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Republic of Turkey
Türkiye Cumhuriyeti
Flag Presidential Seal
MottoYurtta Barış, Dünyada Barış
Peace at Home, Peace in the World
Anthemİstiklâl Marşı
The Anthem of Independence
Location of Turkey
Capital Ankara
39°55′N 32°50′E / 39.917°N 32.833°E / 39.917; 32.833
Largest city Istanbul
Official language(s) Turkish
Demonym Turkish
Government Parliamentary republic
 -  Founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
 -  President Abdullah Gül
 -  Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
 -  Speaker of the Parliament Mehmet Ali Şahin
 -  President of the Constitutional Court Haşim Kılıç
Succession to the Ottoman Empire² 
 -  Treaty of Lausanne July 24, 1923 
 -  Declaration of Republic October 29, 1923 
 -  Total 783,562 km2 (37th)
302,535 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 1.3
 -  2009 census 72,561,312[1] (18th³)
 -  Density 92.6/km2 (108th³)
239.8/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $915.212 billion[2] (15th)
 -  Per capita $13,138[2] (61st)
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $729.983 billion[2] (17th)
 -  Per capita $10,479[2] (54th)
Gini (2005) 38 
HDI (2007) 0.806[3] (high) (79th)
Currency Turkish lira5 (TRY)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 -  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .tr
Calling code 90
2 Treaty of Lausanne (1923).
3 Population and population density rankings based on 2005 figures.
4 Human Development Report 2007/2008, page 230. United Nations Development Programme (2007). Retrieved on 2007-11-30.
5 The Turkish lira (Türk Lirası, TL) replaced the Turkish new lira on January 1, 2009.

Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye), known officially as the Republic of Turkey (About this sound Türkiye Cumhuriyeti ), is a Eurasian country that stretches across the Anatolian peninsula in Western Asia and Thrace in the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. Turkey is bordered by eight countries: Bulgaria to the northwest; Greece to the west; Georgia to the northeast; Armenia, Azerbaijan (the exclave of Nakhchivan) and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the southeast. The Mediterranean Sea and Cyprus are to the south; the Aegean Sea to the west; and the Black Sea is to the north.

Separating Anatolia and Thrace are the Sea of Marmara and the Turkish Straits (the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles), which are commonly reckoned to delineate the boundary between Europe and Asia,[4] thereby making Turkey a country of significant geostrategic importance.[5][6] Ethnic Turks form the majority of the population, followed by the Kurds. The predominant religion in Turkey is Islam and its official language is Turkish.

Turkey is the successor state to the Ottoman Empire.[7] It is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic, with an ancient and historical cultural heritage. Its political system was established in 1923 under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, following the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of World War I. Since then, Turkey has become increasingly integrated with the West through membership in organizations such as the Council of Europe, NATO, OECD, WEOG, 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 reached a customs union agreement in 1995. Turkey has also fostered close cultural, political, economic and industrial relations with the Eastern world, particularly with the Middle East and the Turkic states of Central Asia, through membership in organizations such as the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and Economic Cooperation Organization. Turkey is classified as a developed country[8] by the CIA and as a regional power[9][10] by political scientists and economists worldwide.



The name of Turkey, Türkiye in the Turkish language, can be divided into two words: Türk, which means "Strong" or "Mighty" in Old Turkic[11] and usually signifying the inhabitants of Turkey or a member of the Turkish or Turkic peoples,[11] a later form of "Tu–kin", a name given by the Chinese to the people living south of the Altay Mountains of Central Asia as early as 177 BCE;[12] and the abstract suffix –iye (derived from the Arabic suffix –iyya, but also associated with the Medieval Latin suffix –ia in Turchia and the Turkic suffix –iye, known as iyelik eki), which means "owner" or "related to".

