Discover Turkey


Anatolia is the Asiatic portion of contemporary Turkey, extending from the Bosporus and Aegean coast eastward to the borders of the Soviet Union, Iran, and Iraq. The Greeks and Romans called western Anatolia "Asia." Later the name "Asia Minor," or "Little Asia," was used to distinguish Anatolia from the land mass of the greater Asian continent.

Already in late prehistoric times, occupation by cave dwellers in various subregions set the stage for Anatolia's emergence as a center of the agricultural revolution identified with the NEOLITHIC PERIOD. Villages and towns of this era appear at Siirt, Diyarbaker, and Urfa (southeastern Anatolia); Tarsus and Mersin in the Cicilian Plain; the Amuq Plain; at CATAL HUYUK (southeast of Konya); Hacilar (southwestern Anatolia); and Suberde (southwest of Konya). The 13-ha (32-acre) site at Catal Huyuk (c. 7000-5600 BC) has produced outstanding artifacts revealing it as a metalworking, specialized-craft, and religious center. Individual city-states abound during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze ages (3d to early 2d millennium BC). Between 1940 and 1780 BC, Assyrian merchants from Mesopotamia peacefully established a score of trading colonies in central and eastern Anatolian cities, thereby drawing the region into wider politico-economic focus.

The Hittites

Enduring political unification of Anatolia was achieved by the HITTITES, an Indo-European confederation that subdued the kingdoms of the central plateau about 1750 BC. They established the Old Hittite Kingdom, eventually ruling from BOGAZKOY (Hattusa). The confederation, whose chief members were Luwians, Palaites, and Neshites, entered Anatolia from Europe well before 2000 BC. For the first century and a half, the Old Hittite Kingdom was internally strong and militarily secure. Under Hattusilis I (fl. c. 1560 BC) the Hittite kingdom began to expand into northwest Syria. His adopted son, Mursilis I (fl. c. 1620 BC), raided down the Euphrates Valley and defeated Babylon (c. 1600 BC). Thereafter the kingdom struggled under a series of internal coups and royal assassinations until stability was reestablished by Telepinus I (c. 1525 BC). About 70 years later came the second major phase of Hittite political and military power.

The Hittite Empire period was inaugurated by Tudhaliyas II (fl. c. 1460 BC), but its chief architect was Suppiluliumas I (r. c. 1380-1346 BC), who reconquered much of central Anatolia and dominated Syria and the state of Mitanni in eastern Anatolia. Hittite successes made them a major player in the international intrigues of the day and brought them into deadly rivalry with the Egyptian empire to the south for control of Syria and Palestine. A major battle between the Hittites under Muwattalis (r. c. 1315-1296 BC) and the Egyptian king Rameses II was fought at Kadesh on the Orontes River c. 1300 BC, victory going to the Hittites. A peace treaty between the two powers was concluded between RAMESES II and Hattusilis III (r. c. 1289-1265). Thereafter, serious disruptions occurred in Anatolia, and the Hittite vassals and allies in the west attempted to gain independence. Finally, invasions of SEA PEOPLES from the Aegean and attacks by mountainous Gashga peoples destroyed Hittite power in Anatolia (c. 1200 BC).

Political Fragmentation

After the Hittite state's collapse, Anatolia had no political centrality or cohesion for nearly half a millennium. Archaeological evidence suggests the reestablishment of small principalities in the area. Textual evidence is sparse. Assyrian records recount an invasion (c. 1160) of Assyria's western borders by a large force of "Mushki," perhaps ancestors of the later Phrygians. In reaction, Assyrian armies sought first to move into southeastern Anatolia, and thereafter beyond the Euphrates, where they encountered the Neo-Hittite (Syro-Hittite) kingdoms, some 16 of which occupied the region between the Taurus Mountains and the Euphrates. Monuments from these states reveal a dialect written in "Hittite hieroglyphics," which suggests a clear cultural and population connection with Hittite Anatolia. Incursions of Aramaen nomads into Syria, and inevitable Assyrian reaction to these, spelled the demise of the Syro-Hittite kingdoms as independent states by the 8th century BC.

