Turkey

Learn more about Turkey

Jump to: navigation, search
This article is currently semi-protected to prevent sock puppets of currently blocked or banned users from editing it. Please discuss changes on the talk page, or request unprotection.
This article is about the country Turkey. For other uses, see Turkey (disambiguation).
Türkiye Cumhuriyeti
Republic of Turkey
Image:Flag of Turkey.svg Image:Türkiye arması.svg
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Turkish: Yurtta Sulh, Cihanda Sulh
(English: "Peace at Home, Peace in the World")
Anthem: İstiklâl Marşı
(English: "Independence March")
Capital Ankara
41°1′N 28°57′E
Largest city İstanbul
Official languages Turkish (Türkçe)
Government Republic
 - Founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
 - President of the Republic Ahmet Necdet Sezer
 - Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Formation  
 - Ottoman Empire 1299 
 - Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire 19081922 
 - Formation of Parliament 23 April 1920 
 - Start of War of Independence 19 May 1919 
 - Victory Day 30 August 1922 
 - Declaration of Republic 29 October 1923 
Area
 - Total 783,562 km² (37th)
302,534 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 1.3
Population
 - 2005 estimate 73,193,000 (17th1)
 - 2000 census 67,844,903
 - Density 93/km² (102nd1)
241/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2006 estimate
 - Total $612.3 billion (17th)
 - Per capita $8,385 (75th)
HDI  (2003) 0.750 (medium) (94th)
Currency New Turkish Lira2 (TRY)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 - Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Internet TLD .tr
Calling code +90
1 Population and population density rankings based on 2005 figures.
2 The New Turkish Lira (Yeni Türk Lirası) replaced the old Turkish Lira on 1 January 2005.</p>
A graphical timeline is available here:


Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye), officially the Republic of Turkey (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti ), is a Eurasian country that stretches across the Anatolian peninsula in Southwestern Asia and the Balkan region of Southeastern Europe. Turkey borders eight countries: Bulgaria to the northwest; Greece to the west; Georgia to the northeast; Armenia, Iran and the Nakhichevan exclave of Azerbaijan to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the southeast. In addition, it borders the Black Sea to the north; the Aegean Sea and the Sea of Marmara to the west; and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.

Turkey is a democratic, secular, constitutional republic whose political system was established in 1923 under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk following the fall of the Ottoman Empire. It is a founding member of the United Nations,<ref>http://www.un.org/Overview/growth.htm Turkey founding member of the UN</ref> the OIC,<ref>http://www.oic-oci.org/english/main/member-States.htm Turkey founding member of the OIC</ref> the OECD<ref>http://www.oecd.org/document/48/0,2340,en_2649_201185_1876912_1_1_1_1,00.html Turkey founding member of the OECD</ref> and the OSCE,<ref>http://www.osce.org/about/13131.html#T Turkey founding member of the OSCE</ref> a member state of the Council of Europe since 1949<ref>http://www.coe.int/T/E/Com/About_Coe/Member_states/e_tu.asp#TopOfPage Accession of Turkey to Council of Europe</ref> and of the NATO since 1952,<ref>http://www.nato.int/multi/photos/1952/m520218a.htm Accession of Turkey to NATO</ref> and is currently in accession negotiations with the European Union, being an associate member since 1964.<ref>http://www.abgs.gov.tr/en/tur-eu_relations_dosyalar/chronology.htm</ref>.

Due to its strategic location straddling Europe and Asia, Turkey has been a historical crossroad between eastern and western cultures.

Contents

Etymology

The Turkish name for Turkey, Türkiye, subdivides into two words: Türk, meaning "strong" in Old Turkish and usually signifying the habitants of Turkey or a member of the Turkish nation; and the possessive suffix -iye, which means "owner" or "related to". The term "Türk" or "Türük" was first used as an autonym by the Göktürks (English: Sky Turks) of Central Asia.

History

Antiquity

The region comprising modern Turkey is one of the oldest continually inhabited regions in the world, because of its strategic location at the intersection of Asia and Europe. The earliest Neolithic settlements such as Çatalhöyük (Pottery Neolithic), Çayönü (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A to pottery Neolithic), Nevali Cori (Pre-Pottery Neolithic B), Hacilar (Pottery Neolithic), Göbekli Tepe (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A) and Mersin are considered as the earliest human settlements in the world. The settlement of Troy starts in the Neolithic and continues forward into the Iron Age. Through recorded history, Anatolians have spoken Indo-European, Semitic and Kartvelian languages, as well as many languages of uncertain affiliation. 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 have radiated. Other authors have proposed an Anatolian origin for the Etruscans of ancient Italy.

