The Republic of Turkey is a country located in Southwest Asia with a small part of its territory (3%) in southeastern Europe. Until 1922, the country was the center of the Ottoman Empire. The Anatolian peninsula, between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, forms the core of the country.
Turkey is bordered to the west by Greece and Bulgaria and to the east by Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran; to the south by Iraq and Syria.
History (pre Republic)
Anatolia (Asia Minor), the landmass that is now Turkey, had been a cradle to a wide variety of civilizations and kingdoms in antiquity. The Seljuk Turks were the first Turkish power to arrive in the 11th century as conquerors (earlier Turkish peoples such as the Pechenegs had become allies and subordinates of the Byzantine Empire), who proceeded to gradually conquer the existing Byzantine Empire with its Greek population and heritage.
Their Turkish successors, the Ottoman Empire, completed this conquest in the 15th century with the fall of Constantinople in 1453. At its peak under Sultan Suleyman the 'Magnificent' between 1520-1555, the empire stretched from the gates of Vienna to the Persian Gulf, from the Crimea to Morroco.
Throughout the 19th and early 20th century the Ottoman empire began to loose a foothold on its territories, first with Algeria and Tunisia, then Greece, Egypt, Libya and the Balkans in the 1912 Balkans war. Faced with territorial losses on all sides Turkey forged an alliance with Germany who supported it with troops and equipment. In World War I Turkey entered the war on the side of the Triple Alliance (Germany, Italy, Austro-Hungary) and was subsequently defeated.
Between 1915 and 1917 large parts of Anatolia's Armenian population were deported from the area constituting today's Turkey. A disputed number of Armenians have perished. Armenians refer to it as the Armenian Genocide, Turkey maintains the number of deaths were a result of inter-ethnic strife, disease and famine during the turmoil of World War I.
On October 30th 1918, the Mondros Armistice was signed followed by the Treaty of Sèvres on August 10th 1920. These sought to break up the Ottoman empire and force large concessions on Turkey in favour of its rival Greece who had fought against the Germans. Greece, France and Italy were awarded parts of the coast of Minor Asia. The city of Izmir (Smyrna), with its large Greek population, was awarded to Greece. The Greek army took it over on May 15 1919 and triggered the War of Independence. A nationalist movement led by Mustafa Kemal, rejected the peace agreement and organised an army which repelled Greece from Turkey. By September 18th 1922 the country was liberated resulting in the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923, recognising the new borders of Turkey.
On October 29th 1923 The Republic of Turkey was proclaimed and Mustafa Kemal, later taking the name Atatürk (meaning father of Turks), would be her first president.
History timeline (post Republic)
Since 1923, ...
1923 - 1938 After taking the presidency of the Republic of Turkey, Ataturk would initiate reforms with the aim of westernising Turkey, these included; a secular government and education, introduction of the Latin alphabet and Gregorian calendar, equal rights for women, abolition of the caliphate and Sharia Law, introduction of western attire and adoption of surnames among many others.
- November 10, 1938 The founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk dies in Istanbul from cirrhosis of the liver. He is successed by Ismet Inonu, a former general and an ethnic Kurd who leads Turkey until the first democratic elections in 1950.
- July 7, 1939 Province of Hatay joins Turkey. Changing the Syrian border. This is the last time Turkish borders changed.
- Turkey stayed neutral during World War II until the very end of it.
- On May 27, 1960, the 1960 Coup d'Etat(1st "Darbe") On May 27, 1960, the 1960 Coup d'Etat(1st "Darbe") had taken place due to the level of influence Islamist extremists gained in the nation which clashed with the "seperation of religion and state/goverment" which was one of the results of clash between Inonu's republican party and his opponents president Celal Bayar and prime minister Adnan Menderes, both former republican party members. Prime minister Adnan Menderes was held responsible and executed.
- On October 1965, military rule disolved back into civilian, political system was restablished, new consitution has been drafted reaffirming the "seperation of religion and state/goverment" .
