- Official Name : Republic of Turkey
- Government type: Republican Parliamentary Democracy
- Date of Foundation: 29 October 1923
- Republic of President: Abdullah GÜL
- Prime Minister: Recep Tayyip ERDOĞAN
- Capital : Ankara
- Language : The official language is Turkish.
- Area : 814.578 km2
- Population: 79,749,461 (July 2012 est.)
- Largest Cities: Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Adana, Antalya
A Country for All Tastes
Turkey has so much to offer her visitors; breathtaking natural beauties, unique historical and archaeological sites, steadily improving hotel and touristic infrastructure and a tradition of hospitality and competitive prices. Therefore, it is not surprising that this country has recently become one of the world's most popular tourism destinations. Due to Turkey's diverse geography, one can experience four different climates in any one day. The rectangular shaped country is surrounded on three sides by three different seas. Its shores are laced with beaches, bays, coves, ports, islands and peninsulas. The summers are long, lasting as long as eight months in some areas. Turkey is also blessed with majestic mountains and valleys, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and grottoes perfect for winter and summer tourism and sports of all kinds.
Skiing fans, mountain climbers, trekkers, hikers and hunters can enjoy new and unforgettable experiences in Turkey. Turkey is, above anything else, a huge open-air museum, a repository of all the civilizations nurtured by the soils of Anatolia. The huge amount of historical and archaeological wealth in Turkey seems more appropriate for an entire continent than a single country. Recently, a new field of tourism has opened up: health tourism. The country is in fact rich with hot springs, healing waters and healing muds, which come highly recommended by the medical authorities as a remedy for many diseases.
For centuries, Turkey has also been a crossroads of religions, not only of Islam and Christianity, but also of many others now forgotten by history. Many religious devotees can find a site, a shrine, a monument, a tomb or a ruin connected with their faith or belief.
Who Are The Turks?
The Turks are descendants of Turkic nomads from Central Asia. They first stepped on the stage of history in the 7th century B.C. Successive Turkish confederations ruled over Central Asia, often battling the Chinese. Turkish rule was expanded to the west into Europe by the upcoming Turkish confederations and Empires, the last being the Ottoman Empire.
At the end of the First World War, the Ottoman lands were shared among the victorious countries. Consequently, various defence fronts and resistance organizations started to appear in Anatolia and Thrace which later turned into the Turkish War of Independence achieved under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
The Lausanne Treaty concluded the National War of Independence and paved the way to the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923.
Today the term Turk commonly refers to the citizens of the Turkish Republic and represents a national, rather than an ethnic identity.
cultural traditions of the Ottoman Empire, as well as to the democratic ideals of Atatürk and the West.
In other words, Turks can be briefly described as a national community. Turks are the heirs to the cultural traditions of the Ottoman Empire, as well as to the democratic ideals of Atatürk and the West.
The Turkish Republic is a democracy governed by the rule of law. An ever growing civil society and robust media underpin pluralism in Turkey. Most Turks are Muslims but the Republic of Turkey is a secular state.
The Republic of Turkey with its plural political system, healthy free market economy and social tradition of reconciling modernity with cultural identity, sets the example in the Muslim world of a genuine democracy adopting fully the universal values that constitute the internationally acknowledged norms of today.
Geography and Basic Facts
Turkey, a country of utmost strategic importance in the world due to its geopolitical location, is on the crossroads between the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa, which are referred to as the "Lands of the Old World". This country, enjoying a wealth of divine gifts of all kinds of scenic wonders, is a unique bridge between all faiths as well as Eastern and Western civilizations.
Turkey is linked to the oceans through the Black Sea, Marmara and Mediterranean Seas, which encircle it on three sides. Turkey has been the epicenter of major trade and migration routes throughout history. The country borders Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran to the east, Bulgaria and Greece to the west, and Iraq and Syria to the south. Turkey, although does not have common land borders, also enjoys fruitful cooperation and is in constant interaction with Romania, Russian Federation and Ukraine, all being countries of the Black Sea region.
Turkey, which is rectangular in shape, has a surface area of 814,578 square kilometers. In this respect, it is greater in size than all of its neighbours except Iran and all European countries except the Russian Federation. The land segment on the European continent with 3% of its total area is called Thrace, and the remaining 97% landmass in Asia is called Anatolia. But even its territory in Europe is bigger in size or almost equal to those of many other European countries.
In Turkey, which is located in the temperate climatic zone, it is possible to enjoy the four seasons and different climates simultaneously. People can both swim in the sea and go skiing at the snowy mountains even the same day.
According to the last census, 70.586.256 people are living in Turkey. 70,5% of the population reside in urban areas.
The official language in Turkey is Turkish. A language of Ural-Altaic origin, Turkish is spoken by over 200 million people, from Eastern Europe to China. It is the 7th most common language among almost 4.000 languages spoken in the world today.
Turkey's thriving market economy, at present the 17th largest in the world, is ranked among the fastest growing, with a cumulative growth rate of 35 percent over the past four years and a GDP of 657 billion Dollars as of 2007. If Turkey were a member of the EU today, she would be the 6th biggest economy in the Union.
Turkish businessmen have been expanding their investments steadily to the neighbouring and wider regional countries. During the last 35 years, Turkish contractors have successfully completed over 4300 projects at international standards across the globe. In 2008, Turkish contractors undertook 426 projects in the amount of 23.685.231.376 Dollars. Total business volume of the Turkish construction sector reached USD 100 billion in October 2007 with an impressive five-fold increase.
Turkey's biggest asset is its young and educated human resource. The current average age in Turkey is 29. Turkey, at the same time, is the leading country in Europe and fifth in the world in sending students overseas for higher education. This is expected to contribute considerably to enhance the human capacity not only of Turkey, but also the region as a whole.