Image:SardisGymnasium1February2003.JPG
Ceremonial court in the ancient city of Sardes

The first major empire in the area was that of the Hittites, from the 18th through the 13th century BC. Subsequently, the Phrygians, an Indo-European people, achieved ascendancy until their kingdom was destroyed by the Cimmerians in the 7th century BC. The most powerful of Phrygia's successor states was Lydia, Caria and Lycia. The Lydians and Lycians spoke languages that were fundamentally Indo-European, but both languages had acquired non-Indo-European elements prior to the Hittite and Hellenic periods.

Coastal Anatolia (Ionia) meanwhile was settled by Greeks. The entire area was overrun by the Persians during the 6th and 5th centuries and fell to Alexander the Great in 334 BC. Anatolia was subsequently divided into a number of small Hellenistic kingdoms (including Bithynia, Cappadocia, Pergamum, and Pontus), all of which had succumbed to Rome by the mid-1st century BC. In AD 324 the Roman emperor Constantine I chose Constantinople, now Istanbul, as the capital of the Roman Empire. It subsequently became the capital of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire.

History of Turks and Middle Ages

The House of Seljuk was a branch of the Kinik Oğuz Turks who in the 9th century lived on the periphery of the Muslim world, north of the Caspian and Aral seas in their Yabghu Khaganate of the Oğuz confederacy <ref>Wink, Andre, Al Hind the Making of the Indo Islamic World, Brill Academic Publishers, Jan 1, 1996, ISBN 9-004-09249-8 pg.9</ref>. In the 10th century, the Seljuks migrated from their ancestral homelands into the eastern Anatolian regions which had been an area of settlement for Oğuz Turkic tribes since the end of first millenium. The gradual conquest of Anatolia from the Byzantines by Turkic tribes under the Seljuks after the Battle of Manzikert and the rise of the Seljuk Empire in the 11th century was finalized by the rise of the Ottoman Empire after 1299. Mass conversions to Islam by native Anatolians and peoples of the newly acquired lands helped create an Islam-based religious identity rather than a Turkic-based ethnic identity in the Empire.

The Ottoman Empire interacted with both Eastern and Western cultures throughout its 631-year history. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottoman Empire was among the world's most powerful political entities, often locking horns with the powers of eastern Europe in its steady advance through the Balkans and the southern part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Following years of decline, the Ottoman Empire entered the First World War through the Ottoman-German Alliance in 1914 - a war in which it was ultimately defeated. After the war, the victorious Allied Powers sought the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire through the Treaty of Sèvres.

Modern era

Image:Flag of Turkey.svg History of Republic of Turkey}"> |
}}v  d  e</div>
War of Independence | Single Party Period | Multi-Party Period
Timeline of Independence | Timeline of Republic
Economic history | Constitutional History | Military History
On 19 May 1919 this prompted the beginning of establishment of the Turkish national movement under the leadership Mustafa Kemal Pasha, a military commander who had distinguished himself in the Battle of Gallipoli. Turkish national movement sought to revoke the terms of the treaty signed by the Sultan in Istanbul. This involved mobilizing every available part of Turkish society in what would become the Turkish War of Independence (Turkish: Kurtuluş Savaşı). By 18 September 1922 the occupying armies were repelled and the country saw the birth of a Turkish state. On 1 November 1922 the Turkish Grand National Assembly formally abolished the office of the Sultan, ending 631 years of Ottoman rule. The Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 led to the international recognization of the sovereignty of the newly formed "Republic of Turkey".

In the coming years, Atatürk's reforms changed the landscape of the country and Kemal Pasha became the Republic's first President and instituted with the aim of modernizing the new Republic from the remnants of its Ottoman past. According to the Law on Family Names, the Turkish National Assembly presented Mustafa Kemal with the honorific name "Atatürk" (meaning Father of the Turks) in 1934.

Turkey entered World War II on the Allied side in the latter stages of the war as a ceremonial gesture and became a charter member of the United Nations. Difficulties faced by Greece after World War II in quelling a communist rebellion and 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 US military and economic support.

