Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic with a diverse cultural heritage. The country’s official language is Turkish, a Turkic language, which is spoken by approximately 85% of the population as mother tongue. Turks constitute 70% to 75% of the population. Minorities include Kurds and others (7–12%). The vast majority of the population is Muslim. Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe, NATO, OECD, OSCE and the G-20 major economies. Turkey began full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005, having been an associate member of the European Economic Community since 1963 and having joined the EU Customs Union in 1995. Turkey is also a member of the Turkic Council, Joint Administration of Turkic Arts and Culture, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Economic Cooperation Organisation. Turkey‘s growing economy and diplomatic initiatives have led to its recognition as a regional power.
The name of Turkey can be divided into two components: the ethnonym Txrk and the abstract suffix –iye meaning “owner”, “land of” or “related to” (originally derived from the Greek and Latin suffixes –ia in Tourkia (Τουρκία) and Turchia; and later from the corresponding Arabic suffix –iyya in Turkiyya (تركيا).) The 1st recorded use of the term “Txrk” or “Txrxk” as an autonym is contained in the Old Turkic inscriptions of the Gxktxrks (Celestial Turks) of Central Asia (c. 8th century).
The English name Turkey 1st appeared in the late 14th century, and is derived from Medieval Latin Turchia.
The Greek cognate of this name, Tourkia was used by Byzantine emperor and scholar Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus in his book De Administrando Imperio, though in his use, “Turks” always referred to Magyars.
Similarly, the medieval Khazar Empire, a Turkic state on the northern shores of the Black and Caspian seas, was referred to as Tourkia in Byzantine sources. However, the Byzantines later began using this name to define the Seljuk-controlled parts of Anatolia in the centuries that followed the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.
The Arabic cognate Turkiyya in the form Dawla al-Turkiyya (State of the Turks) was historically used as an official name for the medieval Mamluk Sultanate which covered Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Hejaz and Cyrenaica.
The Ottoman Empire was commonly referred to as Turkey or the Turkish Empire among its contemporaries.
The Anatolian peninsula, comprising most of modern Turkey, is one of the oldest permanently settled regions in the world. Various Ancient Anatolian populations have lived in Anatolia, beginning with the Neolithic period until conquest of Alexander the Great. Many of these peoples spoke the Anatolian languages, a branch of the larger Indo-European language family. In fact, given the antiquity of the Indo-European Hittite and Luwian languages, some scholars have proposed Anatolia as the hypothetical center from which the Indo-European languages radiated. European part of Turkey, called Eastern Thrace, has also been inhabited since forty thousand years ago, and entered Neolithic by about 6000 B.C. with its inhabitants starting the practice of agriculture.
The earliest recorded inhabitants of Anatolia were the Hattians and Hurrians, non-Indo-European peoples who inhabited central and eastern Anatolia, respectively, as early as ca. 2300 BC. Indo-European Hittites came to Anatolia and gradually absorbed the Hattians and Hurrians ca. 2000–1700 BC. The 1st major empire in the area was founded by the Hittites, from the eighteenth through the 13th century BC. The Assyrians conquered and settled parts of southeastern Turkey as early as 1950 BC until the year 612 BC.
Following the collapse of the Hittite empire c. 1180 BC, the Phrygians, an Indo-European people, achieved ascendancy in Anatolia until their kingdom was destroyed by the Cimmerians in the 7th century BC. The most powerful of Phrygia’s successor states were Lydia, Caria and Lycia.
Starting around 1200 BC, the coast of Anatolia was heavily settled by Aeolian and Ionian Greeks. Numerous important cities were founded by these colonists, such as Miletus, Ephesus, Smyrna and Byzantium (later Constantinople and Istanbul), the latter founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 657 BC. The 1st state that was called Armenia by neighboring peoples was the state of the Armenian Orontid dynasty, which included parts of eastern Turkey beginning in the 6th century BC. In Northwest Turkey, the most significant tribal group in Thrace was the Odyrisians, founded by Teres I.
Anatolia was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire during the 6th and 5th centuries BC and later fell to Alexander the Great in 334 BC, which led to increasing cultural homogeneity and Hellenization in the area. Following Alexander’s death in 323 BC, Anatolia was subsequently divided into a number of small Hellenistic kingdoms, all of which became part of the Roman Republic by the mid-1st century BC. The process of Hellenization that began with Alexander’s conquest accelerated under Roman rule, so that by the early centuries AD the local Anatolian languages and cultures has become extinct, replaced by Greek.
In 324, Constantine I chose Byzantium to be the new capital of the Roman Empire, renaming it New Rome. Following the death of Theodosius I in 395 and the permanent division of the Roman Empire between his two sons, Constantinople (Istanbul) became the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which would rule most of the territory of Turkey until the Late Middle Ages.
