Info About Turkey - Best Luxury Hotels Worldwide

Info About Turkey - Best Luxury Hotels Worldwide

Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye), officially the Republic of Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye Cumhuriyeti) listen (help·info), is a Eurasian country located mainly in the Anatolian peninsula in Southwestern Asia, with a small portion of its territory located in the Balkan region of Southeastern Europe.

Turkey borders eight countries: Bulgaria to the northwest; Greece to the west; Georgia, Armenia and the Nakhichevan exclave of Azerbaijan to the northeast; Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the southeast. In addition, it borders the Black Sea to the north; Aegean Sea and Marmara Sea to the west and Mediterranean Sea to the south.

The Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular constitutional republic, whose political system was established in 1923. Turkey is a member state of the United Nations, NATO, OSCE, OECD, OIC and the Council of Europe. In October 2005, the European Union opened accession negotiations with Ankara and thus Turkey is a Candidate Country to the European Union.

Due to its strategic location straddling Europe and Asia and between three seas, Turkey has been a historical crossroads and economic centre, the homeland of and battleground between several great civilizations.



Because of its strategic location at the intersection of Asia and Europe, Anatolia has been a cradle for several civilizations since prehistoric ages, with Neolithic settlements such as Çatalhöyük (Pottery Neolithic), Çayönü (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A to pottery Neolithic), Nevali Cori (Pre-Pottery Neolithic B), Hacilar (Pottery Neolithic), Göbekli Tepe (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A) and Mersin. The settlement of Troy starts in the Neolithic and continues forward into the Iron Age. Through recorded history, Anatolians have spoken both Indo-European and Semitic 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. Other authors have proposed an Anatolian origin for the Etruscans of ancient Italy.

Iron Age and peoples that have settled in or conquered Anatolia include the Phrygians, Hittites, Lydians, Lycians, Mushki, Kurds, Cimmerians, Armenians, Persians, Tabals, Greeks. The conquest of Anatolia by Turkic peoples, under the Seljuks with the Battle of Manzikert and the rise of the Seljuk Empire in the 11th century was finalized by the rise of the Ottoman Empire. In the 16th century, at the height of its power, the Ottoman Empire grew to cover Anatolia, North Africa, the Middle East, Southeastern and Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.

Following years of decline, the Ottoman Empire entered World War I in an alliance with Germany in 1914 where it was ulitmately defeated and occupied. Western powers sought to partition the empire through the Treaty of Sevres (see Rise of Nationalism under the Ottoman Empire). With the support of the Allies, Greece had occupied İzmir as provided for in the Treaty. On 19 May 1919 this prompted the beginning of a nationalist movement under the command of Mustafa Kemal Pasha, a military commander who had distinguished himself in the Battle of Gallipoli. Kemal Pasha sought to revoke the terms of treaty signed by the Sultan in Istanbul, this involved mobilizing every available part of Turkish society in what would become the Turkish War of Independence (Turkish: Kurtuluş Savaşı).

By 18 September 1922 the occupying armies were repelled and the country was liberated. On 1 November 1922 the Turkish Grand National Assembly formally abolished the office of the Sultan, thus ending 631 years of Ottoman rule. In 1923 the Treaty of Lausanne recognized the sovereignty of a new Turkish Republic, Kemal was granted the name Atatürk (meaning father of Turks) by the National Assembly and would become the Republic's first President. Atatürk instituted a wide-range of far reaching reforms with the aim of modernizing the new Republic from the remnants of its Ottoman past.

Turkey entered World War II on the Allied side in the latter stages of the war and became a charter member of the United Nations. Difficulties faced by Greece after World War II in quelling a communist rebellion and demands by the Soviet Union 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 U.S. military and economic support. After participating with United Nations forces in the Korean conflict, Turkey in 1952 joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Turkey intervened and militarily invaded Cyprus in July 1974 in response to a Greek coup by EOKA-B. The breakaway de-facto independent Northern Cyprus is not officially recognised by any country except Turkey itself.

