Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye) is on the Mediterranean, in the Anatolian region of West Asia, with a small section in Southeastern Europeseparated by the Turkish Straits (Bosphorus, Sea of Marmara, and Dardanelles) from Asia. With the Black Sea to the north and the Aegean Sea in the west and Mediterranean Sea to the southwest, Turkey is surrounded by Bulgaria and Greece to the west, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to the northeast, Syria, Iraq and Iran to the southeast. While geographically most of the country is situated in Asia, most Turkish people consider themselves to be Europeans.
Turkey offers a wealth of destination varieties to travellers: from dome-and-minaret filled skyline of Istanbul to Roman ruins along the western and southern coasts, from heavily indented coastline against a mountainous backdrop of Lycia and wide and sunny beaches of Pamphylia to cold and snowy mountains of the East, from crazy "foam parties" of Bodrumto Middle Eastern-flavoured cities of Southeastern Anatolia, from verdant misty mountains of Eastern Black Sea to wide steppe landscapes of Central Anatolia, there is something for everyone's taste—whether they be travelling on an extreme budget by hitchhiking or by a multi-million yacht.
Tourism in Turkey has experienced rapid growth in the last twenty years, and constitutes an important part of the economy. The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism currently promotes Turkish tourism under the Turkey Home name. In 2013, 37.8 million foreign visitors arrived in Turkey, which ranked as the 6th most popular tourism destination in the world; they contributed $27.9 billion to Turkey's revenues. In 2012, 15 percent of the tourists were from Germany, 11 percent from Russia, 8 percent from the United Kingdom, 5 percent from Bulgaria, 4 percent each from Georgia, the Netherlands and Iran, 3 percent from France, 2 percent each from the United States and Syria, and 40 percent from other countries.
Turkey has 13 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the "Historic Areas of Istanbul", the "Rock Sites of Cappadocia", the "Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük", "Hattusa: the Hittite Capital", the "Archaeological Site of Troy", "Pergamon and its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape", "Hierapolis – Pamukkale", and "Mount Nemrut"; and 51 World Heritage Sites in tentative list, such as the archaeological sites or historic urban centres of Göbekli Tepe, Gordion, Ephesus, Aphrodisias, Perga, Lycia, Sagalassos, Aizanoi, Zeugma, Ani, Harran, Mardin, Konya and Alanya.
Turkey hosts two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Mausoleum in Halicarnassus and the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus.
Turkey occupies a landmass slightly larger than Texas, at just over 750,000 square kilometres, and is more than three times the size of the United Kingdom. In terms of the variety of terrain and particularly the diversity of its plant life, however, Turkey exhibits the characteristics of a small continent. There are, for example, some 10,000 plant species in the country (compared with some 13,000 in all of Europe) — one in three of which is endemic to Turkey. Indeed, there are more species in Istanbul Province (2,000) than in the whole of the United Kingdom. While many people know of Turkey's rich archaeological heritage, it possesses an equally valuable array of ecosystems — peat bogs, heath lands, steppes, and coastal plains. Turkey possesses much forest (about a quarter of the land) but, as importantly, some half of the country is semi-natural landscape that has not been entirely remodelled by man.
The climate in Turkey has a vast diversity depending on the diverse topography and latitude.
Aegean and Mediterranean coastal areas enjoy the typical Mediterranean climate. There is hardly a drop of rain during the sunny and hot summer (May to October). Winters are mild and rainy in these regions, and it very rarely snows at coastal areas, with the exception of mountainous areas higher than 2000 metres of these regions, which are very snowy and are frequently not passable. The water temperature in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas is warm during the long summer season (May to October) which constitutes the swimming season and fluctuates between 23° and 28°C from north to south.
The region around the Sea of Marmara, including Istanbul, has a transitional climate between an oceanic climate and a semi-Mediterranean climate, but it does rain, albeit not a lot, during the very warm summer (as showers which tend to last for 15-30 minutes). Its winters are colder than those of the western and southern coasts. Snow is common at coastal areas, although it doesn't stay on the ground for long and is limited to only a few days every winter. The water temperature in the Sea of Marmara is also colder than the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, with the water temperature reaching only between 20° and 24°C during the summer (June, July and August) and the swimming season is restricted to those summer months.