In 1514, Sultan Selim I successfully expanded the Empire’s southern and eastern borders by defeating Shah Ismail I of the Safavid dynasty in the Battle of Chaldiran. In 1517, Selim I expanded Ottoman rule into Algeria and Egypt, and created a naval presence in the Red Sea. Subsequently, a competition started between the Ottoman and Portuguese empires to become the dominant sea power in the Indian Ocean, with numerous naval battles in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. The Portuguese presence in the Indian Ocean was perceived as a threat for the Ottoman monopoly over the ancient trading routes between East Asia and Western Europe (later collectively named the Silk Road). This important monopoly was increasingly compromised following the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, which had a considerable impact on the Ottoman economy.
The Ottoman Empire’s power and prestige peaked in the 16th and 17th centuries, particularly during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. The empire was often at odds with the Holy Roman Empire in its steady advance towards Central Europe through the Balkans and the southern part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. At sea, the Ottoman Navy contended with several Holy Leagues for control of the Mediterranean Sea. In the east, the Ottomans were occasionally at war with Safavid Persia over conflicts stemming from territorial disputes or religious differences between the 16th and 18th centuries.
From the beginning of the 19th century onwards, the Ottoman Empire began to decline. As it gradually shrank in size, military power and wealth, many Balkan Muslims migrated to the Empire’s heartland in Anatolia, along with the Circassians fleeing the Russian conquest of the Caucasus. The decline of the Ottoman Empire led to a rise in nationalist sentiment among the various subject peoples, leading to increased ethnic tensions which occasionally burst into violence, such as the Hamidian massacres.
The Ottoman Empire entered World War I on the side of the Central Powers and was ultimately defeated. During the war, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were deported and exterminated in the Armenian Genocide. The Turkish government denies that there was an Armenian Genocide and claims that Armenians were only relocated from the eastern war zone. Large-scale massacres were also committed against the empire’s other minority groups such as the Greeks and Assyrians.
The occupation of Constantinople and Smyrna by the Allies in the aftermath of World War I prompted the establishment of the Turkish national movement. Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha, a military commander who had distinguished himself during the Battle of Gallipoli, the Turkish War of Independence was waged with the aim of revoking the terms of the Treaty of Sxvres.
Turkey remained neutral during most of World War II, but entered the closing stages of the war on the side of the Allies on 23 February 1945. On 26 June 1945, Turkey became a charter member of the United Nations. Difficulties faced by Greece after the war in quelling a communist rebellion, along with demands by the Soviet Union for military bases in the Turkish Straits, prompted the United States to declare the Truman Doctrine in 1947. The doctrine enunciated American intentions to guarantee the security of Turkey and Greece, and resulted in large-scale U.S. military and economic support. Both countries were included in the Marshall Plan and OEEC for rebuilding European economies in 1948, and subsequently became founding members of the OECD in 1961.
After participating with the United Nations forces in the Korean War, Turkey joined NATO in 1952, becoming a bulwark against Soviet expansion into the Mediterranean. Following a decade of Cypriot intercommunal violence and the coup in Cyprus on 15 July 1974 staged by the EOKA B paramilitary organization, which overthrew President Makarios and installed the pro-Enosis Nikos Sampson as dictator, Turkey invaded Cyprus on 20 July 1974. Nine years later the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey, was established.
Turkey is a parliamentary representative democracy. Since its foundation as a republic in 1923, Turkey has developed a strong tradition of secularism. Turkey‘s constitution governs the legal framework of the country. It sets out the main principles of government and establishes Turkey as a unitary centralized state.
The President of the Republic is the head of state and has a largely ceremonial role. The president is elected for a seven-year term by direct elections. Abdullah Gxl was elected as president on 28 August 2007, by a popular parliament round of votes.
The prime minister is elected by the parliament through a vote of confidence in the government and is most often the head of the party having the most seats in parliament. The current prime minister is the former mayor of İstanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose conservative Justice and Development Party was elected for a 3rd consecutive time in 2011 general elections. Although the ministers don’t have to be members of the parliament, ministers with parliament membership are common in Turkish politics.
In 2004, there were 50 registered political parties in the country. The Constitutional Court can strip the public financing of political parties that it deems anti-secular or separatist, or ban their existence altogether. The electoral threshold is 10% of the votes.
Related Sites for Turkey
- Turkey – Travel Guide, Info & Bookings – Lonely Planet read Turkey
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- Cheap Holidays to Turkey 2013-2014 | lowcostholidays.com read Turkey
- Good Eats Roast Turkey Recipe : Alton Brown : Recipes : Food Network read Turkey