National name: Türkiye Cumhuriyeti
President: Abdullah Gul (2007)
Prime Minister: Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2003)
Land area: 297,591 sq mi (770,761 sq km); total area: 301,382 sq mi (780,580 sq km)
Population (2007 est.): 71,158,647 (growth rate: 1.0%); birth rate: 16.4/1000; infant mortality rate: 38.3/1000; life expectancy: 72.9; density per sq mi: 239
Capital (2003 est.): Ankara, 3,582,000 (metro. area), 3,456,100 (city proper)
Largest cities: Istanbul, 9,760,000 (metro. area), 8,831,805 (city proper); Izmir, 2,398,200; Bursa, 1,288,900; Adana, 1,219,900; Gaziantep, 979,500
Monetary unit: Turkish lira (YTL)
Languages: Turkish (official), Kurdish, Dimli, Azeri, Kabardian
Ethnicity/race: Turkish 80%, Kurdish 20% (estimated)
Religions: Islam (mostly Sunni) 99.8%, other 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews)
Literacy rate: 87% (2003 est.)
Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2005 est.): $552.7 billion; per capita $7,900. Real growth rate: 5.1%. Inflation: 7.7%. Unemployment: 10% (plus underemployment of 4.0%). Arable land: 30%. Agriculture: tobacco, cotton, grain, olives, sugar beets, pulse, citrus; livestock. Labor force: 24.7 million; note: about 1.2 million Turks work abroad; agriculture 35.9%, industry 22.8%, services 41.2% (3rd quarter, 2004). Industries: textiles, food processing, autos, electronics, mining (coal, chromite, copper, boron), steel, petroleum, construction, lumber, paper. Natural resources: antimony, coal, chromium, mercury, copper, borate, sulfur, iron ore, arable land, hydropower. Exports: $72.49 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.): apparel, foodstuffs, textiles, metal manufactures, transport equipment. Imports: $101.2 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.): machinery, chemicals, semifinished goods, fuels, transport equipment. Major trading partners: Germany, UK, U.S., Italy, France, Spain, Russia, China (2004).
Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 19.5 million (1999); mobile cellular: 17.1 million (2001). Radio broadcast stations: AM 16, FM 107, shortwave 6 (2001). Radios: 11.3 million (1997). Television broadcast stations: 635 (plus 2,934 repeaters) (1995). Televisions: 20.9 million (1997). Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 50 (2001). Internet users: 2.5 million (2002).
Transportation: Railways: total: 8,607 km (2002). Highways: total: 385,960 km; paved: 131,226 km (including 1,749 km of expressways); unpaved: 254,734 km (1999). Waterways: about 1,200 km. Ports and harbors: Gemlik, Hopa, Iskenderun, Istanbul, Izmir, Kocaeli (Izmit), Icel (Mersin), Samsun, Trabzon. Airports: 120 (2002).
International disputes: complex maritime, air, and territorial disputes with Greece in the Aegean Sea; Cyprus question remains with Greece; Syria and Iraq protest Turkish hydrological projects to control upper Euphrates waters; Turkey is quick to rebuff any perceived Syrian claim to Hatay province; border with Armenia remains closed over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Turkey is at the northeast end of the Mediterranean Sea in southeast Europe and southwest Asia. To the north is the Black Sea and to the west is the Aegean Sea. Its neighbors are Greece and Bulgaria to the west, Russia, Ukraine, and Romania to the north and northwest (through the Black Sea), Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran to the east, and Syria and Iraq to the south. The Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, and the Bosporus divide the country. Turkey in Europe comprises an area about equal to the state of Massachusetts. Turkey in Asia is about the size of Texas. Its center is a treeless plateau rimmed by mountains.
Republican parliamentary democracy.
Anatolia (Turkey in Asia) was occupied in about 1900 B.C. by the Indo-European Hittites and, after the Hittite empire's collapse in 1200 B.C., by Phrygians and Lydians. The Persian Empire occupied the area in the 6th century B.C., giving way to the Roman Empire, then later the Byzantine Empire. The Ottoman Turks first appeared in the early 13th century, subjugating Turkish and Mongol bands pressing against the eastern borders of Byzantium and making the Christian Balkan states their vassals. They gradually spread through the Near East and Balkans, capturing Constantinople in 1453 and storming the gates of Vienna two centuries later. At its height, the Ottoman Empire stretched from the Persian Gulf to western Algeria. Lasting for 600 years, the Ottoman Empire was not only one of the most powerful empires in the history of the Mediterranean region, but it generated a great cultural outpouring of Islamic art, architecture, and literature.
After the reign of Sultan Süleyman I the Magnificent (1494–1566), the Ottoman Empire began to decline politically, administratively, and economically. By the 18th century, Russia was seeking to establish itself as the protector of Christians in Turkey's Balkan territories. Russian ambitions were checked by Britain and France in the Crimean War (1854–1856), but the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) gave Bulgaria virtual independence and Romania and Serbia liberation from their nominal allegiance to the sultan. Turkish weakness stimulated a revolt of young liberals known as the Young Turks in 1909. They forced Sultan Abdul Hamid to grant a constitution and install a liberal government. However, reforms were no barrier to further defeats in a war with Italy (1911–1912) and the Balkan Wars (1912–1913). Turkey sided with Germany in World War I, and, as a result, lost territory at the conclusion of the war.
