Voor liefhebbers van strandvakanties zijn de badplaatsen aan de Turkse Rivièra ware paradijsjes. In Alanya, Side en Antalya is de zee azuurblauw en schijnt de zon altijd. Overdag kan je hier heerlijk aan de stranden liggen en ?s avonds kan je een van de vele discotheken induiken. In Istanbul kan heerlijk slenteren door het oude centrum en kijk je je ogen uit in de exotische bazaars. Het is een schitterende stad met wereldberoemde gebouwen als de Hagia Shopia, het Topkapi Paleis en de Blauwe Moskee.
Het Turkije van vóór de komst der Turken wordt doorgaans Klein-Azië of Anatolië genoemd. Anatolië heeft een vele duizenden jaren teruggaande voorgeschiedenis, waarin volkeren als Hethieten, Phrygiërs, Lydiërs, Oerartiërs, Armeniërs en Grieken een grote rol hebben gespeeld. In de 2e eeuw v. Chr. kwam Anatolië in de invloedsfeer van het Romeinse Rijk. Anatolië was de eerste provincie van het Romeinse Rijk waar een groot deel van de bevolking overging tot het christendom. Toen het westelijk deel van het Romeinse Rijk in verval raakte (omstreeks 400 na Chr.), werd Anatolië deel van het Oost-Romeinse of Byzantijnse Rijk, met Constantinopel als hoofdstad. In die periode maakte de reeds eerder begonnen hellenisering grote vooruitgang. Het gebied werd grotendeels Griekstalig, met uitzondering van het oostelijke deel, waar de Koerden en Armeniërs hun eigen taal behielden. De Turken in het huidige Turkije zijn de afstammelingen van Oghuz-stammen die vanuit Centraal-Azië naar Anatolië zijn getrokken. In 1071 versloeg de Seldjoekse leider Alp Arslan de Byzantijnse keizer Romanus IV in de Slag van Malazgirt. Dit resulteerde in de stichting van een Seldjoeks sultanaat rond de stad Konya. In 1176 deed de Byzantijnse keizer Manuel II een laatste poging om de in Centraal-Anatolië gevestigde Seldjoeken te onderwerpen, maar zijn leger werd in de slag bij Myriokephalon vernietigend verslagen. Toen westelijke kruisvaarders in 1204 Constantinopel veroverden, raakte het Byzantijnse rijk zodanig verzwakt, dat in de komende eeuw vrijwel geheel Anatolië in handen van de Turken viel. In 1453, ongeveer 200 jaar na de stichting van het Ottomaanse Rijk, veroverden de Turken Constantinopel. Deze stad werd de nieuwe hoofdstad van het Rijk. Dit luidde een periode in van culturele bloei, verovering en overheersing van grote delen van het Midden-Oosten, de Balkan en Noord-Afrika. Het Ottomaanse Rijk kende zijn bloeitijd in de zestiende eeuw. Daarna trad het verval langzaam in en heroverden Oostenrijk en Rusland grote delen van het Ottomaanse grondgebied. Tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog kozen de Ottomanen partij met Duitsland, Oostenrijk en Bulgarije. Zij verloren de oorlog. De Ottomanen werden teruggedrongen tot hun kerngebied in Anatolië. Tijdens en kort na de oorlog werden diverse bevolkingsgroepen, zoals de Grieken, Armeniërs, Assyriërs gedwongen te verhuizen. Velen kwamen hierbij om het leven. Er woedt thans, 80 jaar na dato, een hevige discussie of er hierbij sprake is van uitlokking en volkerenmoord. Het officiële Turkse standpunt is "een ernstig ongeluk". De Europese Unie is hierin stelliger in haar oordeel. Het Sykes-Picotverdrag (1916) en het Verdrag van Sèvres (1920) regelden de verdeling van het Ottomaanse Rijk onder de overwinnaars. Voor de Turken was slechts een deel rond Ankara gereserveerd. De Turken namen in de door hen zo genoemde Turkse onafhankelijkheidsoorlog het tegen de geallieerden op. Het was de legerleider Mustafa Kemal (die later de naam Ataturk aan zou nemen) die een bepalende rol speelde. Hij tekent ook het Vrede van Lausanne (1923), die een eind maakt aan de oorlog en de grenzen van het nieuwe Turkije vastlegt. Hij stichtte op 29 oktober 1923 de Republiek Turkije. Mustafa Kemal lanceerde hierna zijn politieke visie, het kemalisme geheten, die Turkije moest moderniseren. Zo werd het kalifaat afgeschaft, werd Turkije seculier (1928), veranderde het schrift van Arabisch naar Latijns en werd traditionele kleding afgeschaft. Tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog bleef Turkije lange tijd neutraal, maar in februari 1945 verklaarde het - voornamelijk symbolisch - Duitsland en Japan de oorlog. In 1952 traden Turkije en Griekenland tegelijkertijd toe tot de NAVO. In 1960, 1971 en 1980 pleegde het leger een staatsgreep. Na enkele jaren militair bestuur kwam er steeds weer een civiele regering. De staatsgreep van 1980 werd niet geaccepteerd door de Raad van Europa en de EG en leidde tot schorsing van het lidmaatschap van de Raad van Europa en schorsing van het associatieverdrag met de EG. In 1974 bezetten Turkse troepen het noorden van Cyprus na een coup van Nicos Sampson die de leiding had van een rebellenorganisatie EOKA. Dit resulteerde in een Turks-Cypriotische republiek die alleen door Turkije wordt erkend. Vanaf het jaar 1980 strijden de separatistische Koerden in Oost-Turkije voor (gedeeltelijke) autonomie. Turkije erkent hun cultuur wel maar separatisme is verboden. Koerdisch onderwijs was verboden totdat rebellenleider Abdullah Öcalan opgepakt werd door de Turkse commando's in Kenia. Lange tijd werd zelfs het gebruik van de Koerdische taal verboden. De Koerdische rebellenbeweging PKK (Partiya Karkeren Kurdistane) - Arbeiders Partij Koerdistan) voerde jarenlang een guerrilla, maar na de arrestatie van hun leider Öcalan is de guerrilla geluwd. Op 4 april 2002 besloot de partij de gewapende strijd op te geven. Sinds 3 oktober 2005 onderhandelen Turkije en de Europese Unie over toetreding van Turkije tot de EU. Actuele ontwikkelingen In de jaren voorafgaande aan 2001 beleefde de Turkse economie een grote crisis met torenhoge inflatie. Naast economische en monetaire hervormingen waren het de terroristische aanslagen op 11 september 2001 die het land er weer bovenop brachten: als enige islamitische NAVO-land werd Turkije plotseling van geopolitiek belang als intermediair tussen het westen en de islamitische wereld, en kreeg daarom aanmerkelijke financiële steun. Als tegenprestatie speelde Turkije een leidende rol in de vredesmacht in Afghanistan. Maar ook de binnenlandse politiek van Kemal Dervis, superminister van economie en financiën, speelde een niet te onderschatten rol. Onder zware druk van