The Black Sea region has an oceanic climate (thanks to the protective shield effect of Caucasus mountains) with the greatest amount of precipitation and is the only region of Turkey that receives high precipitation throughout the year. The eastern part of that coast averages 2,500mm annually which is the highest precipitation in the country. Summers are warm and humid while the winters are cool and damp. Snow is common at coastal areas, although it doesn’t stay on the ground for long and is limited to only a few days every winter, though mountains are very snowy as it is expected to be and are frequently not passable, there are glaciers around the year in the highest zones. The water temperature in the whole Turkish Black Sea coast is always cool and fluctuates between 10° and 20°C throughout the year, and is even less suitable for swimming during the summer than in the Sea of Marmara.
Most of the coastal areas have a high level of relative humidity during most of the year which makes hot weather feel hotter and cold weather feel colder than it actually is.
Interior areas like Ankara, generally have hot summers (though the nights are cool enough to make someone who is wearing only a thin t-shirt uncomfortable outdoors) and cold and snowy winters. The more easterly the location is, the colder the winters are and the heavier the snow is. The northeastern part (around Erzurum and Kars) is the only inland area which has cool and rainy summers.
The southeastern region near the Syrian border has a desert-like climate, temperature is frequently above 40°C during summers with no rain. Snowfall is occasional in winter.
While it may sound like a tourism brochure cliché, Turkey really is a curious mix of the west and the east—you may swear you were in a Balkan country or in Greece when in northwestern and western parts of the country (except that Byzantine-influenced churches are substituted with Byzantine-influenced mosques), which are indeed partly inhabited by people from Balkan countries, who immigrated during the turmoil before, during, and after WWI, while southeastern reaches of the country exhibit little if any cultural differences from Turkey's southern and eastern neighbours. Influences from the Caucasus add to the mix in the northeast part of the country. It can be simply put that Turkey is the most oriental of western nations, or, depending on the point of view, the most occidental of eastern nations.
Perhaps one thing common to all of the country is Islam, the faith of the bulk of the population. However, interpretation of it varies vastly across the country: many people in northwestern and western coasts are fairly liberal about the religion (being nominal Muslims sometimes to the point of being irreligious), while folk of the central steppes are far more conservative (don't expect to find a Saudi Arabia or an Afghanistan even there, though). The rest of the country falls somewhere in between, with the coastal regions being relatively liberal while inland regions are relatively conservative as a general rule. The largest religious minority in the country are the Alevites, who constitute up to 20% of the population and who subscribe to a form of Islam closer to that of the Shiite version of Islam and whose rituals draw heavily from the shamanistic ceremonies of ancient Turks. Other religious minorities—the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Jews, Syriac Oriental Orthodox, and Roman Catholics, the latter of whom mainly settled in Turkey within the last 500 years from Western European countries—once numerous across the country, are now mostly confined to the large cities of Istanbul and Izmir, or parts of Southeastern Anatolia in the case of the Syriac Oriental Orthodox. Despite its large Muslim majority population, Turkey officially remains a secular country, with no declared state religion.
