Key Facts Turkey


Location
Southeastern Europe/Asia Minor.

Time
GMT + 2 (GMT + 3 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).

Area
779,452 sq km (300,948 sq miles).

Population
73.3 million (UN estimate 2005).

Population Density
94.04 per sq km.

Capital
Ankara. Population: 3.5 million (2005 estimate).

Geography
Turkey borders the Black Sea and Georgia and Armenia to the northeast, Iran to the east, Iraq to the southeast, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Mediterranean to the south, the Aegean Sea to the west and Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest. Asia Minor (or Anatolia) accounts for 97% of the country's area and forms a long, wide peninsula 1,650km (1,025 miles) from east to west and 650km (400 miles) from north to south. Two east-west mountain ranges, the Black Sea Mountains in the north and the Taurus in the south, enclose the central Anatolian plateau, but converge in a vast mountainous region in the far east of the country. It is here that the ancient Tigris and Euphrates rivers rise.

Government
Republic since 1923.

Head of State
President Abdullah Gul since 2007.

Head of Government
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan since 2002.

Recent History
Turkey's economy has recovered well from a crisis in 2001. With IMF support, the mildly Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) government have introduced structural reforms that have reduced inflation and encouraged economic growth. The government also brought in sweeping institutional and social reforms to allow the start of EU entry negotiations in October 2005.

The pace of reform has slowed since, leading to criticism from Brussels over issues such as human rights, freedom of speech and Cyprus. Public opinion towards the EU has cooled in the face of what is seen as European meddling and double standards. The government is facing pressure from the fiercely secular military, who are suspicious of the AKP's Islamic credentials. The Kurdish separatist PKK (Kurdish Workers' Party) have called a truce following an increasingly bloody campaign of attacks in the east of the country. They were also linked to a recent series of bombs in tourist areas.

Abdullah Gul became president in August 2007, amid controversy over his nomination. He is the country's first head of state with a background in political Islam.

Language
Turkish. Kurdish is also spoken by a minority in the southeast. French, German and English are widely spoken in cities and tourist areas.

Religion
Muslim with a small Christian minority. Turkey is a secular state which guarantees complete freedom of worship to non-Muslims.

Electricity
220 volts AC, 50Hz.

Social Conventions
Shaking hands is the normal form of greeting. Hospitality is very important and visitors should respect Islamic customs. Informal wear is acceptable, but beachwear should be confined to the beach or poolside. Smoking is widely acceptable but prohibited in cinemas, theatres, buses, coaches and dolmuses (collective taxis).