de EU zijn de politieke bevoegdheden van het leger geschrapt en heeft de Koerdische minderheid meer rechten gekregen. De corruptie en het moslimfundamentalisme worden nu in Turkije als de grootste nationale problemen gezien. Mogelijke toetreding tot de Europese Unie Zie Turkije en de Europese Unie voor het hoofdartikel over dit onderwerp. Demografie Bij het begin van de 20e eeuw telde het gebied dat nu Turkije is 12 miljoen inwoners; dat aantal is nu ruim vervijfvoudigd . Bevolking inwoneraantal: 70 miljoen bevolkingsgroepen: Turken 73%, Koerden 21%, Lazen 0,5%, Circassiërs 2%, Arabieren 2%, Armeniërs 0,06%, Syriërs 0,1%. Taal De talen in Turkije zijn: Turks (90,5%) is de enige officiële taal. Onder de vele minderheidstalen zijn Koerdisch (18,6%), Arabisch (3%), Armeens, Lazisch, Georgisch, Circassisch, Ladino e.a. Religie De belangrijkste religie in Turkije is de islam, waarvan volgens schattingen (in Turkije wordt iemands religie niet geadministreerd) meer dan 95% van de bevolking een aanhanger is. Volgens de heersende doctrine van het kemalisme is de staat seculier. De staat heeft een ministerie voor godsdienstzaken, de Diyanet, die de moskeeën controleert en alle imams opleidt. De Diyanet volgt een stroming binnen het soennisme. De meeste Turken hangen de officiële stroming aan, maar tussen de 7% en 30% hangt een sjiitische stroming aan. De belangrijkste sjiitische stroming is het alevitisme en een minderheid, vooral etnische Azeri's, volgt het twaalver sjiisme. Naast de islam erkent de Turkse staat drie andere religies: de Grieks-Orthodoxe Kerk, de Armeens-Orthodoxe Kerk en het jodendom. Er leven zo'n 200.000 christenen in Turkije. Bestuurlijke indeling ProvinciekaartTurkije is staatkundig verdeeld in 81 provincies. Deze zijn weer onderverdeeld in 923 districten. Zie ook: Provincielijst van de Republiek Turkije Geografische gegevens Kaart van Turkije Bron: The World Factbook CIAOppervlakte: 779452 km² Grenzen: 2627 km, waarvan met Armenië 268 km, Azerbeidzjan 9 km, Bulgarije 240 km, Georgië 252 km, Griekenland 206 km, Iran 499 km, Irak 331 km, Syrië 822 km Kustlijn: 7200 km Hoogste punt: Ararat, 5165 m Steden De hoofdstad is: Ankara (2,94 miljoen inwoners) Enkele andere grote steden, met inwoneraantal in miljoenen, zijn: Istanbul 8,5 Izmir 2,13 Adana 1,13 Bursa 1,10 Gaziantep 0,79 Zie ook: Lijst van grote Turkse steden Bezienswaardigheden Efeze Pamukkale Sagalassos Zie ook: Monumenten op de Werelderfgoedlijst Geologie Turkije ligt in een gebied met een complexe tektonische structuur. Het grootste deel van Turkije wordt gevormd door het Anatolische blok. Dit blok zit als het ware ingeklemd tussen een aantal grotere platen. Tufstenen formaties bij CappadociëIn het noorden, langs de zuidoevers van de Zwarte Zee, wordt het Anatolische blok begrensd door de Euraziatische plaat. Hier loopt de Noord-Anatolische breukzone. Deze breukzone heeft vele zware aardbevingen veroorzaakt. De platen in het zuiden van Turkije zijn de Afrikaanse plaat en de Arabische plaat. Deze twee platen hebben een beweging in noordelijke richting. De begrenzing met de Arabische plaat wordt gevormd door de Oost-Anatolische breukzone. Dit is de breukzone waar de beving bij Bingöl op 1 mei 2003 zich naar men aanneemt heeft voorgedaan. Als gevolg van de grootschalige bewegingen wordt het Anatolische blok naar het westen gedreven. Dit veroorzaakt niet alleen seismische activiteit in het noorden en in het oosten van Turkije maar ook in het westen, langs de kusten van de Middellandse Zee, waar het aansluit bij de activiteit in Griekenland. Cultuur Muziek Zie ook: Turkije en het Eurovisiesongfestival Politiek parlement: eenkamerparlement, 550 leden, vijfjaarlijks gekozen, kiesdrempel 10% staatshoofd: president, gekozen voor 7 jaar door het parlement president: Ahmet Sezer (sinds mei 2000) premier: Recep Erdo?an (sinds maart 2003) belangrijkste partijen: AK-partij (conservatief), MHP (extreemrechts/nationalistisch), Moederlandpartij (conservatief-liberaal), DYP (progressief-liberaal), CHP (sociaal-democratisch), SP (islamitisch), DEHAP(extreem-links) Zie ook: Lijst van Turkse premiers Lijst van Turkse presidenten Economie munteenheid: 1 Nieuwe Turkse Lira (YTL) = 100 Nieuwe Kuru? (YKr) koers (juli 2005) 1 EUR = 1,63 YTL BNP: 510 miljard US$ (5008$ p.p.) Groei BNP: 7,6% (2005) werkloosheid: 11,3% (2005) landbouw: granen, katoen, zonnebloemen en andere oliegewassen, maïs, suikerbieten, aardappelen, thee, wijn, noten, olijven, vijgen veeteelt: schapen, geiten, runderen, pluimvee delfstoffen: bruinkool, chroom, koper, borax, aardolie, aardgas, bauxiet, ijzer, mangaan industrie: vooral textielindustrie. Daarnaast ook levensmiddelen, staal-, automotive-, papier-, elektronica-, petrochemische en chemische industrie. export: 72,7 miljard US$ exportproducten: halffabricaten 29%, kleding 26%, voedingsmiddelen 14%, auto's exportpartners: Duitsland (21%), Verenigde Staten (9%), Verenigd Koninkrijk (7%) import: 80,0 miljard US$ importproducten: machines en transportmiddelen 39%, halffabricaten 18%, chemie 14% importpartners: Duitsland (15%), Japan (11%), Italië (8%) (Er is in Turkije al 16 kwartalen achterelkaar een economische groei aan de gang sinds 2002, volgens TUIK is dat een record voor Turkije.). Toerisme Toerisme wordt in Turkije steeds belangrijker, vooral de badplaatsen langs de kusten zijn populair zoals o.a. Bodrum, Alanya, Marmaris, Ku?adas? en Turgut Reis en natuurlijk Istanbul. Vervoer en verkeer spoorwegen: 8682 km, waarvan 1524 km geëlektrificeerd, steden die goed te bereiken zijn via het spoor, onder andere.: Istanbul Haydarpasa, Ankara, Izmir, Adana, Konya, Eskisehir, Karaman, Gaziantep, Diyarbak?r, Samsun, Malatya, Elazig, Sivas, Mersin, Kocaeli e.a. wegennet: 386000 km, waarvan 1/3 verhard internationale vliegvelden: Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Adana, Dalaman, Antalya, Bodrum, Trabzon havens: Gemlik, Hopa, ?skenderun, Istanbul, Izmir, Kocaeli (Izmit), ?cel (Mersin), Samsun, Trabzon, Antalya, Çe?me Zie ook Turkije van A tot Z Turkije (wijnstreken) Vlag van Turkije Provincielijst van de Republiek Turkije