After participating with United Nations forces in the Korean conflict, Turkey in 1952 joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Turkey intervened and militarily invaded Cyprus in July 1974 in response to a Greek Cypriot coup by EOKA-B. The resultant breakaway de-facto independent Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not officially recognised by any country except Turkey itself. Reunification of Cyprus failed despite acceptance by the Turkish Cypriots on a referendum of the UN sponsored Annan plan due to the rejection of the same by the southern Greek Cypriot community, later also resulting in failure of the E.U. and U.S. fulfilling their promises of lifting restrictions on the Turkish Cypriots in the northern section.

Turkey experienced a series of coups: Coup of 60, Coup by Memorandum, Coup of 80 and the Postmodern Coup D'etat. The period of the Seventies (Left-Right clashes) and Eighties was marked by political instability and rapid, but at times erratic, economic growth. A series of economic shocks led to new elections in 2002 that brought the conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by the former mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, into power . In October 2005, the European Union opened accession negotiations with Ankara and Turkey officially became a candidate country to join the European Union as a full member, having been an associate member since 1964.

See also: History of Turkey, History of Anatolia, History of the Turkish people, and Atatürk's reforms

Government and politics

Image:TBMMpic.jpg
Interior of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi)
Main articles on politics and government of Turkey can be found at the Politics and government of Turkey series.

The politics of Turkey takes place within a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, in which the Prime Minister of Turkey is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government while the Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, and the Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

The function of Head of State is performed by the President of the Republic (Cumhurbaşkanı). The president is elected for a seven-year term by the Grand National Assembly but he is not required to be a member of parliament. The current President Ahmet Necdet Sezer was elected on May 16, 2000, after having served as the President of the Constitutional Court. Executive power rests in the Prime Minister (Başbakan) and the Council of Ministers (Bakanlar Kurulu) who make up the government. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Ministers have to be members of Parliament; though in most cases they are (one notable exception was Kemal Derviş, who was the Minister of Finance following the financial crisis of 2001; he is currently the head of the UN Development Fund). The Prime Minister is elected by the parliament through a vote of confidence in his government, and he is generally the head of the party that has won the elections. The current Prime Minister is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose Islamic conservative AKP won an absolute majority of parliamentary seats in the general elections of 2002. The President of the parliament is Bülent Arınç, also from the same party. Legislative power is invested in the 550-seat Grand National Assembly of Turkey (Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi) that represents the Turkish Nation. Its members are elected for a five-year term by mitigated proportional representation with a national election threshold of 10%. There are 85 electoral districts that represent the 81 administrative provinces of Turkey (Istanbul is divided into three electoral districts whereas Ankara and Izmir are divided into two each because of their large populations). To avoid a hung parliament and its excessive political fragmentation, only parties that win at least 10% of the national vote in a national parliamentary election gain the right to parliamentary representation. Independent candidates may run, and to be elected, they must only win 10% of the vote in the district they are running from. Political parties deemed anti-secular or separatist by the Constitutional Court can have their public financing and activities suspended or their existence banned altogether. Turkey has a multi-party system, with several well-established political parties, with ideologies ranging from the far-left to the far-right.

The Armed Forces have traditionally been a politically powerful institution, considered as the guardians of Atatürk's Republic. The protection of the Turkish Constitution and the unity of the country is given by law to the Turkish Armed Forces and it therefore plays a formal political role via the National Security Council in the same functional way that exists also in other western democracies, as the guardian of the secular, unitary nature of the republic and reforms of Atatürk, in the Turkish example. They have staged three coups between 1960 and 1980, whilst also influencing the removal of the Islamist-oriented government of Necmettin Erbakan in 1997. Through the National Security Council (Turkish: Milli Guvenlik Kurulu), the army contributes to recommendations for defense policy against any threat to the country, including those pertaining to ethnic seperatism or religious extremism. In recent years, reforms led to an increased civilian presence on the National Security Council and efforts to defunct military's constitutional responsibilities under the program of compliance with the EU demands. Despite its perceived alleged influence in civilian affairs, the military owns strong unequivocal support from the nation, and is considered to be Turkey's most trusted institution <ref>A poll published in September 2005 in the national Hürriyet paper found the army to be Turkey's most trusted national institution. Template:Cite journal</ref>.

