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Country Profiles: Turkey


Flag, map and facts courtesy of CIA World Factbook 2002

Background Turkey was created in 1923 from the Turkish remnants of the Ottoman Empire. Soon thereafter the country instituted secular laws to replace traditional religious fiats. In 1945 Turkey joined the UN and in 1952 it became a member of NATO. Turkey occupied the northern portion of Cyprus in 1974 to prevent a Greek takeover of the island; relations between the two countries remain strained but have begun to improve over the past three years. In 1984, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Marxist-Leninist, separatist group, initiated an insurgency in Southeast Turkey, often using terrorist tactics to try to attain its goal of an independent Kurdistan. The group - whose leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was captured in Kenya in February 1999 and sentenced to death by a Turkish court - has observed a unilateral cease-fire since September 1999, although there have been occasional clashes between Turkish military units and some of the 4,000-5,000 armed PKK militants, most of whom currently are encamped in northern Iraq. The PKK changed its name to the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK) in April 2002.
Location southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia (that portion of Turkey west of the Bosporus is geographically part of Europe), bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Georgia, and bordering the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, between Greece and Syria

Map of Turkey
Area total: 780,580 sq km
water: 9,820 sq km
land: 770,760 sq km
Area - comparative slightly larger than Texas
Climate temperate; hot, dry summers with mild, wet winters; harsher in interior
Terrain mostly mountains; narrow coastal plain; high central plateau (Anatolia)
Elevation extremes lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Ararat 5,166 m
Natural resources antimony, coal, chromium, mercury, copper, borate, sulfur, iron ore, arable land, hydropower
Land use arable land: 35%
permanent crops: 3%
other: 62% (1998 est.)
Natural hazards very severe earthquakes, especially in northern Turkey, along an arc extending from the Sea of Marmara to Lake Van
Environment - current issues water pollution from dumping of chemicals and detergents; air pollution, particularly in urban areas; deforestation; concern for oil spills from increasing Bosporus ship traffic
Geography - note strategic location controlling the Turkish Straits (Bosporus, Sea of Marmara, Dardanelles) that link Black and Aegean Seas; Mount Ararat, the legendary landing place of Noah's Ark, is in the far eastern portion of the country
Population 67,308,928 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure 0-14 years: 27.8% (male 9,520,030; female 9,178,423)
15-64 years: 65.9% (male 22,552,253; female 21,827,002)
65 years and over: 6.3% (male 1,946,523; female 2,284,697) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate 1.2% (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate 45.77 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth total population: 71.52 years
female: 74.01 years (2002 est.)
male: 69.15 years
Ethnic groups Turkish 80%, Kurdish 20%
Religions Muslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), other 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews)
Languages Turkish (official), Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian, Greek
Literacy definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85%
male: 94%
female: 77% (2000)
Government type republican parliamentary democracy
Capital Ankara
Independence 29 October 1923 (successor state to the Ottoman Empire)
Legal system derived from various European continental legal systems; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Suffrage 18 years of age; universal
Flag description

red with a vertical white crescent (the closed portion is toward the hoist side) and white five-pointed star centered just outside the crescent opening

Flag of Turkey

Economy - overview 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 exporter - 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 most years, but this strong expansion was 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 $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. Prospects for 2002 are much better, because of strong financial support from the IMF, tighter fiscal policy, a major bank restructuring program, and the enactment of numerous other economic reforms.
GDP - per capita purchasing power parity - $6,700 (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line NA%
Labor force 23.8 million (2001 3rd quarter)
note: about 1.2 million Turks work abroad (1999)
Unemployment rate 10.6% (plus underemployment of 6.1%) (2001 4th quarter)
Industries textiles, food processing, autos, mining (coal, chromite, copper, boron), steel, petroleum, construction, lumber, paper
Agriculture - products tobacco, cotton, grain, olives, sugar beets, pulse, citrus; livestock
Exports - commodities apparel 24.8%, foodstuffs 12.8%, textiles 12.7%, metal manufactures 8.8%, transport equipment 8.5% (2000)
Imports - commodities machinery 25.4%, chemicals 13.4%, semi-finished goods 13.7%, fuels 14.0%, transport equipment 12.4% (2000)

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