The Turkish name for Turkey, Türkiye, subdivides into two words: Türk, meaning "strong" in Old Turkish and usually signifying the habitants of Turkey or a member of the Turkish nation; and the possessive suffix -iye, which means "owner" or "related to". The term "Türk" or "Türük" was first used as an autonym by the Göktürks (English: Sky Turks) of Central Asia. History Main article: History of the Republic of Turkey Antiquity Lycian rock cut tombs of DalyanThe region comprising modern Turkey is one of the oldest continually inhabited regions in the world, because of its strategic location at the intersection of Asia and Europe. The earliest Neolithic settlements such as Çatalhöyük (Pottery Neolithic), Çayönü (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A to pottery Neolithic), Nevali Cori (Pre-Pottery Neolithic B), Hacilar (Pottery Neolithic), Göbekli Tepe (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A) and Mersin are considered as the earliest human settlements in the world. The settlement of Troy starts in the Neolithic and continues forward into the Iron Age. Through recorded history, Anatolians have spoken Indo-European, Semitic and Kartvelian languages, as well as many languages of uncertain affiliation. In fact, given the antiquity of the Indo-European Hittite and Luwian languages, some scholars have proposed Anatolia as the hypothetical center from which the Indo-European languages have radiated. Other authors have proposed an Anatolian origin for the Etruscans of ancient Italy. Ceremonial court in the ancient city of SardesThe first major empire in the area was that of the Hittites, from the 18th through the 13th century BC. Subsequently, the Phrygians, an Indo-European people, achieved ascendancy until their kingdom was destroyed by the Cimmerians in the 7th century BC. The most powerful of Phrygia's successor states was Lydia, Caria and Lycia. The Lydians and Lycians spoke languages that were fundamentally Indo-European, but both languages had acquired non-Indo-European elements prior to the Hittite and Hellenic periods. Coastal Anatolia (Ionia) meanwhile was settled by Greeks. The entire area was overrun by the Persians during the 6th and 5th centuries and fell to Alexander the Great in 334 BC. Anatolia was subsequently divided into a number of small Hellenistic kingdoms (including Bithynia, Cappadocia, Pergamum, and Pontus), all of which had succumbed to Rome by the mid-1st century BC. In AD 324 the Roman emperor Constantine I chose Constantinople, now Istanbul, as the capital of the Roman Empire. It subsequently became the capital of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire. History of Turks and Middle Ages The Ottoman Empire c. 1683The House of Seljuk was a branch of the Kinik O?uz Turks who in the 9th century lived on the periphery of the Muslim world, north of the Caspian and Aral seas in their Yabghu Khaganate of the O?uz confederacy . In the 10th century, the Seljuks migrated from their ancestral homelands into the eastern Anatolian regions which had been an area of settlement for O?uz Turkic tribes since the end of first millenium. The gradual conquest of Anatolia from the Byzantines by Turkic tribes under the Seljuks after the Battle of Manzikert and the rise of the Seljuk Empire in the 11th century was finalized by the rise of the Ottoman Empire after 1299. Mass conversions to Islam by native Anatolians and peoples of the newly acquired lands helped create an Islam-based religious identity rather than a Turkic-based ethnic identity in the Empire. The Ottoman Empire interacted with both Eastern and Western cultures throughout its 631-year history. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottoman Empire was among the world's most powerful political entities, often locking horns with the powers of eastern Europe in its steady advance through the Balkans and the southern part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Following years of decline, the Ottoman Empire entered the First World War through the Ottoman-German Alliance in 1914 - a war in which it was ultimately defeated. After the war, the victorious Allied Powers sought the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire through the Treaty of Sèvres. Modern era History of Republic of Turkey v ? d ? e War of Independence | Single Party Period | Multi-Party Period Timeline of Independence | Timeline of Republic Economic history | Constitutional History | Military History Mustafa Kemal Atatürk - Founder and first President of the Republic of TurkeyOn 19 May 1919 this prompted the beginning of establishment of the Turkish national movement under the leadership Mustafa Kemal Pasha, a military commander who had distinguished himself in the Battle of Gallipoli. Turkish national movement sought to revoke the terms of the treaty signed by the Sultan in Istanbul. This involved mobilizing every available part of Turkish society in what would become the Turkish War of Independence (Turkish: Kurtulu? Sava??). By 18 September 1922 the occupying armies were repelled and the country saw the birth of a Turkish state. On 1 November 1922 the Turkish Grand National Assembly formally abolished the office of the Sultan, ending 631 years of Ottoman rule. The Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 led to the international recognization of the sovereignty of the newly formed "Republic of Turkey". In the coming years, Atatürk's reforms changed the landscape of the country and Kemal Pasha became the Republic's first President and instituted with the aim of modernizing the new Republic from the remnants of its Ottoman past. According to the Law on Family Names, the Turkish National Assembly presented Mustafa Kemal with the honorific name "Atatürk" (meaning Father of the Turks) in 1934. Turkey entered World War II on the Allied side in the latter stages of the war as a ceremonial gesture and became a charter member of the United Nations. Difficulties faced by Greece after World War II in quelling a communist rebellion and demands by the Soviet Union for military bases in the Turkish Straits prompted the United States to declare the Truman Doctrine in 1947. The doctrine enunciated American intentions to guarantee the security of Turkey and Greece and resulted in large scale US military and economic support. After