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 CE). The English word "Turkey" is derived from the Medieval Latin "Turchia" (c. 1369).[12]




Portion of the legendary walls of Troy (VII), identified as the site of the Trojan War (ca. 1200 BCE)

The Anatolian peninsula, comprising most of modern Turkey, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited regions in the world. 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 to be among the earliest human settlements in the world.[13]

The settlement of Troy starts in the Neolithic and continued 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.[14]

The Celsus Library in Ephesus, dating from 135 CE

The first major empire in the area was that of the Hittites, from the 18th through the 13th century BCE. The Assyrians occupied parts of South East Turkey as far back as 1900 BCE. Subsequently, the Phrygians, an Indo-European people, achieved ascendancy until their kingdom was destroyed by the Cimmerians in the 7th century BCE.[15] The most powerful of Phrygia's successor states were 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 Hellenistic periods.

Starting around 1200 BC, the coast of Anatolia was settled by Aeolian and Ionian Greeks. The entire area was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire during the 6th and 5th centuries and later fell to Alexander the Great in 334 BCE.[16] 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 BCE.[17]

In 324 CE, the Roman emperor Constantine I chose Byzantium to be the new capital of the Roman Empire, renaming it New Rome (later Constantinople and Istanbul). After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, it became the capital of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire).[18]

Turks and the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire at the height of its power (ca. 1680)
The Selimiye Mosque is one of the most famous architectural legacies of the Ottoman Empire

The House of Seljuk was a branch of the Kınık Oğuz Turks who in the 10th century resided on the periphery of the Muslim world, north of the Caspian and Aral Seas in the Yabghu Khaganate of the Oğuz confederacy.[19] In the 11th century, the Seljuks started migrating from their ancestral homelands towards the eastern regions of Anatolia, which eventually became the new homeland of Oğuz Turkic tribes following the Battle of Manzikert (Malazgirt) in 1071.

The victory of the Seljuks gave rise to the Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate; which developed as a separate branch of the larger Seljuk Empire that covered parts of Central Asia, Iran, Anatolia and Southwest Asia.[20]

In 1243, the Seljuk armies were defeated by the Mongols and the power of the empire slowly disintegrated. In its wake, one of the Turkish principalities governed by Osman I was to evolve over the next 200 years into the Ottoman Empire, expanding throughout Anatolia, the Balkans and the Levant.[21] In 1453, the city of Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman armies of Mehmed II, marking the abolition of the Byzantine Empire.

In the 16th and 17th centuries and particularly during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire was among the world's most powerful political entities, controlling territories on three continents. It 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.[6] At sea the empire contended with the combined forces (Holy Leagues) of Habsburg Spain, the Republic of Venice and the Knights of St. John for the control of the Mediterranean basin. In the Indian Ocean it frequently confronted Portuguese fleets defending the empire's monopoly over the ancient maritime trade routes between East Asia and Western Europe, which had become increasingly compromised since the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope in 1488.

After nearly a century of decline, the Ottoman Empire entered World War I on the side of the Central Powers and was ultimately defeated. Following the Armistice of Mudros on October 30, 1918, the victorious Allied Powers sought the dismemberment of the Ottoman state through the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920.[21]

Republic era

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey

The occupation of İstanbul and İzmir by the Allies in the aftermath of World War I prompted the establishment of the Turkish national movement.[6] 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.[5]

By September 18, 1922, the occupying armies were repelled, and the new Turkish state was established. On November 1, the newly founded parliament formally abolished the Sultanate, thus ending 623 years of Ottoman rule. The Treaty of Lausanne of July 24, 1923, led to the international recognition of the sovereignty of the newly formed "Republic of Turkey" as the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, and the republic was officially proclaimed on October 29, 1923, in the new capital of Ankara.[6]

Mustafa Kemal became the republic's first President of Turkey and subsequently introduced many radical reforms with the aim of founding a new secular republic from the remnants of its Ottoman past.[6] According to the Law on Family Names, the Turkish parliament presented Mustafa Kemal with the honorific surname "Atatürk" (Father Turk) in 1934.[5]

