Turkey made easy


Facts at a glance:

History: Founded in 1923 from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire by Kemal Ataturk, a strong secularist, pictures and statues of whom adorn almost all public buildings.

Government: republican parliamentary democracy (unicameral assembly) chosen by universal suffrage.

Prime Minister: Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the Justice and Development Party, a mildly Islamist party which has nonetheless pushed harder (and more successfully) for liberal and democratic reforms than any previous Turkish government and strengthened Turkey's relations with both Europe and the United States.

Population: 68.8 million.

Population growth rate: 1.13% (German rate: 0.02%)

Life expectancy at birth: 69.68 years for men; 74.61 years for women.

Religion: 99.8% Muslim (mostly Sunni), 0.2% Christians and Jews.

Size: 780,580 sq km.

Main cities: Ankara (the administrative capital), Istanbul (main commercial centre), Izmir, Antalya and Diyarbakir.

International relations: Joined the UN in 1945 and NATO in 1952; invaded Cyprus in 1974, prompted by a Greek- inspired coup which led to the division of the island between the Turkish Cypriot north and Greek Cypriot south

  • From 1984 to 1999, the Turkish army fought the Kurdistan Workers' Party (the PKK), a Marxist-Leninist separatist group, in an at times 'dirty' war to prevent Kurdish cessation in the south-east.