participating with United Nations forces in the Korean conflict, Turkey in 1952 joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Turkey intervened and militarily invaded Cyprus in July 1974 in response to a Greek Cypriot coup by EOKA-B. The resultant breakaway de-facto independent Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not officially recognised by any country except Turkey itself. Reunification of Cyprus failed despite acceptance by the Turkish Cypriots on a referendum of the UN sponsored Annan plan due to the rejection of the same by the southern Greek Cypriot community, later also resulting in failure of the E.U. and U.S. fulfilling their promises of lifting restrictions on the Turkish Cypriots in the northern section. Turkey experienced a series of coups: Coup of 60, Coup by Memorandum, Coup of 80 and the Postmodern Coup D'etat. The period of the Seventies (Left-Right clashes) and Eighties was marked by political instability and rapid, but at times erratic, economic growth. A series of economic shocks led to new elections in 2002 that brought the conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by the former mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, into power . In October 2005, the European Union opened accession negotiations with Ankara and Turkey officially became a candidate country to join the European Union as a full member, having been an associate member since 1964. See also: History of Turkey, History of Anatolia, History of the Turkish people, and Atatürk's reforms Government and politics Interior of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi)Main articles on politics and government of Turkey can be found at the Politics and government of Turkey series. The politics of Turkey takes place within a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, in which the Prime Minister of Turkey is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government while the Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, and the Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The function of Head of State is performed by the President of the Republic (Cumhurba?kan?). The president is elected for a seven-year term by the Grand National Assembly but he is not required to be a member of parliament. The current President Ahmet Necdet Sezer was elected on May 16, 2000, after having served as the President of the Constitutional Court. Executive power rests in the Prime Minister (Ba?bakan) and the Council of Ministers (Bakanlar Kurulu) who make up the government. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Ministers have to be members of Parliament; though in most cases they are (one notable exception was Kemal Dervi?, who was the Minister of Finance following the financial crisis of 2001; he is currently the head of the UN Development Fund). The Prime Minister is elected by the parliament through a vote of confidence in his government, and he is generally the head of the party that has won the elections. The current Prime Minister is Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, whose Islamic conservative AKP won an absolute majority of parliamentary seats in the general elections of 2002. The President of the parliament is Bülent Ar?nç, also from the same party. Legislative power is invested in the 550-seat Grand National Assembly of Turkey (Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi) that represents the Turkish Nation. Its members are elected for a five-year term by mitigated proportional representation with a national election threshold of 10%. There are 85 electoral districts that represent the 81 administrative provinces of Turkey (Istanbul is divided into three electoral districts whereas Ankara and Izmir are divided into two each because of their large populations). To avoid a hung parliament and its excessive political fragmentation, only parties that win at least 10% of the national vote in a national parliamentary election gain the right to parliamentary representation. Independent candidates may run, and to be elected, they must only win 10% of the vote in the district they are running from. Political parties deemed anti-secular or separatist by the Constitutional Court can have their public financing and activities suspended or their existence banned altogether. Turkey has a multi-party system, with several well-established political parties, with ideologies ranging from the far-left to the far-right. The Armed Forces have traditionally been a politically powerful institution, considered as the guardians of Atatürk's Republic. The protection of the Turkish Constitution and the unity of the country is given by law to the Turkish Armed Forces and it therefore plays a formal political role via the National Security Council in the same functional way that exists also in other western democracies, as the guardian of the secular, unitary nature of the republic and reforms of Atatürk, in the Turkish example. They have staged three coups between 1960 and 1980, whilst also influencing the removal of the Islamist-oriented government of Necmettin Erbakan in 1997. Through the National Security Council (Turkish: Milli Guvenlik Kurulu), the army contributes to recommendations for defense policy against any threat to the country, including those pertaining to ethnic seperatism or religious extremism. In recent years, reforms led to an increased civilian presence on the National Security Council and efforts to defunct military's constitutional responsibilities under the program of compliance with the EU demands. Despite its perceived alleged influence in civilian affairs, the military owns strong unequivocal support from the nation, and is considered to be Turkey's most trusted institution . See also: Constitution of Turkey, Legal System in Republic of Turkey, Grand National Assembly of Turkey, and Elections in Turkey Foreign Relations Main article: Foreign relations of Turkey European Union - TurkeyTurkey's main political, economic and military relations remain rooted within Western Europe and the United States. An associate member of the European Union since 1964, Turkey is currently in the process of accession pending the completion of negotiations started on October 3, 2005. One of the major stumbling blocks in its EU candidacy is the issue of Cyprus, a EU member that Turkey does not recognise, instead supporting the de facto independent Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Other such unresolved issues include Turkey's human rights record, its relatively large population and its relatively poor but rapidly growing economy. Based on what it views as lukewarm support for its accession to the EU and alleged double standards in its negotiations (France and Austria have indicated they will hold referendums on Turkey's membership), the Turkish public has become increasingly euroskeptic in recent times. A mid-2006 Eurobarometer survey revealed that 43% of Turkish citizens view the EU positively; just 35% trust the EU, 45% support enlargement and just 29% support an EU constitution.  