Turkey was struck by one of the most powerful earthquakes of the century on Tuesday, August 17, 1999. UMCOR is sending an initial emergency response grant. Read how you can help.
This page, excerpted from material prepared by Reuters, gives demographics, history, and other information about Turkey. The content does not necessarily reflect the views of UMCOR, GBGM, or The United Methodist Church.
Four people died and three were rescued from this collapsed five-story apartment building in the Avcilar district of Istanbul.
© REUTERS 1999. Reuters news picture service photo by Fatih Saribas 17/08/1999. More credit info.
AREA: 780,576 square km, covering Asia Minor and the southeastern toe of Europe. Bordered by Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest, Iran, Georgia and Armenia to the east, Iraq and Syria to the southeast.
POPULATION: 63.8 million (1998), 85.8 million (2025) (Source: The State of World Population 1998, UNFPA)
LANGUAGE: Mainly Turkish. About six million Kurdish speakers and several hundred thousand Arabic speakers.
RELIGION: Ninety-nine percent Moslem, mostly Sunni. Alevi Moslem population of roughly 10 million. Smaller Jewish, Armenian and Greek Orthodox communities.
ETHNIC GROUPS: The Turks are of Turki (western Mongoloid) ancestry. There are also some Caucasians, particularly Circasians and Georgians, Bulgarian Moslems, Greeks, Armenians and speakers of the Kurdish language.
CLIMATE: Low rainfall and very cold winters and warm to hot summers in the interior, milder winters with warm summers in coastal areas, with the Black Sea coast a little colder in winter than on the southern and western coast. Typical Mediterranean climate in the Aegean and Mediterranean coastal areas.
TIME ZONE: GMT +2.
PUBLIC HOLIDAYS: Jan 1, 29*-31*, Apr 6*-9*, 23, May 19, Aug 30, Oct 29. (*Depends on lunar calendar).
ELECTRICITY: 220V AC 50Hz.
TRAVEL RULES: Passport. Visa is not required for a stay of maximum three months. If it appears from the documents that original nationality was Turkish, the passenger is advised to make inquiries about possible consequences after arrival in Turkey. Deportation will follow if not of clean appearance or holding sufficient funds. Transit visa required by all, except passengers continuing their journey to a third country by the same or first connecting flight providing they hold onward documents and do not leave the airport.
DRIVING: National licence or International Driving Permit.
HEALTH RULES: No compulsory vaccinations, but hepatitis A, polio, tetanus and typhoid immunization recommended. Diphtheria, hepatitis B and meningitis immunization recommended in some circumstances; seek further advice.
GDP: Lira 29,055 trillion (1997)
PER CAPITA: $6,000 (1997)
GROWTH: 6.3 percent (1997)
INFLATION: 85.7 percent (1997)
DEFENCE BUDGET: Lira 2,179 trillion (1998)
(Source: The Military Balance, 1998/99, ISIS, 1997/98)
INFANT MORTALITY: 44 per 1,000 live births
MATERNAL MORTALITY RATIO: 180 per 100,000 live births
LIFE EXPECTANCY: 66.5 years male, 71.7 years female.
PERCENTAGE OF ILLITERATE: 8 percent male, 28 percent female above 15 years.
PERCENTAGE ACCESS TO BASIC CARE: NA
PERCENTAGE OF ACCESS TO SAFE WATER: NA
HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX VALUE:0.782 (1998)
(Source: The State of World Population 1998, UNFPA; Human Development Report 1998, UNDP)
The Turkish Republic was declared in 1923 from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. The key figure in establishing the new nation was former army officer Mustafa Kemal, later named Ataturk (Father of Turks), whose memory is still widely revered. Kemal led the nationalist movement to victory over occupying powers which dismembered the empire after its defeat in World War One. Until his death in 1938, Kemal, first president and virtual dictator, oversaw Turkey's transformation into a secular, one-party state aimed at Western-style development.