Upon the retirement of President Kenan Evren, Turgut Özal was elected President, leaving parliament in the hands of the feckless Yildirim Akbulut, and then, in 1991, to Mesut Yilmaz. Yilmaz redoubled Turkey's economic profile and renewed its orientation toward Europe. But political instability followed as the host of banned politicians reentered politics, fracturing the vote, and the Motherland Party became increasingly corrupt. Ozal died of a heart attack in 1993 and Suleyman Demirel was elected president.

The 1995 elections brought a short-lived coalition between Yilmaz's Motherland Party and The True Path Party, now with Tansu Ciller at the helm. Ciller then turned to the Welfare Party (RP), headed by Necmettin Erbakan, the former leader of the National Salvation Party, allowing Erbakan to enter the Prime Ministry. In 1998, the military, citing his government's support for a Turkish religious identity deemed dangerous to Turkey's secular nature, sent a memorandum to Erbakan requesting that he resign, which he did. Shortly thereafter, the RP was banned and re-born under the name Virtue Party (FP). A new government was formed by ANAP and Ecevit's Democratic Left Party (DSP) supported from the outside by the center-left Republican People's Party (CHP), led by Deniz Baykal.

A series of economic shocks led to new elections in 2002, bringing into power the conservative Justice and Development Party led by the former mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Turkey is currently in accession talks with the European Union.


Turkey's political system is based on a separation of powers. Its constitution is called Anayasa or Main Law.

Head of State – The function of Head of State is performed by the President (Cumhurbaşkanı). A president is elected every seven years by the Grand National Assembly. The President does not have to be a member of parliament.

Executive power – Executive power rests in the Prime Minister (Başbakan) and the Council of Ministers (Bakanlar Kurulu). The Ministers have to be members of Parliament; however, the Prime Minister is no longer required to be an MP. The Prime Minister is elected by the parliament through a vote of confidence in his government.

Parliament – Legislative power resides with the 550-seat Grand National Assembly (Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi), representing 81 provinces. The Grand National Assembly is elected every five years. To be represented in Parliament, a party must win at least 10% of the national vote in a national parliamentary election. Candidates may also run as independents. To be elected, they must win at least 10% of the vote in the province from which they are running.

Legal System

The freedom and independence of the Judicial System is protected within the constitution. There is no organization, person, or institution which can interfere in the running of the courts, and the executive and legislative structures must obey the courts' decisions. The courts, which are independent in discharging their duties, must explain each ruling on the basis of the provisions of the Constitution, the laws, jurisprudence, and their personal convictions.

The Judicial system is highly structured. Turkish courts have no jury system; judges render decisions after establishing the facts in each case based on evidence presented by lawyers and prosecutors. For minor civil complaints and offenses, justices of the peace take the case. This court has a single judge. It has jurisdiction over misdemeanors and petty crimes, with penalties ranging from small fines to brief prison sentences. Three-judge courts of first instance have jurisdiction over major civil suits and serious crimes. Any conviction in a criminal case can be taken to a court of Appeals for judicial review.

All courts are open to the public. When a case is closed to the public, the court has to publish the reason. Judge and prosecution structures are secured by the constitution. Except with their own consent, no judge or prosecutor can be dismissed, have his/her powers restricted, or be forced to retire. However, the retirement age restrictions do apply. The child courts have their own structure.

A judge can be audited for misconduct only with the Ministry of Justice's permission, in which case a special task force of justice experts and senior judges is formed.

The High Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors is the principal body charged with responsibility for ensuring judicial integrity, and determines professional judges acceptance and court assignments. Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is still in head of the High Council.

Turkey is adapting a new national "Judicial Networking System" (UYAP). The court decisions and documents (case info, expert reports, etc) will be accessible via the Internet.

Turkey accepts the European Court of Human Rights' decisions as a higher court decision. Turkey also accepts as legally binding any decisions on international agreements.