Turkey remained neutral during most of World War II but entered on the side of the Allies on February 23, 1945, as a ceremonial gesture and in 1945 became a charter member of the United Nations.[22] 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.[23]

After participating with the United Nations forces in the Korean conflict, Turkey joined NATO in 1952, becoming a bulwark against Soviet expansion into the Mediterranean. Following a decade of intercommunal violence on the island of Cyprus and the Greek military coup of July 1974, overthrowing President Makarios and installing Nikos Sampson as dictator, Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus in 1974. Nine years later the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was established. Turkey is the only country to recognise the TRNC [24]

Following the end of the single-party period in 1945, the multi-party period created tensions over the next decades, and the period between the 1960s and the 1980s was particularly marked by periods of political instability that resulted in a number of military coups d'états in 1960, 1971, 1980 and a military memorandum in 1997.[25] In the 1980s the Kurdistan Workers' Party began an insurgency which has claimed over 40,000 lives. [26] The liberalization of the Turkish economy that started in the 1980s changed the landscape of the country, with successive periods of high growth and crises punctuating the following decades.[27]

Government and politics

The Grand Chamber of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara

Turkey is a parliamentary representative democracy. Since its foundation as a republic in 1923, Turkey has developed a strong tradition of secularism.[28] 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 head of state is the President of the Republic 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 August 28, 2007, by a popular parliament round of votes, succeeding Ahmet Necdet Sezer.[29]

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.[30]

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has twice been elected Prime Minister since 2002, and his party won 47% of the votes in the 2007 general elections

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 AKP party won an absolute majority of parliamentary seats in the 2002 general elections, organized in the aftermath of the economic crisis of 2001, with 34% of the suffrage.[31]

In the 2007 general elections, the AKP received 46.6% of the votes and could defend its majority in parliament.[32] Neither the prime minister nor the ministers have to be members of the parliament, but in most cases they are (one notable exception was Kemal Derviş, the minister of state in charge of the economy following the financial crisis of 2001;[33] he is currently the president of the United Nations Development Programme).[34]

In 2007, a series of events regarding state secularism and the role of the judiciary in the legislature has occurred. These included the controversial presidential election of Abdullah Gül, who in the past had been involved with Islamist parties;[35] and the government's proposal to lift the headscarf ban in universities, which was annulled by the Constitutional Court, leading to a fine and a near ban of the ruling party.[36]

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. As of 2004, there were 50 registered political parties in the country.[37] The Constitutional Court can strip the public financing of political parties that it deems anti-secular or separatist, or ban their existence altogether.[38][39]

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 which represent the 81 administrative provinces of Turkey (İstanbul is divided into three electoral districts, whereas Ankara and İzmir are divided into two each because of their large populations). To avoid a hung parliament and its excessive political fragmentation, only parties winning at least 10% of the votes cast in a national parliamentary election gain the right to representation in the parliament.[37]

As a result of this threshold, in the 2007 elections three parties formally entered the parliament (compared to two in 2002).[40][41] However, because of a system of alliances and independent candidatures, seven parties are currently represented in the parliament. Independent candidates may run; to be elected, however, they also must win at least 10% of the vote in their circonscription.[37]

Foreign relations

Turkey began full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005
Turkey is a founding member of the OECD and the G-20 major economies

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) and the G-20 major economies (1999). On October 17, 2008, Turkey received the votes of 151 countries and was elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, on behalf of the Western European and Others Group, together with Austria which received 132 votes.[42] Turkey's membership of the council effectively began on January 1, 2009.[42] Turkey had previously been a member of the U.N. Security Council in 1951–1952, 1954–1955 and 1961.[42]

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, reached a Customs Union agreement with the EU in 1995 and has officially begun formal accession negotiations with the EU since October 3, 2005.[43]

It is believed that the accession process will take at least 15 years because of Turkey's size and the depth of disagreements over certain issues.[44] These include disputes with EU member Republic of Cyprus over Turkey's 1974 military invasion. Since 1974, Turkey does not recognize the essentially Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus as the sole authority on the island, but instead supports the Turkish Cypriot community in the form of the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which is recognized only by Turkey.[45]

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. As well as hosting an important NATO air base near Syria and Iraq for U.S. operations in the region, Turkey's status as a secular democracy and its positive relations with Israel made Ankara a crucial ally for Washington. 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.