In mountainous eastern Anatolia the state of URARTU, in its turn, was defeated by the Syrians in 743 BC. In western Anatolia, Phrygians had arrived from southeastern Europe perhaps earlier than the Trojan War (c. 1190 BC). By the 8th century BC they had created a state (PHRYGIA) with its capital at GORDION, southwest of modern Ankara. On Anatolia's western coast, Lycians, Carians, and Mysians, probably descendants of peoples known to the classical Hittites, inhabited defined areas. By the 6th century BC, LYDIA had emerged as the region's dominant state. The fall of Assyria in 612 BC, and of Babylon in 539 BC, left the field open to the Persians who, after Cyrus the Great's victory over CROESUS of Lydia in 546 BC, incorporated Anatolia into their empire.

After the Persians crushed rebellious Ionian (Greek) cities in western Anatolia (494 BC), they launched two unsuccessful invasions of Greece. During the 5th and 4th centuries BC, Persia meddled in Greek affairs from its bases in Anatolia. The rise of PHILIP II of Macedonia and his son, ALEXANDER THE GREAT, (mid-4th century BC), initiated a victorious Pan-Hellenic crusade that destroyed the Persian Empire. After Alexander's death a number of independent states emerged in Anatolia--among them BITHYNIA, CAPPADOCIA, PERGAMUM, and PONTUS--all of which were eventually absorbed by the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC. Out of Pergamum, the Romans formed the province of Asia, which included LYCIA, Caria, Mysia, and Phrygia. For the later history of the area, see BYZANTINE EMPIRE, SELJUKS, OTTOMAN EMPIRE, and TURKEY.


The Byzantine Empire is the name given to the continuation of the Roman Empire, which--converted to Christianity and using Greek as its principal language--flourished in the eastern Mediterranean area for more than 1,000 years until its fall in 1453. The name Byzantine is derived from BYZANTIUM, the city which CONSTANTINE I made his new capital and renamed Constantinople (now ISTANBUL, Turkey). The three major periods of Byzantine history--Early, Middle, and Late--are characterized by drastic changes in internal organization.


The Early Byzantine period (324-610) was highlighted by Constantine's conversion to Christianity and the foundation of Constantinople, Theodosius I's final division of the empire into eastern and western parts, and Justinian I's successful efforts to reconquer the West. The major foreign conflicts of the period were with the Persians under the SASSANIANS in the east and the Germans in the west. Constantine and his successors successfully withstood Persian attack, but the defeat and death (363) of JULIAN THE APOSTATE caused the loss of large parts of Armenia to the Persians. Conflict was renewed under JUSTINIAN I (527-65) and his successors; the Byzantines repeatedly had to buy peace, and the year 610 saw the Persians threatening to occupy the eastern provinces. German pressure (c.375) on the Rhine and Danube increased as the Huns drove the Germans westward. Early in the 5th century, the Germans occupied most of the western half of the empire; they took Italy in 476. Justinian regained North Africa and Italy, but his successors yielded northern and central Italy to the LOMBARDS.

Internally, the reforms of Constantine, who built on the major administrative changes of his predecessor DIOCLETIAN, brought an end to the previous anarchy. The person of the emperor was elevated to a semi-divine position and surrounded by Eastern-style ceremonial, to insulate him from military coups. At all levels, civil and military authorities were sharply divided, to hinder potential rebels. An elaborate and huge bureaucracy developed. Although exceptions occurred, subjects were bound to fixed social-economic positions; peasants could not leave the land, nor craftsmen their jobs. A sound currency and a money economy were restored.

Constantine's conversion to Christianity made it the most favored religion in the state; after 380 it was the sole official religion. The state, however, became deeply involved in religious disputes. Constantine was forced to confront the heresy of ARIANISM, and only THEODOSIUS I (r.379-95) was able to subdue the Arians. During the 5th and 6th centuries, NESTORIANISM and MONOPHYSITISM disturbed religious peace. The Nestorians were expelled, but efforts to suppress or reconcile the Monophysites failed.