Article 66 of the Turkish Constitution defines a "Turk" as "anyone who is bound to the Turkish state through the bond of citizenship"; therefore, the legal use of the term "Turkish" as a citizen of Turkey is different from the ethnic definition. However, the majority of the Turkish population are of Turkish ethnicity. They are estimated at 70–75 percent. Reliable data on the ethnic mix of the population is not available, because Turkish census figures do not include statistics on ethnicity. The three "Non-Muslim" minority groups claimed to be officially recognised in the Treaty of Lausanne are Armenians, Greeks and Jews. Officially unrecognised (mostly Muslim) ethnic groups include Albanians, Arabs, Assyrians, Azeris, Bosniaks, Circassians, Georgians, Lazs, Persians, Pomaks (Bulgarians), Yazidis and Roma.The Kurds, a distinct ethnic group, are the largest non-Turkic ethnicity, around 18–25 percent of the population. Kurds are concentrated in the east and southeast of the country, in what is also known as Turkish Kurdistan. Kurds make up a majority in the provinces of Tunceli, Bingöl, Muş, Ağrı, Iğdır, Elâzığ, Diyarbakır, Batman, Şırnak, Bitlis, Van, Mardin, Siirt and Hakkari, a near majority in Şanlıurfa province (47%), and a large minority in Kars province (20%). In addition, due to internal migration, Kurdish communities exist in all major cities in central and western Turkey, particularly in Istanbul, where there are an estimated 3 million Kurds, making Istanbul the city with the largest Kurdish population in the world.Minorities besides the Kurds are thought to make up an estimated 7–12 percent of the population. Minorities other than the three officially recognised ones do not have any minority rights. The term "minority" itself remains a sensitive issue in Turkey, while the Turkish government is frequently criticised for its treatment of minorities. Although minorities are not recognised, state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) broadcasts television and radio programs in minority languages. Also, some minority language classes can be chosen in elementary schools.
An estimated 2.5 percent of the population are international migrants. Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees in the world, including 2.2 million Syrian refugees, as of September 2015.
Turkey is a secular state with no official state religion; the Turkish Constitution provides for freedom of religion and conscience.The role of religion has been a controversial debate over the years since the formation of Islamist parties. For many decades, the wearing of the hijab was banned in schools and government buildings because it was viewed as a symbol of political Islam. However, the ban was lifted from universities in 2011, from government buildings in 2013, and from schools in 2014. The government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) pursue the explicit policy agenda of Islamization of education to "raise a devout generation" against secular resistance, in the process causing lost jobs and school for many non-religious citizens of Turkey.
Islam is the dominant religion of Turkey with 99.8 percent of the population being registered as Muslim (although some sources give a slightly lower estimate of 96.4 percent) with the most popular sect being the Hanafite school of Sunni Islam. There are also some Sufi Muslims. Roughly 2 percent are non-denominational Muslims. The highest Islamic religious authority is the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Turkish: Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı); it interprets the Hanafischool of law, and is responsible for regulating the operation of the country's 80,000 registered mosques and employing local and provincial imams. Some have also complained (see cite) that under the Islamist government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the old role of the Diyanet -- maintaining control over the religious sphere of Islam in Turkey -- has "largely been turned on its head". Now greatly increased in size, the Diyanet promotes a certain type of conservative (Hanafi Sunni) Islam inside Turkey, issuing fatawa forbidding such activities as "feeding dogs at home, celebrating the western New Year, lotteries, and tattoos"; and projecting this "Turkish Islam" abroad.
Academics suggest the Alevi population may be from 15 to 20 million while the Alevi-Bektaşi Federation claims that there are around 25 million and according to Aksiyonmagazine, the number of Shiite Twelvers (excluding Alevis) is 3 million (4.2 percent). Under the Sunni Islamist government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, an increasing discrimination against and persecution of the Alevi minority has begun.
According to WIN-Gallup International's Global Index of Religiousity and Atheism project, Turkey is the country with most irreligious Muslims in the Islamic world with 73% of its Muslim population. In light of an extensive PEW Global research, only 15% of Muslims in Turkey say prayers for at least one of the five prayers either at home or in a mosque.Another PEW Report suggests that, only 7% to 13% of all Turks think that religion should have an effect on laws directly or indirectly.
The percentage of Christians in Turkey fell from 19% (or perhaps as high as 25% of the population of 16 million) in 1914 to 7% percent in 1927, due to events which had a significant impact on the country's demographic structure, such as the Armenian Genocide, the population exchange between Greece and Turkey, and the emigration of Christiansthat actually began in the late 19th century and gained pace in the first quarter of the 20th century. The Wealth Tax on non-Muslims in 1942, the emigration of a portion of Turkish Jews to Israel after 1948, and the ongoing Cyprus dispute which damaged the relations between Turks and Greeks (culminating in the Istanbul pogrom of 6–7 September 1955) were other important events that contributed to the decline of Turkey's non-Muslim population.
