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Turkey ( ), known officially as the Republic of Turkey ( ), is a Eurasian country that stretches across the Anatolianmarker peninsula in Western Asia and Thrace (Rumelia) in the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. Turkey is bordered by eight countries: Bulgariamarker to the northwest; Greecemarker to the west; Georgiamarker to the northeast; Armeniamarker, Azerbaijanmarker (the exclave of Nakhchivanmarker) and Iranmarker to the east; and Iraqmarker and Syriamarker to the southeast. The Mediterranean Seamarker and Cyprusmarker are to the south; the Aegean Seamarker to the west; and the Black Seamarker is to the north. Separating Anatolia and Thrace are the Sea of Marmaramarker and the Turkish Straits (the Bosphorusmarker and the Dardanellesmarker), which are commonly reckoned to delineate the boundary between Europe and Asia, thereby making Turkey a transcontinental country of significant geostrategic importance. Ethnic Turks form the majority of the population, followed by the Kurds. The predominant religion in Turkey is Islam. The official language is Turkish.

Turkey is the successor state to the Ottoman Empire. It is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic, whose 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, NATOmarker, 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 EEC 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 states of the Middle East and Central Asia, through membership in organizations such as the OIC and ECO. Turkey is classified as a developed country CIA World Factbook by the CIA and as a regional power 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" in Old Turkic and usually signifying the inhabitants of Turkey or a member of the Turkish or Turkic peoples, a later form of "Tu–kin", a name given by the Chinese to the people living south of the Altay Mountainsmarker of Central Asia as early as 177 BCE; and the abstract suffix –iye (derived from the Arabic suffix –iyya, but also associated with the Medieval Latin suffix –ia in Turchia, and the Medieval Greek suffix –ία in Τουρκία), 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 (Sky Turks) of Central Asia (c. 8th century CE). The English word "Turkey" is derived from the Medieval Latin "Turchia" (c. 1369).



The Anatolian peninsula (also called Asia Minor), comprising most of modern Turkey, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited regions in the world due to its location at the intersection of Asia and Europe. The earliest Neolithic settlements such as Çatalhöyükmarker (Pottery Neolithic), Çayönü (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A to Pottery Neolithic), Nevali Cori (Pre-Pottery Neolithic B), Hacilarmarker (Pottery Neolithic), Göbekli Tepemarker (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A) and Mersinmarker are considered to be among the earliest human settlements in the world. The settlement of Troymarker starts in the Neolithic and continues 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.
The first major empire in the area was that of the Hittites, from the 18th through the 13th century BCE. Subsequently, the Phrygians, an Indo-European people, achieved ascendancy until their kingdom was destroyed by the Cimmerians in the 7th century BCE. 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. Anatolia was subsequently divided into a number of small Hellenistic kingdoms (including Bithynia, Cappadociamarker, Pergamum, and Pontus), all of which had succumbed to Rome by the mid-1st century BCE. In 324 CE, the Roman emperor Constantine I chose Byzantium to be the new capital of the Roman Empire, renaming it New Rome (later Constantinoplemarker and Istanbulmarker). After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, it became the capital of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire).

Turks and the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire at the height of its power (ca. 1680)
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 Caspianmarker and Aral Seasmarker in the Yabghu Khaganate of the Oğuz confederacy. 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 Manzikertmarker (Malazgirtmarker) 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.

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. In 1453, the city of Constantinoplemarker fell to the Ottoman armies of Mehmed II, marking the abolition of the Byzantine Empire.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottoman Empire was among the world's most powerful political entities, often locking horns with the Holy Roman Empire in its steady advance towards Central Europe through the Balkans and the southern part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth on land; and with the combined forces (Holy Leagues) of Habsburg Spain, the Republic of Venicemarker and the Knights of St. John at sea for the control of the Mediterraneanmarker basin; while frequently confronting Portuguesemarker fleets at the Indian Oceanmarker for 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 Hopemarker in 1488.

After nearly a century of decline, the Ottoman Empire entered World War I (1914–1918) on the side of the Central Powers and was ultimately defeated. The Armenian Genocide was among the major human tragedies of the war. 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.

Republic era

The occupation of İstanbul and İzmir 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 September 18, 1922, the occupying armies were repelled and the country saw the birth of the new Turkish state. On November 1, the newly founded parliamentmarker 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 Ankaramarker.