See also: Constitution of Turkey, Legal System in Republic of Turkey, Grand National Assembly of Turkey, and Elections in Turkey

Foreign Relations

Image:UE TURK1.png
European Union - Turkey

Turkey's main political, economic and military relations remain rooted within Western Europe and the United States. An associate member of the European Union since 1964, Turkey is currently in the process of accession pending the completion of negotiations started on October 3, 2005. One of the major stumbling blocks in its EU candidacy is the issue of Cyprus, a EU member that Turkey does not recognise, instead supporting the de facto independent Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Other such unresolved issues include Turkey's human rights record, its relatively large population and its relatively poor but rapidly growing economy. Based on what it views as lukewarm support for its accession to the EU and alleged double standards in its negotiations (France and Austria have indicated they will hold referendums on Turkey's membership), the Turkish public has become increasingly euroskeptic in recent times. A mid-2006 Eurobarometer survey revealed that 43% of Turkish citizens view the EU positively; just 35% trust the EU, 45% support enlargement and just 29% support an EU constitution. <ref> New Eurobarometer poll results show a drop in Turkish support for the EU Hurriyet Sunday, July 09, 2006</ref> It is believed that the accession process would take at least 15 years <ref>Interview with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on BBC Sunday AM BBC, Sunday, October 15, 2006</ref>. The earliest date that Turkey could enter the EU is 2013, the date when the next six-year EU budget will come into force (2013-2019).

Turkey has remained a close ally of the United States, supporting it in the war on terror in the post September 11th climate. However, the Iraq war faced strong domestic opposition in Turkey and as such, the Turkish parliament voted against allowing US troops to attack Iraq from its south-eastern border. This led to a period of cooling in relations, but soon regained momentum through diplomatic, humanitarian and indirect military support. Turkey is particularly cautious about an independent Kurdish state arising from a destabilised Iraq. Turkey has fought an insurgent war against the Kurdistan Workers Party (or PKK, which is listed internationally as a terrorist organization by a number of states and organisations, including the USA and the EU), that asserts to seek Kurdish independence, in which some estimated 30,000 people have lost their lives. This has led Ankara to pressure the US into clamping down on insurgent training camps in northern Iraq, though it remains reluctant due to its relative stability compared to the rest of Iraq.

Historically, relations with neighbouring Greece have been strained and, occasionally, close to war on certain occasions. The long divided island of Cyprus as well as disputes in the Aegean Sea remain the main sticking points between the two states. Cyprus remains divided between a Greek Cypriot south, and a Turkish Cypriot north recognized only by Turkey. Efforts to reunite the island under the auspices of the United Nations have failed thus far. As far as the Aegean Sea is concerned, Ankara considers it strategically important for easy passage of Turkish vessels, and as such does not recognise the extension of Greek territorial waters to 12-mile around the islands of the Aegean. Turkey has warned that such an act would be considered a casus belli or an act of war on Turkey. Nonetheless, following consecutive earthquakes in both Turkey and Greece and the prompt response of aid and rescue teams from both sides, the two nations have entered a much more positive period of relations, with Greece actively supporting Turkey's candidacy to enter the European Union. A clear sign of improved relations was visible in the response to a mid-air collision by Greek and Turkish fighter jets in the southern Aegean in May 2006. While the Turkish pilot ejected safely, the Greek pilot lost his life. Both countries agreed that the event should not affect their bilateral relations <ref>BBC News Online</ref>. Recently, Greek military vessels throwing illegal immigrants into Turkish territorial waters led to official protests by the Turkish government.<ref>http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/09/27/europe/EU_GEN_Turkey_Greece_Migrants.php</ref> <ref>http://www.breakingnews.ie/2006/09/27/story278472.html</ref> <ref>http://www.caycompass.com/cgi-bin/CFPnews.cgi?ID=1016765</ref> <ref>http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/5117426.asp?gid=74</ref> <ref>http://www.ntvmsnbc.com/Modules/HaberVideo/Videos/yunanistanMulteci(3).wmv</ref>

See also: Accession of Turkey to the European Union, Cyprus dispute, and Greco-Turkish relations

Military

Main article: Turkish Armed Forces
Image:TuAF F16.jpg
TAI-built F-16 fighter jets belonging to various Turkish Air Force squadrons

The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) (Turkish: Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri - TSK) 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; whereas they are subordinated to the Army and Navy Commands respectively in wartime, during which they have internal law enforcement and military functions.

