macrohistory & world report

Republic of Turkey

Map of Turkey

Turkey (capital Ankara) and neighboring states

World Factbook as of November 2014:"Turkey's largely free-market economy is increasingly driven by its industry and service sectors, although its traditional agriculture sector still accounts for about 25% of employment. An aggressive privatization program has reduced state involvement in basic industry, banking, transport, and communication, and an emerging cadre of middle-class entrepreneurs is adding dynamism to the economy and expanding production beyond the traditional textiles and clothing sectors. The automotive, construction, and electronics industries are rising in importance and have surpassed textiles within Turkey's export mix. Oil began to flow through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in May 2006, marking a major milestone that will bring up to 1 million barrels per day from the Caspian to market. Several gas pipelines projects also are moving forward to help transport Central Asian gas to Europe through Turkey, which over the long term will help address Turkey's dependence on imported oil and gas to meet 97% of its energy needs. After Turkey experienced a severe financial crisis in 2001, Ankara adopted financial and fiscal reforms as part of an IMF program. The reforms strengthened the country's economic fundamentals and ushered in an era of strong growth averaging more than 6% annually until 2008. Global economic conditions and tighter fiscal policy caused GDP to contract in 2009, but Turkey's well-regulated financial markets and banking system helped the country weather the global financial crisis and GDP rebounded strongly to around 9% in 2010-11, as exports returned to normal levels following the recession. Growth dropped to roughly 3-4% in 2012-13. Turkey's public sector debt to GDP ratio has fallen below 40%, and two rating agencies upgraded Turkey's debt to investment grade in 2012 and 2013. Turkey remains dependent on often volatile, short-term investment to finance its large current account deficit. The stock value of FDI reached nearly $195 billion at year-end 2013, reflecting Turkey's robust growth even in the face of economic turmoil in Europe, the source of much of Turkey's FDI. Turkey's relatively high current account deficit, domestic political uncertainty, and turmoil within Turkey's neighborhood leave the economy vulnerable to destabilizing shifts in investor confidence."

Economic growth rate
2011: 4.6%
2010: 8.2%

Unemployment rate
2011: 10.3%
2010: 12.4%


Public debt as a percentage of GDP
2011: 42.4%
2010: 48.1%
2009: 48.3%

Value Added Tax: 18%

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 61st among 140 countries (lower rank number is less equal. Less equal than Britain, which ranks 94th, and more equal than the US, which ranks 45th.

Health expenditures
2009: 6.7% of GDP


Living in an urban area
2010: 70%
2008: 69%

Literacy, Age 15 and Older
2004: Males 95.3 percent, Females 79.6 percent

Ethnic groups
2008: Turkish 70-75%, Kurdish 18%, other minorities 7-12%

Turkey is 99.8 percent Muslim (mostly Sunni), other 0.2%.


East of Greece and Bulgaria. North of Syria and Iraq. West of Armenia and Iran. In the north, coastline along the Black Sea. In the west and south, coastline along the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. Slightly larger than Texas.


World Factbook: "Republican parliamentary democracy." Capital: Ankara.

Recent History

Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952.

1960: Turkey's democracy is interrupted by a military coup.

1971: Another military coup occurs.

According to Wikipedia, during the 1970s and 1980s, right-of center secular politicians allied themselves with devout Muslims as a bulwark against left-of-center secular leaders. Wikipedia:

The state's more tolerant attitude toward Islam encouraged the proliferation of private religious activities, including the construction of new mosques, Koran schools in the cities, the establishment of religiously oriented professional and women's journals. The printing of newspapers, the publication of religious books, and the growth of innumerable religious projects ranging from health centers, child-care facilities, and youth hostels to financial institutions and consumer cooperatives flourished.

September 12, 1980: A military coup begins. Fifty people will be executed and more than half a million detained. Left-leaning persons will be labelled as Communists. The coup is not viewed with disfavor by the Carter administration. The US had just lost Iran as an ally, and there had been fear of losing Turkey as an ally in the Cold War. Following the coup, thousands in Turkey will lose their citizenship and go into exile. Gruesome torture will be routine. A new constitution will be written, that will, according to BBC, leave Turkey with a "profoundly undemocratic charter elected governments." Tight state control over education will be imposed, including politics banned from university campuses, and curriculums will be re-written to make them them nationalistic. Coup leaders will be friendly to big business and big business will appreciate the ease with which legislation they want is passed. Labor organizations will be supressed.

