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About Turkey

General

Straddling eastern Europe and western Asia, Turkey has cultural connections with ancient Greek, Persian, Roman and Ottoman empires. Turkey is bordered by eight countries with Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest, Georgia to the northeast, Armenia, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan and Iran to the east and Iraq and Syria to the south. On three sides, Turkey is encircled by seas with the Aegean Sea to the west, the Black Sea to the north, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.

The capital city of Turkey is Ankara while Istanbul is the country’s largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Turkey is the world’s 37 th largest country in terms of area and approximately 70-80% of the country’s citizens identify themselves as ethnic Turks. Kurds are the largest minority at about 20% of the population. Other ethnic minorities include Circassia’s, Albanians, Arabs, Bosnians and Laz.

Turkey has a 79.51 million population (2016 – World Bank) and its currency is the Turkish Lira. From the end of the 13th century the Ottomans started uniting Turkish principalities in Anatolia and then went on to create an empire that encompassed much of Southeast Europe, West Asia and north Africa. The Ottoman Empire reached its peak territorial mass and became a world power during the rule of Suleiman the Magnificent in the early modern period and remained powerful and influential for two more centuries. Important setbacks in the 18th and 19th century forced it to cede strategic territories in Europe, which in turn signalled the loss of its former military strength and wealth. The Turkish War of Independence, initiated by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his colleagues against occupying Allies, resulted in the abolition of the monarchy in 1922 and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, with Atatürk as its first president. Atatürk made numerous reforms, many of which incorporated various aspects of western thought, philosophy, and customs into the new form of Turkish government. Turkish women gained the right to vote a decade or more before women in Western European countries like France, Italy, and Belgium, a mark of Atatürk’s far reaching social changes.

Turkey is a charter member of the United Nations, an early member of NATO, the IMF and the World Bank. It is also a founding member of the OECD, OSCE, BSEC, OIC and G-20. After becoming one of the first members of the Council of Europe in 1949, Turkey became an associate member of the EEC in 1963, joined the EU Customs Union in 1995 and started accession negotiations with the European Union in 2005. These have been effectively stopped by the EU in 2017 due to; Turkey’s path toward autocratic rule;.
Turkey’s economy and diplomatic initiatives led to its recognition as a regional power while its location has given it geopolitical and strategic importance throughout history. Every fit male Turkish citizen otherwise not barred is required to serve in the military for a period ranging from
three weeks to a year, dependent on education and job location. Turkey does not recognise conscientious objection and does not offer a civilian alternative to military service. Turkey has the second largest standing military force in NATO, after the US armed Forces, with an estimated strength of 495,000 deployable forces, according to a 2011 NATO estimate.

Climate

The coastal areas of Turkey bordering the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas have a temperate Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild to cool, wet winters. The coastal areas bordering the Black Sea have a temperate oceanic climate with warm, wet summers and cool to cold, wet winters. The Turkish Black Sea coast receives 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 2,200 millimetres (87 in) annually which is the highest precipitation in the country. The coastal areas bordering the Sea of Marmara, which connects the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea, have a transitional climate between a temperate Mediterranean climate and a temperate oceanic climate with warm to hot, moderately dry summers and cool to cold, wet winters. Snow falls on the coastal areas of the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea almost every winter, but usually melts in no more than a few days.

However, snow is rare in the coastal areas of the Aegean Sea and very rare in the coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea. Mountains close to the coast prevent Mediterranean influences from extending inland, giving the central Anatolian plateau of the interior of Turkey a continental climate with sharply contrasting seasons. Winters on the eastern part of the plateau are especially
severe. Temperatures of −30 to −40 °C (−22 to −40 °F) can occur in eastern Anatolia. Snow may remain at least 120 days of the year. In the west, winter temperatures average below 1 °C (34 °F). Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures often above 30 °C (86 °F) in the day. Annual precipitation averages about 400 millimetres (16 inches), with actual amounts determined by elevation. The driest regions are the Konya plain and the Malatya plain, where annual rainfall is often less than 300 millimetres (12 inches). May is  generally the wettest month, whereas July and August are the driest.