Fiscal discipline and a tight fiscal policy continue to be the main pillars of Turkey's economic program and have contributed a great deal to curb the inflation in the recent years as well as to achieve a strong growth performance. In addition to the sound macroeconomic policies, Turkey has implemented a comprehensive and far-reaching structural reform agenda.
This positive environment led to the considerable increase of Foreign Direct Investments in Turkey. The total amount of FDI inflows in 2007 reached 22 billion USD, compared to 20.1 billion in 2006. With sustained and impressive growth in economy, Turkey is expected to continue to be a magnet for investors from all around the globe.
In the foreign policy domain, guided by the enduring legacy of its founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey has been pursuing a policy of "Peace at Home and Peace in the World" since the establishment of the Republic.
As an active member of today's globalised world, Turkey employs a multi-dimensional foreign policy that reconciles the West with the East and the North with the South and is active in all regions. It contributes to this objective by means of its geographic disposition and close historical and cultural ties across a vast landscape as a crucial bridge for dialogue and interaction between cultures at the heart of Eurasia.
The multi-dimensional character of Turkish foreign policy finds expression in and is best reflected by Turkey's membership in a wide range of leading international and regional organizations, such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (BSEC), the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), the Developing 8 (D-8), along with its process of accession to the EU. Turkey also participates in Union for Mediterranean and to the G-20 Forum which are highly representative platforms including major developed countries and key emerging countries.
Turkey's non-permanent membership to the United Nations Security Council started as of January 1, 2009 would enable the country to carry out its foreign policy objectives and to contribute to the global peace and stability more efficiently.
In order to fulfill her foreign policy objectives, Turkey is following a foreign policy that employs a broad spectrum of peaceful means. These entail, among others, taking the lead in regional cooperation processes, promoting good neighbourly relations and economic cooperation, extending humanitarian aid and assistance to the less fortunate, participating in peace-keeping operations, and contributing to the resolution of disputes as well as post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction efforts, conducted under the auspices of international organizations.
Turkey's desire to help bring the best of both worlds together in harmony is reflected in Turkey's co-sponsorship of the "Alliance of Civilizations" initiative together with Spain, an ambitious project under the auspices of the UN Secretary General to address and diminish the growing polarization between the West and the Islamic World.
This constructive role undertaken by Turkey, in facilitating cross-cultural and inter-faith dialogue at a strategic junction between the East and the West, is widely acknowledged as an important contribution towards building bridges in an international climate characterized by a growing cultural rift.
Relations With The EU
For the last 700 years, Turkey has been an integral part of the European history. Turkey is politically, institutionally, economically and culturally integrated with and is a member of almost all Euro-Atlantic and European institutions. Membership to the EU should be and will be a natural outcome as well.
Turkey-EU relations over the course of nearly half a century have had their ups and downs but have always remained true to their charted course.
Turkey applied for European Economic Community (EEC) membership in 1959 and upon favourable response from the EEC, the legal framework of the relations between the Republic of Turkey and the EEC was set on 12 September 1963 with the Ankara Agreement, which aims at securing Turkey's full membership in the then European Community.
In line with this perspective, Turkey submitted her official application for full membership to the EC in 1987.
Turkey is the only accession candidate country that has completed Customs Union with the EU in 1996, which is a good example of the strength of ties between Turkey and the EU, ascertained with a view to be crowned with full membership.
Turkey was officially recognized without any precondition as a candidate state on an equal footing with the other candidate states at the Helsinki European Council held on 10-11 December 1999. The Brussels European Council held on 16-17 December 2004, decided to open accession negotiations with Turkey, which started on 3 October 2005.
Turkey has made a series of political reforms and put them into practice with a view to meeting the EU accession criteria, wherein several legal and constitutional amendment packages were accepted in the past few years.
Turkish Government is resolved to speed-up reforms for further strengthening freedom of speech and religion. Turkey is carrying out these reforms in order to improve the quality of life for its citizens as well as meeting the EU accession criteria.
Turkey adopted the National Programme for the adoption of the EU acquis on 31 December 2008. This Programme will serve as the short and medium term road map for our accession negotiations.
What Turkey Could Bring To The EU
Turkey's possible contributions to the EU is rather a long list. Here, few are briefly cited.
Turkey could bring to Europe;
Vitality with its very dynamic economy, and large market: Turkey will contribute to the EU's economic power on the global scene. With a population of 70 million, a steadily increasing GNP level (658 billion Euros), a young and entrepreneurial population, an export oriented industrial economy and rapidly developing information society. Turkey's accession will increase the size and competitiveness of the European internal market.
Diversity with its very rich history and culture: Turkey has always been a cradle of major civilizations. Hittites, Lydians, Lycians, Phrygians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuk Turks, people from the Balkans, Caucasia, Central Asia, Black Sea and Ottomans are all part of modern Turkey's historic and cultural heritage and diversity. Turkey's future membership will strengthen the EU's multicultural society and thus, democracy. It will be a solid confirmation refuting the "clash of civilizations" scenario and emphasizing the essence of the EU, namely a union built upon and through common values. Turkey's accession to the Union will transmit a greater message across different frequencies and impact on Europe's wider relationship with the Islamic world.
Energy security with different pipelines crossing Turkey: Turkey is neighbouring the region which has 70 % of world's energy sources. Considering that the EU countries are widely dependant on energy supplies, especially to the Russian Federation, Turkey's unique geo-strategic position will render her to become a crucial and reliable energy hub for the EU in the next decades to come.
Political strength with its unique geo-strategic location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia: As a reliable NATO ally, Turkey's membership will consolidate both the military and the civilian aspects of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU. A European Union with Turkey will be more efficient in tackling political problems, crises and threats such as terrorism, illegal immigration and trafficking in drugs, arms, human beings.