The Middle Byzantine period (610-1081) began with the triumph of HERACLIUS over the Persians and his subsequent defeat by the Arabs. After 634, Muslim ARABS seized Palestine, Syria, and Egypt (provinces largely inhabited by Monophysites) and raided deep into Anatolia. LEO III (r. 717-41) beat them back from the gates of Constantinople, and BASIL I (r. 867-86) started a campaign of reconquest that achieved considerable success in the 10th century. Slavs and Bulgarians meantime took possession of the Balkan peninsula. BASIL II (r. 976-1025) proved himself the greatest of Byzantine conquerors in defeating Arabs and Bulgarians.

The loss of the Monophysite provinces to the Arabs ended that religious problem, but Leo III commenced a dispute about ICONOCLASM when he attacked the veneration of images (726). Many monks were among those who suffered death or other penalties at the hands of Leo's son, Constantine V (r. 741-75), when iconoclasm reached its height. The images were briefly restored under Irene (787) and finally under Michael III in 843. The iconoclast rulers exacerbated relations with the papacy. Disputes over theological formulas, religious usages, and territorial jurisdiction led to a schism (867-870) under Patriarch PHOTIUS. Increasing disagreements with the papacy culminated in the Great SCHISM between the ORTHODOX CHURCH and Roman Catholicism in 1054.

Michael III's successor, Basil, inaugurated the Macedonian period (867-1056). Laws were codified by Basil I and LEO VI, new styles of church architecture developed, and a literary renaissance occurred.

The Arab and Bulgar invasions caused a perpetual state of military emergency. In response, civil and military authority was unified in the theme system. Each army unit, or theme, was settled on a specific region (also called a theme), which was governed by its commander. Soldiers received allotments of land, and their sons apparently became free peasants. Because these free peasants, as taxpayers and soldiers, were fundamental to the survival of the state, the 10th-century emperors strove to defend them from the great landlords.

In the 11th century, this effort to save the peasants failed, and the throne became the prize in a struggle between the bureaucrats and the generals (who were great landowners). Distracted by this struggle, the emperors were unable to resist the SELJUKS, who conquered Anatolia between 1048 and 1081.


The triumph of the soldier-emperor ALEXIUS I COMNENUS in 1081 inaugurated the Late Byzantine period. Alexius and his immediate successors beat the Seljuk Turks back from the coasts of Anatolia, but were unable to cope with aggressive western Europeans. In 1204 the Fourth CRUSADE seized and brutally sacked the capital and established the Latin Empire of Constantinople, while refugee Byzantines created an empire at Nicaea, the despotate of Epirus and the Empire of Trebizond (Trabzon). In 1261 the ruler of Nicaea, MICHAEL VIII PALAEOLOGUS, regained Constantinople. The refounded Byzantine Empire had to face threats from Westerners and from Turks. Gradually reduced in area, it finally succumbed in 1453 to the Ottoman Turks, who made Constantinople the capital of the OTTOMAN EMPIRE. In this final period, the landed aristocracy dominated all provincial and central administrative positions of the Byzantine Empire. The peasantry was reduced to a servile status. The army consisted of mercenaries and a "feudal" levy based on government properties awarded to great landlords in return for military service. Venetian, Pisan, and Genoese merchants controlled Byzantine commerce. The emperors of the Palaeologan dynasty repeatedly tried to reunify the Orthodox and Catholic churches in return for Western aid against the Turks, but this effort proved futile.

The Byzantine Empire is notable for its ability to revive in times of disaster (as is shown in the cases of Heraclius, Leo III, Basil I, Alexius I, and Michael VIII), for its vigorous Greek culture, and for its outstanding Christian art and architecture. C. M. Brand

SELJUKS {sel'-juhks}

The Seljuks were a group of nomadic Turkish warrior leaders from Central Asia who established themselves in the Middle East during the 11th century as guardians of the declining ABBASID caliphate, and after 1055 founded the Great Seljuk sultanate, an empire centered in Baghdad and including Iran, Iraq, and Syria. They helped to prevent the FATIMIDS of Egypt from making Shiite Islam dominant throughout the Middle East and, in the 12th century, blocked inland expansion by the Crusader states on the Syrian coast. Their defeat of the Byzantines at the Battle of MANZIKERT (1071) opened the way for the Turkish occupation of Anatolia.

