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Turkey country profile

28 August 2006
by eub2 -- last modified 16 August 2012

Located at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, Turkey has a rich cultural and ethnic diversity. Turkey is a candidate country for membership of the European Union.


Türkiye Cumhuriyeti

Located at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, Turkey has a rich cultural and ethnic diversity. Its history stretches from ancient civilisations, such as the Hittites, through the Greek and Roman periods (when St Paul spread Christianity there) to Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire. The modern Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923 as a western-style secular State. Nearly 98% of the population is Muslim. A considerable Kurdish population lives in the south-eastern part of the country.

In 330 AD, Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) which lies on the Bosphorus between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, became the capital of the Byzantine Empire, the eastern half of the Roman Empire.

Turkey’s architectural gems include the Selimiye and Suleymaniye mosques and the world-famous church of St Sophia, which became a mosque under the Ottomans and is now a museum. The country’s vast archaeological heritage is a major tourist attraction. At its height, the Ottoman Empire was the dominant power in the eastern and southern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The Turkish cuisine is based on lamb, while goat’s milk yoghurt is also popular, especially when mixed with cucumber, garlic or mint. There is a long tradition of coffee drinking and coffee houses are a favourite meeting place.

Among the most famous Turks is the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Official name: Republic of Turkey

Area (km2): 780 580

Population: 79.75 million (July 2012)

Capital: Ankara

National holiday: 29 October

Currency: Turkish Lira

Date of joining: 01 January 1970

Head of state: Abdullah Gül, since August 2007

Head of government: Recep Tayyip Erdogan, since March 2003; reelected in 2007 and governs with an absolute majority with his Justice and Development Party (AKP)

GDP (millions €): 498 397.1 (2008); 442 934.1 (forecast for 2009)

GDP per capita in PPS: 11 400 (2008); 10 500 (forecast for 2009)

Real growth rate of GDP: 8.5% (2011)

Unemployment rate: 9.8% (2011)

National debt as % of GDP: 42.4% (2011)

Inflation: 7.8% (2011)

Public deficit/surplus as % of GDP: -1.3% (2011)

Source: Eurostat

Main export markets: Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, USA
Main exports: textiles, automobiles, machinery, iron and steel, fruit and vegetables
Main source of imports: Germany, Russia, Italy, China
Main imports: machinery, petroleum and petroleum products, automobiles, gas, iron and steel, synthetic materials, textiles
Major economic sectors: services, industry (textiles, automobiles, chemicals, machinery, electronics), agriculture, tourism

Map of Turkey


Source: European Commission, Spanish EU Presidency

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