November 6, 1983: Elections are held advertized as a transition to democracy. The elections are describes as not taking place in a free and competitive setting. Many political leaders had been banned. The elections produced a one-party governance under Turgut Özal's Motherland Party, described by Wikipedia as combining "a neoliberal economic program with conservative social values."

Nov 17, 2005: Turkey has a law against insulting Turkishness or the republic, something open to interpretation by prosecutors. It has relaxed its intimidation of writers and publishers lately in the interest of entering the European Union. But a writer of international standing, Orpha Pamuk, is now indicted for speaking to a Swiss magazine about the deaths of "thirty-thousand Kurds and one million Armenians." The more advanced and politically mature countries, Finland, Norway, the United States, Britain, et cetera, have no such law.

Someone from Turkey who called himself THISISIT wrote to the Richard Dawkins Foundation complaining of a rise in thought control. He wrote of the party headed by Prime Minister Erdogan as an Islamic party and entering its 8th year of power. Actually, the party is not officially tied to Islam, but the writer was concerned about the lack of respect for the rights of atheists and secularists. THISISIT wrote, "You can barely see any news against government." He wrote that a ban on websites has started and added: "Youtube is banned in turkey, Google is banned in turkey, Google services are banned in turkey." He wrote of the ban on Richard Dawkins two years previously. Islam, he wrote, "...ruined our country once but we were lucky to have Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He founded the modern, secular Turkish Republic out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire." THISISIT complained that "...secularists are in danger; i don't know what to do but I don't have any hope for my country."

A few days later, the website wrote:

Turkey's Telecommunication Ministry has been blocking IP addresses belonging to Google as of late last Thursday. As a result, all Google services – including Mail, Maps, Analytics, Docs, Sites, browser tool bars, and a variety of services integrated into other websites – have been inaccessible or extremely slow loading for internet users located in Turkey.

Sep 12, 2010: Turkey held a referendum on constitutional changes proposed by Prime Minister Erdogan's government. The government described its purpose as making Turkey more democratic. The existing constitution, ratified in a referendum in 1982, has been criticized as outmoded and curtailing human rights. The opposition Republican People's Party – the old secularist party of the center-left – claimed that the ruling party was seeking more control over the secular judiciary. The "Yes" vote was 58 percent, the "No" vote 42 percent.

Sep 27, 2010: Following the relaxation of authoritarian political controls in Turkey in 1946 and the revival in devotion to Islam in many countries in recent decades, Islam has been growing in influence in Turkey.

Feb 14, 2011: During 18-day uprising in Egypt, Turkey expressed sympathy with the Egyptian people – the demonstrators. President Gul, visiting Iran, at a news conference said:

My view is that what is happening should in no way be regarded as a surprise. In this age of communication, in an age where everybody is aware of each other, the demands and desires of the people are very realistic ...We see that sometimes when the leaders and heads of countries do not pay attention to the nations' demands, the people themselves take action to achieve their demands.

Jun 11, 2011: A report on BBC News tells of the government's "Kurdish opening" based on tolerance and greater autonomy, including greater cultural freedom – freedom to use the Kurdish language. The article mentioned young Kurds "angry and rootless in the cities...not afraid of the security forces, like their parents. They did not experience the war of the 1990s. But they have inherited the deeply-ingrained sense of injustice from that time."

Jun 13, 2011: According to preliminary results, the Islamist-leaning Justice and Development (AK) Party has won 326 parliament seats among 550 seats. This gives the party's leader Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan a third term in office. (He's been PM since March 15, 2003.) Mr Erdogan promises to build consensus with the country's other political parties.

Aug 8, 2011: Civilian rule asserts itself over the military – the military traditionally political and a defender of secularism. BBC News: "A Turkish court has ordered the arrests of seven generals and admirals accused of trying to undermine the government. They have been under investigation for their alleged involvement in setting up anti-government websites in 2009."

January 2012: Appearing in Wikipedia: "Human rights in Turkey have been the subject of much controversy and international condemnation. Between 1998 and 2008 the European Court of Human Rights made more than 1,600 judgements against Turkey for human rights violations, particularly the right to life and freedom from torture... The Turkish Journalists Association says that 58 of the country's journalists have been imprisoned."

January 2012: A Turkish court accepts indictments against General Kenan Evren and General Tahsin Sahinkaya, surving leaders of the 1980 coup. According to the indictment, a total of 191 people died in custody during the aftermath of the coup, due to "inhumane" acts. The trial is to begin on April 4, 2012.

The World Factbook

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