|TURKEY COAT OF ARMS|
Location of Turkey within the Continent of Asia
Map of Turkey
Flag Description of Turkey:red with a vertical white crescent moon (the closed portion is toward the hoist side) and white five-pointed star centered just outside the crescent opening; the flag colors and designs closely resemble those on the banner of the Ottoman Empire, which preceded modern-day Turkey; the crescent moon and star serve as insignia for the Turks, as well as being traditional symbols of Islam; according to legend, the flag represents the reflection of the moon and a star in a pool of blood of Turkish warriors
Official name Türkiye Cumhuriyeti (Republic of Turkey)
Form of government multiparty republic with one legislative house (Grand National Assembly of Turkey )
Head of state President: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Head of government Prime Minister: Ahmet Davutoğlu
Official language Turkish
Official religion none
Monetary unit Turkish lira1
Population (2013 est.) 76,248,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 303,224
Total area (sq km) 785,347
- Urban: (2012) 71.5%
- Rural: (2012) 28.5%
Life expectancy at birth
- Male: (2009) 71.5 years
- Female: (2009) 76.1 years
Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: (2009) 97%
- Female: (2009) 87.9%
GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2013) 10,950
1The new Turkish lira (YTL) was removed from circulation on Jan. 1, 2010, to be replaced by the Turkish lira (TL).
Background of Turkey
Turkey, country that occupies a unique geographic position, lying partly in Asia and partly in Europe. Throughout its history it has acted as both a barrier and a bridge between the two continents.
Turkey is situated at the crossroads of the Balkans, Caucasus, Middle East, and eastern Mediterranean. It is among the larger countries of the region in terms of territory and population, and its land area is greater than that of any European state. Nearly all of the country is in Asia, comprising the oblong peninsula of Asia Minor, known also as Anatolia (Anadolu). The remainder—Turkish Thrace (Trakya)—lies in the extreme southeastern part of Europe, a tiny remnant of an empire that once extended over much of the Balkans.
The country has a north-south extent that ranges from about 300 to 400 miles (480 to 640 km), and it stretches about 1,000 miles from west to east. Turkey is bounded on the north by the Black Sea, on the northeast by Georgia and Armenia, on the east by Azerbaijan and Iran, on the southeast by Iraq and Syria, on the southwest and west by the Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea, and on the northwest by Greece and Bulgaria. The capital is Ankara, and its largest city and seaport is Istanbul.
Of a total boundary length of some 4,000 miles (6,440 km), about three-fourths is maritime, including coastlines along the Black Sea, the Aegean, and the Mediterranean, as well as the narrows that link the Black and Aegean seas. These narrows—which include the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles—are known collectively as the Turkish straits; Turkey’s control of the straits, the only outlet from the Black Sea, has been a major factor in its relations with other states. Most of the islands along the Aegean coast are Greek; only the islands of Gökçeada and Bozcaada remain in Turkish hands. The maritime boundary with Greece has been a source of dispute between the two countries on numerous occasions since World War II.
A long succession of political entities existed in Asia Minor over the centuries. Turkmen tribes invaded Anatolia in the 11th century ce, founding the Seljuq empire; during the 14th century the Ottoman Empire began a long expansion, reaching its peak during the 17th century. The modern Turkish republic, founded in 1923 after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, is a nationalist, secular, parliamentary democracy. After a period of one-party rule under its founder, Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), and his successor, Turkish governments since the 1950s have been produced by multiparty elections based on universal adult suffrage.
Geography of Turkey
Land of Turkey
Turkey is a predominantly mountainous country, and true lowland is confined to the coastal fringes. About one-fourth of the surface has an elevation above 4,000 feet (1,200 metres), and less than two-fifths lies below 1,500 feet (460 metres). Mountain crests exceed 7,500 feet (2,300 metres) in many places, particularly in the east, where Turkey’s highest mountain, Mount Ararat (Ağrı), reaches 16,945 feet (5,165 metres) close to the borders with Armenia and Iran. In the southeast the Uludoruk Peak reaches 15,563 feet (4,744 metres); though further west, the Demirkazık Peak (12,320 feet [3,755 metres]) and Mount Aydos (11,414 feet [3,479 metres]) are also significant peaks. Steep slopes are common throughout the country, and flat or gently sloping land makes up barely one-sixth of the total area. These relief features affect other aspects of the physical environment, producing climates often much harsher than might be expected for a country of Turkey’s latitude and reducing the availability and productivity of agricultural land. Structurally, the country lies within the geologically young folded-mountain zone of Eurasia, which in Turkey trends predominantly east to west. The geology of Turkey is complex, with sedimentary rocks ranging from Paleozoic to Quaternary, numerous intrusions, and extensive areas of volcanic material. Four main regions can be identified: the northern folded zone, the southern folded zone, the central massif, and the Arabian platform.
- THE NORTHERN FOLDED ZONE
The northern folded zone comprises a series of mountain ridges, increasing in elevation toward the east, that occupy a belt about 90 to 125 miles (145 to 200 km) wide immediately south of the Black Sea. The system as a whole is referred to as the Pontic Mountains (Doğukaradeniz Dağları). In the west the system has been fractured by the faulting that produced the Turkish straits; in Thrace the Ergene lowlands are among the largest in the country, and the main mountain range—the Yıldız (Istranca)—reaches only 3,379 feet (1,030 metres). Lowlands also occur to the south of the Sea of Marmara and along the lower Sakarya River east of the Bosporus. High ridges trending east-west rise abruptly from the Black Sea coast, and the coastal plain is thus narrow, opening out only in the deltas of the Kızıl and Yeşil rivers. These rivers break through the mountain barrier in a zone of weakness where summits are below 2,000 feet (600 metres), dividing the Pontic Mountains into western and eastern sections. In the western section, between the Sakarya and Kızıl rivers, there are four main ridges: the Küre, Bolu, Ilgaz, and Köroğlu mountains. East of the Yeşil the system is higher, narrower, and steeper. Less than 50 miles from the coast, peaks rise to more than 10,000 feet (3,000 metres), with a maximum elevation of 12,917 feet (3,937 metres) in the Kaçkar range. Separated by the narrow trough of the Kelkit and Çoruh river valleys stands a second ridge that rises above 8,000 feet (2,400 metres).
- THE SOUTHERN FOLDED ZONE
The southern folded zone occupies the southern third of the country, from the Aegean to the Gulf of Iskenderun, from which it extends to the northeast and east around the northern side of the Arabian platform. Over most of its length, the Mediterranean coastal plain is narrow, but there are two major lowland embayments. The Antalya Plain extends inland some 20 miles (30 km) from the Gulf of Antalya; the Adana Plain, measuring roughly 90 by 60 miles (145 by 100 km), comprises the combined deltas of the Seyhan and Ceyhan rivers. The mountain system falls into two main parts. West of Antalya a complex series of ridges with a north-south trend reaches 6,500 to 8,200 feet (2,000 to 2,500 metres), but the most prominent feature is the massive Taurus (Toros) mountain system, running parallel to the Mediterranean coast and extending along the southern border. There crest lines are often above 8,000 feet (2,400 metres), and several peaks exceed 11,000 feet (3,400 metres).
In the eastern third of the country, the northern and southern fold systems converge to produce an extensive area of predominantly mountainous terrain, with pockets of relatively level land confined to valleys and enclosed basins, as are found around Malatya, Elazığ, and Muş.
- THE CENTRAL MASSIF
The central massif is located in the western half of the country, between the Pontic and Taurus systems. This elevated zone is often referred to as the Anatolian plateau, although its relief is much more varied than this term suggests. At least four subdivisions of the central massif can be identified. Inland from the Aegean as far as a line from Bursa to Denizli, a series of faulted blocks gives a north-south alternation of steep-sided plateaus rising 5,000–6,500 feet (1,500–2,000 metres) and low-lying valley floors. Alluvial plains along the larger rivers, such as the Gediz, Küçükmenderes, and Büyükmenderes, are among the largest in Turkey and are of special agricultural value. East of this section, roughly to a line from Eskişehir to Burdur, is a complex upland zone. The general surface level rises to the east from 1,500 to 3,000 feet (460 to 900 metres); set into the upland are several downfaulted basins, and above it short mountain ranges rise to 6,500 feet.
The most distinctive part of the central massif is the area bounded on the south by the Taurus Mountains and on the northeast by a line from Ankara through Lake Tuz to Niğde. There the term plateau is most applicable, with large expanses of flat or gently sloping land at elevations of about 3,000 feet separated by low upswellings in the surface. Measuring some 150 by 200 miles (240 by 320 km), these are by far the most extensive plains in Turkey; however, their agricultural value is reduced by the effects of altitude and location on their climate.
