|Official Name of Country||Republic of Turkey|
|Population||76.6 million (2013)|
|Labor Force (Population)||28.8 million (2013)|
|Median Age||30.1 (2013)|
|President||Recep Tayyip Erdogan|
|Prime Minister||Ahmet Davutoglu|
|Coordinates||39° 55′ North, 32° 50′ East|
|Time Zone||GMT +2|
|Neighboring Countries||Bulgaria, Greece, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia|
|Major Cities (Population)||Istanbul (14.1 million), Ankara (5 million), Izmir (4 million), Bursa (2.7 million), Antalya (2.1 million) (2013)|
|Climate||Temperate; hot, dry summers with mild, wet winters|
|Country Code Top-Level Domain||.tr|
|Electricity Voltage||220 V, 50 Hz|
|Currency||Turkish Lira (TRY)|
|GDP||USD 820 billion (2013-Current Prices)|
|GDP Per Capita||USD 10,782 (2013)|
|Exports Value||USD 152 billion (2013)|
|Imports Value||USD 251 billion (2013)|
|Tourism Revenue||USD 32.3 billion (2013)|
|Tourist Number||39.2 million (2013)|
|Foreign Direct Investment||USD 12.9 billion (2013)|
|Number of Companies with Foreign Capital||36,450 (2013)|
|Inflation Rate||7.5% (CPI-2013)|
|Major Exports Markets||Germany (9%); Iraq (7.8%); UK (5.8%); Russia (4.6%); Italy (4.4%); France (4.2%); USA (3.7%); UAE (3.3%); Spain (2.8%); Iran (2.4%) (2013)|
|Major Imports Sources||Russia (9.9%); China (9.8%); Germany (9.6%); Italy (5.1%); USA (5%); Iran (4.1%); Switzerland (3.8%); France (3.2%); Spain (2.5%); India (2.5%) (2013)|
The Turkish economy has shown remarkable performance with its steady growth over the last decade. A sound macroeconomic strategy in combination with prudent fiscal policies and major structural reforms in effect since 2002 has integrated the Turkish economy into the globalized world, while transforming the country into one of the major recipients of FDI in its region.
The structural reforms, hastened by Turkey’s EU accession process, have paved the way for comprehensive changes in a number of areas. The main objectives of these efforts were to increase the role of the private sector in the Turkish economy, to enhance the efficiency and resiliency of the financial sector, and to place the social security system on a more solid foundation. As these reforms have strengthened the macroeconomic fundamentals of the country, the economy grew with an average annual real GDP growth rate of 5 percent over the past decade between 2002 and 2012.
Average Annual Real GDP Growth (%) 2002-2012
Source: OECD, Eurostat and national sources
Moreover, Turkey’s impressive economic performance over the past decade has encouraged experts and international institutions to make confident projections about Turkey’s economic future. For example, according to the OECD, Turkey is expected to be the fastest growing economy of the OECD members during 2012-2017, with an annual average growth rate of 5.2 percent.
Annual Average Real GDP Growth (%) Forecast in
OECD Countries 2012-2017
Source: OECD Economic Outlook No: 91, June 2012
Together with stable economic growth, Turkey has also reined in its public finances; the EU-defined general government nominal debt stock fell to 36.3 percent from 67.7 percent between 2003 and 2013. Hence, Turkey has been meeting the “60 percent EU Maastricht criteria” for public debt stock since 2004. Similarly, during 2003-2013, the budget deficit decreased from more than 10 percent to less than 3 percent, which is one of the EU Maastricht criteria for the budget balance.
As the GDP levels increased to USD 820 billion in 2013, up from USD 305 billion in 2003, GDP per capita soared to USD 10,782, up from USD 4,565 in the given period.
The visible improvements in the Turkish economy have also boosted foreign trade, while exports reached USD 152 billion by the end of 2013, up from USD 47 billion in 2003. Similarly, tourism revenues, which were around USD 14 billion in 2003, exceeded USD 32.3 billion in 2013.
Significant improvements in such a short period of time have registered Turkey on the world economic scale as an exceptional emerging economy, the 16th largest economy in the world and the 6th largest economy when compared with the EU countries, according to GDP figures (at PPP) in 2013.