Turkey's current boundaries were drawn in 1923 at the Conference of Lausanne, and Turkey became a republic with Kemal Atatürk as the first president. The Ottoman sultanate and caliphate were abolished, and modernization, reform, and industrialization began under Atatürk's direction. He secularized Turkish society, reducing Islam's dominant role and replacing Arabic with the Latin alphabet for writing the Turkish language. After Atatürk's death in 1938, parliamentary government and a multiparty system gradually took root in Turkey, despite periods of instability and brief intervals of military rule. Neutral during most of World War II, Turkey, on Feb. 23, 1945, declared war on Germany and Japan, but it took no active part in the conflict. Turkey became a full member of NATO in 1952, was a signatory in the Balkan Entente (1953), joined the Baghdad Pact (1955; later CENTO), joined the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) and the Council of Europe, and became an associate member of the European Common Market in 1963.
Turkey invaded Cyprus by sea and air on July 20, 1974, following the failure of diplomatic efforts to resolve conflicts between Turkish and Greek Cypriots. Turkey unilaterally announced a cease-fire on Aug. 16, after having gained control of 40% of the island. Turkish Cypriots established their own state in the north on Feb. 13, 1975. In July 1975, after a 30-day warning, Turkey took control of all the U.S. installations except the joint defense base at Incirlik, which it reserved for “NATO tasks alone.”
The establishment of military government in Sept. 1980 stopped the slide toward anarchy and brought some improvement in the economy. A constituent assembly, consisting of the six-member national security council and members appointed by them, drafted a new constitution that was approved by an overwhelming (91.5%) majority of the voters in a Nov. 6, 1982, referendum. Martial law was gradually lifted. The military, however, effectively continues to control the country.
About 12 million Kurds, roughly 20% of Turkey's population, live in the southeast region of Turkey. Turkey, however, does not officially recognize Kurds as a minority group and is therefore exempted from protecting their rights. Oppression of Kurds and Kurdish culture led to the emergence in 1984 of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a militant Kurdish terrorist campaign under the leadership of Abdullah Ocalan. Although the guerrilla movement sought independence at first, by the late 1980s the rebel Kurds were willing to accept an autonomous state or a federation with Turkey. About 35,000 have died in clashes between the military and the PKK during the 1980s and 1990s. On Feb. 16, 1999, Ocalan was captured. He was tried and convicted of treason and separatism on June 2, 1999, and sentenced to death.
On Aug. 17, 1999, western Turkey was devastated by an earthquake (magnitude 7.4) that left more than 17,000 dead and 200,000 homeless. Another huge earthquake struck in November.
Construction on a $3-billion, 1,000-mile oil pipeline running from Baku, Azerbaijan, to the Mediterranean port city of Ceyhan began in Sept. 2002. The pipeline opened in July 2006.
In Nov. 2002 elections, the recently formed Justice and Development Party (AK) won. Its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was barred from becoming prime minister, however, because of a conviction for “inciting religious hatred” by reciting an Islamic poem at a rally in 1998. Another popular AK leader, Abdullah Gul, served as prime minister until Turkish law was amended to permit Erdogan to run for a seat in parliament again, which he easily won. Gul resigned as prime minister, making way for Erdogan.
In March 2003, U.S.-Turkish relations were severely strained when Turkey's parliament narrowly failed to pass a resolution permitting the U.S. to use Turkish bases as a launching pad for the pending war against Iraq. Turkish opinion polls reported that an overwhelming 90% of Turks were against war in Iraq, but the U.S. had promised the country much-needed economic aid.
In Nov. 2003, two terrorist attacks rocked Istanbul. On Nov. 17, truck bombs exploded near two synagogues; on Nov. 22, the British Consulate and a British bank were targeted. More than 50 were killed and hundreds were wounded in the attacks; al-Qaeda is believed to be responsible.
In an effort to make itself more attractive for potential EU membership, Turkey has begun revamping some of its repressive laws and policies. In 2003, its parliament passed a law reducing the military's role in political life and offered partial amnesty to PKK members, many of whom have sought refuge in northern Iraq. In 2004, Turkish state television broadcast the first Kurdish language program and the government freed four Kurdish activists from prison. Turkey also abolished the death penalty in all but exceptional cases.
In April 2007, Prime Minister Erdogan nominated Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, an Islamist, as the ruling party's candidate for president over the objections of the military, which has historically been protective of a secular state. Gul, however, failed to win the necessary two-thirds majority in parliament, and a constitutional court later nullified the vote, citing a lack of a quorum. Many secularists in parliament, who accused Gul of harboring an Islamist agenda, boycotted the vote. Gul withdrew from the race in May. Gul was victorious in the third round of elections in August.
Turkey recalled its ambassador to the United States and threatened to withdraw its support of the war in Iraq in October after the U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution labeling as genocide Turkey's murder of some 1.5 million Armenians during World War I. President George Bush strongly urged members of the committee to vote against the resolution.
Tension between Turkey and Iraq peaked in October, as Kurdish separatists in Iraq, members of the Kurdistan Workers Party, escalated their attacks into Turkey. In response, Turkey's Parliament voted, 507 to 19, to allow the deployment of troops into northern Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi officials feared a war on another front in Iraq would further destabilize the already fragile country. In December, Turkish fighter jets, with the help of the U.S. military, bombed areas in Dohuk Province in northern Iraq, targeting the Kurdistan Workers' Party. At least one civilian was reported to have died in the attack.
In January 2008, police arrested 13 ultranationalists, including three former military officers, who were accused of organizing and carrying out political murders. One of the officers, Veli Kucuk, is suspected of running a secret unit within the police force that orchestrated political violence against religious and ethnic minority groups.
In February 2008, Parliament voted in favor of a measure put forth by Prime Minister Erdogan that would lift the ban on women wearing headscarves in universities. Secular lawmakers voted overwhelmingly against the laws, concerned that their secularism faced attack by the conservative government.