|Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappodocia A World Heritage Site.|
|Background: Turkey was created in 1923 from the Turkish remnants
of the Ottoman Empire. Soon thereafter the country instituted secular laws
to replace traditional religious fiats. In 1945 Turkey joined the UN and
in 1952 it became a member of NATO. Turkey occupied the northern portion
of Cyprus in 1974 to prevent a Greek takeover of the island; relations
between the two countries remain strained. Periodic military offensives
against Kurdish separatists have dislocated part of the population in
southeast Turkey and have drawn international condemnation.
Government type: republican parliamentary democracy
Currency: Turkish lira (TRL) = 100 kurus (theoretical)
Geography of Turkey
Location: southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia (that portion of Turkey west
of the Bosporus is geographically part of Europe), bordering the Black Sea, between
Bulgaria and Georgia, and bordering the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, between
Greece and Syria.
People of Turkey
Bridging Europe and Asia Minor, Turkey is a land of geographic, economic, and social contrasts. Slightly larger than Texas, modern Turkey spans bustling cosmopolitan centers, pastoral farming villages, barren wastelands, peaceful Aegean coastlines, and steep mountain regions. More than half of Turkey's population lives in urban areas that juxtapose Western lifestyles with traditional-style mosques and markets. Most Turks, however, work in agriculture. Although Turkey is still a developing country, recent improvements in services have resulted in the proliferation of electricity nationwide and telephone connections for all its 34,500 villages.
Turkey has been officially secular since 1924, although 98% of the population is Muslim. Most Turkish Muslims belong to the Sunni branch of Islam, but a significant number are Alevi Muslims. The appeal of political Islam and the Kurdish insurgency continue to fuel public debate on several aspects of Turkish society, including the role of religion, the necessity for human rights protections, and the expectation of security.
Turks of Kurdish origin constitute an ethnic and linguistic group. Estimates of their population range up to 12 million. Although an increasing number have migrated to the cities, the traditional home of the Kurds is in poor, remote areas of the east and southeast, where incomes are less than half the national average and all other economic and social indicators lag.
Turkish culture, rich in Ottoman and folkloric elements, is traditional and modern. Turkish carpet weaving is one of the oldest crafts in the world. Ceramics and other Ottoman-era crafts retain their varied regional character.
Modern Turkish cultural life dates from the 1923 founding of the republic and early efforts to Westernize Turkish society. As a result, the arts, literature, drama, and classical and contemporary music have flourished. State support of cultural activities is extensive and encompasses a national network of theaters, orchestras, opera and ballet companies, university fine arts academies, and various conservatories. Public funds also are used to provide partial support for private theater groups and for major art exhibits and festivals.
Population: 69,660,559 (July 2005 est.)
SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State
Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Turkey > Map Economy History