The remainder of the central massif, a roughly triangular area with its eastern apex near Sivas, forms a mountainous zone that bounds the plains on their eastern side. Much of this section rises above 5,000 feet (1,500 metres), and there are numerous peaks with elevations of about 6,500 feet. A noteworthy feature is the extensive area of geologically recent volcanic activity in Niğde, Nevşehir, and Kayseri provinces, including the volcanic peaks of Erciyes (12,848 feet [3,916 metres]) and Hasan (10,686 feet [3,257 metres]).
- THE ARABIAN PLATFORM
Southeastern Turkey between Gaziantep and the Tigris (Dicle) River rests on a stable massif called the Arabian platform. It is characterized by relatively gentle relief, with broad plateau surfaces descending to the south from about 2,500 feet (760 metres) at the mountain foot to 1,000 feet (300 metres) along the Syrian border. In the centre of this zone, the volcanic Mount Karaca reaches 6,294 feet (1,918 metres).
The geologic structure of Turkey—where recent faulting and folding are widespread and mountain building is still in progress—is particularly conducive to earthquakes, of which there have been many of varying intensity in modern times. A number of serious events have been centred in the east, near Erzurum in 1959 and 1966, Bingöl in 1971 and 2003, and Erzincan in 1939 and 1992. In 1999 the country’s northwest was struck by a powerful earthquake near İzmit (Kocaeli) that killed more than 17,000 people and evoked strong criticism of state institutions for their delayed response to the disaster.
Eight main drainage basins may be discerned, of which two cross the country’s frontiers and six are entirely within Turkish territory. The smallest, in the far east of the country, is that of the Aras River, which rises south of Erzurum and flows east for some 250 miles (400 km) to the frontier with Azerbaijan, eventually reaching the Caspian Sea. The bulk of eastern Turkey, however, is drained by the Euphrates (Fırat) and Tigris rivers, which flow south for some 780 miles (1,250 km) and 330 (530 km) miles, respectively, before entering Syria and then Iraq, where they converge to enter the Persian Gulf (see Tigris-Euphrates river system).
There are two basins of inland drainage. In the far east a small area drains to Lake Van from which there is no surface outlet. The main inland basin is in west-central Anatolia; its two main centres are the Lake Tuz and Konya basins. Several smaller, separate catchments in this basin contain lakes such as Eğridir and Beyşehir. The remainder of the country drains to the four surrounding seas—Black, Marmara, Aegean, and Mediterranean—and can thus, in a sense, be considered a single system that eventually drains to the Mediterranean. Most of the rivers flowing to the Black Sea are short torrential streams incised into the Pontic Mountains, but several have developed lengthy inland sections and tributaries running parallel to the east-west ranges of northern Turkey. These rivers include the Yenice (Filyos), Çoruh, Kelkit, Yeşil, and Kızıl. One of the largest basins is that of the Sakarya River, which covers about 500 miles (800 km) from its source, southwest of Ankara, to its mouth, north of Adapazarı.
Numerous small rivers drain into the Sea of Marmara; the largest is the Mustafakemalpaşa. Most of European Turkey lies in the Ergene-Maritsa basin, which drains into the northern Aegean. The main elements of the Aegean drainage are the parallel rivers flowing west from the Anatolian interior: the Gediz, Küçükmenderes, and Büyükmenderes. Along the section of the Mediterranean coast bounded by the Taurus Mountains, numerous rivers descend rapidly to the sea, including the short Aksu, Köprü, and Manavgat and the longer Göksu. Two much larger rivers—the Seyhan and the Ceyhan—flow into the Gulf of Iskenderun; their broad combined delta forms the greater part of the fertile Adana Plain.
Turkey has about 50 lakes with areas larger than four square miles and more than 200 smaller ones. By far the largest are Lakes Van (1,434 square miles [3,714 square km]) and Tuz (about 600 square miles [1,550 square km]); the latter is very shallow, expanding and contracting with the seasons. Being centres of inland drainage, both are saline.
The largest freshwater lakes are those in the lake district on the north side of the Taurus system, which include Lakes Akşehir, Eğridir, and Beyşehir. Another freshwater lake is Lake İznik, northeast of Bursa. The development of hydroelectric power has produced a number of artificial lakes, of which the largest are those connected with the Atatürk and Keban barrages on the Euphrates, the Hirfanlı on the Kızıl, the Sarıyar on the Sakarya, the Demirköprü on the Gediz, and the Seyhan on the Seyhan.
Turkey’s relief features and climatic variations produce major contrasts in soil types between the interior and the periphery. The detailed pattern, however, is complex; zonal soil types are broken by variations in relief and parent material, and thus a variety of azonal soils are present. Seven main soil groups may be distinguished, each containing several soil types.
Red and gray-brown podzolic soils, along with brown forest soils, represent the most extensive group, covering about one-third of the country. These occur mainly in mountainous areas as a broad belt around the northern, western, and southern sides of the Anatolian interior and are associated with the more humid climatic zones. The red and gray-brown podzolic soils are moderately leached and somewhat acidic, the red type occurring in the wetter, warmer areas. Brown forest soils are generally developed on calcareous rocks and are less acidic than the red and gray-brown podzolic soils.
Brown and reddish brown soils are characteristic of the driest parts of the country, mainly in the semiarid zones of central Anatolia and in the southeast; covering about one-fifth of the country, they support extensive dryland grain production. These soils are for the most part calcareous and are more productive when irrigated.
Noncalcic brown soils with rendzinas and grumusols are found in slightly wetter climates. Noncalcic brown soils are a zonal type, less strongly leached and less acidic than the podzols; they are most extensive in lowland Thrace but also occur in patches along the Aegean. Rendzinas—highly calcareous azonal soils derived from limestones—occur mainly along the Mediterranean; grumusols, found mainly in Thrace, also are calcareous but are deeper and heavier.
Chestnut soils are found on a smaller scale in the same regions as the brown and reddish brown group but under slightly more humid conditions where the parent materials are calcareous.
Serozems—highly alkaline semidesert gray soils—are found in the driest areas, notably in the Konya basin and the Aras valley.
Terra rossas and red prairie soils are the products of limestone weathering under Mediterranean climates; the red prairie soils occur under warmer and damper conditions and are slightly more leached than the terra rossas. Both occur in patches along the Aegean and Mediterranean, notably in the Antalya and Adana lowlands.
Alluvial soils, which cover only a small portion of the country, are the most valuable type and support the most-intensive agriculture. These soils are found mainly in the valleys of the Marmara and Aegean regions, the deltas along the Black Sea, the basins of central and eastern Anatolia, and the Adana lowland.
Turkey’s varied climate—generally a dry semicontinental Mediterranean variant—is heavily influenced by the presence of the sea to the north, south, and west and by the mountains that cover much of the country. The sea and the mountains produce contrasts between the interior and the coastal fringes. Several areas have the winter rainfall maximum typical of the Mediterranean regime, and summer drought is widespread. However, the elevation of the country ensures that winters are often much colder than is common in Mediterranean climates, and there are significant contrasts between winter and summer temperatures.
January mean temperatures are below freezing throughout the interior, and in the east there is a sizable area below 23 °F (−5 °C); extremely low temperatures occur at times, with minima from −4 °F (−20 °C) in the west to −40 °F (−40 °C) in the east. The duration of snow cover ranges from two weeks in the warmer areas to four months in some mountainous areas in the east. The coastal fringes are mild, with January means above 41 °F (5 °C). Summers generally are hot: July means exceed 68 °F (20 °C) in all but the highest mountain areas, 77 °F (25 °C) along the Aegean and Mediterranean, and 86 °F (30 °C) in the southeast. Precipitation is strongly affected by relief; annual totals of 12–16 inches (305–406 mm) are characteristic of much of the interior, whereas the higher parts of the Pontic and Taurus ranges receive more than 40 inches (1,000 mm).
- CLIMATIC REGIONS
Contrasts between the interior and the coasts produce six main climatic regions.
The Black Sea coastlands are the wettest region, with rain throughout the year and a winter maximum. Annual totals exceed 32 inches (813 mm), reaching 96 inches (2,438 mm) in the east. Frosts can occur, but winters are generally mild, with January means of 43–45 °F (6–7 °C); summers are hot, with July means above 68 °F (20 °C) at sea level.