In the 1980s, Turkey began to increasingly cooperate with the leading economies of East Asia, particularly with Japan and South Korea, on a large number of industrial sectors; ranging from the co-production of automotive and other transportation equipment, such as high-speed train sets, to electronical goods, home appliances, construction materials and military hardware.

The independence of the Turkic states of the Soviet Union in 1991, with whom Turkey shares a common cultural and linguistic heritage, allowed Turkey to extend its economic and political relations deep into Central Asia.[46] The most salient of these relations saw 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, as it is called, has formed 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 its occupation of Azeri territory during the Nagorno-Karabakh War.[47]


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.[48]

The Turkish Armed Forces is the second largest standing armed force in NATO, after the U.S. Armed Forces, with a combined strength of 1,043,550 uniformed personnel serving in its five branches.[49] Every fit male Turkish citizen otherwise not barred is required to serve in the military for a time period ranging from three weeks to fifteen months, dependent on education and job location.[50] Turkey does not recognise conscientious objection and does not offer a civilian alternative to military service.[51]

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.[52] 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.[53]

MEKO 200 TN type frigates of the Turkish Navy in formation

In 1998, Turkey announced a program of modernization worth US$160 billion over a twenty year period in various projects including tanks, fighter jets, helicopters, submarines, warships and assault rifles.[54] Turkey is a Level 3 contributor to the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.[55]

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 the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and has had troops deployed in Afghanistan as part of the U.S. stabilization force and the UN-authorized, NATO-commanded International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) since 2001.[49][56] In 2006, the Turkish parliament deployed a peacekeeping force of Navy patrol vessels and around 700 ground troops as part of an expanded United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the wake of the Israeli-Lebanon conflict.[57]

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.[48] The actual commander of the armed forces is the Chief of the General Staff General İlker Başbuğ since August 30, 2008.[58]

Administrative divisions

The capital city of Turkey is Ankara. The territory of Turkey is subdivided into 81 provinces for administrative purposes. The provinces are organized into 7 regions for census purposes; however, they do not represent an administrative structure. Each province is divided into districts, for a total of 923 districts.

Provinces usually bear the same name as their provincial capitals, also called the central district; exceptions to this custom are the provinces of Hatay (capital: Antakya), Kocaeli (capital: İzmit) and Sakarya (capital: Adapazarı). Provinces with the largest populations are Istanbul (+12.9 million), Ankara (+4.6 million), İzmir (+3.8 million), Bursa (+2.5 million) and Adana (+2.0 million).

The biggest city and the pre-Republican capital Istanbul is the financial, economic and cultural heart of the country.[59] An estimated 75.5% of Turkey's population live in urban centers.[60] In all, 19 provinces have populations that exceed 1 million inhabitants, and 20 provinces have populations between 1 million and 500,000 inhabitants. Only two provinces have populations less than 100,000.