- On March 12, 1971, military officials intervened, and instead of taking over the goverment, forced an advisary comittee due to the increasing anarchical situation due to the Right (faschist/capitalist) - Left (communist) clash and inefective policies in maintaining order. Although the military were not in charge had significant influence.
- On September 12, 1980, the 1980 Coup d'Etat (2nd "Darbe") had taken place, ending a long bloodshed of anarchical situation due to the Right (faschist/capitalist) - Left (communist) clash, and was very welcomed by the general populution, martial laws were almost imidiately established and 25% of the military (about 475,000) were mobilised to settle the anarchical situation.
- On November 6, 1983, military rule dissolved and removed itself from the political scene after the reestablishment of a new "1982 Constitution".
- Between 1984 and 1999, Turkey had a civil disorder, primarily in form of PKK activity. Capture of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the organisation, ended the conflict.
- On February 14, 2005, Turkey assumed command of the ISAF in Afghanistan for a second time.
- Since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Turkey had been extremely concerned with the developements in Northern Iraq.
Main article: Culture of Turkey
Turkey has a very diverse culture due to the numerus different ethnic minorities.
Turkey has rose to prominence in a number of sporting areas in recent decades. Its national sport, football, has seen a rapid transformation earning it third place in the coveted 2002 World Cup. Its domestic teams are dominated by Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and Besiktas. Of these, Galatasaray has seen the most success, winning the 2000 UEFA Cup and European Super Cup, as well as fielding many of the players for the international team. In recent years Turkey has exported many of its players into top foreign teams including Inter Milan, Barcelona, Parma, AC Milan and Bayer Leverkusen among others. As well as sending players abroad, the Turkish league has also attracted players into Turkey. World class players such as Gheorghe Hagi, Ariel Ortega, Pierre Van Hooijdonk , Mario Jardel and many more have played at some point, or continue to play in Turkey.
Weightlifting has been another successful sport for Turkey, regulary relied upon to provide gold medals in the Olympics. Its most famous weightlifters Naim Suleymanoglu and Halil Mutlu are only two of four weightlifters in the world to have won 3 gold medals in 3 olympics.
Athletics is another fast improving sport, Sureyya Ayhan set the 1500m world record in 2003 and Elvan Abeylegesse set a new 5000m record in 2004.
Turkey placed a bid to become a candidate for the 2012 olympics but was eliminated in the initial rounds, part of its bid included the building of the 80,000 seater Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul. The stadium will be used for the 2005 European Champions League final.
Main article: Politics of Turkey
The Republic of Turkey was created in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a pragmatic leader who reformed Turkey into a modern, secular, and western-oriented republic. Over the years, fears of a shift from secularity and western orientation led to a left-wing military coup in 1961, and fears of a shift towards the Eastern Block have led to two more right-wing military coups in 1971 and 1980. Democratic rule has since returned. Turkey became a member of NATO in 1952, and is seeking membership of the European Union.
International disputes such as the Turkish involvement in Cyprus, the allegations relating to the genocide against Armenians in the Ottoman era influence her international relations. The increasing appeal of political Islam also continue to fuel public debate in Turkey.
The official opening of talks for the accession of Turkey to the European Union decided on December 17th 2004 is one of the main issues in Turkish foreign diplomacy.
Main article: Geography of Turkey
Turkey forms a bridge between Europe and Asia, with the division between the two running from the Black Sea to the north down along the Bosporus strait through the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles strait to the Aegean Sea and the larger Mediterranean Sea to the south.
Bozcaada Island in the Aegian Sea
The Anatolian peninsula (also known as Asia Minor) consists of a high central plateau with narrow coastal plains, in between the Pontus range to the north and the Taurus Mountains to the south. To the east is found a more mountainous landscape (main part of the Armenian Highland), home to the sources of rivers such as the Euphrates, Tigris and the Araks, as well as Lake Van and Mount Ararat, Turkey's highest point at 5,166 m.
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. Turkey is also prone to very severe earthquakes.
The capital city of Turkey is Ankara, but the largest city is İstanbul. Other important cities include İzmir, Bursa, Adana, Gaziantep, Erzurum, Kayseri, İzmit (Kocaeli), Konya, Mersin, Diyarbakır, Antalya, and Samsun. See the list of cities in Turkey.