Foreign Relations

Turkey's main political, economic and military relations still remain firmly rooted within Western Europe and the United States. Turkey is currently in the process of accession to the European Union, with which it has had an association agreement since 1964, and Customs Union since 1996. A major source of tension in its EU aspirations is the issue of Cyprus, a member of the EU which Turkey does not recognise, but instead supports the de facto Turkish Cypriot north. Ankara has been urged to open its ports and recognise the Republic of Cyprus or face a possible halt in talks. Turkey supported a UN-backed peace agreement which was rejected by the Greek Cypriots, but supported by the Turkish Cypriots in 2004, thus paving the way for Greek Cypriot membership. The Greek Cypriot administration has since threatened the use of its veto if Ankara does not meet its EU obligations, though this has been judged an unlikely move.

Turkey has remained a close ally of the United States, supporting it in the war on terror in the post September 11th climate. However, the Iraq war faced strong domestic opposition in Turkey and as such, the Turkish parliament voted against allowing US troops to attack Iraq from Turkey. This led a period of cooling in relations, but soon regained momentum through diplomatic, humanitarian and indirect military support. Turkey is particularly cautious about an independent Kurdish state arising from a destabilised Iraq. Turkey has fought an insurgent war against the PKK, a guerrilla group seeking Kurdish independence, in which some 30,000 people have lost their lives. This has led Ankara to pressure the US into clamping down on guerrilla training camps in northern Iraq, though it remains reluctant due to its relative stability with the rest of Iraq. Turkey must therefore balance domestic pressures with commitments to its strongest ally.

Relations with neighbour Greece have historically been strained and on few occasions close to war. Cyprus and claims to the Aegean remain the main sticking point between the two nations. Cyprus continues to be divided between a Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot north, and efforts to reunite the island under the auspices of the United Nations have so far failed. In the Aegean, strategically important to the passage of Turkish vessels, Turkey has made clear it will not accept a 12-mile claim to territorial waters surrounding the islands. Though the historical rivalry between the two states has been bitter, following the devastating 1999 earthquake in Turkey, and the quick response of Greek aid and rescue teams, the nations have entered a much more positive period of relations, with Greece backing Turkey's candidacy to the EU.


Turkish Armed Forces (Turkish: Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri or TSK) consists of the Army, Navy (includes Naval Air and Naval Infantry) and Air Force. The Gendarmerie and Coast Guard operate as the parts of Dept. of Internal Affairs in peacetime and are subordinate to the Army and Navy Commands respectively. In wartime, both have law enforcement and military functions. The Turkish Armed forces, with a combined troop strength of 680,000 people, is the second largest standing force in NATO after the United States. Currently, 45,000 troops are stationed in Turkish-recognised Northern Cyprus and UN-administered Kosovo. Every fit male Turkish citizen has to serve military service for varying time periods ranging between 1 month to 15 months depending on his education, job location, and occasional paid options.

After becoming a member of the NATO Alliance on February 18, 1952, the Turkish Republic initiated a comprehensive modernization program for its Armed Forces. Towards the end of the 1980s, a restructuring process was initiated in the Turkish Armed Forces. Recently, the picture of Atatürk was removed from the logo of the Turkish Armed Forces following the modernization. This action led to significant debate in the Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi (TBMM) and the picture of Atatürk was placed back in because of public pressure.

The Armed forces have traditionally been a political powerful institution, and have on several occasions intervened directly in political affairs. The role of the military in Turkish politics, mainly through the National Security Council, is however declining, as Turkey undergoes democratization reforms in order to comply with EU's Copenhagen criteria.