The Turkish Armed Forces, with a combined strength of 1,043,550 <ref>Economist Intelligence Unit: Turkey 2005 p.23.</ref> uniformed personnel, is the second largest standing armed force in NATO, after the United States Armed Forces. The TAF became a member of NATO on February 18, 1952. Currently, 36,000 <ref>Ibid.</ref> troops are stationed in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Every fit heterosexual male citizen (homosexuals have the right to not to serve in the Turkish Army, if they request) is required to serve in the military for time periods ranging from one to fifteen months, depending on his education and job location.

Image:Turkish Navy MEKO200TN IIB.jpg
F-247 TCG KemalReis is a SalihReis class frigate of the Turkish Navy

In 1998, Turkey announced a modernization programme worth some $31 billion over a period of ten years in varying projects including tanks, helicopters and assault rifles. Turkey is also a level three contributor to the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, gaining an opportunity to develop and influence the creation of the next generation fighter spearheaded by the United States.

The Turkish Army has contributed to a number of peacekeeping missions in Somalia, Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, provided logistics and military support to the coalition forces during both Gulf wars and maintains special forces units in Northern Iraq <ref>Tasks Of Turkish Armed Forces</ref>. In 2006, the Turkish parliament deployed a Turkish peacekeeping force of Navy patrol vessels and around 700 ground troops as part of an expanded United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in wake of the 2006 Israeli-Lebanon conflict <ref>Farewell soldiers</ref>.

The Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces is The Chief of the General Staff General Yaşar Büyükanıt who succeeded General Hilmi Özkök on August 28, 2006. The President, as the Head of State, is the Commander in Chief during peacetime, while the Chief of the General Staff becomes the Commander in Chief, on behalf of the President, during wartime.

See also: Conscription in Turkey


Administrative divisions

Main article: Provinces of Turkey
Further information: Districts of Turkey and Regions of Turkey

Provinces and districts

Turkey is subdivided into 81 provinces (Turkish: singular; il, plural; iller). Each province is divided into districts (Turkish: singular; ilçe, plural; ilçeler).
Provinces usually bear the same name as their provincial capitals, also called the central district; exceptions to this are the provinces of Hatay (capital: Antakya), Kocaeli (capital: İzmit) and Sakarya (capital: Adapazarı). Provinces with the largest populations are: İstanbul (~11 million), Ankara (~4 million), İzmir (~3.5 million), Bursa (~2.1 million), Konya (~2.2 million) and Adana (~1.8 million).
The provinces are organized into 7 regions for census purposes.

Cities

Further information: List of cities in Turkey

The capital city of Turkey is Ankara, but the historic capital of İstanbul still remains the financial, economic and cultural centre of the country. Other important cities include İzmir, Bursa, Adana, Trabzon, Malatya, Gaziantep, Erzurum, Kayseri, İzmit (Kocaeli), Konya, Mersin, Eskişehir, Diyarbakır, Antalya and Samsun. An estimated 68% of Turkey's population live in urban centers <ref>Globalis - an interactive world map - Turkey - Urban Population</ref>. In all, 12 cities have populations that exceed 500,000 and 48 cities have more than 100,000 inhabitants.

Major Cities :

Image:Traditional yalis on the Bosphorus.jpg
Traditional waterfront houses (yalı) from the Ottoman period along the Bosphorus in Istanbul
Note: Population figures given are according to the 2000 census


Geography

Main article: Geography of Turkey
Image:Anatolia composite NASA.png
Turkey on the NASA's Blue Marble composite satellite image

The territory of Turkey extends from 36° to 42° N and from 26° to 45° E in Eurasia. It is roughly rectangular in shape and is 1,660 kilometers (1,031 mi) wide. Turkey's area inclusive of lakes is 814,578 square kilometres (314,510 sq mi), of which 790,200 square kilometres (305,098 sq mi) occupies the Anatolian peninsula (also called Asia Minor) in Western Asia, and 3% or 24,378 square kilometres (9,412 sq mi) are located in Europe. Turkey is a transcontinental country between Asia and Europe. The land borders of Turkey total 2,573 kilometres (1,599 mi), and the coastlines (including islands) total another 8,333 kilometres (5,178 mi). Turkey's size makes it the world's 37th-largest country (after Mozambique). It is comparable in size to Chile, and is somewhat larger than the US state of Texas.