Seljuk power was at its zenith during the reigns of sultans ALP-ARSLAN (1063-72) and MALIK SHAH (1072-92), who with their vizier NIZAM AL-MULK, revived Sunnite Islamic administrative and religious institutions. They developed armies of slaves (MAMELUKES) to replace the nomad warriors, as well as an elaborate bureaucratic hierarchy that provided the foundation for governmental administration in the Middle East until modern times. The Seljuks revived and reinvigorated the classical Islamic educational system, developing universities (madrasahs) to train bureaucrats and religious officials.

After Malik Shah's death, a decline in the quality of dynastic leadership and division of their rule among military commanders and provincial regents (atabegs) weakened the power of the Great Seljuks. The last of the line died in battle against the KHWARIZM-SHAHS in 1194.

A branch of the Seljuks established their own state in Anatolia (the sultanate of Konya or Rum, survived until it was conquered by the Mongols in 1243.


The Ottoman Empire was a Muslim Turkish state that encompassed Anatolia, southeastern Europe, and the Arab Middle East and North Africa from the 14th to the early 20th century. It succeeded both the BYZANTINE EMPIRE, whose capital, Constantinople (modern ISTANBUL), it made its own in 1453, and the Arab CALIPHATE, whose mantle of descent from Muhammad it claimed after conquest of Egypt in 1517. The Ottoman Empire was finally broken up at the end of World War I, when its heartland of Anatolia became the Republic of TURKEY.


The Ottoman Turks were descendants of Turkoman nomads who entered Anatolia in the 11th century as mercenary soldiers of the SELJUKS. At the end of the 13th century, OSMAN I (from whom the name Ottoman is derived) asserted the independence of his small principality in north-western Anatolia, which adjoined the decadent Byzantine Empire. Within a century his dynasty had extended its domains into an empire stretching from the Danube to the Euphrates. In Bosnia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia the conquered Christian princes were restored to their lands as vassals, while the subjects were left free to follow their own religions in return for payment of a special head tax.

The empire was temporarily disrupted by the invasion of the Tatar conqueror TIMUR, who defeated and captured the Ottoman sultan BAYEZID I at the Battle of Ankara (1402). However, Mehmed I (1389?-1421), the Restorer, succeeded in reuniting much of the empire, and it was reconstituted by MURAD II and MEHMED II. In 1453, Mehmed II conquered Constantinople, the last Byzantine stronghold. Both sultans developed the devshirme system of recruiting young Christians for conversion to Islam and service in the Ottoman army and administration; the Christians in the army were organized into the elite infantry corps called the JANISSARIES.

The empire reached its peak in the 16th century. Sultan SELIM I (r. 1512-20) conquered Egypt and Syria, gained control of the Arabian Peninsula, and beat back the Safavid rulers of Iran at the Battle of Caldiran (1514). He was succeeded by SULEIMAN I (the Magnificent, r. 1520-66), who took Iraq, Hungary, and Albania and established Ottoman naval supremacy in the Mediterranean. Suleiman codified and institutionalized the classic structure of the Ottoman state and society, making his dominions into one of the great powers of Europe.


Under the structure formalized in the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire was dominated by a small ruling class that achieved its power and wealth as a result of the status of its members as slaves (kapikullari) of the sultan. This elite group included both the older Turko-Islamic aristocracy--descendants of the Turkoman principalities of Anatolia, the Seljuks, and members of the Muslim bureaucracy and army of the caliphate--and the newer devshirme class of Christian converts and their descendants. The sultans played these two groups off against each other to enforce standards of honesty and obedience. To ensure that the sultan was the sole focus of loyalty, Mehmed II began the practice of executing all brothers of the reigning sultan so that the succession would fall, without question, to one of his sons.