Thrace and Marmara are influenced by winter depressions passing through the straits, but summers are drier than along the Black Sea. Annual precipitation ranges from 24 to 36 inches (610 to 914 mm), with a pronounced winter maximum. January mean temperatures are close to freezing; summers are hot, with July means above 77 °F (25 °C).
The Aegean coastlands have a Mediterranean regime. Average temperatures range from 45–47 °F (7–8 °C) in January to 77–86 °F (25–30 °C) in July, and frosts are rare. Annual rainfall varies from 24 to 32 inches (610 to 813 mm), and there is a pronounced summer drought.
The Mediterranean coastlands display characteristics similar to the Aegean but in a more intense form. July means exceed 83 °F (28 °C) at sea level. Annual rainfall declines from 40 inches (1,000 mm) in the west to barely 24 inches in the Adana Plain, and the summer months are virtually rainless at sea level.
The southeast is dry and hot during the summer. Winters are cold, with January means near freezing; July means are generally above 86 °F (30 °C). Annual rainfall ranges from 12 to 24 inches (305 to 610 mm).
The Anatolian interior has a semicontinental climate with a large temperature range; Ankara’s January mean is 28 °F (−2 °C), and its July mean is 74 °F (23 °C). Precipitation is influenced by relief: Konya, with barely 12 inches, is among the driest places in the country, but in the mountainous east the annual totals generally exceed 24 inches.
- Plant and animal life
Patterns of natural vegetation are closely related to those of relief, climate, and soils. There are two main types: steppe grasslands, which occur mainly in central Anatolia and the southeast but are also found in lowland Thrace and in the valleys and basins of eastern Anatolia; and forest and woodland, which cover the remainder of the country. Over much of Turkey, however, these natural vegetation types have been greatly modified by human action, both directly (through lumbering and clearance for agriculture) and indirectly (through the activities of grazing animals).
The richest type of woodland is the Pontic, or Colchian, forest, confined to the eastern part of the Black Sea coastlands, where rainfall is heavy, there is no summer drought, and winters are mild. Hornbeam, sweet chestnut, oriental spruce, and alder are the commonest species, and there is a rich shrub layer of rhododendron, laurel, holly, myrtle, hazel, and walnut. The remainder of the Black Sea zone is occupied by humid deciduous forest, second only to the Colchian type in richness and variety. The main tree species in the Black Sea zone are oriental spruce, beech, hornbeam, alder, oak, fir, and yew, with oak and pine in the drier parts. Coniferous species become dominant above 3,300 feet (1,000 metres), giving way to alpine grassland above 6,500 feet (2,000 metres).
Drier conditions in the western and eastern parts of the interior—on either side of the central steppe-grassland zone—produce the drier mixed- and deciduous-forest belt, where the dominant species are oak, juniper, pine, and fir, with patches of open grassland. Mediterranean mountain forest is characteristic of the central and western Taurus range; pine, fir, and oak are the main species, but cedar, beech, juniper, and maple also occur. Along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts is a belt of Mediterranean lowland vegetation of the maquis type. Myrtle, wild olive, laurel, and carob are the commonest species, but there are occasional stands of oak, pine, and cypress.
Turkey is fairly rich in wild animals and game birds. Wolves, foxes, boars, wildcats, beavers, martens, jackals, hyenas, bears, deer, gazelles, and mountain goats are still found in secluded and wooded regions. Domesticated animals include water buffalo, Angora goats (on the central massif), and camels (in the southwest), as well as horses, donkeys, sheep, and cattle. Major game birds are partridge, wild geese, quail, and bustards.
- Settlement patterns
More than three-fifths of the population lives in towns and cities. Prior to the mid-20th century, however, the population was predominantly rural, and its distribution was strongly influenced by the agricultural potential of the land. Thus, there are pronounced regional variations in population density, the main contrast being between the interior and the periphery. The regional coastlands of the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara, and the Aegean Sea are the most densely settled regions; accounting for less than two-fifths of the country’s land area, the regions together represent more than half its population. The Mediterranean coastal region is more thinly settled, though there are pockets of high population density in the Antalya and Adana basins. The remainder of the country is relatively lightly populated: the Anatolian interior and southeast, occupying more than half the country’s territory, contain less than two-fifths of Turkey’s population. At the beginning of the 21st century, however, the southeast was the country’s fastest-growing region.
Historically, much of Anatolia—especially the east—was populated by nomads and transhumants, who migrated seasonally between upland and plain. Some of their descendants, herders of sheep and goats, move from plain to mountain, living in tents, while others possess houses in two or even three villages at different altitudes.
Over much of the country, the bulk of the population lives in villages, which are estimated to number at least 50,000. The average village population tends to vary, and many villages comprise two or three separate rural settlements some distance apart.
The typical Turkish village house is a rectangular flat-roofed building, the colour of the local unbaked brick or stone from which it is made, one or two stories high. The poorest contain a single room to house family, livestock, and possessions; the better village houses encompass joint households of perhaps 20 people living in large compounds, off which lead many living rooms, stores, stables, and barns. The vast majority of homes fall between these extremes, and there is great local variation. Commonly, the head of the household and his wife live and sleep in the main room of the house, which contains the bedding (stacked away in the daytime), the cooking stove (in some areas a beehive-shaped oven built into the floor), shelves with cooking pots and implements, a gaily painted chest containing the woman’s trousseau and personal possessions, and a chest for flour and grain. People sit on rugs or mats spread on the floor. Many homes also have at least one room fitted as a guest room, normally for the use of men only. The guest room has built-in divans running along the walls and very often a stone or wooden floor. The most marked contrast occurs in the forests of the northern mountain ranges, where the village homes are made of timber and have red roofs. Brick, cement, and cinder block are now also becoming common wherever people can afford them.
Cities in Turkey are for the most part of moderate size, though many have grown rapidly since the 1970s. The largest is Istanbul; though no longer the capital city, it remains the chief port and commercial centre, attracting migrants from the entire country. With its suburbs along the Bosporus, Istanbul forms a sprawling agglomeration with nearly nine million inhabitants. The second largest city, Ankara, is of much more recent origin. Prior to the establishment of the republic, it was one of many small provincial towns in the interior, but its choice as the capital city has resulted in a long period of rapid growth. The third largest city, İzmir, is the port and commercial centre for the prosperous Aegean coastal zone.
Apart from these three main centres, an important cluster of cities is located in the Adana Plain, where Adana, Mersin (İçel), and a number of smaller centres are situated. Elsewhere the chief cities are widely separated regional and provincial capitals, of which the largest are Bursa, in the Marmara lowlands; Samsun, on the Black Sea; Antalya, on the Mediterranean; Konya, Kayseri, Eskişehir, Malatya, Erzurum, and Sivas, in the interior; and Diyarbakır, Gaziantep, and Şanlıurfa, in the southeast.
Traditional Anatolian town houses, still the most common residence in many smaller cities, were built in stone or wood, usually of two stories, with wooden floors and, sometimes, beautifully carved ceilings. The upper story often protrudes, cantilever fashion, into the street. With whitewashed walls and red-tiled roofs, these small towns sometimes present a more modern appearance than most villages, though just as often the distinction between large villages and small towns is barely visible. In the larger cities, while traditional building types are still visible in the older areas, large recently developed sections are dominated by simpler styles in brick and concrete. Downtown areas have an increasingly European appearance.
Demography of Turkey
- anguage and religion
According to the Turkish constitution, the word “Turk,” as a political term, includes all citizens of the Republic of Turkey, without distinction of or reference to race or religion; ethnic minorities have no official status. Linguistic data show that a majority of the population claim Turkish as their mother tongue; most of the remainder speak Kurdish and a small minority Arabic as their first language.
Though estimates of the Kurdish population in Turkey have generally been widely varied, at the beginning of the 21st century, Kurds were estimated to account for almost one-fifth of the country’s population. Ethnic Kurds are present in significant numbers throughout eastern Anatolia and form a majority in a number of provinces, including Ağrı, Bitlis, Bingöl, Diyarbakır, Hakkari, Mardin, Muş, Siirt, Şanlıurfa, and Van. Arabic speakers are mainly in Hatay, Adana, Mardin, Siirt, and Şanlıurfa. There are a further six ethnic groups with sizable numbers: Greeks, Armenians, and Jews are found almost entirely in Istanbul, and Circassians, Georgians, and Laz are generally located in the far east.