Economy

Turkey has the world’s 13 th largest GDP by PPP and 17 th 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%, UEA 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%, US 6%, Italy 5.6%). Turkey has a sizeable automotive industry, which produced over 1.3 million motor vehicles in 2015, ranking as the 14 th 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 grade to after an 18-year gap; this was followed by a rating 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.

In the early decades of the Turkish Republic, the government (or banks established and owned by the government, such as Turkiye Is Bankasi (1924), Sanayi ve Maadin Bankası (1925), Emlak ve Eytam Bankası (1926), Central Bank of Turkey (1930), Sumerbank (1933), Iller Bankasi (1933), Etibank (1935), Denizbank (1937), Halk Bankasi (1938), etc.) had to subsidise most of the industrial projects, due to the lack of a strong private sector. However, in the period between the 1920s and 1950s, a new generation of Turkish entrepreneurs such as Nuri Demirag, Vehbi Koc, Haci Omer Sabanci and Nejat Eczacibasi began to establish privately owned factories, some of which evolved into the largest industrial conglomerates that dominate the Turkish economy today, such as Koc Holding, Sabanci Holding and Eczacibasi Holding. During the first six decades of the republic, between 1923 and 1983, Turkey generally adhered to a quasi- statist approach with strict government planning of the budget and government-imposed limitations over foreign trade, flow of foreign currency, foreign direct investment and private sector participation in certain fields (such as broadcasting, telecommunications, energy, mining, etc.).

However, in 1983, Prime Minister Turgut Ozal initiated a series of reforms designed to shift the economy from a statist, insulated system to a more private-sector, market -based model. The reforms, combined with unprecedented amounts of funding from foreign loans, spurred rapid economic growth; but this growth was punctuated by sharp recessions and financial crises in 1994, 1999 (following the earthquake of that year), and 2001; resulting in an average of 4 percent GDP growth per annum between 1981 and 2003. Lack of additional fiscal reforms, combined with large and  growing public sector deficits and widespread corruption, resulted in high inflation, a weak banking sector and increased macroeconomic volatility. Since the economic crisis of 2001 and the reforms initiated by the finance minister of the time, Kemal Dervis, inflation has dropped to single-digit figures for the first time in decades (8% in 2005), investor confidence and foreign investment have soared, and unemployment has fallen (10% in 2005). Turkey has gradually opened up its markets through economic reforms by reducing government controls on foreign trade and investment and the privatisation of publicly owned industries, and the liberalisation of many sectors to private and foreign participation has continued amid political debate. The public dept-to- GDP ratio peaked at 75.9 percent during the recession of 2001, falling to an estimated 26.9 percent by 2013.

The real GDP growth rate from 2002 to 2007 averaged 6.8 percent annually, which made Turkey one of the fastest growing economies in the world during that period. However, growth slowed to 1 percent in 2008, and in 2009 the Turkish economy was affected by the global financial crisis, with a recession of 5 percent. The economy was estimated to have returned to 8 percent growth in 2010. According to Eurostat data, Turkish GDP per capita adjusted by purchasing power standard stood at 52 percent of the EU average in 2011.
In the early years of the 21st century, the chronically high inflation was brought under control; this led to the launch of a new currency, the Turkish New Lira (Yeni Türk Lirası) in 2005, to cement the acquisition of the economic reforms and erase the vestiges of an unstable economy. In 2009, after only four years in circulation, the Turkish new lira was renamed back to the Turkish Lira with the introduction of new banknotes and coins (and the withdrawal of the Turkish new lira banknotes and coins that were introduced in 2005), but the ISO 4217 code of the Turkish new lira (TRY) remains in use for the current Turkish lira in the foreign exchange market.

Tourism

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. At its height in 2014, Turkey attracted around 42 million foreign tourists, ranking as the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world. This number however declined to around 36 million in 2015, deteriorated to around 25 million in 2016 and still further in 2017, due to regional uncertainties’, political tension with Russia, terrorist attacks and the unfavourable Erdogan regime image abroad.

This has now improved and in 2018 it is expected to return to a level around the same as around that before 2015. 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 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the “Historic Area of Istanbul, the “Rock Sites of Cappadocia”, the “Neolithic Site of Catalhoyuk”, “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 Gobekli 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 Gallery

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