Geography and climate

Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, connecting Europe (left) and Asia (right)

Turkey is a transcontinental[61] 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 Sea). European Turkey (eastern Thrace or Rumelia in the Balkan peninsula) comprises 3% of the country.[62]

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.[59] Turkey's area, including lakes, occupies 783,562[63] 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.[59] 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 Sea to the south. Turkey also contains the Sea of Marmara in the northwest.[64]

The European section of Turkey, Eastern 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 Lake Van and Mount Ararat, Turkey's highest point at 5,165 metres (16,946 ft).[64][65]

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.[64]

Mt. Ararat (Ağrı Dağı) is the highest peak in Turkey at 5,165 m (16,946 ft)

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, which caused a major earthquake in 1999.[66]

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 millimeters 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 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.[67]


Levent financial district in Istanbul

Turkey has the world's 15th largest GDP-PPP[68] and 17th largest Nominal GDP.[69] The country is a founding member 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, starting from 1983, Turkey began a series of reforms that were initiated by Prime Minister Turgut Özal and designed to shift the economy from a statist, insulated system to a more private-sector, market-based model.[27]

The reforms spurred rapid growth, but this growth was punctuated by sharp recessions and financial crises in 1994, 1999 (following the earthquake of that year),[70] and 2001,[71] resulting in an average of 4% GDP growth per annum between 1981 and 2003.[72] 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.[73]

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. The IMF forecasts a 6% inflation rate for Turkey in 2008.[74] 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.[75]

The GDP growth rate from 2002 to 2007 averaged 7.4%,[76] which made Turkey one of the fastest growing economies in the world during that period. However, GDP growth slowed down to 4.5% in 2008,[77] and in early 2009 the Turkish economy was affected by the global financial crisis, with the IMF forecasting an overall recession of 5.1% for the year, compared to the Turkish government estimate of 3.6%.[78]

Turkey's economy is becoming more dependent on industry in major cities, mostly concentrated in the western provinces of the country, and less on agriculture, however traditional agriculture is still a major pillar to the Turkish economy. In 2007, the agricultural sector accounted for 8.9% of the GDP, while the industrial sector accounted for 30.8% and the services sector accounted for 59.3%.[77] However agriculture still accounted for 27.3% of employment [79]

According to Eurostat data, Turkish PPS GDP per capita stood at 45 per cent of the EU average in 2008.[80]

The tourism sector has experienced rapid growth in the last twenty years, and constitutes an important part of the economy. In 2008, there were 30,929,192 visitors to the country, who contributed $21.9 billion to Turkey's revenues.[81]

Turkish brands like BEKO and Vestel are among the largest producers of consumer electronics and home appliances in Europe

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 and growing automotive industry, which produced 1,147,110 motor vehicles in 2008, ranking as the 6th largest producer in Europe (behind the United Kingdom and above Italy) and the 15th largest producer in the world.[82][83] Turkey is also one of the leading shipbuilding nations; in 2007 the country ranked 4th in the world (behind China, South Korea and Japan) in terms of the number of ordered ships, and also 4th in the world (behind Italy, USA and Canada) in terms of the number of ordered mega yachts.[84]

In recent years, the chronically high inflation has been brought under control and this has led to the launch of a new currency, the Turkish new lira, on January 1, 2005, to cement the acquisition of the economic reforms and erase the vestiges of an unstable economy.[85] On January 1, 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 has dropped to 8.2% in 2005, and the unemployment rate to 10.3%.[86] In 2004, it was estimated that 46.2% of total disposable income was received by the top 20% income earners, while the lowest 20% received 6%.[87]

Turkey has taken advantage of a customs union with the European Union, signed in 1995, to increase its industrial production destined for exports, while at the same time benefiting from EU-origin foreign investment into the country.[88] In 2007 the exports reached $115.3 billion[77] (main export partners: Germany 11.2%, UK 8%, Italy 6.95%, France 5.6%, Spain 4.3%, USA 3.88%; total EU exports 56.5%.) However, larger imports which amounted to $162.1 billion in 2007[77] threatened the balance of trade (main import partners: Russia 13.8%, Germany 10.3%, China 7.8%, Italy 6%, USA 4.8%, France 4.6%, Iran 3.9%, UK 3.2%; total EU imports 40.4%; total Asia imports 27%).[89][90] Turkey's exports amounted to $141.8 billion in 2008, while imports amounted to $204.8 billion.[77]

