The Republic of Turkey is a country with territory in both southern Europe and the southwestern part of Asia. Until 1922, the country was known as the Ottoman Empire. The Anatolian peninsula, between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, forms the core of the country.
Main article: History of Turkey
Their Turkic successors, the Ottoman Empire, completed this in the 15th century with the fall of Constantinople, after which the empire expanded across the eastern Mediterranean. Rising nationalism in the 19th century and the First World War caused the embattled empire to crumble in the aftermath of the war.
Main article: Politics of Turkey
The Republic of Turkey was created in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who reformed Turkey into a modern, secular, and western-oriented republic. Fears of a shift from the secular and western oriented makeup of the country have led to several military coups over the years, the last of which was in 1980. Democratic rule has since returned. Turkey became a member of NATO in 1952, and is seeking membership of the European Union. Issues such as the Turkish involvement in Cyprus and the increasing appeal of political Islam continue to fuel public debate in Turkey and influence its international relations.
Main article: Provinces of Turkey
Turkey is subdivided into 81 provinces (iller, singular - il):
Main article: Geography of Turkey
Turkey forms a bridge between Europe and Asia, with the division between the two running from the Black Sea to the north down along the Bosporus strait through the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles strait to the Aegean Sea and the larger Mediterranean Sea to the south. The Anatolian peninsula consists of a high central plateau with narrow coastal plains, in between the Pontus range to the north and the Taurus Mountains to the south. To the east is found a more mountainous landscape, home to the sources of rivers such as the Euphrates, Tigris and the Araks, as well as Lake Van and Mount Ararat, Turkey's highest point at 5,166 m.
The climate is a Mediterranean temperate climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters, though conditions can be much harsher in the more arid interior. Turkey is also prone to very severe earthquakes. The capital city is Ankara, but the largest city is Istanbul. Other important cities include Izmir, Bursa, Adana, Izmit (Kocaeli), Konya, Diyarbakir, Antalya, and Samsun. See the list of cities in Turkey.
Main article: Economy of Turkey
Turkey's dynamic economy is a complex mix of modern industry and commerce along with a traditional agriculture sector that in 2001 still accounted for 40% of employment. It has a strong and rapidly growing private sector, yet the state still plays a major role in basic industry, banking, transport, and communication. The most important industry - and largest export - is textiles and clothing, which is almost entirely in private hands.
In recent years the economic situation has been marked by erratic economic growth and serious imbalances. Real GNP growth has exceeded 6% in many years, but this strong expansion has been interrupted by sharp declines in output in 1994, 1999, and 2001. Meanwhile the public sector fiscal deficit has regularly exceeded 10% of GDP - due in large part to the huge burden of interest payments, which in 2001 accounted for more than 50% of central government spending - while inflation has remained in the high double digit range.
Perhaps because of these problems, foreign direct investment in Turkey remains low - less than USD 1 billion annually. In late 2000 and early 2001 a growing trade deficit and serious weaknesses in the banking sector plunged the economy into crisis - forcing Ankara to float the lira and pushing the country into recession. Results in 2002 were much better, because of strong financial support from the IMF and tighter fiscal policy. Continued slow global growth and serious political tensions in the Middle East cast a shadow over growth prospects in the future.
Main article: Demographics of Turkey
The majority of the Turkish population (around 80%) is of Turkic ethnicity, who speak the only official language of the country, Turkish. The most significant minority is that of the Kurds, who constitute up to about 10% of the population. Other smaller minorities include Zazas Levantines, Georgians, Laz, Syriacs, Arabs, Greeks, Chaldeans, Jews, Roma, Hamshenis, and Armenians. Before WWI Armenians and Greeks were a large minority, dating back before the Ottoman Empire.
Nominally, some 99% of the population is Muslim. Most belong to the Sunni branch of Islam, but about 15-20 % are Alevi Muslims, a branch related to Shi'a Islam. Smaller Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox (Gregorian), Jewish, Roman Catholic and Protestant minorities are also present.
Main article: Culture of Turkey