The functions of the ruling class were limited to exploiting the resources of the empire, largely for its own benefit; expanding and defending the state and maintaining order; and preserving the faith and practice of Islam as well as the religions of all the subjects of the sultan. For these purposes the class was organized into four administrative institutions: that of the palace, which was in charge of housing, supporting, and maintaining the sultan and making sure that the system worked; and those of administration and finance, the military, and culture and religion. The vast subject class was left to carry out all other functions of state through autonomous religious communities called millets--for the Jews, the Armenian Christians, the Greek Orthodox Christians, and the Muslims--and through artisans' guilds and popular mystic orders and confederations, which together formed a substratum of popular society.


The decline of the empire began late in the 16th century. It was caused by a myriad of interdependent factors, among which the most important were the triumph of the devshirme class, the flight of the Turko-Islamic aristocracy, and degeneration in the ability and honesty both of the sultans and of their ruling class. The devshirme divided into many political parties that fought for power, manipulated sultans, and used the government for their own benefit. Corruption, nepotism, inefficiency, and misrule spread. The empire, however, survived for 3 centuries longer because Europe was unaware of the extent of its weakness, and the mass of Ottoman subjects were protected from the worst results of the decay by their millets and guilds. Starting in the 17th century, moreover, a few members of the ruling class temporarily remedied the abuses by forcefully restoring Ottoman institutions and practices to the pattern in which they had operated successfully in previous centuries. In the process they ruthlessly executed the incompetent and the corrupt and confiscated their properties. Chief among these traditionalist reformers were Sultan Murad IV (r. 1623-40) and the KOPRULU family of grand viziers (chief executive officers), who dominated the administration from 1656 to 1702.

The empire experienced its first major defeat by Europeans in the Battle of LEPANTO (1571), when its fleet was destroyed by a Christian coalition. Nonetheless it recovered dominance of the eastern Mediterranean, capturing Crete from the Venetians in 1669. In the east, moreover, Murad IV reconquered (1638) part of Persia, which had asserted its independence under Shah ABBAS I. This apparent military revival encouraged Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha to attempt an invasion of central Europe. Following its failure to take Vienna (1683), however, the Ottoman army collapsed. Major territories were lost to its European enemies in the ensuing war, which culminated in the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699). During the 18th century, a series of wars with Russia (see RUSSO-TURKISH WARS) and Austria accelerated the decline and loss of territory. At the same time large sections of the provinces remaining under Ottoman control fell under the sway of provincial notables, whose connection with the sultans was nominal.


Sultan SELIM III (r. 1789-1807) attempted to reform the Ottoman system by destroying the Janissary corps and replacing it with the nizam-i jedid (new order) army modeled after the new military institutions being developed in the West. This attempt so angered the Janissaries and others with a vested interest in the old ways that they overthrew him and massacred most of the reform leaders. Defeats at the hands of Russia and Austria, the success of national revolutions in Serbia and Greece, and the rise of the powerful independent Ottoman governor of Egypt, MUHAMMAD ALI, so discredited the Janissaries, however, that Sultan MAHMUD II was able to massacre and destroy them in 1826.

Mahmud then inaugurated a new series of modernistic reforms, which involved the destruction of the traditional institutions and their replacement with new ones imported from the West--and in all areas of Ottoman life, not just the military. These reforms were continued and brought to their culmination during the Tanzimat reform era (1839-76) and the reign (1876-1909) of ABD AL-HAMID II. The scope of government was extended and centralized as reforms were made in administration, finance, education, justice, the economy, communications, and the army; even the millets were forced to democratize and accept lay participation in their governance.

Financial mismanagement and incompetence, along with national revolts in the Balkans and eastern Anatolia, the French occupation of Algeria and Tunisia, and the takeover by the British in Egypt and the Italians in Libya, threatened to end the very existence of the empire, let alone its reforms. By this time the Ottoman sultanate was known as the "Sick Man of Europe," and European diplomacy focused on the so-called EASTERN QUESTION--how to dispose of the Sick Man's territories without upsetting the European balance of power. Abd al-Hamid II, however, rescued the empire, at least temporarily, by reforming the Ottoman financial system, manipulating the rivalries of the European powers, and developing the pan-Islamic and pan-Turkic movements to undermine the empires of his enemies. The sultan granted a constitution and parliament in 1876, but he soon abandoned them and ruled autocratically so as to achieve his objectives as rapidly and efficiently as possible. He became so despotic that liberal opposition arose under the leadership of the YOUNG TURKS, many of whom were forced to flee to Europe to escape his police.