The territory of Turkey extends from 36° to 42° N and from 26° to 45° E in Eurasia. It is roughly rectangular in shape and is 1,660 kilometers (1,031 mi) wide. Turkey's area inclusive of lakes is 814,578 square kilometres (314,510 sq mi), of which 790,200 square kilometres (305,098 sq mi) occupies the Anatolian peninsula (also called Asia Minor) in Asia, and 3% or 24,378 square kilometres (9,412 sq mi) are located in Europe. Many geographers consider Turkey politically (although not culturally) in Europe, although it is rather a transcontinental country between Asia and Europe. The land borders of Turkey total 2,573 kilometres (1,599 mi), and the coastlines (including islands) total another 8,333 kilometres (5,178 mi).

Turkey is generally divided into seven regions: the Marmara, the Aegean, the Mediterranean, Central Anatolia, East Anatolia, Southeast Anatolia and the Black Sea region. The uneven north Anatolian terrain running along the Black Sea resembles a long, narrow belt. This region comprises approximately 1/6 of Turkey's total land area. As a general trend, the inland Anatolian plateau becomes increasingly rugged as it progresses eastward.

Turkey forms a bridge between Europe and Asia, with the division between the two running from the Black Sea (Karadeniz) to the north down along the Bosporus (Istanbul Boğazı) strait through the Sea of Marmara (Marmara Denizi) and the Dardanelles (Çanakkale Boğazı) strait to the Aegean Sea (Ege Denizi) and the larger Mediterranean Sea (Akdeniz) to the south. The Anatolian peninsula or Anatolia (Anadolu) consists of a high central plateau with narrow coastal plains, in between the Köroğlu and East-Black Sea mountain range to the north and the Taurus Mountains (Toros Dağları) to the south. To the east is found a more mountainous landscape, home to the sources of rivers such as the Euphrates (Fırat), Tigris (Dicle) and the Araks (Aras), as well as Lake Van (Van Gölü) and Mount Ararat (Ağrı Dağı), Turkey's highest point at 5,137 metres (16,853 ft).

Turkey is also prone to very severe earthquakes. The Bosphorus and the Dardanelles owe their existence to the fault lines running through Turkey, leading to the creation of the Black Sea. There is an earthquake fault line across the north of the country from west to east. Within the last century there were many earthquakes along this fault line, the sizes and locations of these earthquakes can be seen on the Fault lines & Earthquakes image. This image also includes a small scaled map that shows other fault lines in Turkey.

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.

Administrative Divisions

Turkey is subdivided into 81 provinces (iller in Turkish; singular il). Each province is divided into subprovinces (ilçeler; singular ilçe). The province usually bears the same name as the provincial capital, also called the central subprovince; exceptions are Hatay (capital: Antakya), Kocaeli (capital: İzmit) and Sakarya (capital: Adapazarı). Major provinces include: Istanbul 11 million, Ankara 4 million, İzmir 3.5 million, Bursa 2.1 million, Konya 2.2 million, Adana 1.8 million.


The capital city of Turkey is Ankara, but İstanbul remains the financial, economic and cultural centre of the country. Other important cities include İzmir, Bursa, Adana, Trabzon, Malatya, Gaziantep, Erzurum, Kayseri, İzmit (Kocaeli), Konya, Mersin, Eskişehir, Diyarbakır, Antalya and Samsun. An estimated 68% of Turkey's population live in urban centers.

The five largest cities by population are:

Istanbul - 10,019,000
Ankara - 4,319,000
İzmir - 2,409,000
Bursa - 1,195,000
Adana - 1,131,000


Turkey's economy is a complex mix of modern industry and commerce along with a traditional agriculture sector that in 2005 still accounted for 30% of employment. Turkey has a strong and rapidly growing private sector, yet the state still plays a major role in basic industry, banking, transport, and communications. In recent years, the Turkish economy has expanded particularly strongly, registering growth rates of 8.9% and 7.4% for the 2004 and 2005 fiscal years respectively.