It is believed that the accession process would take at least 15 years . The earliest date that Turkey could enter the EU is 2013, the date when the next six-year EU budget will come into force (2013-2019). Turkey has remained a close ally of the United States, supporting it in the war on terror in the post September 11th climate. However, the Iraq war faced strong domestic opposition in Turkey and as such, the Turkish parliament voted against allowing US troops to attack Iraq from its south-eastern border. This led to a period of cooling in relations, but soon regained momentum through diplomatic, humanitarian and indirect military support. Turkey is particularly cautious about an independent Kurdish state arising from a destabilised Iraq. Turkey has fought an insurgent war against the Kurdistan Workers Party (or PKK, which is listed internationally as a terrorist organization by a number of states and organisations, including the USA and the EU), that asserts to seek Kurdish independence, in which some estimated 30,000 people have lost their lives. This has led Ankara to pressure the US into clamping down on insurgent training camps in northern Iraq, though it remains reluctant due to its relative stability compared to the rest of Iraq. Historically, relations with neighbouring Greece have been strained and, occasionally, close to war on certain occasions. The long divided island of Cyprus as well as disputes in the Aegean Sea remain the main sticking points between the two states. Cyprus remains divided between a Greek Cypriot south, and a Turkish Cypriot north recognized only by Turkey. Efforts to reunite the island under the auspices of the United Nations have failed thus far. As far as the Aegean Sea is concerned, Ankara considers it strategically important for easy passage of Turkish vessels, and as such does not recognise the extension of Greek territorial waters to 12-mile around the islands of the Aegean. Turkey has warned that such an act would be considered a casus belli or an act of war on Turkey. Nonetheless, following consecutive earthquakes in both Turkey and Greece and the prompt response of aid and rescue teams from both sides, the two nations have entered a much more positive period of relations, with Greece actively supporting Turkey's candidacy to enter the European Union. A clear sign of improved relations was visible in the response to a mid-air collision by Greek and Turkish fighter jets in the southern Aegean in May 2006. While the Turkish pilot ejected safely, the Greek pilot lost his life. Both countries agreed that the event should not affect their bilateral relations . Recently, Greek military vessels throwing illegal immigrants into Turkish territorial waters led to official protests by the Turkish government.     See also: Accession of Turkey to the European Union, Cyprus dispute, and Greco-Turkish relations Military Main article: Turkish Armed Forces TAI-built F-16 fighter jets belonging to various Turkish Air Force squadronsThe Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) (Turkish: Türk Silahl? Kuvvetleri - TSK) consists of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. The Gendarmerie and the Coast Guard operate as parts of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in peacetime; whereas they are subordinated to the Army and Navy Commands respectively in wartime, during which they have internal law enforcement and military functions. The Turkish Armed Forces, with a combined strength of 1,043,550  uniformed personnel, is the second largest standing armed force in NATO, after the United States Armed Forces. The TAF became a member of NATO on February 18, 1952. Currently, 36,000  troops are stationed in Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Every fit heterosexual male citizen (homosexuals are not allowed to serve in the Turkish Army) is required to serve in the military for time periods ranging from one to fifteen months, depending on his education and job location. F-247 TCG KemalReis is a SalihReis class frigate of the Turkish NavyIn 1998, Turkey announced a modernization programme worth some $31 billion over a period of ten years in varying projects including tanks, helicopters and assault rifles. Turkey is also a level three contributor to the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, gaining an opportunity to develop and influence the creation of the next generation fighter spearheaded by the United States. The Turkish Army has contributed to a number of peacekeeping missions in Somalia, Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, provided logistics and military support to the coalition forces during both Gulf wars and maintains special forces units in Northern Iraq . In 2006, the Turkish parliament deployed a Turkish peacekeeping force of Navy patrol vessels and around 700 ground troops as part of an expanded United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in wake of the 2006 Israeli-Lebanon conflict . The Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces is The Chief of the General Staff General Ya?ar Büyükan?t who succeeded General Hilmi Özkök on August 28, 2006. The President, as the Head of State, is the Commander in Chief during peacetime, while the Chief of the General Staff becomes the Commander in Chief, on behalf of the President, during wartime. See