Thursday, March 11, 2010


Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye), known officially as the Republic of Turkey is a Eurasian country that stretches across the Anatolian peninsula in Western Asia and Thrace in the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. Turkey is bordered by eight countries: Bulgaria to the northwest; Greece to the west; Georgia to the northeast; Armenia, Azerbaijan (the exclave of Nakhchivan) and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the southeast. The Mediterranean Sea and Cyprus are to the south; the Aegean Sea to the west; and the Black Sea is to the north.

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Separating Anatolia and Thrace are the Sea of Marmara and the Turkish Straits (the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles), which are commonly reckoned to delineate the boundary between Europe and Asia, thereby making Turkey a country of significant geostrategic importance. Ethnic Turks form the majority of the population, followed by the Kurds. The predominant religion in Turkey is Islam and its official language is Turkish.

Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Turkey is the successor state to the Ottoman Empire. It is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic, with an ancient and historical cultural heritage. Its political system was established in 1923 under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, following the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of World War I. Today, Turkey is a parliamentary representative democracy. Since its foundation as a republic in 1923, Turkey has developed a strong tradition of secularism.

The capital city of Turkey is Ankara. The territory of Turkey is subdivided into 81 provinces for administrative purposes. The provinces are organized into 7 regions for census purposes; however, they do not represent an administrative structure. Each province is divided into districts, for a total of 923 districts. Provinces usually bear the same name as their provincial capitals, also called the central district; exceptions to this custom are the provinces of Hatay (capital: Antakya), Kocaeli (capital: İzmit) and Sakarya (capital: Adapazarı).

Demographic Development of Turks
"any individual within the Republic of Turkey; whatever his/her faith or racial/ethnic background; who speaks Turkish, grows up with Turkish culture and adopts the Turkish ideal, is a Turk." It is easy to become Turk. Article 66 of the Turkish Constitution defines a "Turk" as "anyone who is bound to the Turkish state through the bond of citizenship"; therefore, the legal use of the term "Turkish" as a citizen of Turkey is different from the ethnic definition. Turk like Malay in Malaysia, is constitutionally defined. But the constitution definition of Turk is more liberal, as it is regardless of faith or religion, as Turkey is a secular state.

The actual Turk are The name Turk (突厥) was first applied to a clan of tribal chieftains (known as Ashina) who overthrew the ruling Rouran confederency, and founded the nomadic Göktürk Empire ("Celestial Turks") These nomads roamed in the Altai Mountains (and thus are known as Altaic peoples) in northern Mongolia and on the steppes of Central Asia. The Göktürks were ruled by Khans whose influences extended during the sixth to eighth centuries from the Aral Sea to the Hindu Kush in the land bridge known as Transoxania. In the eighth century, some Turkic tribes, among them the Oghuz, moved south of the Oxus River, while others migrated west to the northern shore of the Black Sea. Subsequently, it was adopted as a generic ethnonym designating most if not all of the Turkic-speaking tribes in Central Asia by the Muslim peoples with whom they came into contact. The imperial era also provided a legacy of political and social organisation (with deep roots in pre-Türk Inner Asia) that in its Türk form became the common inheritance of the Turkic groupings of Central Asia.

"Turkishness" (citizenship of Turkey) is the cornerstone of the Republic of Turkey, according to the Turkish Constitution. Kemalist ideology defines the "Turkish people" as "those who protect and promote the moral, spiritual, cultural and humanistic values of the Turkish nation." Kemalist ideology defines the "Turkish nation" as "a nation of Turkish people who always love and seek to exalt their family, country, and nation; who know their duties and responsibilities towards the democratic, secular and social state governed by the rule of law and founded on human rights, and on the tenets laid down in the preamble to the constitution of the Republic of Turkey."

The Kemalist revolution aimed to create a Turkish nation state (Turkish: ulus devlet) on the territory of the former Ottoman Empire that had remained within the boundaries of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. The meaning of Turkishness (Turkish: Türklük) implies a "citizenship" (of the Republic of Turkey) and "cultural identity" (speaking the Turkish language and growing up with the mainstream Turkish culture) rather than an ethno-genetical background. The Turkish-speaking Muslim citizens of the Ottoman Empire had been called "Turks" for centuries by the Europeans, and the Ottoman Empire was alternatively called "Turkey" or the "Turkish Empire" by its contemporaries. However, the Devşirme system and intermarriages with people in the former Ottoman territories of Southeastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa ensured a largely heterogeneous gene pool that makes up the fabric of the present-day Turkish nation. The Turks of today, in short, are the descendants of the Turkish-speaking Muslims in the former Ottoman Empire. They are the result of war, religion conversion, intermarriage, and Turkification.