More than nine-tenths of the population is Muslim. Nevertheless, Turkey is a secular country. In a 1928 constitutional amendment, Islam was removed as the official state religion, and since that time the state has found itself periodically at odds with religion. Turkey’s strong secularism has resulted in what have been perceived by some as strictures on the freedom of religion; for example, the head scarf has long been prohibited in a number of public venues, and a constitutional amendment passed in February 2008 that permitted women to wear it on university campuses sparked considerable controversy. In addition, the armed forces have maintained a vigilant watch over Turkey’s political secularism, which they affirm to be a keystone among Turkey’s founding principles. The military has not left the maintenance of a secular political process to chance, however, and has intervened in politics on a number of occasions.
In addition to the Muslim majority, there also exist small populations of Jews and Christians; Christian adherents are divided between Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and other denominations.
- Demographic trends
In 1927 the total population of the Turkish republic was about 13 million; since then it has increased more than fivefold. Growth was particularly rapid after World War II, reaching nearly 3 percent annually in the early 1960s, but the rate of growth has since declined. A fall in the birth rate was the main factor for the decline, offset somewhat by a decline in the death rate. In the early 21st century, the age profile of the population remained youthful.
A notable development of the postwar period was large-scale internal migration, from rural to urban areas both within each province and over longer distances. Areas attracting the most migrants were those with major urban agglomerations: the zone around the Sea of Marmara, the Aegean coast, the Adana Plain, and Ankara. Net migration losses occurred over much of the interior, particularly the eastern part.
Another element of population movement was the movement of Turkish workers abroad. In the early 1980s some two million Turks lived in various western European countries, three-fourths of them in what was then West Germany, and there were numerous short-term Turkish workers in Arab countries, mainly Libya and Saudi Arabia. The demand for Turkish labour abroad subsequently declined, and the outflow became much smaller. In the early 21st century there were roughly one million Turkish citizens working abroad; of those, a majority of them were living in western Europe.
Economy of Turkey
Since its inception in 1923, Turkey has operated a mixed economy, in which both state and private enterprise contribute to economic development. The economy has been transformed from predominantly agricultural to one in which industry and services are the most productive and rapidly expanding sectors. A decade into the 21st century, the services sector engaged about one-half of the workforce, while agriculture and industry each occupied about one-fourth.
Until about 1950 the state played the leading role in industrialization, providing most of the capital for structural improvement in railways, ports, and shipping facilities and for the establishment of such basic industries as mining, metallurgy, and chemicals; it also invested in manufacturing, notably in the food-processing, textile, and building-material sectors. Emerging industries were protected by tariff barriers, and foreign investment was discouraged; the economy remained self-contained and somewhat isolated, with foreign trade playing only a minor role.
Major political developments of the early postwar period—such as the institution of a multiparty democracy and Turkey’s adherence to the Western alliance—had a profound effect on the economy, which became more open to foreign influences. Foreign aid, chiefly from the United States, arrived in large quantities and was used in part to finance agricultural expansion and to import agricultural and industrial machinery and transportation equipment. Growth accelerated, with the private sector playing an increasing role. State intervention—mainly in the form of government loans to private firms—remained strong, and economic development was guided by a series of five-year plans. By the late 1970s, however, the economy was plagued by high inflation, large-scale unemployment, and a chronic foreign trade deficit.
Consequently, during the 1980s there were further shifts in economic policy, including the encouragement of foreign investment, the establishment of joint enterprises, a reduction in the relative importance of the state sector, and a vigorous export drive. By the 1990s, inflation remained a serious problem, and Turkey’s per capita gross domestic product remained well below those of most Middle Eastern and European countries. Facing inflation that had reached almost 100 percent by 1997, an 18-month economic monitoring program was initiated with the International Monetary Fund, which succeeded in significantly decreasing the rate of inflation in the following two years. A financial crisis in 2000–01 forced Turkey to accept another round of IMF-supported reforms. Economic growth was strong in the first decade of the 21st century until 2009, when the global economic crisis pushed the country into a brief recession that was followed by a recovery.
Turkey has a great variety of natural resources, though few occur on a large scale. Apart from Iran, Turkey is the only Middle Eastern country with significant coal deposits, mainly in the Zonguldak field. Output of lignite is substantial. There is small-scale production of oil from fields in the southeast of the country, as well as in the northwestern Thrace region; this provides for only a fraction of the country’s needs, and Turkey is thus dependent on imported petroleum products. Both lignite and oil are used in electricity generation, and hydroelectric resources are under intensive development. Among the largest hydroelectric plants are those on the Sakarya, Kemer, Kızıl, and Seyhan rivers and on the Keban and Atatürk barrages on the Euphrates. A national electricity grid covers the whole country, including nearly all villages. The most important metallic ores are iron, mainly from Divriği in Sivas province, and chromite, much of which is exported. There are significant deposits of manganese, zinc, lead, copper, and bauxite.
About one-third of Turkey’s land area is utilized for agriculture, much of it extensively. About half of the agricultural land is used for field crops and about one-third for grazing. These proportions have remained fairly stable since the 1960s, following a period of rapid change in the 1950s, when the advent of tractors supported significant expansion of arable land, mainly at the expense of grazing land. A smaller proportion of the cultivated land consists of vineyards, orchards, olive groves, and vegetable gardens. The most important field crops are cereals; these occupy one half of the cultivated area. A majority of the cereal land is sown in wheat, with smaller areas of barley, rye, oats, corn (maize), and rice. Other important crops are cotton, sugar beets, tobacco, and potatoes. Roughly one-sixth of the cropland is irrigated. Livestock farming is a major activity; Turkey has vast numbers of cattle, sheep, goats, and water buffalo. Landholdings are generally small, with family farms averaging only 15 acres (6 hectares). Agricultural products provide substantial export earnings; cotton, tobacco, fruits, vegetables, nuts, livestock, and livestock products
Regional variations in agriculture reflect those in the physical environment, especially between the interior, where cereals and livestock are predominant, and the coastal fringes, where most of the higher-value crops are grown. The relative warmth and dampness of the Black Sea coastlands make this region one of the most intensively cultivated despite its limited lowlands. Corn is the chief cereal and supports large numbers of cattle. High-value crops include hazelnuts, tobacco, tea, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and citrus and other fruits; sugar beets, sunflowers, potatoes, and vegetables also are important. The Aegean coastlands constitute the most productive, commercialized, and export-oriented region, with a relatively low proportion of cereals. Cotton is the main industrial crop, and the Aegean coastlands are Turkey’s chief area of olive production. There are extensive vineyards, and the region is famous for its raisins, sultanas, and figs. The western part of the Mediterranean coastlands is dominated by wheat and barley, but cotton, flax, sesame, potatoes, fruits (including grapes and citrus—and even bananas, around Alanya), and rice also are grown. The Adana Plain is an important cotton-producing region. The elevated lands of the Anatolian interior are dominated by livestock and cereals, mainly wheat and barley. In the more favoured areas, especially where irrigation is possible, some cotton, fruits, tobacco, hemp, and sugar beets also are found, as are vineyards. The lowlands of Thrace and Marmara grow wheat, barley, corn, tobacco, sunflowers, vegetables, fruits, and olives. Vineyards also are present there and in the southeast, which is focused mainly on dry-farmed wheat and barley but also produces rice, fruits, and vegetables.
Turkey supports a wide range of manufacturing activities. Manufacturing plants are widely distributed, with clusters of factories in all sizable towns, although a high proportion of total output comes from four highly industrialized zones: Istanbul and the area around the Sea of Marmara, the Aegean coast around İzmir, the Adana basin, and the region around Ankara. The leading manufactures are chemicals; food, beverages, and tobacco; and textiles, clothing, and footwear.
Turkey, the Middle East’s leading steel producer, supplies most of its own domestic needs. The main plants are at Karabük, Ereğli, and İskenderun. Small-scale nonferrous metallurgy occurs at several sites, including Göktaş, Ergani, and Antalya. Engineering industries expanded rapidly during the 1970s and ’80s and now are widely dispersed, with major concentrations around Istanbul, İzmir, and Ankara. The chemical industries are located close to the oil refineries at Mersin (İçel), İzmit, and İzmir and at a variety of other sites.
The major manufacturing employer is the textile industry. The biggest plants are in the cotton-growing districts of the Adana Plain and Büyükmenderes valley, but textile production also occurs in most regional centres. The processing of agricultural products also is widely dispersed; leading branches are tobacco manufacture, mainly in the Black Sea and Aegean regions, and sugar production, in the beet-growing districts of the interior.