Turkey began a series of reforms in the 1980s designed to shift the economy from a statist, insulated system to a more private-sector, market-based model. The reforms spurred growth, but growth was punctuated by sharp recessions and financial crises in 1994, 1999, and 2001. Turkey's failure to pursue additional reforms, combined with large and growing public sector deficits, resulted in high inflation, increasing macroeconomic volatility, and a weak banking sector.

Current GDP per capita soared by 210% in the Seventies. But this proved unsustainable and growth scaled back sharply to 70% in the Eighties and a disappointing 11% in the Nineties.

The Ecevit government, in power from 1999 through 2002, restarted structural reforms in line with ongoing economic programs under the standby agreements signed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), including passage of social security reform, public finance reform, state banks reform, banking sector reform, increasing transparency in public sector, and also introduction of related legislation to liberalize telecom, and energy markets. Under the IMF program, the government also sought to use exchange rate policies to curb inflation.

By late 2000, a growing current account deficit, the weak banking system, and growing concern over the failure to implement needed structural reforms resulted in a liquidity crisis that led to a revised IMF program. In February 2001, a public dispute between the president and prime minister triggered a run on the lira and a dramatic increase in interest rates. The result was rapid inflation, a severe banking crisis, a massive rise in domestic public debt, and a deep economic downturn (GNP fell 9.5% in 2001). The government was forced to float the lira and adopt a more ambitious economic reform program, including a very tight fiscal policy, enhanced structural reforms, and unprecedented levels of IMF lending.

Large IMF loans — tied to implementation of ambitious economic reforms — enabled Turkey to stabilize interest rates and the currency and to meet its debt obligations. In 2002 and 2003, the reforms began to show results. With the exception of a period of market jitters in the run-up to the Iraq war, inflation and interest rates have fallen significantly, the currency has stabilized, and confidence has begun to return. Nonetheless, the economy remains very fragile, and continued implementation of reforms is essential to sustain growth and stability. On July 29, 2004 the IMF cleared a further disbursement totalling 661 million dollars, as part of an economic aid package approved two years earlier.

Turkey has a number of bilateral investment and tax treaties, including with the United States, that guarantee free repatriation of capital in convertible currencies and eliminate double taxation. Nonetheless, foreign direct investment has totaled only $15.7 billion as of November 2002, a modest sum reflecting investor concerns about political and macroeconomic uncertainty, burdensome regulation, and a large state role in the economy.

Turkey seeks to improve its investment climate through administrative streamlining, an end to foreign investment screening, and strengthened intellectual property legislation. However, a number of disputes involving foreign investors in Turkey and certain policies, such as high taxation of cola products and continuing gaps in the intellectual property regime, inhibit investment. The Turkish privatization board is in the process of privatizing a series of state-owned companies, including the state alcohol and tobacco company and the oil refining parastatal. In 2004, the Privatization Board privatized the telephone company and some of the state-owned banks. The government also committed in the World Trade Organization to liberalize the telecommunications sector at the beginning of 2004.

On January 1st 2005 the Turkish Lira was replaced by the New Turkish Lira, at an exchange rate of 1 new lira to 1,000,000 old. This was to demonstrate the stablisation achieved by the currency in recent years, and to help promote exchange, investment and trade.



The legal use of term "Turkish" (a citizen of Turkey) is different than the ethnic definition (an ethnic Turk). However, the majority of the Turkish population are of Turkish ethnicity. The ethnic minorities include, besides the legally defined minorities, Abkhazians, Albanians, Arabs, Bosniaks, Chechens, Circassians, Georgians, Ingushetians, Kabardins, Kurds, Laz, Molokans and Zazas.

The term "minority" itself remains a sensitive issue in Turkey, since the Turkish State only considers the communities mentioned in the text of Treaty of Lausanne. Minorities include Armenians, Bulgarians, Greeks, Hamshenis, Jews, Levantines, Ossetians, Pomaks and Roma (Roma is a name for Gypsies).

