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Turkey’s Geography, Societal, Political, And Economic Context
Turkey is a country situated in Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia. It covers a land area of 769,632 sq. km, and is bordered by eight countries — Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Given the influences of its bordering countries, and its long history of struggles, Turkey is a country of a diverse cultural heritage. Turkey’s capital city is Ankara, a very old city located in the Center Anatolia region of the country. Ankara, or previously known as Ancyra or Angora, replaced Istanbul as the country’s capital city after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The country’s capital city remains as an important commercial and industrial center.
Founded in 1923, Turkey, as a sovereign country has had a long history which started with the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the victory of the Turkish War of Independence which spanned four years, from 1919 to 1922. The country’s name translates to ‘the Land of the Turks’. Currently, despite political developments, the country has nonetheless established itself as a potential regional player in both Asia and Europe. It is a charter member of the United Nations (UN) and became one of the first members of the Council of Europe in 1949.
The country is characterized by narrow coastal plains, a high central plateau
and several mountain ranges. Among Turkey’s natural resources are coal, iron ore, limestone, gold, mercury, barite, antimony, chromium and copper. In an assessment done in 2011, half of Turkey’s land area are considered agricultural while around 15% of it is forested area. Turkey’s terrain makes it susceptible to severe earthquakes, though on the other hand, it has limited volcanic activity. Unknown to many, Mount Ararat, the legendary landing place of Noah’s ark as referenced in the Bible, is actually found in the far eastern portion of the country. Turkey’s territory spans 1,600 kilometers long and 800 kilometers wide, ranking it at 37th in terms of area comparison with other countries.
Turkey is situated in a strategic location, with sections of the country facing the European part and other sections facing the Asia part. The country is divided into seven geographical regions. It also has control of the Turkish straits that link the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea, though it is only in the Black Sea that it has exclusive economic zones.
The country has a considerable species diversity. Its geographical regions are home to many plants that have been cultivated since the ancient era. The mountain range found in the country also serve as an ecoregion which has allowed a diverse flora and fauna.
Due to its geographic location, Turkey’s climate is temperate. It has hot and dry summers with mild, wet winters; though temperatures are harsher in the interior parts of the country.
People and Society
In a census conducted in 2016, there are already an estimate of 80,274,604 people in Turkey, ranking the country as 20th most populous in the world. The country’s ethnic group are primarily divided into two — the Turkish which is around 70-75% of the population, and the Kurdish which comprises around 18% of the population; other ethnic groups make up the rest. Turkey’s official language is Turkish, and majority of its people are Muslim by religion, with 99.8% affiliating themselves to Islam.
Politics and Economy
The country officially declared its independence on October 29, 1923, with the country referring to it as its Republic Day. Its flag, red with a crescent moon and five-pointed star, is a symbol for the people of turkey; the crescent represents the mythical moon god, Ay Ata, while the star represents the sun goddess, Gun Ana. There were also interpretations that the flag represents the reflection of the moon and a star in a pool of blood of Turkish warriors.
Turkey is a parliamentary republic, with both a president which stands as the chief of state, and a prime minister which is the head of government. The president is directly elected by the populace, those eligible voters are 18 years old and up, while the prime minister is appointed by the president. Turkey has had several problems with its political landscape in the past, with around seven political parties vying for government positions and control. Its legal system is primarily based on European legal systems, particularly the Swiss civil code.
Turkey’s economy is largely driven by its industry and service sectors, though its agricultural sector remains a key, traditional player; it is a free-market economy. In 2016, Turkey’s GDP per capita is estimated to be around $9,562, making it 62nd in the world. Its currency, the Turkish lira, is, on average in 2015, 2.62 lira to a dollar. There are significant challenges to Turkey’s economy, including its dependence on imported gas, its relatively high current account deficit and economic vulnerability due to turmoil within the country and its neighbors.