Turkey is generally divided into seven regions: the Marmara, the Aegean, the Mediterranean, Central Anatolia, East Anatolia, Southeast Anatolia and the Black Sea region. The uneven north Anatolian terrain running along the Black Sea resembles a long, narrow belt. This region comprises approximately 1/6 of Turkey's total land area. As a general trend, the inland Anatolian plateau becomes increasingly rugged as it progresses eastward

Image:NEO ararat big.jpg
Mount Ararat (Ağrı Dağı) - the tallest peak in Turkey at 5137m in the Iğdır Province

Turkey forms a bridge between Europe and Asia, with the division between the two running from the Black Sea (Karadeniz) to the north down along the Bosporus (İstanbul Boğazı) strait through the Sea of Marmara (Marmara Denizi) and the Dardanelles (Çanakkale Boğazı) strait to the Aegean Sea (Ege Denizi) and the larger Mediterranean Sea (Akdeniz) to the south. The Anatolian peninsula (Anatolia (Anadolu) for short) consists of a high central plateau with narrow coastal plains, in between the Köroğlu and East-Black Sea mountain range to the north and the Taurus Mountains (Toros Dağları) to the south. To the east is found a more mountainous landscape, home to the sources of rivers such as the Euphrates (Fırat), Tigris (Dicle) and the Aras, as well as Lake Van (Van Gölü) and Mount Ararat (Ağrı Dağı), Turkey's highest point at 5,137 metres (16,853 ft).

Image:4 Airborn 4.JPG
Ölüdeniz National Park near Fethiye

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 Bosporus 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.

The climate is a Mediterranean temperate climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet and cold winters, though conditions can be much harsher in the more arid interior. Mountains close to the coast prevent Mediterranean influences from extending inland, giving the interior of Turkey a continental climate with distinct seasons. The central Anatolian Plateau is much more subject to extremes than are the coastal areas. Winters on the plateau are especially severe. Temperatures of -30°C to -40°C can occur in the mountainous areas in the east, and snow may lie on the ground 120 days of the year. In the west, winter temperatures average below 1°C. Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures above 30°C. Annual precipitation averages about 400 millimeters, 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 millimeters. May is generally the wettest month whereas July and August are the most dry.

See also: Environmental issues in Turkey

Economy

Main article: Economy of Turkey
Image:Levent skyline at night.jpg
Skyline of Levent business district in Istanbul
Image:Maslak skyline at sunset.jpg
Skyline of Maslak business district at sunset

Turkey's economy is a complex mix of modern industry and commerce along with a traditional agriculture sector that in 2005 still accounted for 30% of employment. Turkey has a strong and rapidly growing private sector, yet the state still plays a major role in basic industry, banking, transport, and communications.

Turkey began a series of reforms in the 1980s designed to shift the economy from a statist, insulated system to a more private-sector, market-based model. The reforms spurred rapid growth, but this growth was punctuated by sharp recessions and financial crises in 1994, 1999, and 2001. Turkey's failure to pursue additional reforms, combined with large and growing public sector deficits, widespread corruption resulted in high inflation, increasing macroeconomic volatility and a weak banking sector.

Current GDP per capita soared by 210% in the Seventies. But this proved unsustainable and growth scaled back sharply to 70% in the Eighties and a disappointing 11% in the Nineties.

The Ecevit government, in power from 1999 through 2002, restarted structural reforms in line with ongoing economic programs under the standby agreements signed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), including passage of social security reform, public finance reform, state banks reform, banking sector reform, increasing transparency in public sector, and also introduction of related legislation to liberalize telecom, and energy markets. Under the IMF program, the government also sought to use exchange rate policies to curb inflation.

In the 1990s, Turkey’s economy suffered from a series of coalition governments with weak economic policies, leading to a boom-and-bust cycle culminating in a severe banking and economic crisis in 2001 and a deep economic downturn (GNP fell 9.5% in 2001) followed by an increase in unemployment. The government was forced to float the lira and adopt a more ambitious economic reform program, including a very tight fiscal policy, enhanced structural reforms, and unprecedented levels of IMF lending.