Turkey was neutral in World War Two until it joined the allies in early 1945. It became a member of NATO in 1952 and is an associate member of the Europan Union (EU). Turkey entered a customs union with the EU in January 1996, but its quest for full membership of the EU is hampered by its poor human rights record, objections by EU member Greece and economic problems. Ankara applied for full EU membership in 1987 but was told to wait.
Development of multi-party democracy since the 1940s has been dogged by political squabbling, corruption and violence, which led to military interventions in 1960, 1971 and 1980.
Turkey strongly backed the U.S.-led coalition against Iraq during the 1990-91 Gulf crisis, when U.S. planes used Turkish bases. Turkey has also provided facilities for Allied air patrol of a "safe haven" in northern Iraq inhabited by Iraqi Kurds.
The Cyprus issue has long dogged Turkish-Greek relations. Turkey invaded the island in 1974 to protect the Turkish-Cypriot minority after a Greek-based coup, and has held the island's northern third ever since, keeping about 30,000 troops there.
Turkey upset Iraq and Syria in 1990 by diverting the Euphrates, which flows through all three, to fill a new dam. It has also been at odds with Iran, Iraq and Syria over their alleged support for the Kurdistan Workers Party rebel group.
On June 15, 1997, Turkey joined Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Nigeria in launching the Developing-Eight economic cooperation group. Turkey is also a member of the Islamic Conference Organization.
On June 19, 1997, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel began consultations with Turkish political leaders to find a new government following the fall of Necemettin Erbakan, edged out of office in an army anti-Islamist campaign.
Prime Minister Erbakan resigned on June 18 after persistent accusations he was trying to slowly dissolve Turkey's official secularist system and create an Islamic state. He asked Demirel to approve a plan under which Tansu Ciller, a conservative and former prime minister, would head a new coalition with the Islamists to take Turkey to early elections by next spring at the latest. But Demirel asked conservative Mesut Yilmaz , a protege of the late president and prime minister Turgut Ozal, to form a new government. It lasted until November 1998 when allegations of corruption triggered a vote of no confidence.
A minority government under Bulent Ecevit was confirmed in office on January 31, charged with steering the country to April elections.
Turkey captured Kurd rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan on February 16 after a three-month chase around Europe and Africa. More than 29,000 people have died in fighting between Turkish troops and Ocalan's forces, mostly in Turkey's Kurdish southeast. Ocalan, also known as Apo, has lived in exile since 1980. On June 29,1999, a Turkish court sentenced Ocalan to death.
CIVIL AVIATION: There are airports for scheduled international and internal flights at Ataturk (Istanbul), Esenboga (Ankara), Adnan Menderes (Izmir and Trabzon), while international charter flights are handled by Adana, Dalaman and Antalya. Fifteen other airports handle internal flights only.
RAILWAYS: Turkey has a 10,386-km railway network, of which 8,452 km are main line, 1,093 km are electrified, and 1,359 km signalled. A new direct rail link between Ankara and Istanbul, cutting the distance from 577 km to 416 km, is expected to be completed by the year 2000. There are direct rail links with Bulgaria, Iran and Syria. A light railway system for Istanbul, expected to total 109 km in length on completion, is under construction. Construction on a 14.6-km initial phase of a planned 76-km metro and light rail transport system in Ankara is nearing completion.
ROADS: Turkey has 1,246 km of motorways and nearly 530 km were under construction in 1996. The highway network totals 61,245 km and of village roads 320,000 km.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS: Turkey has been using the Global System for Mobiles (GSM) since early 1995. The network serves 700,000 subscribers but has the capacity to serve up to 1.5 million customers. The GSM network of Telsim Mobil Telekomunikasyon Hizmetleri A.S., which currently serves 250,000 subscribers, was being expanded in 1997. The authorities also plan a second DCS-1800 digital telephone network that could serve as many as 10 million clients.
(Country Reports on the AlertNet site were compiled by Reuters bureaus around the world and from other named sources).
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