Main article: Economy of Turkey
Turkey's economy is a complex mix of modern industry and commerce along with a traditional agriculture sector that in 2001 still accounted for 40% of employment. It is estimated that 50% of the population lives under the international standards of poverty, especially in the war torn south-east areas.
Turkey has a strong and rapidly growing private sector, yet the state still plays a major role in basic industry, banking, transport, and communication. The most important industry - and largest export - is textiles and clothing, which is almost entirely in private hands.
In recent years the economic situation has been marked by erratic economic growth and serious imbalances. Real GNP growth has exceeded 6% in many years, but this strong expansion has been interrupted by sharp declines in output in 1994, 1999, and 2001.
Meanwhile the public sector fiscal deficit has regularly exceeded 10% of GDP - due in large part to the huge burden of interest payments, which in 2001 accounted for more than 50% of central government spending - while inflation has remained in the high double digit range.
Perhaps because of these problems, foreign direct investment in Turkey remains low - less than USD 1 billion annually. In late 2000 and early 2001 a growing trade deficit and serious weaknesses in the banking sector plunged the economy into crisis - forcing Ankara to float the lira and pushing the country into recession.
Results in 2002 were much better, because of strong financial support from the IMF and tighter fiscal policy. Continued slow global growth and serious political tensions in the Middle East cast a shadow over growth prospects in the future.
Turkey has recently adopted a new currency, slashing away many "zeros" from the old currency after years of double digit inflation. For example, a taxi ride would cost a few million liras. Overnight, many "millionaires" were gone.
Main article: Demographics of Turkey
The majority of the Turkish population (around 80-100%) is of Turkic ethnicity, who speak the official language of the country, Turkish. Other minorities include Abkhaz, Albanians, Arabs, Armenians, Bosniaks, Chaldeans, Circassians, Greeks, Georgians, Hamshenis, Jews, Kurds, Laz, Levantines, Pomaks, Syriacs, and Zazas. The term "minority" itself remains to be a sensitive issue in Turkey, since the Turkish State does consider only the communities mentioned in the text of Treaty of Lausanne (namely, Greek Orthodox, Armenian, and Jewish communities) as minorities (azınlık or ekalliyet). However the minorities in question do not have special rights as the race-blind system is based on equality. According to the CIA factbook estimates Kurds compromising the second largest ethnic group at 20% however since a consensus based on race is unheard of in the country, as everyone is considered to be the majority, the acuracy is disputed. Several minorities requested special rights throughout the history of the nation either through violence (see PKK) or through political means.
Due to lack of labour force in Europe between 1960 and 1980 many Turkish citizens emigrated to West Germany, the Netherlands, France and other Western European countries, forming a significant overseas population. Recently, many have also settled in Russia and other neighbouring countries.
Nominally, 99.8% of the population is Muslim. Most belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. About 15-20% of the population are Alevis. There is also a Twelver Shia minority, mainly of Azeri descent. Jewish, and Christian Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic (Gregorian), Roman Catholic and Protestant minorities are also present.
Although, unlike other majority Islamic nations, there is a strong tradition of separation of church and state in Turkey, in practice this means rather the subordination of religion to the state instead of what Westerners would consider separation. The Turkish constitution recognizes freedom of religion for individuals, but explicitly states that religious communities derive no rights at all from this. The mainstream Hanafi school of Sunni Islam is largely organized by the state, through Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı (Department of Religious Affairs). The Diyanet is the main religious framework, successor to the Ulama, Seyh-ul-Islam and Caliph of the Ottoman Empire. As a consequence, they control all mosques and Muslim clerics. Imams are trained in Imam vocational schools and at an academic level at universities. The department is heavily critisized for not supporting religious beliefs asside from Sunni Islam.
The major regional diversities depend on culture, economy (industry and cash crops in coastal regions), and precipitation (Black Sea littoral where summer drought is unknown).
Main article: Provinces of Turkey
Turkey is subdivided into 81 provinces (iller, singular - il):
- Coal mine explosion traps 18.