After years of low levels of foreign direct investment (FDI), Turkey succeeded in attracting $21.9 billion in FDI in 2007 and is expected to attract a higher figure in following years.[91] 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 a rise in foreign investment.[75]


İstiklal Avenue in Istanbul's cosmopolitan Beyoğlu district

The population of Turkey stood at 72.5 million with a growth rate of 1.45% per annum, based on the 2009 census. It has an average population density of 92 persons per km². The proportion of the population residing in urban areas is 75.5%. People within the 15–64 age group constitute 67% of the total population, the 0–14 age group corresponds 26% of the population, while 65 years and higher of age correspond to 7% of the total population.[92]

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.[93] Education is compulsory and free from ages 6 to 15. The literacy rate is 96% for men and 80.4% for women, with an overall average of 88.1%.[94] The low figures for women are mainly due to the traditional customs of the Arabs and Kurds who live in the southeastern provinces of the country.[95]

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.

Other major ethnic groups (large portions of whom have been extensively Turkicized since the Seljuk and Ottoman periods) include the Abkhazians, Adjarians, Albanians, Arabs, Assyrians, Bosniaks, Circassians, Hamshenis, Kurds, Laz, Pomaks, Roma, Zazas and the three officially recognized minorities (per the Treaty of Lausanne), i.e. the Armenians, Greeks and Jews. Signed on January 30, 1923, a bilateral accord of population exchange between Greece and Turkey took effect in the 1920s, with close to 1.5 million Greeks moving from Turkey and some 500,000 Turks coming from Greece.[96]

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[97] and İzmir[98]) since the medieval period.

The Kurds, a distinct ethnic group concentrated mainly in the southeastern provinces of the country, are the largest non-Turkic ethnicity, estimated at about 18% of the population according to the CIA.[8] Minorities other than the three officially recognized ones do not have any special group privileges, while the term "minority" itself remains a sensitive issue in Turkey. Reliable data on the exact ethnic repartition of the population is not available since the Turkish census figures do not include statistics on ethnicity.[99]

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul


Turkish is the sole official language throughout Turkey. Reliable figures for the linguistic repartition of the populace are not available for reasons similar to those cited above.[99] Nevertheless, the public broadcaster TRT broadcasts programmes in local languages and dialects of Arabic, Bosnian, Circassian and Kurdish a few hours a week.[100] A fully fledged Kurdish language television channel, TRT 6, was opened in early 2009.[101]


Turkey is a secular state with no official state religion; the Turkish Constitution provides for freedom of religion and conscience.[102][103] According to 2009 data on the world's Muslim populations, 71.1 million people in Turkey are Muslims or 98% of the total population.[104] The majority of the Muslims are Sunni (85–90%) and a large minority are Alevi (10–15%), a community within Twelver Shi'a Islam, numbering from 7–11 million.[104] 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 75,000 registered mosques and employing local and provincial imams.[105] Based on a nationwide survey in 2007 however, it showed 96.8% of Turkish citizens have a religion, while 3.2% are irreligious and atheists.[106]

There are less than 100,000 minorities which follow other religions,[107] mainly Christians, mostly Armenian Apostolic, Assyrian Church of the East and Greek Orthodox (64,000 people) and Jews, mainly Sephardi (26,000 people).[108][109] According to a Pew Research Center report in 2002, 65% of the people believe religion is very important,[110] while according to a Eurobarometer poll in 2005, 95% of citizens responded that they believe there is a God.[111]

The Eastern Orthodox Church, led by Patriarch Bartholomew I has been headquartered in Istanbul since the fourth century AD. However, the Turkish government does not recognize the Patriarch as the leader of Orthodox Christianity, and forces the Church to operate under significant restrictions. Most of the Church's properties and schools have been expropriated, while Christians remain widely persecuted in Turkey.[112]


Orhan Pamuk is one of the leading contemporary Turkish novelists and the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature
One of the main entrance gates of the Dolmabahçe Palace