In 1908 a revolution led by the Young Turks forced Abd al-Hamid to restore the parliament and constitution. After a few months of constitutional rule, however, a counterrevolutionary effort to restore the sultan's autocracy led the Young Turks to dethrone Abd al-Hamid completely in 1909. He was replaced by Mehmed V Rashid (r. 1909-18), who was only a puppet of those controlling the government.

Rapid modernization continued during the Young Turk era (1908-18), with particular attention given to modernizing the cities, agriculture and industry, and communications and also to the secularization of the state and the emancipation of women. However, the Young Turk leader Enver Pasha (1881-1922), who was virtual dictator from 1913, involved the empire in World War I on the side of Germany and Austria-Hungary. The defeat of these Central Powers led to the breakup and foreign occupation of the Ottoman Empire. The Turks accepted the resulting independence of their Arab and Balkan provinces, but the attempt of the victorious Allies to control the Anatolian territory left to the Turks and to turn parts of it, as well as eastern Thrace, over to other powers led to the Turkish war for independence (1918-23). Under the leadership of Kemal ATATURK, the Turkish nationalists overturned the postwar settlement embodied in the Treaty of Sevres (1920) and established the Republic of Turkey, formally recognized by the Treaty of Lausanne (see LAUSANNE, TREATY OF) in 1923.\


Turkey is an independent republic occupying a region, partly in Europe and partly in Asia, that has played a major role in world history as a bridge connecting East and West. European Turkey, known as eastern THRACE, is bounded on the north by the BLACK SEA and Bulgaria and on the west by the AEGEAN SEA and Greece. It is separated from Asian Turkey (ANATOLIA or Asia Minor) by the BOSPORUS, the Sea of MARMARA, and the DARDANELLES Strait. Anatolia is bounded on the north by the Black Sea; on the east by Georgia, Armenia, and Iran; on the south by Iraq, Syria, and the Mediterranean Sea; and on the west by the Aegean Sea.

Turkey is one of the more developed Middle Eastern countries, and industrialization is in progress. Tourism, stimulated by the fine climate and the abundance of historic sites, such as TROY, PERGAMUM, and EPHESUS, is beginning to gain importance. Modern Turkey was founded on Oct. 29, 1923, as the successor of the Ottoman Empire.


Turkey lies within the Alpine-Himalayan mountain belt. More than 75% of the land lies at elevations above 500 m (1,640 ft), and the average elevation is 1,100 m (3,600 ft). Turkey is one of the most active earthquake regions in the world. The Arabian, African, Eurasian Aegean, and Turkish plates all converge in Turkish territory, resulting in severe seismic and volcanic activity.

The country may be divided into four physical regions: the central Anatolian plateau and surrounding mountains, the eastern highlands, the Aegean coastland, and Thrace. The central Anatolian plateau is separated from the coastal lowlands by the Pontic Mountains in the north and the TAURUS MOUNTAINS in the south. The Pontic Mountains increase in height toward the east, where their highest peak, Kackar Dagi (3,937 m/12,917 ft), is found. The Taurus Mountains rise to 3,734 m (12,251 ft) in the Ala Dag chain. Composed mainly of limestone, they have caves, underground streams, and potholes. Small glaciers are found in the eastern sections of both the Taurus and Pontic ranges. The central plateau is composed of uplifted blocks and downfolded troughs. Shallow salt lakes--Lake Tuz is the largest--and geologically young volcanic features characterize the landscape.

The eastern highlands are dotted with peaks reaching elevations of 3,000-4,500 m (10,000-15,000 ft) and surrounded by high lava-covered plateaus. The highest of the peaks is Mount ARARAT (Agri Dagi; 5,122 m/16,804 ft), in the extreme east. Vast stretches of the highlands consist of barren waste. Lake VAN is a large salt lake with underground connections to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, whose headwaters rise in the nearby mountains.