Foreign trade has played an increasing role in the Turkish economy since World War II. Until the 1960s most exports were derived from agriculture, and most of the remainder consisted of minerals and raw materials; imports were mainly limited to machinery, transportation equipment, and manufactured goods. The development of the manufacturing sector provided a new source of exports, and basic and miscellaneous manufactures together now contribute more than half the total. The leading exports are textile fibres, yarns, fabrics, and clothing, iron and steel, fruits and vegetables, livestock products, tobacco, and machinery. Imports include machinery, chemicals, petroleum products, transportation equipment, and consumer goods. About half of all trade is with Europe, where Germany is the main trading partner. Significant trade also takes place within the Middle East, particularly with Iran, Libya, and Saudi Arabia, which are the main suppliers of oil and the main recipients of Turkish manufactures; Algeria and Israel are also trade partners in the region.
Since the establishment of the republic, and particularly since World War II, economic development has involved large-scale state investment in transportation. Until the 1950s this investment was concentrated on the railway network, but in subsequent decades Turkey focused on its system of roads and highways.
Prior to World War I the only long-distance rail route extended from Istanbul to Adana and into Iraq, developed as part of a German plan for a Berlin-Baghdad railway (see Baghdad Railway) to provide an overland link between Europe and the Persian Gulf. Other early rail lines were confined to a few short stretches in the west, linking areas of commercial agriculture to ports on the Aegean and Sea of Marmara. In the interwar years the state railway company built several lines to link the main regional centres, notably a line connecting Ankara, Kayseri, Sivas, and Erzurum with the Soviet frontier (with branches to the Black Sea at Samsun and Zonguldak) and a line connecting Konya, Kayseri, Sivas, and Malatya with Diyarbakır and the Raman oil field. The major development of the postwar period was the construction of a line from Elazığ to the Iranian frontier, which involved a train ferry across Lake Van and was part of an ambitious plan to provide a rail connection between Europe and Pakistan. Despite these developments, the rail network remained rudimentary. Railways carried a proportion of freight traffic—mainly agricultural produce and minerals—and relatively few passengers, but both of these uses steadily declined throughout the 1990s. By the early years of the 21st century, only a negligible number of passengers chose rail as their means of transport; the proportion of freight transport taking place by rail was also slight. In response, the Marmaray Project was undertaken to improve approximately 45 miles (75 km) of Turkey’s railway network. The massive transport project was anticipated to upgrade rail service around Istanbul and included an ambitious rail tunnel running beneath the Bosporus to connect the European and Asian halves of the city. The project was stalled in 2006, however, with the discovery of a 4th-century port along the construction zone.
Roads are by far the most important carriers of both freight and passengers. In addition to domestic traffic, there is a large and growing international freight movement across Turkey between Europe and the Middle East. This has been made possible by massive state investment in the construction of a modern road network linking all the main towns. Buses are widely used. City thoroughfares in Turkey are generally congested.
Coastal shipping routes are important freight carriers, particularly along the Black Sea coast; the main international ports are Istanbul, İzmir, Mersin (İçel), İskenderun, and İzmit.
The state airline and several international carriers provide air links through Istanbul, Ankara, and İzmir, and there is an internal network linking these cities with more than a dozen provincial centres. Airports on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts at Dalaman and Antalya have been improved and cater to the growing tourist charter traffic.
Administration and Social Condition of Turkey
Following a period of authoritarian one-party rule under the first president of the republic, Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk; 1923–38), and his successor, İsmet İnönü (1938–50), multiparty democracy was instituted in 1950. Parliamentary democracy has for the most part remained in force since that date, although it has been interrupted by brief periods of military government at times when civilian rule was perceived as ineffective. After each military interlude (1960–61, 1971–73, 1980–83), power was returned to civilian hands under a revised constitution.
Under the current constitution, approved by national referendum in 1982 and amended several times since, the main legislative body is a 550-member parliament, the Grand National Assembly (Büyük Millet Meclisi), elected by universal adult suffrage for a five-year term. Members are chosen by a modified system of proportional representation based on political parties. There are a number of restrictions: extremist parties of both left and right are banned, and no party that obtains less than 10 percent of the national vote may be represented in parliament. Though religion had been largely discouraged from appearing in the political sphere, the role of Islamist parties in Turkish politics expanded in the 1990s and 2000s.
Executive power is divided between the prime minister and the president. The prime minister, elected by the parliament, selects other ministers (subject to parliamentary approval) and is responsible, along with the cabinet—the Council of Ministers—for carrying out government policy. Cabinet actions may be referred to a constitutional court for a ruling on their legality. The president, chosen in a direct election, holds a symbolic role as head of state but also has considerable powers, notably calling or dissolving parliament, approving the appointment of the prime minister, returning legislation to parliament for reconsideration, referring laws to the constitutional court, and submitting proposed constitutional changes to a popular referendum.
Before the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, Turkish civil law was linked to religion and was administered by Sharīʿah courts. With the reforms of 1926, a number of new legal codes were established based in part on the Swiss Civil and Italian penal codes. Following these changes, the independence of the judiciary—including the constitutional court and the courts responsible for criminal, civil, and administrative matters—has been ensured by the constitution. A number of superior courts, including a court of appeals, also exist to examine these rulings.
Turkey’s provinces are administered by governors, who are appointed by the Council of Ministers, subject to the approval of the president. Provinces are divided into districts and subdistricts. Villages are governed by a headman and a council of elders, both elected by the village residents.
- POLITICAL PARTIES
Between 1950 and 1980 the number, names, and composition of Turkish political parties changed frequently. Generally, there was one main leftist and one main rightist party—receiving roughly equal shares of the popular vote—and several smaller parties. As a result, the country often was ruled by unstable coalitions. The 1982 constitution, with its 10 percent electoral threshold for parliamentary representation, was designed to reduce the need for coalition governments but has largely failed to do so.
A recurrent theme in Turkish politics is the conflict between progressive and conservative elements, the former intent on fully implementing Atatürk’s vision of a wholly secular, Westernized state and the latter seeking to preserve the values of traditional Islamic-Turkish culture. The legacy of Atatürk remains central to Turkish political life; throughout the first 50 years of the republic, all major political parties professed adherence to the doctrines of Atatürkism, which defined Turkey as nationalist, republican, statist, populist, and revolutionary and emphasized Westernization, the separation of religion from politics, and a leading role for the state in economic affairs. In the 1980s and ’90s there were significant changes: state intervention in economic matters was reduced, a program of privatization of state-run farms was introduced, and private enterprise—both indigenous and foreign—was encouraged. Most striking, while the maintenance of a secular state remained enshrined in the constitution, this issue became even more prominent as a focus of political dispute; support for pro-Islamic political parties increased greatly, resulting in the expansion of the role of Islamist parties in Turkish politics in the 1990s and 2000s.
- FOREIGN POLICY
Throughout the first several decades of the postwar period, Turkey’s international relationships were influenced by its Westernization policies and by the perceived threat from the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries. A founding member of the United Nations, Turkey joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1952 and has been a close ally of the United States. Turkey was also a member—along with the United States, the United Kingdom, Iran, and Pakistan—of the now-defunct Central Treaty Organization, which was created as part of the “ring of containment” separating the Soviet Union from the Arab Middle East. Turkey is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and of the Council of Europe. It has long sought full membership in the European Union (EU) and its predecessor organizations. A customs accord between Turkey and the EU was signed in 1995. Turkey’s relations with the Arab world at times have been cool; Turkey was long the only Middle Eastern state that maintained cordial relations with Israel.
Turkey’s international relationships have reflected its geographic position at the junction of Europe and the Middle East; it belongs wholly to neither but has interests in both. Since the 1970s, while retaining its predominantly Western orientation, Turkey has moved closer to the Arab states of the Middle East, both politically and economically. Many Turks, particularly those who support Islamic political parties, have felt a certain disenchantment with the Western alliance, resulting from perceived Western support of Greece in the disputes over Cyprus and control of the Aegean, European criticism of Turkey’s record on human rights (especially with regard to the Kurds), the treatment of Turkish workers in western Europe, and delays in Turkey’s admission to the European Union. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist bloc, Turkey in the 1990s sought closer relationships with the countries around the Black Sea and with the Turkic-speaking former Soviet republics of Central Asia.
Education, health, and welfare As part of its modernization policy, Turkey has sought—with limited resources—to improve the social conditions of its population in a variety of ways.