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

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 became a charter member of the United Nations in 1945. Difficulties faced by Greecemarker after the war in quelling a communist rebellion, along with demands by the Soviet Unionmarker 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 the United Nations forces in the Korean conflict, Turkey joined NATOmarker in 1952, becoming a bulwark against Soviet expansion into the Mediterranean. Following a decade of intercommunal violence on the island of Cyprusmarker 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 Cyprusmarker (TRNC) was established. The TRNC is recognised only by Turkey.

Following the end of the single-party period in 1945, the multi-party period witnessed 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. 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.

Government and politics

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 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. 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 Turkeymarker. 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 his/her government and is most often the head of the party that has the most seats in parliament. The current Prime Minister is the former mayor of İstanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose conservative AKP 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. In the 2007 general elections, the AKP received 46.6% of the votes and could defend its majority in parliament. 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; he is currently the president of the United Nations Development Programme). In 2007, a series of events regarding state secularism and the role of the judiciary in the legislature have occurred. These included the controversial presidential election of Abdullah Gül, who in the past had been involved with Islamist parties; 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.

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, whose ideologies range from the far left to the far right. The Constitutional Court can strip the public financing of political parties that it deems anti-secular or separatist, or ban their existence altogether.

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 İzmirmarker 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 votes cast in a national parliamentary election gain the right to representation in the parliament. As a result of this threshold, the 2007 elections saw three parties formally entering the parliament (compared to two in 2002). However, due to a system of alliances and independent candidatures, seven parties are currently represented in the parliament. Independent candidates may run; however, they must also win at least 10% of the vote in their circonscription to be elected.

Foreign relations

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 Austriamarker which received 132 votes. Turkey's membership of the council effectively began on January 1, 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, reached a Customs Union agreement with the EU in 1995 and has officially begun formal accession negotiations with the EU since October 3, 2005. It is believed that the accession process will take at least 15 years due to Turkey's size and the depth of disagreements over certain issues. These include disputes with EU member Republic of Cyprusmarker over Turkey's 1974 military invasion. Since 1974, Turkey does not recognize the essentially Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprusmarker 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 Cyprusmarker which is recognized only by Turkey.

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 Unionmarker, Turkey joined NATOmarker 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 basemarker near Syria and Iraq for U.S. operations in the region, Turkey's status as a secular democracy and its positive relations with Israelmarker 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 Japanmarker and South Koreamarker, 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. The most salient of these relations saw the completion of a multi billion dollar oil and natural gas pipeline from Bakumarker in Azerbaijanmarker to the port of Ceyhanmarker 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.


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 Turkish Armed Forces is the second largest standing armed force in NATOmarker, after the U.S. Armed Forces, with a combined strength of 1,043,550 uniformed personnel serving in its five branches. 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. Turkey does not recognise conscientious objection and does not offer a civilian alternative to military service.

As of 2009, Turkey is one of five NATO member states which are part of the nuclear sharing policy of the alliance, together with Belgiummarker, Germany, Italymarker, and the Netherlands. A total of 90 B61 nuclear bombs are hosted at the Incirlik Air Basemarker, 40 of which are allocated for use by the Turkish Air Force.

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. Turkey is also 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 Somaliamarker 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 Afghanistanmarker as part of the U.S. stabilization force and the UN-authorized, NATO-commanded International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) since 2001. 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.

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 İlker Başbuğ since August 30, 2008.

Administrative divisions

The capital city of Turkey is Ankaramarker. 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 Hataymarker (capital: Antakyamarker), Kocaelimarker (capital: İzmitmarker) and Sakaryamarker (capital: Adapazarımarker). Provinces with the largest populations are İstanbulmarker (+12 million), Ankaramarker (+4.4 million), İzmirmarker (+3.7 million), Bursamarker (+2.4 million), Adanamarker (+2.0 million) and Konyamarker (+1.9 million).

The biggest city and the pre-Republican capital İstanbulmarker is the financial, economic and cultural heart of the country. An estimated 70.5% of Turkey's 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.