Image:TurkishYTL.JPG
The currency of Turkey is the New Turkish Lira (Yeni Türk Lirası or YTL for short)

Large IMF loans tied to implementation of ambitious economic reforms, enabled Turkey to stabilize interest rates and the currency and to meet its debt obligations. In 2002 and 2003, the reforms began to show results. With the exception of a period of market jitters in the run-up to the Iraq war, inflation and interest rates have fallen significantly and the currency has stabilized. Turkey's economy grew an average of 7.5% per year from 2002 through 2005 - one of the highest sustained rates of growth in the world, rivaling countries like China and India. Thanks to a fall in interest rates, government debt has declined to more supportable levels, and business and consumer confidence have returned. Meanwhile, huge increases in imports that could not match the large inflows of portfolio investment have contributed to a growth of the current account deficit. Though Turkey’s economic vulnerabilities have been greatly reduced, the economy could still face problems in the event there is a sudden change in investor sentiment that leads to a sharp fall in the exchange rate. Continued implementation of reforms, including tight fiscal policy, is essential to sustain growth and stability.

On 1 January 2005, the Turkish Lira was replaced by the New Turkish Lira by dropping six zeroes (1 new lira is equal to 1,000,000 old lira).

Turkey has a number of bilateral investment and tax treaties, including with the United States, that guarantee free repatriation of capital in convertible currencies and eliminate double taxation. After years of low levels of foreign direct investment (FDI), in 2005 Turkey succeeded in attracting $9.6 billion in FDI and is expected to attract a similar level in 2006. A series of large privatizations, the stability fostered by the start of Turkey’s EU accession negotiations, strong and stable growth, and structural changes in the banking, retail, and telecommunications sectors have all contributed to the rise in foreign investment.

Turkey seeks to improve its investment climate through administrative streamlining, an end to foreign investment screening, and strengthened intellectual property legislation. However, a number of disputes involving foreign investors in Turkey and certain policies, such as continuing gaps in the intellectual property regime, inhibit investment. The Turkish privatization board is in the process of privatizing a series of state-owned companies, including the state alcohol and tobacco company and the oil refining parastatal. In 2004, the Privatization Board privatized the telephone company (Türk Telekom) and some of the state-owned banks. The government also committed in the World Trade Organization to liberalize the telecommunications sector at the beginning of 2004.

Image:Tumay tunektepe filtered.jpg
Scenery between the town of Kemer and Antalya city

Tourism is one of the most dynamic and fast developing sectors in Turkey. According to the travel agencies TUI AG and Thomas Cook, 31 hotels out of 100 best hotels of the world are located in Turkey.

In the year 2005, 21,122,798 tourists vacationed in Turkey. The total tourism revenue was $18.2 billion and with an average expenditure of $679 per tourist. Over the years, Turkey has emerged as a popular tourist destination for many Europeans, competing with Greece, Italy and Spain. Turkish destinations such as Antalya and Muğla (sometimes called the Turkish Riviera) have become very popular among European tourists.

See also: Economic history of Turkey

Demographics

Image:Istiklal Avenue and the historic tram.jpg
İstiklal Avenue, one of the busiest pedestrian ways in Turkey, and the tram line running between Taksim Square and Tünel in Istanbul

Article 66 of the Turkish Constitution defines a "Turk" as anyone that is " bound to the Turkish state through the bond of citizenship". The legal use of the term "Turkish" (a citizen of Turkey) is different from the ethnic definition. However, the majority of the Turkish population are of Turkish ethnicity. Besides the minorities that have legal status as defined and internationally recognized by the Treaty of Lausanne; namely Greeks, Armenians and Jews; other ethnic groups include Abkhazians, Albanians, Arabs, Bosniaks, Chechens, Circassians, Georgians, Hamshenis, Kabardin, Kurds, Laz, Levantines, Ossetians, Pomaks, Roma, Syriacs and Zazas, the largest non-Turkic ethnicity being the Kurds, a distinct ethnic group traditionally concentrated in the southeast. While the term "minority" itself remains a sensitive issue in Turkey, it is to be noted that the degree of assimilation within various ethnic groups outside the recognized minorities is high, the following generations generally adding into the melting-pot of the Turkish main body. Within that main body, certain distinctions based on diverse Turkic origins could be made as well by taking account of the same tendency as mentioned.