The state education system involves five main sectors. Primary education, which is free and compulsory, begins at age six and lasts five years. A considerable proportion of the primary schools are village schools, where training in agricultural activities and handicrafts is emphasized. Nearly all eligible children are enrolled. Secondary education—with more than half of eligible students enrolled—continues for another six years and includes middle school and high school programs of three years each. There are a large number of technical and vocational schools, which may be entered after completion of the middle school level. Of the more than 1,200 institutions of higher education, more than 60 have university status. The largest are the universities at Istanbul, Ankara, and Ege (Aegean, at İzmir) and the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Istanbul Technical University, and Hacettepe University in Ankara.
- HEALTH AND WELFARE
Health care is provided by both state and private health services. Not all workers are covered by the social security system, which provides health insurance. Turkey has a sufficient number of doctors and other health workers, but facilities are concentrated in urban areas. To counter this, the government operates a network of “health houses,” each staffed with a midwife, in the villages; “health units,” directed by a physician, serving groups of villages; and group hospitals, located in district and provincial centres.
Pensions and other social security programs are coordinated by various organizations within the Ministry of Health and Social Assistance. Very few agricultural workers participate in these programs.
Culture Life of Turkey
History of Turkey
The Establishment of Modern Turkey
The Ottoman Empire, which had been tottering since the Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji in 1774, was dealt its death blow in World War I. By the Treaty of Sèvres (1920; see Sèvres, Treaty of) the victorious Allies reduced the once mighty empire to a small state comprising the northern half of the Anatolian peninsula and the narrow neutralized and Allied-occupied Zone of the Straits. Sultan Muhammad VI accepted the treaty, but Turkish nationalists rallied under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal (from 1934 known as Kemal Atatürk) and organized their forces for resistance.
In Apr., 1920, even before the Treaty of Sèvres was signed, a Turkish national government and national assembly began to function at Ankara. The nationalists defied the authority of the sultan, took the offensive against the Allies in Anatolia, and concluded (1921) a treaty of friendship with the USSR, which restored the Kars and Ardahan regions to Turkey in exchange for Batumi. In the meantime the Greeks, encouraged by the Allies, launched an offensive against the nationalists from their base at Izmir. The Turkish counteroffensive, beginning in Aug., 1922, ended with the complete rout of the Greeks and with the Turkish capture of Izmir (Sept., 1922). On Nov. 1, 1922, the Ankara government declared the sultan deposed, but it allowed his brother, Abd al-Majid, to succeed to the spiritual office of caliph.
Shortly afterward, a conference opened at Lausanne (see Lausanne, Treaty of) to revise the Treaty of Sèvres. The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) established the present boundaries of Turkey, except for the disputed region of Alexandretta (Iskenderun; see Hatay). Turkey was to exercise full sovereign rights over its entire territory, except the Zone of the Straits (see Dardanelles), which was to remain demilitarized. Under a separate agreement negotiated at Lausanne in 1923, approximately 1.5 million Greeks living in Turkey were repatriated to Greece, and approximately 800,000 Turks living in Greece and Bulgaria were resettled in Turkey.
- Kemal Atatürk and the Republic
Turkey was formally proclaimed a republic in Oct., 1923, with Kemal as its first president; he was reelected in 1927, 1931, and 1935. The caliphate was abolished in 1924, and in the same year a constitution was promulgated that provided for a parliament elected by universal manhood suffrage (extended to women in 1934), and for a cabinet responsible to parliament. However, Kemal governed as a virtual dictator, and his Republican People's party was the only legal party, except for brief periods. During the 14 years of Kemal's rule, Turkey underwent a great transformation, which changed the religious, social, and cultural bases of Turkish society as well as its political and economic structure.
In 1925, the government intensified its antireligious policy, abolished religious orders, forbade polygamy, and prohibited the wearing of the traditional fez. In 1926, Swiss, German, and Italian codes of law were adopted and civil marriage was made compulsory. In 1928, Islam ceased to be the state religion and the Latin alphabet was substituted for the Arabic script. In 1930, Constantinople, which had been replaced as capital by Ankara in 1923, was renamed İstanbul.
At the death (1938) of Kemal, Turkey was well on its way to becoming a state on the Western model. In the economic field, Kemal aimed at obtaining self-sufficiency for Turkey without the aid of foreign capital. Foreign investors had virtually taken over the finances of the Ottoman Empire, and one of the major problems of the Turkish republic was to pay off the old Ottoman debt; the refusal of foreign loans thus was a basic point in Kemal's nationalist program. The difficulties of establishing basic heavy industries without foreign investment and in the absence of much domestic capital required the government to assume a large role, and state ownership became the rule in the new industries.
In foreign policy, Turkey sought friendly relations with all its neighbors. It entered the League of Nations in 1932, guaranteed its European borders by joining (1934) with Greece, Romania, and Yugoslavia in the Balkan Entente, and signed (1937) a treaty (the Saadabad Pact) with Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq. Although Communism was severely suppressed at home, relations with the USSR were cordial until World War II. Turkey was able to obtain a revision of the Straits Convention by the Montreux Convention of 1936 and gained a satisfactory solution of the Alexandretta dispute through an agreement with France in 1939.
- Turkey after Atatürk
Ismet Inönü, who succeeded Kemal as president in 1938, warily steered a neutral course through the first five years of World War II, although Turkey received lend-lease aid from the United States after 1941. Despite considerable Allied pressure, Turkey declared war on Germany and Japan only in Feb., 1945; as a result of its declaration of war, Turkey took part in the conference (Apr.–June, 1945) at San Francisco that founded the United Nations. Relations with the Soviet Union became acrimonious after the USSR denounced (Mar., 1945) its friendship pact with Turkey and demanded a thorough revision of the Montreux Convention and joint control of the Straits. Turkey rejected all Soviet demands, and in 1947 it became, with Greece, the recipient of U.S. assistance under the Truman Doctrine (see Truman, Harry S.).
In the elections of 1950, the government party was defeated and Celal Bayar, leader of the Democratic party (established in 1946), succeeded Inönü as president. With Adnan Menderes as prime minister, the new government followed a policy of firm alignment with the West. Turkish troops fought with distinction in the Korean War, and in 1952 Turkey became a full member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; U.S. air and missile bases were subsequently established at Izmir and Adana. Turkey concluded a military defense pact with Yugoslavia and Greece (the Balkan Pact) in 1954 and played a leading part in the creation (1954–55) of the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO; until 1959 known as the Baghdad Pact). Tension with Greece over the island of Cyprus, whose population is mostly Greek but includes a sizable Turkish minority, began in the mid-1950s and continued after Cyprus became independent in 1960.
Partly as a result of aid under the Marshall Plan, the Turkish economy expanded considerably after 1950, and foreign capital was attracted by favorable investment laws. The Menderes government was returned to power in 1954 and 1957, although a serious economic crisis had developed. Growing discontent led to the enactment of restrictive laws by the government. Many leading journalists were jailed, and tension erupted into the open in Apr., 1960, when university students demonstrated against the government. The attempts to suppress these outbreaks led directly to a coup in May by an army junta headed by Gen. Cemal Gürsel. The junta, which favored a return to Kemalist principles, placed Menderes, Bayar, and several hundred other Democratic party leaders on trial for having violated the constitution; Menderes and several others were executed.
- The Second Turkish Republic
In 1961, a new constitution providing for a bicameral legislature and a strong executive was approved in a referendum, thus establishing the second Turkish republic. General Gürsel was elected president and Inönü became prime minister at the head of a coalition government. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the Turkish government strongly supported U.S. President Kennedy's refusal to close down the U.S. bases in Turkey in exchange for the dismantling of Soviet bases in Cuba; thus, close U.S.-Turkish ties were reaffirmed.
Following a reversal in parliament, Inönü resigned in 1965 and was succeeded as prime minister by Suat Hayri Ürgüplü. After the center-right Justice party won a majority in the lower house of parliament in the general election of 1965, Süleyman Demirel replaced Ürgüplü as prime minister. Gürsel died in 1966 and was succeeded as president by Cevdet Sunay. In 1969 the United States and Turkey signed a military agreement under which Turkey gained some influence over the number of troops and types of weapons the United States deployed in Turkey.
- Domestic and Foreign Strife
Demirel won the 1969 general elections handily, but his government was soon undermined by civil unrest caused by conflicts between leftists and rightists and by a separatist movement among the Kurds. Western Turkey suffered severe earthquakes in 1970–71. Civil strife continued and Demirel was followed by a succession of prime ministers in the early 1970s. In 1973, Fahri Korutürk succeeded Sunay as president of the country. Bülent Ecevit of the Republican People's party became prime minister in 1974.