Other major ethnic groups (large portions of whom have been extensively Turkicized since the Seljuk and Ottoman periods) include the Abkhazians, Adjarians, Albanians, Arabs, Assyrians, Bosniaks, Circassians, Hamshenis, Kurds, Laz, Pomaks, Roma, Zazas and the three officially recognized minorities (per the Treaty of Lausanne), i.e. the Armenians, Greeks and Jews. Signed on January 30, 1923, a bilateral accord of population exchange between Greece and Turkey took effect in the 1920s, with close to 1.5 million Greeks moving from Turkey and some 500,000 Turks coming from Greece

Minorities of West European origin include the Levantines (or Levanter, mostly of French, Genoese and Venetian descent) who have been present in the country (particularly in Istanbul and İzmir) since the medieval period.

The Kurds
The Kurds, a distinct ethnic group concentrated mainly in the southeastern provinces of the country, are the largest non-Turkic ethnicity, estimated at about 18% of the population. During the 1930s and 1940s, the government had disguised the presence of the Kurds statistically by categorizing them as Mountain Turks. This classification was changed to the new euphemism of Eastern Turk in 1980. Since the Turkish census figures do not include statistics on ethnicity, so no statistic of Kurds is easily available. Leyla Zana, the first Kurdish female MP from Diyarbakir, caused an uproar in Turkish Parliament after adding the following sentence in Kurdish to her parliamentary oath during the swearing-in ceremony in 1994:
"I take this oath for the brotherhood of the Turkish and Kurdish peoples".
In March 1994, the Turkish Parliament voted to lift the immunity of Zana and five other Kurdish DEP members: Hatip Dicle, Amet Turk, Sirri Sakik, Orhan Dogan and Selim Sadak. Zana, Dicle, Sadak and Dogan were sentenced to 15 years in jail by the Supreme Court in October 1995. Zana was awarded the Sakharov Prize for human rights by the European Parliament in 1995. She was released in 2004 amid warnings from European institutions that the continued imprisonment of the four Kurdish MPs would affect Turkey's bid to join the EU.

Minorities other than the three officially recognized ones(Armenians, Greeks and Jew)do not have any special group privileges, while the term "minority" itself remains a sensitive issue in Turkey. Reliable data on the exact ethnic repartition of the population is not available since the Turkish census figures do not include statistics on ethnicity. Turkification, i.e. cultural assimilation, is eagerly implemented in political policies of the state. Minority like Laz, Hemsin,formerly Christian have been assimilated into Turk culture and Islamic religion. Assyrians are declining. Turkification is still going on.

The Eastern Orthodox Church, led by Patriarch Bartholomew I has been headquartered in Istanbul since the fourth century AD. However, the Turkish government does not recognize the Patriarch as the leader of Orthodox Christianity, and forces the Church to operate under significant restrictions.

There are 1-1.2 million IDPs (fighting 1984-99 between Kurdish PKK(The Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan)and Turkish military; most IDPs in southeastern provinces)(2007). PKK is an ethnic military secessionist organization for the purpose of achieving its goal of creating an independent Kurdish state, in parts of southeastern Turkey, northeastern Iraq, northeastern Syria and northwestern Iran. Several large scale Kurdish revolts in 1925, 1930 and 1938 were suppressed by the Turkish government and more than one million Kurds were forcibly relocated between 1925 and 1938. The use of Kurdish language, dress, folklore, and names were banned and the Kurdish-inhabited areas remained under martial law until 1946. Between 1984 and 1999, the PKK and the Turkish military engaged in open war, and much of the countryside in the southeast was depopulated, as Kurdish civilians moved to local defensible centers such as Diyarbakır, Van, and Şırnak, as well as to the cities of western Turkey and even to western Europe. The causes of the depopulation included PKK atrocities against Kurdish clans they could not control, the poverty of the southeast, and the Turkish state's military operations.

Cyprus Issue
Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus in 1974. Nine years later the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was established. Turkey is the only country to recognise the TRNC. The status of north Cyprus question remains blur.

Armenia relationship
Turkey's border with Armenia, a state in the Caucasus, remains closed following its occupation of Azeri territory during the Nagorno-Karabakh War.

Turkey is having complex maritime, air, and territorial disputes with Greece in the Aegean Sea; Syria and Iraq protest Turkish hydrological projects to control upper Euphrates waters; Turkey has expressed concern over the status of Kurds in Iraq.

Turkey is now applying for full membership of EC. Since then, Turkey has become increasingly integrated with the West through membership in organizations such as the Council of Europe, NATO, OECD, WEOG, OSCE and the G-20 major economies.

Related articles

1. Genetic origins of the Turkish people, http://en.wikipedia.or/ wiki/ Genetic_origins_of_the_Turkish_people
2. Turkish people,
3. Turkey,
4. Turkey,

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