- Institutionalized economy fueled by USD 135 billion of FDI in the past decade
- 16th largest economy in the world and 6th largest economy compared with EU countries in 2013 (GDP at PPP, IMF-WEO)
- Robust economic growth over the last decade with an average annual real GDP growth of 5.1 percent 2003-2013
- GDP reached USD 820 billion in 2013, up from USD 305 billion in 2003
- Sound economic policies with a prudent fiscal discipline
- Strong financial structure resilient to the global financial crisis
Legal and Political Structure
The Republic of Turkey adopted its first Constitution in 1924. It retained the basic principles of the 1921 Constitution, notably the principle of national sovereignty. As in the 1921 Constitution, the Turkish Grand National Assembly was deemed the “sole representative of the nation.” The second Constitution of the Republic of Turkey was adopted in 1961 and introduced a bicameral Parliament: the National Assembly with 450 deputies and the Senate of the Republic with 150 members elected by general ballot and 15 members elected by the President. These two assemblies constitute the Turkish Grand National Assembly. The third Constitution of the Republic of Turkey was passed in 1982 by a national referendum and is still in effect today. Under the 1982 Constitution, sovereignty is vested fully and unconditionally in the nation.
The Constitution emphasizes that the Turkish state, with its territory and nation, is an indivisible entity, and a secular, democratic, social state under the rule of law. All individuals are equal without any discrimination before the law, irrespective of language, race, skin color, gender, political orientation, philosophical creed, religion and sect, or any such considerations. The 1982 Constitution recognizes all basic human rights and freedoms such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of residence and movement, freedom of religion and conscience, freedom of thought and opinion, freedom of expression and dissemination of thought, freedom of association, freedom of communication, the right to privacy, right to property, right to hold meetings and demonstration marches, right to legal remedies, guarantee of lawful judgment and right to acquire information.
Parliament has passed many constitutional amendments to make the 1982 Constitution more democratic and to expand democratic rights and freedoms in the country. These efforts gained significant momentum after the EU recognized Turkey as a candidate country in 1999 and later agreed to start full membership talks with Turkey in 2005.
Legislative power is vested in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) on behalf of the Turkish nation and this power cannot be delegated. TGNA is composed of 550 deputies, while Parliamentary elections are held every four years. Deputies represent the entire nation and before assuming office, take an oath.
The functions and powers of TGNA comprise the adoption of draft laws, and the amendment and repeal of existing laws; the supervision of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) and the Ministers; authorization of the Council of Ministers to issue governmental decrees having the force of law on certain matters; debating and approval of the budget draft and the draft law of final accounts, making decisions on the printing of currency, the declaration of war, martial law or emergency rule; ratifying international agreements; making decisions with 3/5 of the TGNA on proclamation of amnesties and pardons in line with the Constitution.
Judicial power in Turkey is exercised by independent courts and high judicial organs on behalf of the Turkish nation. The judicial section of the Constitution is based on the principle of the rule of law. The judiciary is founded on the principles of the independence of the courts and the security of tenure of judges. Judges work independently; they rule on the basis of personal conviction in accordance with constitutional provisions, law and jurisprudence.
The legislative and executive organs must comply with the rulings of the courts and cannot change or delay the application of these rulings. Functionally, a tripartite judicial system was adopted by the Constitution and accordingly, it was divided into an administrative judiciary, a legal judiciary and a special judiciary.
The Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Appeals, the Council of State, the Supreme Military Court of Appeals, the Supreme Military Administrative Court and the Court of Jurisdictional Conflicts are the supreme courts stipulated in the judicial section of the Constitution. The Supreme Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors and the Supreme Council of Public Accounts are two additional organizations having special functions which are set out in the judicial section of the Constitution.
The executive branch in Turkey has a dual structure. It is composed of the President of the Republic and the Council of Ministers (Cabinet).
The President of the Republic is the head of State and represents the Republic of Turkey and the unity of the Turkish nation. The President is elected by popular vote among the Turkish Grand National Assembly members who are over 40 years of age and have completed higher education or among ordinary Turkish citizens who fulfill these requirements and are eligible to be deputies. The President’s term of office is five years and one can be elected for two terms at most.
The President of the Republic has duties and power related to the legislative, executive and judicial branches, and is responsible for ensuring the implementation of the Constitution, and the regular and harmonious functioning of the organs of state.
Prime Minister and Council of Ministers
The Council of Ministers (Cabinet) consists of the Prime Minister, designated by the President of the Republic from members of the TGNA, and various ministers nominated by the Prime Minister and appointed by the President of the Republic. Ministers can be assigned either from among the deputies or from among those who are not members of the TGNA qualified to be elected as a deputy. Ministers can be dismissed from their duties by the President upon the proposal of the Prime Minister when deemed necessary.
The fundamental duty of the Council of Ministers is to formulate and implement the internal and foreign policies of the state. The Council of Ministers is accountable to the Parliament in the execution of this duty.
Living in Turkey
An increasing number of people from various parts of the world are moving to Turkey to start a new life, to work or even to find peace of mind for their retirements.
The country has developed dramatically in the last ten years and the pace of progress in certain fields is nothing short of astonishing.
Most of Turkey’s new residents hail from countries like the UK, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Belgium, France and the USA.