Today there are more than 120,000 people of different Christian denominations, representing less than 0.2 percent of Turkey's population, including an estimated 80,000 Oriental Orthodox, 35,000 Roman Catholics, 18,000 Antiochian Greeks, 5,000 Greek Orthodox, and smaller numbers of Protestants. Currently there are 236 churches open for worship in Turkey. The Eastern Orthodox Church has been headquartered in Istanbul since the 4th century.
There are about 26,000 people who are Jewish, the vast majority of whom are Sephardi. There have been Jewish communities in Asia Minor since at least the 5th century BC and many Spanish and Portuguese Jews expelled from Spain were welcomed into the Ottoman Empire in the late 15th century. Despite emigration during the 20th century, modern-day Turkey continues to have a small Jewish population.
Agnosticism and atheism
According to a 2010 Eurobarometer poll 94% of Turks believed in God while only 1% did not. This indicates that 5% of the population are agnostic with another 1% being explicitly atheist. However, according to another poll by KONDA the percentage of atheism is 2.9%.
Recent polls suggest that 4,5 millions of people were irreligious in 2013. The same data also suggests that 85% of all irreligious people are younger than 35.
Turkey has the world's 17th largest GDP by PPP and 18th largest nominal GDP. The country is among the founding members of the OECD and the G-20.
The EU – Turkey Customs Union in 1995 led to an extensive liberalisation of tariff rates, and forms one of the most important pillars of Turkey's foreign trade policy. Turkey's exports were $143.5 billion in 2011 and reached $163 billion in 2012 (main export partners in 2012: Germany 8.6%, Iraq 7.1%, Iran 6.5%, UK 5.7%, UAE 5.4%). However, larger imports which amounted to $229 billion in 2012 threatened the balance of trade (main import partners in 2012: Russia 11.3%, Germany 9%, China 9%, US6%, Italy 5.6%).
Turkey has a sizeable automotive industry, which produced over 1.3 million motor vehicles in 2015, ranking as the 14th largest producer in the world. Turkish shipbuilding exports were worth US$1.2 billion in 2011. The major export markets are Malta, Marshall Islands, Panama and the United Kingdom. Turkish shipyards have 15 floating docks of different sizes and one dry dock.Tuzla, Yalova, and İzmit have developed into dynamic shipbuilding centres. In 2011, there were 70 active shipyards in Turkey, with another 56 being built. Turkish shipyards are highly regarded both for the production of chemical and oil tankers up to 10,000 dwt and also for their mega yachts.
Turkish brands like Beko and Vestel are among the largest producers of consumer electronics and home appliances in Europe, and invest a substantial amount of funds for research and development in new technologies related to these fields.
Other key sectors of the Turkish economy are banking, construction, home appliances, electronics, textiles, oil refining, petrochemical products, food, mining, iron and steel, and machine industry. In 2010, the agricultural sector accounted for 9 percent of GDP, while the industrial sector accounted for 26 percent and the services sector for 65 percent. However, agriculture still accounted for a quarter of employment. In 2004, it was estimated that 46 percent of total disposable income was received by the top 20 percent of income earners, while the lowest 20 percent received only 6 percent. The rate of female employment in Turkey was 30 percent in 2012, the lowest among all OECD countries.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) was $8.3 billion in 2012, a figure expected to rise to $15 billion in 2013.In 2012, Fitch Group upgraded Turkey's credit rating to investment gradeafter an 18-year gap; this was followed by a ratings upgrade by Moody's in May 2013, as the service lifted Turkey's government bond ratings to the lowest investment grade Baa3. In September 2016, Moody's cut Turkey's sovereign debt to junk status.In the economic crisis of 2016 it emerged that the huge debts incurred for investment during the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government since 2002 had mostly been consumed in construction, rather than invested in sustainable economic growth. Private bank debts in Turkey were 6.6 billion TL in 2002 and had increased to 385 billion TL by the end of 2015.