The largest group of non-Turkic ethnicity are the Kurds, a distinct ethnic group concentrated in the southeast. The 1965 census determined that 7.1% of the population used Kurdish as their primary language and the knowledge of the language was stated by the 12.7% of the population in total, but there are many Turkish-speaking Kurds. According to the CIA fact book [2], 20% of the population are estimated to be ethnic Kurds. However, there are no hard figures for the Kurdish population available.

Due to a demand for an increased labour force in Western 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.


Education is compulsory and free from ages 7 to 15. There are around 820 higher education institutes including universities, with a total student enrollment of over 1 million. The 15 main universities are in Istanbul and Ankara. Tertiary education is the responsibility of the Higher Education Council, and funding is provided by the state. From 1998 the universities were given greater autonomy, and were encouraged to raise funds from partnerships with industry.

There are approximately 85 universities in Turkey. There are two types of universities, state and (private) foundational. State universities charge very low fees and foundationals are highly expensive with fees up to $15 000 or sometimes even more. The capacity in total of Turkish universities is approximately 300.000. Some universities can compete with the best world universities whereas some are unable to provide the necessary educational standards due to financial problems and underfunding. However, university students are a lucky minority in Turkey. Universities provide either two or four years of education for undergraduate studies. For graduate studies, two further years is necessary, as is typical throughout the world.

The Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey coordinates basic and applied research and development. There are 64 research institutes and organisations. R&D strengths include agriculture, forestry, health, biotechnology, nuclear technologies, minerals, materials, IT, and defence.


Turkey has a very diverse culture derived from various elements of the Ottoman Empire, European, and the Islamic traditions. As Turkey successfully transformed from the religion-driven former Ottoman Empire into a modern nation-state with a very strong separation of state and religion, the increase in the methods of artistic expression followed. During the first years of the republic, the government invested a large amount of resources into the fine arts, such as paintings, sculptures and architecture amongst other things. This was done as both a process of modernisation and of creating a cultural identity. Today the Turkish economy is diverse enough to subsidise individual artists with great freedom.

Because of different historical factors playing an important role in defining a Turkish identity, the culture of Turkey is an interesting combination of clear efforts to be "modern" and Western, combined with the necessity felt to maintain traditional religious and historical values.


Nominally, 99% of the population is Muslim. Most belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. About 15-20% of the population are Alevi Muslims. There is also a small but significant Twelver Shi'a minority, mainly of Azeri descent. The remaining 1% of the population are of other religions, mostly Christian (Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic (Gregorian), Syriac Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Protestants), Jewish, Bahá'ís and Yezidis.

Unlike other Muslim-majority countries, there is a strong tradition of separation of church and state in Turkey. Even though the state does not have any/or promote any religion, it actively monitors the area between the religions. The constitutional rule that prohibits discrimination on religious grounds is taken very seriously. The Turkish constitution recognises freedom of religion for individuals, and the religious communities are placed under the protection of state, but the constitution explicitly states that they cannot become involved in the political process, by forming a religious party for example. No party can claim that it represents a form of religious belief. However, the religious sensibilities are generally represented through conservative parties.

The mainstream Hanafite school of Sunni Islam is largely organised by the state, through Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı (Department of Religious Affairs). The Diyanet is the main Islamic framework established after abolition of the Ulama and Seyh-ul-Islam of the old régime. As a consequence, they control all mosques and Muslim clerics. Imams are trained in Imam Hatip schools and at theology departments at universities. The department supports Sunni Islam and has commissions authorised to give Fatwa judgements on Islamic issues. The department is criticized by some Alevi Muslims for not supporting their beliefs.

The Orthodox Patriarch (Patrik) governs the Greek-Orthodox Church in Turkey and acts as the spiritual leader of all Orthodox churches throughout the world, the Armenian Patrik the Armenian Church, while the Jewish community is lead by the Hahambasi, Turkey's Chief Rabbi, all based in Istanbul. The Jewish population in Turkey is one of the largest and most prominent outside of Israel.

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