Turkey – East Meets West

The Republic of Turkey (Land of the Turks) has a population of approx 80 million and is located in Eurasia, partly both in Europe and Asia. Its capital is Ankara and the main languages spoken are Turkish (majority), Arabic, Kabardian, Kurmanj and various other dialects. The population is mainly Muslim (80-95%), Christian (2%) and others (2%).

Turkey has a Mediterranean climate, with hot dry summers and cool wet winters. Tourism industry is very vibrant and between 20-40 million foreign tourists visit annually, and is one of the most popular destinations in the world.

Turkey is a fast growing economic country, with a strategic central location, and is a strong political and military force with worldwide influence growing. Istanbul, is its largest cosmopolitan city and largest one in Europe too with a population of 14 million.


Turkey has the worlds 17th largest nominal GDP, with a strong export/import industry trading with Germany, Iran, UAE, UK, Russia, China, USA, Italy. It has a strong automobile industry (14th largest global producer), shipbuilding, banking, construction, electronics, oil refining, petrochemical, food, iron-steel, mining and so on. Its industry is largely services based (65%), industrial (26%) and agriculture (9%). It currency is the Turkish Lira.

The country has a strong scientific and space technology research and development, and academic foundation, with notable recent successes being Professor Aziz Sancar winning the Nobel Chemistry prize in 2015, Physician Hulusi Behcet and Mathematician Cahit Arf.

Turkey has 81 provinces and 923 districts for administrative purposes. It has applied to become a member of the EU but has largely been blocked – unofficially due to the fact that the current EU countries have a Christian heritage whilst Turkey is largely Muslim, and they do not find a common ground on some important issues especially the long standing difference between Greece and Turkey.

Prior to the unification of Turkish principalities by the Ottomans in the thirteenth century, it was inhabited by various civilisations such as the Anatolians, Greeks, Thracians, Assyrians, Romans/Byzantines and Seljuks.

The Ottoman empire was a renowned powerful and influential world power, which began with the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent and encompassed much of Southeast Europe, West Asia and North Africa, until its eventual collapse in the early twentieth century by various European colonialist countries, and which gave rise to the modern secular state of Turkey under Kemal Ataturk.


The Seljuk Turks introduced Islam and the Turkish language into Anatolia from around the 11th century, and later the popular sufi Poet, Rumi played an enormous role in spreading the message of Islam throughout the communities during the 13th century, which later evolved and became the precursor for the Ottoman empire.

Turkey is a member of numerous international bodies such as the OIC, NATO, IMF, World Bank, UN, OECD, G-20.

The country is composed of approx 75% indigeneous Turks, 20% Kurds and various small minorities such as the Albanians, Arabs, Bosniaks, Laz and Circasians.

Turkey has neighbouring borders with Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Syria, whilst it is encircled by seas on three sides (Aegean, Mediterranean and Black).

The current President of Turkey’s electoral parliamentary system is Recep Tayyip Erdagon and is a widely known figure around the world. He has been engaged in bringing Turkish society back towards the centre ground from an extremely secular position which occurred as a reaction to the collapse of the Ottoman empire in the 1920s. Turkey has been recently going through slow systematic reforms within its society and governance to reform its extreme secular positions towards a more central orthodox position which would make it more plural, accurately representative of its wider community, indigeneous population and its cultural heritage. The reforms have been widely accepted from within mainstream Turkish society.

Turkey’s judicial system is a hybrid incorporating modifications from various European nations (Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy). State powers are seperated between Parliament, Prime Minister and the President.

Turkey has a diverse natural environment, including a variety of plants, fauna, flora, wildlife, forests, birds, flowers, with over 189 nature parks, 31 nature preserve areas, 80 wildlife protection areas, 109 nature monuments and 40 national parks.

Turkey has a vast modern infrastructure network of rail, roads, motorways, schools, hospitals, energy, internet, water and bridges. There are over 190 universities and the average literacy rate is approx 95%.

Turkey has a diverse, rich cultural heritage of sports, cuisine, crafts and arts, encompassing painting, music, architecture, pottery, poetry, paper marbling, carpet weaving, theatre, literature, food cuisine, football, volleyball, basketball, cinema and media.

Turkey is passing through an interesting transition phase, where it is attempting to re-balance the old and the new, the traditions and modernity. It is better to find a consentual medium between its cultural and religious traditions, and modern contemporary norms, rather than just drifting from one extreme to another extreme in different decades. The country has a lot of natural beauty and resources for the people to benefit from.

Turkey should be on your list of places to visit – at least once anyway.


Dr Ghulam S Ashraf – Content Writer for www.mullk.com

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