Geography and climate

Turkey is a transcontinental Eurasian country. Asian Turkey (made up largely of Anatoliamarker), which includes 97% of the country, is separated from European Turkey by the Bosphorusmarker, the Sea of Marmaramarker, and the Dardanellesmarker (which together form a water link between the Black Seamarker and the Mediterraneanmarker). 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. 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, and is about the size of Metropolitan France and the United Kingdommarker combined. The country is encircled by seas on three sides: the Aegean Seamarker to the west, the Black Seamarker to the north and the Mediterranean Seamarker to the south. Turkey also contains the Sea of Marmaramarker in the northwest.

The European section of Turkey, Eastern Thrace, forms the borders of Turkey with Greece and Bulgaria. The Asian part of the country, Anatoliamarker (also called Asia Minor), consists of a high central plateau with narrow coastal plains, between the Köroğlu and Ponticmarker mountain ranges to the north and the Taurus Mountainsmarker to the south. Eastern Turkey has a more mountainous landscape, and is home to the sources of rivers such as the Euphrates, Tigrismarker and Aras, and contains Lake Vanmarker and Mount Araratmarker, Turkey's highest point at 5,165 metres (16,946 ft).

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 Bosporusmarker and the Dardanellesmarker 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 earthquakemarker in 1999.

The coastal areas of Turkey bordering the Mediterranean Seamarker have a temperate Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet and cold winters. 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 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 (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 The World Bank: World Economic Indicators Database. GDP (PPP) 2008. Data for the year 2008. Last revised on July 1, 2009. and 17th largest Nominal GDP. The World Bank: World Economic Indicators Database. GDP (Nominal) 2008. Data for the year 2008. Last revised on July 1, 2009. 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. 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), 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. The IMFmarker forecasts a 6% inflation rate for Turkey in 2008. 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 GDP growth rate from 2002 to 2007 averaged 7.4%, 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, 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%.

Turkey's economy is no longer dominated by traditional agricultural activities in the rural areas, but more so by a highly dynamic industrial complex in the major cities, mostly concentrated in the western provinces of the country, along with a developed services sector. 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%.

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

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.

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. 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.

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. 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%. 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%.
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. In 2007 the exports reached $115.3 billion (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 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%). Turkey's exports amounted to $141.8 billion in 2008, while imports amounted to $204.8 billion.

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. 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.


The population of Turkey stood at 71.5 million with a growth rate of 1.31% per annum, based on the 2008 Census. It has an average population density of 92 persons per km². The proportion of the population residing in urban areas is 70.5%. People within the 15–64 age group constitute 66.5% of the total population, the 0–14 age group corresponds 26.4% of the population, while 65 years and higher of age correspond to 7.1% of the total population. Life expectancy stands at 70.67 years for men and 75.73 years for women, with an overall average of 73.14 years for the populace as a whole. Education is compulsory and free from ages 6 to 15. The literacy rate is 95.3% for men and 79.6% for women, with an overall average of 87.4%. 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.

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. Minorities of West European origin include the Levantines (or Levanter, mostly of Frenchmarker, Genoese and Venetianmarker descent) who have been present in the country (particularly in Istanbulmarker and İzmirmarker) since the medieval period; or the Bosporus Germans and Istanbul Polesmarker who have lived in Turkey since the 19th century. There is also a population of Afro-Turks within Turkey who mostly live in the western coastal cities of the country and are largely mixed with the local population through intermarriage. The Kurds, a distinct ethnic group concentrated mainly in the southeastern provinces of the country, are the largest non-Turkic ethnicity. 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 racial figures.

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. Nevertheless, the public broadcaster TRT broadcasts programmes in local languages and dialects of Arabic, Bosnian, Circassian and Kurdish a few hours a week. A fully fledged Kurdish language television channel, TRT 6, was opened in early 2009.

Turkey is a secular state with no official state religion; the Turkish Constitution provides for freedom of religion and conscience. According to 2009 data on the world's Muslim populations, 73.6 million people in Turkey are Muslims or 98% of the total population. The majority of the Muslims are Sunni (85-90%) and a large minority are Alevi (10-15%), a sect within Twelver Shi'a Islam, numbering from 7–11 million. The highest Islamic religious authority is the Presidency of Religious Affairs ( ), 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. 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. There are less than 100,000 minorities which follow other religions, mainly Christians, mostly Armenian Apostolic and Greek Orthodox (64,000 people) and Jews, mainly Sephardi (26,000 people). According to a Pew Research Center report in 2002, 65% of the people believe "religion is very important", while according to a Eurobarometer poll in 2005, 95% of citizens responded that they believe "there is a God".


