Your Turkish encyclopedia - What's fact, what's urban legend and what's just wrong!

Stretching between two continents, ninety-five percent of the area of Turkey lies in Asia and five percent lies in Europe. Surrounded by the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, having Iran, Armenia and Georgia in the East, Iraq and Syria in the South and Greece and Bulgaria in the West as neighbors, this land had served as a bridge throughout all the history between East and West. The Bosporus and the Dardanelles straits that connect the Black Sea to the Aegean and the Mediterranean seas, and the Sea of Marmara being within the borders of Turkey all make the country a sea route bridge between North and South. According to the last census conducted in 2011, the country has a population of 72 million with its capital in Ankara and its largest city being Istanbul which used to be the capital of the empires in the past and now has a population of 13 million.

While one quarter of population live in cities and towns, 25% of the population is between 0-14 years old according to 2012 data and Turkey is one of the countries with the youngest population in Europe. According to Turkey’s founding document, the Treaty of Lausanne, there are three officially recognized ethnic minorities: Armenians, Greeks and Jews. All other people are considered Turks according to the constitution. Kurds, who are the largest ethnic minority, are not recognized as a minority, and they live mostly in the Southeastern provinces and Istanbul. The status of Kurds in the country has been the most sensitive issue for many years and still is today in the political arena. There is no official data for religious minorities in the country and according to official records, 99.8% of the population is Muslim. Some studies conducted indicate that there are about 10 to 15 million Alawites of the total population.

Turkey is the 17th largest economy in the world with its 1,426 trillion US Dollars nominal GDP in 2013, and having a GDP per capita of 10.518 USD since the end of 2014. Being one of the founding members of OECD, Turkey is a member of the G-20 since 1999 and a member of EU Customs Union since 1995. Shown as one of the “emerging markets” of the global economy, the distribution of GDP by sectors since the end of 2013 is 8,9% in agriculture, 27.3% in industry and 63.8% in services. Turkey primarily dominates in textile, food, automotive, mining, steel and petrochemical industries; tobacco, cotton, farming, olives and livestock in agriculture and transportation, telecommunications, tourism and finance in the service sector. While Turkey’s largest export markets are Germany, Iraq, Britain, Italy and France in 2014, Russia, China, Germany, USA and Italy make up those who Turkey heavily imports from.

Facts About Turkey

Governed by a representative parliamentary democracy, Turkey has 81 provinces and those provinces are divided into a total of 919 districts. A President acts as the head of the state and is elected by popular vote and has limited power. The head of the executive board are Prime Minister and the Cabinet with  the Prime Minister being appointed by the President, and approved by the Executive Board. The Parliament, which is the House of Legislature, is the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) with 550-seats. The head of the legislature is the Constitutional Court. The current electoral system is a system with a 10% electoral threshold, 85 electoral zones and party-listed proportional representation. Universal suffrage was recognized as a constitutional right in 1933, and the transition to a multi-party political system took place after WWII.