With its unique geographical location combined with a rich and diverse history, right in the cradle of many different civilizations, Turkey is a privileged place to live for expatriates and their families.
From flats in urban centers to villas in suburbs, there are a multitude of options to choose from when looking for housing in Turkey. Major metropolitan areas have the most modern and complete environment for an extravagant life in the city, where luxurious residence complexes offer all the daily amenities such as private security, kindergartens, sports complexes, social facilities, parking lots and shopping malls for their residents.
Thanks to a recent amendment in Turkey’s property law that lifted the reciprocity principle, foreign homebuyers and investors from all over the world are free to purchase property in one of the most promising real estate markets in the world.
Eating and Drinking
Globally renowned Turkish cuisine owes its fame to the country’s unique geographical location at the crossroads of the continents, enriched by various cultures that form the history of modern Turkey. Every region of Turkey has a cooking style of its own, where one can find the authentic tastes of local delicacies, while major cities of the country have restaurants offering very fine examples of dishes from all over the world.
Specialties like pastries and desserts unique to the Turkish cuisine are all-time favorites for tourists and visitors, meanwhile the Turkish coffee, first introduced to Europe in the 16th century, never ceases to be the finishing touch to any meal, especially when accompanied by another Turkish specialty, the Turkish delight.
The transportation system in Turkey makes good use of the country’s highly developed infrastructure. For urban transportation, the major cities of the country are equipped with extensive rail networks both under and above ground, while public and private buses carry hundreds of thousands daily. In addition to public transport, taxi services are extremely common, offering a low-cost and expedited means of local travel. For coastal towns like Izmir and Istanbul, ferry services offer many travelers a viable choice, being both fast and far reaching.
For long distance travel, highways are the choice for many, as hundreds of travel agencies run daily bus shuttles to even the farthest towns and cities from major metropolitan centers. Rail is another means of low-cost and widely used transport; the rail network crosses Turkey from east to west. The railways are given special consideration, the network is enlarging and fast-trains enter service yearly.
The air travel option is becoming cheaper every year, thanks to the development of the Turkish aviation industry and the increasing number of domestic carriers. With a total of around 50 airports in all major population centers, one can fly from one city to another in Turkey in less than an hour, regardless of the distance.
Banking and Finance
Turkey’s significance on the world finance stage is on the rise. The financial capital of the country, Istanbul, with its rich and vibrant economy, is now slated to become a World Finance Center. The country’s banking industry demonstrated remarkable resilience to the effects of the global financial crisis without any government backing, and Turkish banks are now regarded as the soundest in Europe. With service quality matching and exceeding international standards, Turkish banks are widely acclaimed as being fast integrators of technology into their services. Many foreign banks either operate directly in the country or entered the market via mergers and share acquisitions, providing services in all aspects of banking to individuals and investors alike.
A wide range of insurance services and products are available for both individuals and corporations with very competitive premium rates.
The extensive and disciplined education system of Turkey underwent serious reforms in the last decade, like the compulsory eight-year education, improvement of the overall quality of the Turkish education system, as well as the increase in the number of schools and related establishments.
Many private and foundation schools, in addition to public schools, offer education services; moreover international schools, where only foreign nationals can attend, are present throughout the country. While schools providing education in European languages such as English, German, French and Italian are available, there are other institutions where languages such as Russian, Japanese and Chinese are taught, as well.
Starting in 2012, Turkey is undertaking a revolutionary education initiative, the Fatih Project, which will equip all public school students with tablet PCs and classrooms with electronic boards, increasing the overall quality of primary education in the country, while setting an example for the world in the integration of the latest technologies into education.
The healthcare system in Turkey mainly operates with three different types of hospitals: public, university and private. While social and health securities are governed in essence by the state, it is also possible to have private health insurance.
The majority of hospitals in Turkey, both public and private, are either meeting or surpassing international standards in equipment quality and expertise.
Leisure and Sports
The cultural activities that one can engage in Turkey are only limited by individual interests and capabilities. Be it arts, hobby, entertainment or other leisure activities, the possibilities are countless. In all major cities movies, plays, concerts, ballets, operas and other varieties of cultural activities are awaiting either participants or spectators. Local festivals and more traditional forms of leisure activities are also rising in popularity.
Turkey’s rich geography and suitable terrain make the country an ideal place for alternative sports such as mountaineering, golf, scuba diving, rafting, skiing and yachting. Naturally, well-established and popular sports like football, basketball, volleyball have a considerable number of players and supporters all over the country.
Geographically located in both Asia and Europe, Turkey has a climate allowing extreme variations in climatic conditions, often in the same region or province. As such, it is possible to go skiing in a mountain resort after sunbathing on a sandy beach, both in the same day.