Turkey has a very diverse culture that is a blend of various elements of the Oğuz Turkic, Anatolianmarker, 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. 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.

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 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.

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. 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 Dolmabahçemarker and Çırağan Palacesmarker are juxtaposed next to numerous modern skyscrapers, all of them representing different traditions.


The most popular sport in Turkey is football. Turkey's top teams include Galatasaray, Fenerbahçemarker 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 Stadiummarker in Istanbul hosted the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final, while the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadiummarker 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. 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. Edirnemarker hosts 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. Another major sport in which the Turks have been internationally successful is weightlifting; as 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.

Motorsports have become popular recently, especially following the inclusion of the Rally of Turkey to the FIA World Rally Championship calendar in 2003, and the inclusion of the Turkish Grand Prixmarker to the Formula 1 racing calendar in 2005. Other important annual motorsports events which are held at the Istanbul Parkmarker 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 Istanbulmarker and Antalyamarker 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 Hornmarker in Istanbul. Surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, paragliding and other extreme sports are becoming more popular every year.

See also


  1. Full text of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923)
  2. Stratfor: "Turkey and Russia on the Rise", by Reva Bhalla, Lauren Goodrich and Peter Zeihan. March 17, 2009.
  3. Stratfor: "The Geopolitics of Turkey", by George Friedman. July 31, 2007.
  4. Extensive bibliography by University of Michigan on the Armenian Genocide
  5. Turks elect ex-Islamist president BBC. (2007-08-28). Retrieved on 2009-09-22.
  6. Court annuls Turkish scarf reform BBC. (2007-06-05). Retrieved on 2009-09-22.
  7. Hürriyet: Türkiye'nin üyeliği kabul edildi (2008-10-17)
  8. U.S. Department of State: Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Armenia: Respect for Human Rights. Section 1, a.
  9. Economist Intelligence Unit:Turkey, p.23 (2005)
  10. http://www.ebco-beoc.eu/
  11. Der Spiegel: Foreign Minister Wants US Nukes out of Germany (2009-04-10)
  12. NRDC: U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe • Hans M. Kristensen / Natural Resources Defense Council, 2005.
  13. Economist Intelligence Unit:Turkey, p.22 (2005)
  14. Turkish Odyssey: Turkey
  15. UN Demographic Yearbook, accessed April 16, 2007
  16. IMF: World Economic Outlook Database, April 2008. Inflation, end of period consumer prices. Data for 2006, 2007 and 2008.
  17. Dilenschneider Group and Pangaeia Group, " Turkey 360: Did You Know", Foreign Affairs, January/February 2008
  18. The Economist: "Turkey's fragile economy" (2009-07-16)
  20. Catania Investments: Turkish Shipbuilding Industry
  21. The Diaspora Welcomes the Pope. Spiegel Online. November 28, 2006.
  22. NTV-MSNBC: "Giovanni Scognamillo ile sinema üzerine"
  23. Sabah daily newspaper: "Onlar İzmirli Hristiyan Türkler"
  24. ICL - International Constitutional Law - Turkey Constitution
  25. Bureau of Democracy, Human rights and Labor - International Religious Freedom Report 2007- Turkey
  26. KONDA Research and Consultancy - Religion, Secularism and the veil in daily life.
  27. Foreign Ministry: 89,000 minorities live in Turkey Today's Zaman (2008-12-15). Retrieved on 2009-08-23.
  28. Country Profile: Turkey, August 2008 - Library of Congress – Federal Research Division
  29. Eurobarometer Poll, 2005
  30. Historic achievements of the Efes Pilsen Basketball Team
  31. Kırkpınar Oiled Wrestling Tournament: History
  32. FILA Wrestling Database
  33. Turkish Weightlifting Federation: List of European (Avrupa) records by male and female weightlifters
  34. Turkish Weightlifting Federation: List of World (Dünya) and Olympic (Olimpiyat) records by male and female weightlifters
  35. WRC Rally of Turkey: Brief event history
  36. BBC Sport: Formula 1 circuit guide: Istanbul, Turkey


Foreign relations and military

Geography and climate

Further reading

  • 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.

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