Where is it?:
Straddling two continents at the nexus between Asia and Europe, Turkey is bordered by the Black Sea on the north, the Mediterranean Sea on the south, Georgia and Bulgaria on its northern corners, and to the south and east Syria, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan and Armenia. To its west is Greece and the Aegean Sea. The western part of Turkey across the Bosporus Strait is geographically part of Europe. Close where Turkey meets Iran, Azerbaijan and Armenia is Mount Ararat, the legendary landing spot of Noah's Ark. The country is slightly larger than Texas and is a key economic and military power in the region.
Ankara, which is the country's second-largest city after Istanbul. The centrally located city has a storied ancient heritage, boasting numerous archaeological sites - the city really came into being as it grew under the Phrygians in 1000 B.C., and Ankara has Celtic, Roman and Turkish history. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk launched his resistance movement from Ankara headquarters, and it replaced Istanbul as the capital just days before the Ottoman Empire became the Republic of Turkey.
The flag of Turkey is red with the white crescent moon and five-pointed star, symbols long used on Ottoman flags. The Turkish national anthem, Istiklâl Marsi, or Independence March, is a motivational anthem used during the Turkish War of Independence and thus was adopted in 1921 (the republic would be founded in 1923).
The country is about three-quarters Turkish, with a substantial Kurdish minority of about 18 percent. Other officially recognized minorities are Armenians, Greeks and Jews, though there are numerous ethnicities represented in Turkey from the surrounding regions, including Assyrians and Arabs. Turkish is the official language; the standard dialect is Istanbul Turkish. Modern Turkish, spoken by about 93 percent of the population, came into being with the founding of the Republic of Turkey. Kurdish is also spoken, as well as other minority languages.
More than 78 million people makes Turkey the 17th largest country in the world. The most populous city is Istanbul, with nearly 11 million people.
The region on which modern Turkey rests is one of the most ancient continuously habitated areas on the globe. Legendary sites include the city of Troy, site of the Trojan War, and Byzantium, capital of the Roman Empire that would later become Constantinople (which became Istanbul with the founding of the modern Turkey). The Ottomans would rule the region for more than 600 years, but World War I prompted the growth of a Turkish nationalist movement that waged a war of independence, which resulted in the founding of the Republic of Turkey. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who led the drive for independence, was the first president and led Turkey toward modernization and secularization.
One of the G-20 major economies of the world, Turkey has been moving away from its traditional agriculture sector to the economic drivers of industry and service (Turkish Airlines is one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, and tourism has grown rapidly), including textiles, automotive and electronics. Turkey's economic growth has coincided with a lessening of government involvement in many business sectors while encouraging entrepreneurship. Unemployment is about 12 percent. The country weathered global recession well after needing an IMF boost in the early 2000s. For the past several years, Turkey has been in negotiation to become a full member of the European Union, a process expected to take many more years.
Turkey has land, naval and air forces. Males have compulsory service requirements from 19-41 years of age, with a 15-month conscript obligation for those who haven't graduated from college and 6-12 months for those with a college degree. Women only serve as officers. Turkey has about 35 million men and women fit for military service.
Type of government:
A secular republic with a parliamentary democracy. Voting age is 18. President is directly elected for a five-year term (maximum two terms) and appoints the prime minister, selected from members of parliament.