also: Conscription in Turkey Administrative divisions Main article: Provinces of Turkey Further information: Districts of Turkey and Regions of Turkey Provinces and districts Turkey is subdivided into 81 provinces (Turkish: singular; il, plural; iller). Each province is divided into districts (Turkish: singular; ilçe, plural; ilçeler). Provinces usually bear the same name as their provincial capitals, also called the central district; exceptions to this are the provinces of Hatay (capital: Antakya), Kocaeli (capital: ?zmit) and Sakarya (capital: Adapazar?). Provinces with the largest populations are: ?stanbul (~11 million), Ankara (~4 million), ?zmir (~3.5 million), Bursa (~2.1 million), Konya (~2.2 million) and Adana (~1.8 million). The provinces are organized into 7 regions for census purposes. Cities Further information: List of cities in Turkey The capital city of Turkey is Ankara, but the historic capital of ?stanbul still remains the financial, economic and cultural centre of the country. Other important cities include ?zmir, Bursa, Adana, Trabzon, Malatya, Gaziantep, Erzurum, Kayseri, ?zmit (Kocaeli), Konya, Mersin, Eski?ehir, Diyarbak?r, Antalya and Samsun. An estimated 68% of Turkey's population live in urban centers . In all, 12 cities have populations that exceed 500,000 and 48 cities have more than 100,000 inhabitants. Major Cities : Traditional waterfront houses (yal?) from the Ottoman period along the Bosphorus in IstanbulNote: Population figures given are according to the 2000 census ?stanbul - 10,041,000 Ankara - 4,319,000 ?zmir - 2,409,000 Bursa - 1,195,000 Adana - 1,131,000 Gaziantep - 854,000 Konya - 743,000 Antalya - 603,000 Geography Main article: Geography of Turkey Turkey on the NASA's Blue Marble composite satellite imageThe territory of Turkey extends from 36° to 42° N and from 26° to 45° E in Eurasia. It is roughly rectangular in shape and is 1,660 kilometers (1,031 mi) wide. Turkey's area inclusive of lakes is 814,578 square kilometres (314,510 sq mi), of which 790,200 square kilometres (305,098 sq mi) occupies the Anatolian peninsula (also called Asia Minor) in Western Asia, and 3% or 24,378 square kilometres (9,412 sq mi) are located in Europe. Turkey is a transcontinental country between Asia and Europe. The land borders of Turkey total 2,573 kilometres (1,599 mi), and the coastlines (including islands) total another 8,333 kilometres (5,178 mi). Turkey's size makes it the world's 37th-largest country (after Mozambique). It is comparable in size to Chile, and is somewhat larger than the US state of Texas. Turkey is generally divided into seven regions: the Marmara, the Aegean, the Mediterranean, Central Anatolia, East Anatolia, Southeast Anatolia and the Black Sea region. The uneven north Anatolian terrain running along the Black Sea resembles a long, narrow belt. This region comprises approximately 1/6 of Turkey's total land area. As a general trend, the inland Anatolian plateau becomes increasingly rugged as it progresses eastward Mount Ararat (A?r? Da??) - the tallest peak in Turkey at 5137m in the I?d?r ProvinceTurkey forms a bridge between Europe and Asia, with the division between the two running from the Black Sea (Karadeniz) to the north down along the Bosporus (?stanbul Bo?az?) strait through the Sea of Marmara (Marmara Denizi) and the Dardanelles (Çanakkale Bo?az?) strait to the Aegean Sea (Ege Denizi) and the larger Mediterranean Sea (Akdeniz) to the south. The Anatolian peninsula (Anatolia (Anadolu) for short) consists of a high central plateau with narrow coastal plains, in between the Köro?lu and East-Black Sea mountain range to the north and the Taurus Mountains (Toros Da?lar?) to the south. To the east is found a more mountainous landscape, home to the sources of rivers such as the Euphrates (F?rat), Tigris (Dicle) and the Aras, as well as Lake Van (Van Gölü) and Mount Ararat (A?r? Da??), Turkey's highest point at 5,137 metres (16,853 ft). Ölüdeniz National Park near FethiyeTurkey's varied landscapes are the product of complex earth movements that have shaped the region over thousands of years and still manifest themselves in fairly frequent earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions. The Bosporus and the Dardanelles owe their existence to the fault lines running through Turkey that led to the creation of the Black Sea. There is an earthquake fault line across the north of the country from west to east. The climate is a Mediterranean temperate climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet and cold winters, though conditions can be much harsher in the more arid interior. Mountains close to the coast prevent Mediterranean influences from extending inland, giving the interior of Turkey a continental climate with distinct seasons. The central Anatolian Plateau is much more subject to extremes than are the coastal areas. Winters on the plateau are especially severe. Temperatures of -30°C to -40°C can occur in the mountainous areas in the east, and snow may lie on the ground 120 days of the year. In the west, winter temperatures average below 1°C. Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures above 30°C. Annual precipitation averages about 400 millimeters, with actual amounts determined by elevation. The driest regions are the Konya plain and the Malatya plain, where annual rainfall frequently is less than 300 millimeters. May is generally the wettest month whereas July and August are the most dry. See also: Environmental issues in Turkey Economy Main article: Economy of Turkey Skyline of Levent business district in IstanbulTurkey's economy is a complex mix of modern industry and commerce along with a traditional agriculture sector that in 2005 still accounted for 30% of employment. Turkey has a strong and rapidly growing private sector, yet the state still plays a major role in basic industry, banking, transport, and communications. Turkey began a series of reforms in the 1980s designed to shift the economy from a statist, insulated system to a more private-sector, market-based model. The reforms spurred rapid growth, but this growth was punctuated by sharp recessions and financial crises in 1994, 1999, and 2001. Turkey's failure to