The Aegean coastland is an area of elongated mountain ridges cut by steep valleys. Thrace comprises a central plain of rolling terrain surrounded by mountains of moderate height.


Turkey has numerous soil types. About 40% of the land, including the Black Sea coast and most of the northeast, is covered by red and gray brown podzols and by brown forest soils. The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts are characterized by mountain soils (brown forest, terra rossa, rendzina). Chestnut and desert soils are found in central Anatolia. The southeast has rich chernozems and chestnut-type soils.


Because of the mountainous terrain and maritime influence, climates vary greatly. The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts enjoy a 29 deg C (84 deg F) mean temperature in July and a 9 deg C (48 deg F) mean in January. Rainfall is concentrated in the winter; Antalya on the southern coast receives an annual average of 991 mm (39 in). The Black Sea coast is somewhat cooler, and the rainfall is heavier, averaging 2,438 mm (96 in). The northeast has warm summers but severe winters averaging -9 deg C (16 deg F). Precipitation occurs more evenly throughout the year, and the snow cover lasts 120 days. The central plateau has hot, dry summers averaging 23 deg C (73 deg F) and cold, moist winters, when temperatures average below 0 deg C (32 deg F).


The TIGRIS RIVER and the EUPHRATES RIVER originate in eastern Turkey before flowing to the Persian Gulf. The Araks and Kurucay rivers flow to the Caspian Sea; the Kizil and Sakarya to the Black Sea; the Macestus to the Sea of Marmara; and the Gediz and the Buyukmenderes to the Aegean. The Goksu, Seyhan, and Ceyhan rivers flow to the Mediterranean. Most Turkish rivers are not navigable, having irregular, shallow beds and seasonal depth changes.


The Black Sea coast is the most densely forested region in Turkey, with both coniferous and deciduous trees. Much of the south, west, and northwest is covered by Mediterranean vegetation of thick, scrubby underbrush. The dry central plateau is steppe land, with short grasses, bushes, and stunted willow trees. Wild animals include the wolf, fox, bear, and wildcat. The water buffalo, camel, and Angora goat are domesticated.


Production and transport costs limit the importance of many minerals. Copper from Ergani in the Diyarbakir region and chrome from Fethiye are mined for export. The presence of coal near Eregli on the Black Sea and in Thrace and of iron ore in the Sivas region has been important to the industrialization effort. Petroleum, boron minerals, mercury, and manganese are also found.


The people of Turkey are overwhelmingly TURKS (about 90%) and Sunni Muslim (98%). About 3 million KURDS live in the eastern provinces, and several hundred thousand Arabs inhabit the Hatay enclave adjacent to Syria. The number of Greeks was dramatically reduced by the population exchange between Greece and Turkey following the Treaty of Lausanne (1923). About 25,000 Jews live primarily in Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir. The Greek Orthodox community is the largest Christian denomination, followed by the Gregorian church. Most of the population speak Turkish (see URAL-ALTAIC LANGUAGES), although minorities speak Arabic and Kurdish.

More than half of the population live in urban areas. ISTANBUL is the cultural, industrial, and commercial center; ANKARA is the capital. Other major cities are IZMIR, ADANA, Antakya (or ANTIOCH), KONYA, EDIRNE, TRABZON, and BURSA. Large-scale migration to the cities since mid-century has led to overcrowding. The birthrate and average life expectancy are closer to the norm for a Middle Eastern country than for a European country. The population density is highest in the coastal regions, especially along the Black Sea.


The educational system of Turkey was modernized after the founding of the republic as part of an effort to westernize Turkish society. Today education is mostly public and free, about three-fourths of the population is literate. Funds, teachers, and facilities are scant in remote areas of the country. The University of Istanbul (1453), the Aegean University (1955) at Izmir, and the Middle East Technical University (1956) at Ankara are Turkey's largest institutions of higher learning.

Medical services are free to the poor. Although health service is improving, rural areas suffer shortages of physicians and facilities; the infant mortality rate is close to the average for an Asian country. Trachoma and tuberculosis are the most prevalent communicable diseases.