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 Westernization 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.[113][114]

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 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.[113]

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.[115] 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 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, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature.[116]

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 buildings like Dolmabahçe and Çırağan Palaces are juxtaposed next to numerous modern skyscrapers, all of them representing different traditions.[117]


The most popular sport in Turkey is football.[118] Turkey's top teams include Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş. In 2000, Galatasaray cemented its role as a major European club by winning the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup. Two years later the Turkish national team finished third in the 2002 World Cup Finals in Japan and South Korea, while in 2008 the national team reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Euro 2008 competition. The Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul hosted the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final, while the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium in Istanbul hosted the 2009 UEFA Cup Final.

Other mainstream sports such as basketball and volleyball are also popular. Turkey hosted the finals of EuroBasket 2001 and will also host the finals of the 2010 FIBA World Championship. The men's national basketball team finished second in EuroBasket 2001 and reached the quarter-finals of the 2006 FIBA World Championship; while Efes Pilsen S.K. won the Korac 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.[119] Turkish basketball players such as Mehmet Okur and Hidayet Türkoğlu have also been successful in the NBA. Women's volleyball teams, namely Eczacıbaşı and Vakıfbank Güneş Sigorta, have won numerous European championship titles and medals.

The traditional Turkish national sport has been the yağlı güreş (oiled wrestling) since Ottoman times.[120] Edirne hosts the annual Kırkpınar oiled wrestling tournament since 1361.[121] 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.[122]

Weightlifting has been a successful Turkish sport. Turkish weightlifters, both male and female, have broken numerous world records and won several European,[123] World and Olympic[124] 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.

Istanbul Park racing circuit a few hours before the F1 Turkish Grand Prix

Motorsports have become popular recently, especially following the inclusion of the Rally of Turkey to the FIA World Rally Championship calendar in 2003,[125] and the inclusion of the Turkish Grand Prix to the Formula One racing calendar in 2005.[126] Other important annual motorsports events which are held at the Istanbul Park racing circuit include the MotoGP Grand Prix of Turkey, the FIA World Touring Car Championship, the GP2 Series and the Le Mans Series. From time to time Istanbul and Antalya also host the Turkish leg of the F1 Powerboat Racing championship; while the Turkish leg of the Red Bull Air Race World Series, an air racing competition, takes place above the Golden Horn in Istanbul. Surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, paragliding and other extreme sports are becoming more popular every year.

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  • Findley, Carter Vaughn (2004). The Turks in World History. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 0195177266. 
  • Kinross, Patrick (1977). The Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire. Morrow. ISBN 0688030939. 
  • Mango, Andrew (2000). Ataturk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey. Overlook. ISBN 1585670111. 
  • Mango, Cyril (2002). The Oxford History of Byzantium. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 0198140983. 
  • Shaw, Stanford Jay; Kural Shaw, Ezel (1977). History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521291631. 
  • Wink, André (1990). Al Hind: The Making of the Indo Islamic World, Vol. 1, Early Medieval India and the Expansion of Islam, 7th–11th Centuries. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 9004092498. 
Foreign relations and military
Geography and climate

Further reading

  • Mango, Andrew (2004). The Turks Today. Overlook. ISBN 1585676152. 
  • Pope, Hugh; Pope, Nicole (2004). Turkey Unveiled. Overlook. ISBN 1585675814. 
  • Revolinski, Kevin (2006). The Yogurt Man Cometh: Tales of an American Teacher in Turkey. Citlembik. ISBN 9944424013. 
  • Roxburgh, David J. (ed.) (2005). Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600–1600. Royal Academy of Arts. ISBN 1903973562.
  • Turkey: A Country Study (1996). Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. ISBN 0844408646.

External links


Public institutions

General information



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

Republic of Turkey

  1. Official name of the country of Turkey.


Simple English

Redirecting to Turkey


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