Turkey maintained its close ties with the United States in the early 1970s and at the same time cultivated better relations with the USSR. Largely as a result of U.S. pressure, the growing of opium poppies in Turkey was banned in 1971 (effective 1972), although in 1974 the government announced it would allow cultivation of opium poppies under state control for medical purposes only. In mid-1974, Turkish troops invaded Cyprus following a Greek-oriented coup there, and they gained control of 30% of the island. Also in the early 1970s, the discovery of oil on the continental shelf under the waters surrounding the Greek Islands caused further conflict between Greece and Turkey. Largely because of the diplomatic intervention of the United States, Great Britain, and the United Nations, war between the two countries was averted.
Between 1975 and 1980, Demirel and Ecevit alternated as heads of minority governments while economic and social conditions worsened. In 1980 martial law was declared after civil violence claimed over 2,000 lives. Gen. Kenan Evren seized control of the government and forcibly restored order. A new constitution was approved in 1982, reestablishing the unicameral parliament with the proviso that Evren would remain head of state until 1989. The constitution also gave the military influence over civilian matters and autonomy in military affairs. In 1983 the conservative Motherland party won an overall majority, and its leader, Turgut Özal, became prime minister. By 1987 martial law had been lifted, except in the four Kurdish-dominated provinces in SE Turkey where a guerrilla campaign by the separatist Kurdistan Workers party (PKK) had begun in the mid-1980s. In 1987, Özal was reelected.
In 1989, Özal succeeded Evren as president. In the same year about 300,000 Muslim Turks crossed from Bulgaria into Turkey to avoid government attempts to forcibly Bulgarianize them. During the Persian Gulf War (1991), Turkey allowed the United States to launch air strikes against Iraq from Turkey. Although the war caused a massive dislocation of Kurds in Iraq, Turkey kept its borders closed in an effort to avoid an increase in Kurdish nationalism.
Parliamentary elections in 1991 ousted Özal's Motherland party from government and Demirel, now leader of the conservative True Path party, became the new prime minister. When President Özal died in 1993, he was succeeded by Demirel, and Tansu Çiller of True Path became prime minister, the first woman to hold that post. After an economic boom in the late 1980s, high inflation, a large foreign debt, and the impact of deficit spending led to a financial crisis in 1994. Social stability was disrupted, and Islamic fundamentalists became increasingly popular. Turkey continued periodic assaults on Kurdish guerrilla bases in Turkey and N Iraq, with heavy casualties on both sides. Human-rights groups accused Turkish forces of atrocities against civilians, including the razing of villages to deny Kurds safe harbor and the use of torture and summary executions. In 1995, Turkey joined in a customs union with the European Union.
A close parliamentary election in Dec., 1995, gave the Welfare party (an Islamist party), the largest single share (21%) of the vote, with the Motherland and True Path parties each winning 19%. A series of attempts to form a government resulted in a Welfare–True Path coalition in June, 1996, and Welfare leader Necmettin Erbakan became prime minister, ending 75 years of exclusively secular governments. Erbakan's overtures to Libya and Iran, as well as his support for Muslim education and culture, alarmed the secular military, and he was pressured to resign in June, 1997; Mesut Yilmaz of the Motherland party became the new prime minister. The Welfare party was banned in 1998, and Erbakan was forbidden to participate in politics for five years. Although other Welfare officeholders were allowed to retain their positions as independents, many of them reorganized as the Virtue party.
Yilmaz lost a confidence vote in Nov., 1998, as a result of a bank privatization scandal, and President Demirel appointed Bülent Ecevit, now head of the Democratic Left party, to form a government. Following elections held in Apr., 1999, Ecevit continued as prime minister, heading a three-party coalition government. High inflation persisted into the late 1990s. There were increasing disputes with Greece over territorial waters, airspace, and especially the partition of Cyprus. Conflict with Kurdish nationalists also heightened; by the late 1990s, the Kurdish rebellion had cost some 30,000 lives. PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was captured in 1999 and sentenced to death for treason (later commuted to life imprisonment). The PKK announced in Feb., 2000, that they would end their attacks, but the arrest in the same month of several Kurdish mayors accused of aiding the rebels threatened to revive the unrest.
Two major earthquakes hit NW Turkey in 1999, killing thousands. Greece sent aid to Turkey, and when Turkey did likewise after an earthquake in Greece, it marked the beginning of an improvement in bilateral relations. Late in 1999, Turkey was invited to apply for membership in the European Union (EU); the action reversed a 1997 rejection of Turkey's candidacy that was prompted by Turkey's human-rights record. President Demirel sought a second term in 2000, but the constitutional amendment that would have permitted a second term failed to win the required votes in parliament in early April. Ahmet Necdet Sezer, the president of Turkey's highest court, was elected to succeed Demirel later the same month.
An yearlong effort in 2000 to bring Turkey's long-standing inflation under control began to undermine weaker banks late in the year, causing a drop in the stock market and requiring a $7.5 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan in December. Disagreements over the pace of reform between the president, who favored stronger moves, and the prime minister aggravated the crisis, and when the Turkish lira was floated in Feb., 2001, it sank more than 30%. In March and May, as Turkey's economy continued to falter, agreements were reached with the IMF on additional economic aid and an economic reform package. Although the immediate crisis was stemmed, economic difficulties continued into 2002; the recession was the country's worst since World War II.
The Virtue party was banned by Turkey's high court in June, 2001, on charges of pro-Islamic and antisecular activities; its members in parliament were, however, allowed to keep their seats. The center-right Justice and Development party was subsequently formed as its successor. A split in Ecevit's government over whether to pass reforms needed to join the EU paralyzed the government in 2002 and led to the defection of many high-ranking members who supported passing the reforms. The erosion of the coalition forced (July, 2002) the ailing Ecevit to call for new elections. A reform package, including legalizing the use of Kurdish in private education and in broadcasts, was passed in August, and emergency rule in the four Kurdish-dominated provinces was ended in stages in 2002. (The changes, however, did not end the fighting between Turkish government and Kurdish rebel forces.)
The parliamentary elections in Nov., 2002, resulted in a landslide victory for the Justice and Development party, which won 34% of the vote and 66% of the seats in the national assembly; the Republican People's party was the only other party to win enough votes to qualify for representation. Abdullah Gül became prime minister because the Justice and Development party leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had been banned from running in the elections. The new parliament, however, passed a constitutional amendment permitting Erdoğan to run, and he was elected to parliament in a Feb., 2003, by-election and became prime minister. Gül became foreign minister.
In Dec., 2002, the EU refused to set a date for the start of negotiations for Turkey's admission to that body. The decision was prompted by EU uneasiness concerning the state of Turkish democracy and human rights and, many Turks believe, by EU discomfort with the fact the Turkey is an Islamic nation. Relations with the EU further soured in early 2003 when UN-sponsored Cyprus reunification talks collapsed, due in large part to Turkish Cypriot rejection of the proposed terms. Subsequently in 2003, however, the parliament passed a series of reforms designed to facilitate Turkey's admission.
In Mar., 2003, the Turkish parliament refused to grant the United States permission to invade N Iraq from bases in Turkey, despite the Turkish government's having negotiated a multibillion-dollar aid package in exchange for such rights; most Turks opposed U.S. military action against Iraq. Although permission to overfly Turkey was subsequently granted to U.S. forces, U.S.-Turkish relations were strained, and the situation was aggravated by Turkey's considering invading N Iraq to forestall any attempt by the Kurds there to move toward independence.
Erdoğan's government supported renewed UN-sponsored negotiations on reunifying Cyprus, and pressed for ratification of the accord (Apr., 2004) by Turkish Cypriots. Rejection of the accord by Greek Cypriots, however, left the situation on the island unresolved. In May, 2004, Congra-Gel, the PKK's successor, announced that it was ending its cease-fire because of government attacks against it, and by 2006 there was renewed violence and unrest in Kurdish areas. A new cease-fire was declared in Sept., 2006, and again in June, 2007, as the government mounted a vigorous offensive against Kurdish separatists.
Revisions to the penal code, the final part of the package of reforms sought by the EU, were passed by the Turkish parliament in Sept., 2004. Despite that, however, it was evident that there was strong sentiment against admitting Turkey in a number of EU countries, and a suggestion of possible new conditions for Turkey's admission to the EU elicited a strong protest from Turkish leaders in Dec., 2004. At the same time, there were also many nationalists in Turkey who objected to its joining the EU. The EU nonetheless agreed to begin negotiations in 2005 with Turkey on its admission, and they were officially opened in Oct., 2005.
