 25-34 year bracket, 42% have attained at least upper secondary education, compared with an OECD average of 82%. Basic education in Turkey is considered to lag behind other OECD countries, with significant differences between high and low performers. Turkey is ranked 32nd out of 34 in the OECD’s PISA study. Access to high-quality school heavily depends on the performance in the secondary school entrance exams, to the point that some students begin taking private tutoring classes when they’re 10 years old.
By 2011, there were 166 universities in Turkey. Entry in the higher education system is regulated by the Student Selection Examination (ÖSS). In 2008, the quota of admitted students was 600,000, compared to 1,700,000 who took the ÖSS exam in 2007. Except for the Open Education Faculty (Turkish: Açıköğretim Fakültesi) at Anadolu University, entrance is regulated by the national ÖSS examination, after which high school graduates are assigned to universities according to their performance. According to the 2012-2013 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the top university in Turkey is Middle East Technical University (in the 201-225 rank range), followed by Bilkent University and Koç University (both in the 226-250 range), Istanbul Technical University and Boğaziçi University (in the 276-300 bracket).
*Above information courtesey of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.