Though Turkish is the sole official language throughout Turkey, broadcasts in local languages and dialects on state media outlets include Arabic, Bosnian, Circassian and Kurdish <ref>Directorate General of Press and Information - Historical background of radio and television broadcasting in Turkey</ref>.

The Turkish population is relatively young with over a quarter falling within the [0-14] age bracket. Life expectancy stands at 70.2 years for males and 75.2 years for females, for an overall average of 72.6 years for the populace. Due to a demand for an increased labour force in Post-World War II Europe, many Turkish citizens emigrated to Western Europe (particularly West Germany), contributing to the creation of a significant diaspora.

See also: Turkish diaspora and Peoples of the Caucasus in Turkey

Culture

Main article: Culture of Turkey

Turkey has a very diverse culture that are a blend of various elements of the Ottoman, European, and the Islamic traditions. 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 methods of artistic expression followed. During the first years of the republic, the government invested a large amount of resources into the fine arts, such as museums, theatres, and architecture amongst other things. This was done both as a process of modernisation and as the creation of a cultural identity. Today, the Turkish economy is diverse enough to subsidise individual artists with great freedom through private means.

Because of different historical factors playing an important role in defining the Turkish identity, the culture of Turkey is a combination of efforts to be "modern" and Western, combined with the necessity felt to maintain traditional religious and historical values.

Religion

Main article: Islam in Turkey

99.8% of the Turkish population is Muslim, of whom a majority belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. About 15-20% of the population are affiliated with the Alevi sect. There is also a small, but significant Twelver Shi'a minority, mainly of Azeri descent.

The remainder of the population belongs to other beliefs, namely Christian denominations (Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Syriac Orthodox, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism), Judaism, the Bahá'í Faith, Yezidism and Atheism.

There is a strong tradition of secularism in Turkey. Even though the state has no official religion nor promotes any, it actively monitors the area between the religions. The constitutional rule that prohibits discrimination on religious grounds is taken very seriously. The Turkish Constitution recognises freedom of religion for individuals whereas the religious communities are placed under the protection of state, but the constitution explicitly states that they cannot become involved in the political process (by forming a religious party for instance) and no party can claim that it represents a form of religious belief. However, religious sensibilities are generally represented through conservative parties. Turkey, as a secular country, prohibits by law, the wearing of religious headcover and theo-political symbolic garments for both genders in government buildings, schools, and universities <ref>Ali Khan, Suppressive Rulings</ref>; a law upheld by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights as "legitimate" on November 10, 2005 <ref>http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?item=1&portal=hbkm&action=html&highlight=Leyla%20%7C%20%u015Eahin&sessionid=9593217&skin=hudoc-en The Leyla Şahin v. Turkey Case Before the European Court of Human Rights </ref>.

The mainstream Hanafite school of Sunni Islam is largely organised by the state, through the Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı (Religious Affairs Directorate), which controls all mosques and Muslim clerics. The directorate is criticized by some Alevi Muslims for not supporting their beliefs and instead favoring the Sunni faith. The Orthodox Patriarch (Patrik) is the head of the Greek-Orthodox Church in Turkey and serves as the spiritual leader of all Orthodox churches throughout the world. The Armenian Patriarch is the head of the Armenian Church in Turkey, while the Jewish community is led by the Hahambaşı, Turkey's Chief Rabbi, based in İstanbul.

Turkey has the oldest Christian church in the world, St. Peter's in Istanbul.

See also: Jews of Turkey, Roman Catholicism in Turkey, and Orthodox Church of Constantinople

Education

Main article: Education in Turkey

Education is compulsory and free from ages 7 to 15. There are around 820 higher education institutions including universities, with a total student enrollment of over 1 million. The 15 main universities are in Istanbul and Ankara. Tertiary education is the responsibility of the Higher Education Council, and funding is provided by the state. From 1998, universities were given greater autonomy and were encouraged to raise funds through partnerships with industry.

There are approximately 85 universities in Turkey, which can be classified as either "State" or "Foundational". State universities typically charge very low fees and foundationals are highly expensive with fees upwards of $15 000. Universities provide either two or four years of education for undergraduate studies. For graduate studies, a further two years is necessary, as is typical throughout the world.

The Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey coordinates basic and applied research and development. There are 64 research institutes and organisations. R&D strengths include agriculture, forestry, health, biotechnology, nuclear technologies, minerals, materials, IT, and defence.

Images of Turkey

See also