pursue additional reforms, combined with large and growing public sector deficits, widespread corruption resulted in high inflation, increasing macroeconomic volatility and a weak banking sector. Current GDP per capita soared by 210% in the Seventies. But this proved unsustainable and growth scaled back sharply to 70% in the Eighties and a disappointing 11% in the Nineties. The Ecevit government, in power from 1999 through 2002, restarted structural reforms in line with ongoing economic programs under the standby agreements signed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), including passage of social security reform, public finance reform, state banks reform, banking sector reform, increasing transparency in public sector, and also introduction of related legislation to liberalize telecom, and energy markets. Under the IMF program, the government also sought to use exchange rate policies to curb inflation. In the 1990s, Turkey?s economy suffered from a series of coalition governments with weak economic policies, leading to a boom-and-bust cycle culminating in a severe banking and economic crisis in 2001 and a deep economic downturn (GNP fell 9.5% in 2001) followed by an increase in unemployment. The government was forced to float the lira and adopt a more ambitious economic reform program, including a very tight fiscal policy, enhanced structural reforms, and unprecedented levels of IMF lending. The currency of Turkey is the New Turkish Lira (Yeni Türk Liras? or YTL for short)Large IMF loans tied to implementation of ambitious economic reforms, enabled Turkey to stabilize interest rates and the currency and to meet its debt obligations. In 2002 and 2003, the reforms began to show results. With the exception of a period of market jitters in the run-up to the Iraq war, inflation and interest rates have fallen significantly and the currency has stabilized. Turkey's economy grew an average of 7.5% per year from 2002 through 2005 - one of the highest sustained rates of growth in the world, rivaling countries like China and India. Thanks to a fall in interest rates, government debt has declined to more supportable levels, and business and consumer confidence have returned. Meanwhile, huge increases in imports that could not match the large inflows of portfolio investment have contributed to a growth of the current account deficit. Though Turkey?s economic vulnerabilities have been greatly reduced, the economy could still face problems in the event there is a sudden change in investor sentiment that leads to a sharp fall in the exchange rate. Continued implementation of reforms, including tight fiscal policy, is essential to sustain growth and stability. On 1 January 2005, the Turkish Lira was replaced by the New Turkish Lira by dropping six zeroes (1 new lira is equal to 1,000,000 old lira). Turkey has a number of bilateral investment and tax treaties, including with the United States, that guarantee free repatriation of capital in convertible currencies and eliminate double taxation. After years of low levels of foreign direct investment (FDI), in 2005 Turkey succeeded in attracting $9.6 billion in FDI and is expected to attract a similar level in 2006. A series of large privatizations, the stability fostered by the start of Turkey?s EU accession negotiations, strong and stable growth, and structural changes in the banking, retail, and telecommunications sectors have all contributed to the rise in foreign investment. Turkey seeks to improve its investment climate through administrative streamlining, an end to foreign investment screening, and strengthened intellectual property legislation. However, a number of disputes involving foreign investors in Turkey and certain policies, such as continuing gaps in the intellectual property regime, inhibit investment. The Turkish privatization board is in the process of privatizing a series of state-owned companies, including the state alcohol and tobacco company and the oil refining parastatal. In 2004, the Privatization Board privatized the telephone company (Türk Telekom) and some of the state-owned banks. The government also committed in the World Trade Organization to liberalize the telecommunications sector at the beginning of 2004. Scenery between the town of Kemer and Antalya cityTourism is one of the most dynamic and fast developing sectors in Turkey. According to the travel agencies TUI AG and Thomas Cook, 31 hotels out of 100 best hotels of the world are located in Turkey. In the year 2005, 21,122,798 tourists vacationed in Turkey. The total tourism revenue was $18.2 billion and with an average expenditure of $679 per tourist. Over the years, Turkey has emerged as a popular tourist destination for many Europeans, competing with Greece, Italy and Spain. Turkish destinations such as Antalya and Mu?la (sometimes called the Turkish Riviera) have become very popular among European tourists. See also: Economic history of Turkey Demographics ?stiklal Avenue, one of the busiest pedestrian ways in Turkey, and the tram line running between Taksim Square and Tünel in IstanbulMain article: Demographics of Turkey Article 66 of the Turkish Constitution defines a "Turk" as anyone that is " bound to the Turkish state through the bond of citizenship". The legal use of the term "Turkish" (a citizen of Turkey) is different from the ethnic definition. However, the majority of the Turkish population are of Turkish ethnicity. Besides the minorities that have legal status as defined and internationally recognized by the Treaty of Lausanne; namely Greeks, Armenians and Jews; other ethnic groups include Abkhazians, Albanians, Arabs, Bosniaks, Chechens, Circassians, Georgians, Hamshenis, Kabardin, Kurds, Laz, Levantines, Ossetians, Pomaks, Roma, Syriacs and Zazas, the largest non-Turkic ethnicity being the Kurds, a distinct ethnic group traditionally concentrated in the southeast. While the term "minority" itself remains a sensitive issue in Turkey, it is to be noted that the degree of assimilation within various ethnic groups outside the recognized minorities is high, the following generations generally adding into the melting-pot of the Turkish main body. Within that main body, certain