Although Islam dominated artistic expression under the Ottomans (see ISLAMIC ART AND ARCHITECTURE), Turkish culture since 1923 has been imbued with the spirit of nationalism. Turkish literature has been affected from both the East (chiefly Persia) and the West (mainly France). Many writers focus on life in Turkish villages. Modern painting and sculpture are of limited appeal; the people prefer folk art and decorative crafts. Traditional Ottoman music continues to be popular, although Western-style music is making inroads.


Turkey's economic development began in the mid-1920s under Kemal ATATURK, first president of the Turkish republic, who attempted to westernize and industrialize the economy. After World War II the Marshall Plan and Turkish membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) further encouraged development. The per capita income, however, remained lower than in most industrialized countries. Turkey receives significant financial aid from the European Economic Community (EEC), to which it applied for membership in 1987. The inflation rate was in the 60%-70% range in the early 1990s. Many Turks work abroad, which helps to keep unemployment under control; remittances from those workers provide a major source of foreign exchange. Tourism is a rapidly growing industry; 4.5 million foreign tourists visited Turkey in 1989, contributing $25 billion to the economy.


Manufacturing provides about 20% of the nation's GNP but employs only a small percentage of the labor force. Food processing accounts for one-third of all manufacturing, textiles and clothing for about 20%. Steel production, particularly at Eregli and Iskenderun, is also important. Other major industrial products include machinery and metal goods, vehicles, petrochemicals, fertilizers, and pulp and paper. Iskenderun is the terminus of an important oil pipeline from Iraq, but the Turkish government stopped the flow of oil from Iraq through its territory after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. Energy needs remain low on a per capita basis despite a remarkable increase in total national energy consumption. Nevertheless, the cost of imported petroleum is a heavy burden, and an effort is being made to develop other sources of power generation, especially by building hydroelectric plants on the Euphrates River.


Agriculture accounts for less than 20% of the GNP, although it employs well over half of the labor force. Just over a third of the land is under cultivation, and productivity is low. Cereals are the principal crop. Vegetables, grapes, sugar beets, potatoes, and oilseeds are also grown, and cattle, sheep, goats, and poultry are raised. Overgrazing is a problem in many parts of the country. Forests, covering more than 25% of the land, are protected by the state. Much of the wood harvest is used for energy. The commercial fishing industry is being developed.


Domestic transportation, chiefly by road, is difficult in many areas because of the rough terrain. Turkey is an important transit route from Europe to the Middle East, and long stretches of railroads were built by foreign powers through Turkish territory. The first bridge across the Bosporus was completed in 1973; a second was built in the 1980s. Istanbul has the nation's major international airport and is one of the world's major ports.


Principal exports include cotton, fruits, nuts, tobacco, metals, cereals, textiles and clothing, and livestock. Imports include machinery, chemicals, crude oil, base metals, fertilizers, mineral products, and vehicles. Middle Eastern nations are beginning to rival Western European countries and the United States as Turkey's trading partners.


From 1973 to 1980 the country had a series of weak coalition governments that were unable to handle increasingly serious economic problems and political violence. The prime ministership alternated between Suleyman Demirel of the moderate right Justice party and Bulent Ecevit, leader of the moderate left Republican People's party. With the government unable to resolve Turkey's difficulties, the military intervened in 1980, deposing Demirel in a bloodless coup led by Gen. Kenan EVREN. In 1982 the voters approved a new constitution, which established an authoritarian presidential system and installed Evren as president for a seven-year period. Demirel, Ecevit, and other former political leaders were excluded from participation in politics for ten years. Elections for a unicameral national assembly were held in November 1983. The ruling National Security Council was then dissolved and Turgut Ozal, head of the newly formed conservative Motherland party, became prime minister; he was elected to the presidency in 1989. When Ozal's party lost its majority in the parliamentary elections of October 1991, Suleyman Demirel, now head of the nationalist True Path party, was called back to form a government. Turkey is divided into 73 provinces (ils), administered by governors (valis). Local governments have the right to collect taxes for local use.

From: ddd (ddd)
To: soc.culture.turkish
Subject: Ancient Anatolia
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 1995 21:56:15 GMT