The killing, in May, 2006, of a high court judge by an Islamist sparked secular, sometimes antigovernment, protests in Turkey; the military's open approval of the demonstrators brought criticism from Prime Minister Erdoğan, who accused the chief of the army of encouraging ongoing protests. A Turkish law that makes "insulting Turkishness" a crime led to several highly publicized controversial court cases (2005–6) against well-known authors, but most of the cases were dismissed. However, the law and other human rights issues, as well as Turkey's relations with Cyprus, were sticking points in negotiations with the EU. The latter issue led to a partial suspension of the accession negotiations in Dec., 2006, as Turkey refused to open its ports to trade with Cyprus unless the EU eased its trade restrictions on North Cyprus. An EU report on the accession process (Nov., 2007) said that Turkey still needed to make progress on a number of reforms. Despite some progress on reforms, a report three years later again focused on shortcomings in political and civil rights as well as Turkey's relations with Cyprus, and there was little subsequent movement toward accession.
In Apr., 2007, the Justice and Development party nominated Foreign Minister Gül for the presidency, but his election was defeated through parliamentary maneuvering. The party then sought to change the constitution so that the president would be popularly elected, but President Sezer vetoed the measure. A referendum on the amendment, which should have been forced by the passage of the amendment a second time, was stymied when the president vetoed (June) legislation that would have scheduled the vote in July, during the general election. Sezer's term meanwhile expired in May, but he remained in office until a new president was chosen.
The political battling over the presidency sharpened the tensions between the Islamists and secularists, but the Justice and Development party again won a sizable parliamentary majority (with 47% of the vote) after the July, 2007, elections. Gül was subsequently (August) elected president when the several smaller opposition parties refused to boycott the vote in parliament. Voters subsequently approved the direct election of the president by popular vote. Escalating fighting in between Turkish forces and Kurdish separatists in the second half of 2007 led Turkey to threaten to invade N Iraq in an attempt to destroy PKK bases there. Beginning in Oct., 2007, and continuing through 2008, Turkish forces mounted generally small-scale strikes into N Iraq.
In Feb., 2008, the government passed constitutional amendments that eased the ban against the wearing of headscarves by female university students; the amendments were challenged in court as contrary to Turkey's secular constitution. The following month, partly as a result of those amendments, a prosecutor brought a case before Turkey's constitutional court that sought to have the Justice and Development party closed and its leaders banned from politics for five years for antisecular actions. The move was widely regarded as an attempt by secularists to remove the government by "judicial coup." In June the headscarf reform was blocked by the constitutional court, which ruled that it was in violation of the constitution's secular principles.
More than 80 persons were charged in July, 2008, with attempting to provoke the overthrow of the government; the trial began in October. A second major indictment in Mar., 2009, charged more than 50 persons with plotting a coup, and by 2010 some 400 people had been arrested and put on trial in connection with plot, allegedly masterminded by a secret secular nationalist group called Ergenekon. The continuing probe into the alleged plot, which led to the arrest of journalists, politicians, and lawyers as well as military officers but no convictions by early 2012, led to charges by the opposition and criticism from abroad that the government was using the case to silence its secularist critics. In Aug., 2013, more than 250 people were convicted in the case, including a former head of the armed forces, İlker Başbuğ.
Meanwhile, in July, 2008, the constitutional court narrowly decided not to ban the governing party, instead imposing financial sanctions on it as a warning; the court later specifically accused the prime minister of antisecular activities. The government subsequently abandoned its attempt at headscarf reform. The AKP's failure to win as large a share of the vote (39% instead of 47%) in the Mar., 2009, local elections was seen as a setback for its policies.
Turkey and Armenia in Oct., 2009, signed protocols normalizing their relations, to take effect when ratified by both nations' parliament. Unresolved issues relating to the mass murder and deportation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I (see Armenia) and Armenia's occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding Azerbaijani territory stoked opposition to the accord in both nations, and neither ratified the accord. In Dec., 2009, the constitutional court banned the Democratic Society party (DTP), the largest legal Kurdish party, for alleged links to Kurdish rebels; a number of Kurdish politicians were arrested subsequently. The moves raised tensions with Turkey's Kurds and led to several days of unrest. In Feb., 2010, however, DTP lawmakers formed the Peace and Democracy party (BDP).
Revelations in Jan., 2010, concerning a second alleged coup plot, this one dating to 2003 and known as Sledgehammer, led to dozens of arrests in February; among those arrested and charged were serving generals and admirals. In Dec., 2010, nearly 200 people were put on trial in connection with the alleged plot; by the time of the trial's end in Sept., 2012, more than 350 defendants were involved. Some of the documents supposedly associated with the plot contained clear anachronisms, and the trial was denounced by government opponents, but 326 officers, including the former chiefs of the air force and navy, were convicted of plotting a coup. In Oct., 2013, more than 80 convictions of lower-ranking officers were overturned on appeal.
In May, 2010, the government passed a package of constitutional changes that were challenged in the constitutional court by the opposition; although the court rejected some changes that would increase presidential influence over the appointment of judges, it otherwise allowed the package to be voted on in a referendum, and the amendments were approved in September. Also in May, Turkey's increasingly independent foreign policy was shown by its ultimately unsuccessful attempt with Brazil to mediate a solution to the standoff between Iran and the UN Security Council over Iran's nuclear policies. Relations with Israel were strained by a deadly Israeli raid at the end of the month that seized a convoy attempting to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza; the convoy had been organized by a Turkish group.
The university headscarf ban ended in Jan., 2011, when the government announced it would support any woman disciplined for wearing one. In June, 2011, the AKP, benefitting from Turkey's significant economic growth since it first took power in 2002, won about half the vote in the parliamentary elections, and again won a sizable majority in the parliament, though not the two thirds of the seats required to amend the constitution. The following month the military chiefs of staff resigned in protest against the arrests of senior officers accused of plotting against the government, in apparent attempt to provoke a political crisis. Occurring relatively uneventfully, the resignations were instead seen as a marker of the military's loss of influence.
The Turkish government was critical of the Syrian government's increasingly repressive response during 2011 to opposition Syrian protests, and the crisis in Syria also strained relations with Iran, which was a strong supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Tensions with Syria sharply increased in mid-2012 after a Turkish military jet was shot down by Syria while flying along Syria's sea border, and later in the year Turkish forces regularly returned fire whenever Syrian fire landed in Turkey.
There were increased tensions with the Kurdish minority beginning in the second half of 2011, and fighting intensified with Kurdish rebels based in Iraq, leading Turkey to send sizable forces across the border; significant fighting with Kurdish rebels in Turkey continued into 2012. The government also moved against Kurdish politicians, journalists, and academics in Turkey after Turkish Kurds announced plans to establish democratic autonomy.
A strong earthquake in Oct., 2011, killed more than 600 and caused extensive damage near Lake Van in E Turkey. Erciş and Van were among the cities that suffered the greatest damage. In Jan., 2012, former president Evren was arrested on charges relating to his role in the 1980 coup. His arrest and the others in the two coup cases (including a former head of the army in Jan., 2012) and in Kurdish minority increased the perception that Prime Minister Erdoğan was using the justice system to settle scores and silence critics, and led to increased criticism of his government abroad. Negotiations with imprisoned Kurdish leader Ocalan, which began in late 2012, led in Mar., 2013, to a Kurdish guerrilla cease-fire and, later, to the gradual withdrawal of guerrilla forces to Iraq. The withdrawal halted in September, and the guerrillas accused the government of failing to make progress to resolution of the Kurdish problem.
In early 2013 a number of generals, include a former chief of the general staff, were detained and questioned concerning the forced resignation of Erbakan in 1997; subsequently some 100 officers were charged with overthrowing Erbakan and put on trial later in the year. Protests in late May, 2013, against proposed development in İstanbul developed into nationwide protests and strikes in June that were directed against Erdoğan; the government responded with a crackdown against the demonstrations and mounted counterdemonstrations of its supporters. In Sept., 2013, Erdoğan announced a package of human-rights reforms, including some language concessions to Kurds and an end to the ban on headscarves on female workers in government offices.
In Dec., 2013, revelations of a corruption investigation involving the families of cabinet ministers and others associated with the governmental led Erdoğan to accuse the moderate Islamic Gülen movement, a former political ally, of attempting to undermine his government. In response, his government purged police officials throughout the country and blocked additional investigations, and sought tighter control over the judiciary and the Internet. The revelations and government reaction also had economic repercussions, as the crisis caused the Turkish currency to drop in value and the government's actions seemed likely to further strain its relationship with the EU.
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