distinctions based on diverse Turkic origins could be made as well by taking account of the same tendency as mentioned. Though Turkish is the sole official language throughout Turkey, broadcasts in local languages and dialects on state media outlets include Arabic, Bosnian, Circassian and Kurdish . The Turkish population is relatively young with over a quarter falling within the [0-14] age bracket. Life expectancy stands at 70.2 years for males and 75.2 years for females, for an overall average of 72.6 years for the populace. Due to a demand for an increased labour force in Post-World War II Europe, many Turkish citizens emigrated to Western Europe (particularly West Germany), contributing to the creation of a significant diaspora. See also: Turkish diaspora and Peoples of the Caucasus in Turkey Culture Main article: Culture of Turkey Turkey has a very diverse culture that are a blend of various elements of the Ottoman, European, and the Islamic traditions. As Turkey successfully transformed from the religion-based former Ottoman Empire into a modern nation-state with a very strong separation of state and religion, an increase in the methods of artistic expression followed. During the first years of the republic, the government invested a large amount of resources into the fine arts, such as museums, theatres, and architecture amongst other things. This was done both as a process of modernisation and as the creation of a cultural identity. Today, the Turkish economy is diverse enough to subsidise individual artists with great freedom through private means. Because of different historical factors playing an important role in defining the Turkish identity, the culture of Turkey is a combination of efforts to be "modern" and Western, combined with the necessity felt to maintain traditional religious and historical values. Religion Main article: Islam in Turkey 99.8% of the Turkish population is Muslim, of whom a majority belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. About 15-20% of the population are affiliated with the Alevi sect. There is also a small, but significant Twelver Shi'a minority, mainly of Azeri descent. The remainder of the population belongs to other beliefs, namely Christian denominations (Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Syriac Orthodox, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism), Judaism, the Bahá'í Faith, Yezidism and Atheism. Interior of the Selimiye Mosque, EdirneThere is a strong tradition of secularism in Turkey. Even though the state has no official religion nor promotes any, it actively monitors the area between the religions. The constitutional rule that prohibits discrimination on religious grounds is taken very seriously. The Turkish Constitution recognises freedom of religion for individuals whereas the religious communities are placed under the protection of state, but the constitution explicitly states that they cannot become involved in the political process (by forming a religious party for instance) and no party can claim that it represents a form of religious belief. However, religious sensibilities are generally represented through conservative parties. Turkey, as a secular country, prohibits by law, the wearing of religious headcover and theo-political symbolic garments for both genders in government buildings, schools, and universities ; a law upheld by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights as "legitimate" on November 10, 2005 . The mainstream Hanafite school of Sunni Islam is largely organised by the state, through the Diyanet ??leri Ba?kanl??? (Religious Affairs Directorate), which controls all mosques and Muslim clerics. The directorate is criticized by some Alevi Muslims for not supporting their beliefs and instead favoring the Sunni faith. The Orthodox Patriarch (Patrik) is the head of the Greek-Orthodox Church in Turkey and serves as the spiritual leader of all Orthodox churches throughout the world. The Armenian Patriarch is the head of the Armenian Church in Turkey, while the Jewish community is led by the Hahamba??, Turkey's Chief Rabbi, based in ?stanbul. Turkey has the oldest Christian church in the world, St. Peter's in Istanbul. See also: Jews of Turkey, Roman Catholicism in Turkey, and Orthodox Church of Constantinople Education Main article: Education in Turkey Gazi University Rectorate, AnkaraEducation is compulsory and free from ages 7 to 15. There are around 820 higher education institutions including universities, with a total student enrollment of over 1 million. The 15 main universities are in Istanbul and Ankara. Tertiary education is the responsibility of the Higher Education Council, and funding is provided by the state. From 1998, universities were given greater autonomy and were encouraged to raise funds through partnerships with industry. There are approximately 85 universities in Turkey, which can be classified as either "State" or "Foundational". State universities typically charge very low fees and foundationals are highly expensive with fees upwards of $15 000. Universities provide either two or four years of education for undergraduate studies. For graduate studies, a further two years is necessary, as is typical throughout the world. The Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey coordinates basic and applied research and development. There are 64 research institutes and organisations. R&D strengths include agriculture, forestry, health, biotechnology, nuclear technologies, minerals, materials, IT, and defence. Images of Turkey Levent district ?stanbul Hagia Sophia ?stanbul Galata Tower ?stanbul from the Bosphorus Bosphorus Bridge ?stanbul Anitkabir Ankara Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk ?zmir Port ?zmir The historic Alsancak neighbourhood ?zmir New Year celebrations at the port Side Antalya Aspendos Theatre Sümela Monastery Trabzon Çatalhöyük (7500 BC) The oldest and largest excavated Neolithic settlement in the world Fethiye Mu?la Pamukkale (cotton castle) Denizli Konyaalt? Antalya Çifte Minareli Medrese Erzurum Göreme Nev?ehir Cappadocia Mount Nemrut Ad?yaman Troy Çanakkale City walls Hattusa The Lion Gate of the Hittite capital Pergamon ?zmir Acropolis