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Turkey Travel Guide:

          Facts on Turkey

Flag of Turkey
History   Geography    People    Economy    Communications    Transportation
 

Map of Turkey and its largest cities

Map of Turkey and its largest cities

History   Top of Page
  Modern Turkey was founded in 1923 from the Anatolian remnants of the defeated Ottoman Empire by national hero Mustafa KEMAL, who was later honored with the title Ataturk, or "Father of the Turks." Under his authoritarian leadership, the country adopted wide-ranging social, legal, and political reforms. After a period of one-party rule, an experiment with multi-party politics led to the 1950 election victory of the opposition Democratic Party and the peaceful transfer of power. Since then, Turkish political parties have multiplied, but democracy has been fractured by periods of instability and intermittent military coups (1960, 1971, 1980), which in each case eventually resulted in a return of political power to civilians. In 1997, the military again helped engineer the ouster - popularly dubbed a "post-modern coup" - of the then Islamic-oriented government. Turkey intervened militarily on Cyprus in 1974 to prevent a Greek takeover of the island and has since acted as patron state to the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," which only Turkey recognizes. A separatist insurgency begun in 1984 by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - now known as the People's Congress of Kurdistan or Kongra-Gel (KGK) - has dominated the Turkish military's attention and claimed more than 30,000 lives. After the capture of the group's leader in 1999, the insurgents largely withdrew from Turkey, mainly to northern Iraq. In 2004, KGK announced an end to its ceasefire and attacks attributed to the KGK increased. Turkey joined the UN in 1945 and in 1952 it became a member of NATO. In 1964, Turkey became an associate member of the European Community; over the past decade, it has undertaken many reforms to strengthen its democracy and economy, enabling it to begin accession membership talks with the European Union.  
Geography   Top of Page
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  
Geographic Coordinates 39 00 N, 35 00  
Area Total: 780,580 sq km
Water: 9,820 sq km
Land: 770,760 sq km
 
Area - Comparative Slightly larger than Texas  
Land Boundaries Total: 2,648 km
Border countries: Armenia 268 km, Azerbaijan 9 km, Bulgaria 240 km, Georgia 252 km, Greece 206 km, Iran 499 km, Iraq 352 km, Syria 822 km
 
Coastline 7,200 km  
Climate Temperate; hot, dry summers with mild, wet winters; harsher in interior  
Terrain High central plateau (Anatolia); narrow coastal plain; several mountain ranges  
Elevation Extremes Lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
Highest point: Mount Ararat 5,166 m
 
Natural Resources Antimony, coal, chromium, mercury, copper, borate, sulfur, iron ore, arable land, hydropower  
Geography Note Strategic location controlling the Turkish Straits (Bosporus, Sea of Marmara, Dardanelles) that link Black and Aegean Seas; Mount Ararat, the legendary landing place of Noah's Ark, is in the far eastern portion of the country  
Natural hazards Very severe earthquakes, especially in northern Turkey, along an arc extending from the Sea of Marmara to Lake Van.  
People   Top of Page
Population 70,413,958 (July 2006 est.)  
Age Structure 0-14 years: 25.5% (male 9,133,226/female 8,800,070)
15-64 years: 67.7% (male 24,218,277/female 23,456,761)
65 years and over: 6.8% (male 2,198,073/female 2,607,551) (2006 est.)  
 
Nationality Noun: Turk(s)
Adjective: Turkish
 
Ethnic Groups Turkish 80%, Kurdish 20% (estimated)  
Religions Muslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), other 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews)  
Language Turkish (official), Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian, Greek   
Literacy Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 86.5%
 
Government   Top of Page
Country Name Conventional long form: Republic of Turkey
Conventional short form: Turkey
Local long form: Turkiye Cumhuriyeti
Local short form: Turkiye
 
Government Type Republican parliamentary democracy  
Capital Ankara  
Administrative Divisions 81 provinces (iller, singular - il); Adana, Adiyaman, Afyon, Agri, Aksaray, Amasya, Ankara, Antalya, Ardahan, Artvin, Aydin, Balikesir, Bartin, Batman, Bayburt, Bilecik, Bingol, Bitlis, Bolu, Burdur, Bursa, Canakkale, Cankiri, Corum, Denizli, Diyarbakir, Duzce, Edirne, Elazig, Erzincan, Erzurum, Eskisehir, Gaziantep, Giresun, Gumushane, Hakkari, Hatay, Igdir, Isparta, Istanbul, Izmir, Kahramanmaras, Karabuk, Karaman, Kars, Kastamonu, Kayseri, Kilis, Kirikkale, Kirklareli, Kirsehir, Kocaeli, Konya, Kutahya, Malatya, Manisa, Mardin, Mersin, Mugla, Mus, Nevsehir, Nigde, Ordu, Osmaniye, Rize, Sakarya, Samsun, Sanliurfa, Siirt, Sinop, Sirnak, Sivas, Tekirdag, Tokat, Trabzon, Tunceli, Usak, Van, Yalova, Yozgat, Zonguldak  
Independence 29 October 1923 (successor state to the Ottoman Empire)  
Flag Description Red with a vertical white crescent (the closed portion is toward the hoist side) and white five-pointed star centered just outside the crescent opening  
Economy   Top of Page
Overview Turkey's dynamic economy is a complex mix of modern industry and commerce along with a traditional agriculture sector that in 2003 still accounted for 40% of employment. It 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 exporter - 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 account for more than 50% of central government spending. Inflation, in recent years in the high double-digit range, fell to 26% in 2003. Perhaps because of these problems, foreign direct investment in Turkey remains low - less than $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 Turkey to float the lira and pushing the country into recession. Results in 2002-03 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 could result in negative growth in 2004.  
Currency Turkish lira  (On January 1, 2005 six zeroes were dropped from the Turkish Lira. One million Turkish Lira is now equal to 1 New Turkish Lira).  
Currency Code YTL (New Turkish Lira)  
Communications   Top of Page
Telephone System General assessment: undergoing rapid modernization and expansion, especially with cellular telephones  
Internet Country Code .tr  
Transportation   Top of Page
Railways total: 8,697 km
standard gauge: 8,697 km 1.435-m gauge (2,122 km electrified) (2005)
 
Roadways total: 354,421 km
paved: 147,404 km (including 1,886 km of expressways)
unpaved: 207,017 km (2003)
 
Waterways 1,200 km (approximately)  
Ports and Harbors Gemlik, Hopa, Iskenderun, Istanbul, Izmir, Kocaeli (Izmit), Icel (Mersin), Samsun, Trabzon  
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