COUNTRY PROFILE & FACTSOfficial NameRepublic of TurkeyDate of Foundation29 October 1923CapitalAnkaraLargest CitiesIstanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Adana, AntalyaArea814.578 km2Coastal BordersMediterranean Sea in the south, Aegean Sea in the west and Black Sea in the northLanguageThe official language is Turkish. English is widely spoken in major cities.CurrencyTL (Turkish Lira)Business HoursThe workweek in Turkey runs from Monday to Friday. Banks, government officesand majority of corporate offices open at 9 AM and close at 5 PM.Public HolidaysThere are two types of public holidays in Turkey: Those that fall on the same dayeach year; and the religious festivals, which change according to the lunar calendarand, therefore, fall on different dates each year.
Nature & GeographyTurkey is a vast peninsula, covering an area of 814,578 square kilometres or 314,510 square miles and linking Asia to Europe through the Sea of Marmara and the Straits of Istanbul and Çanakkale. Across the Sea of Marmara, the triangular shaped Trace is the continuation of Turkey on the European continent. Anatolia is rectangular in outline, 1500 kilometres long and 550 kilometres wide.It is characterised by a central plateau surrounded by chains of mountains on the north, west and south and a rugged mountainous region in the east with an average elevation of 1050 metres. In the west, the mountains descend gently towards the sea. The northern Anatolia mountain range, and the Taurus range in the south, stretches like arcs, becoming ever denser in the east. Turkeys highest mountain peak at 5165 metres or 16,946 feet is Ağrı Dağı (Mount Ararat), situated in the north east. It is believed to have been the resting place for Noahs Ark.
Nature & GeographyTurkey is like a mosaic made up of many different reliefs and formations: parallel mountain ranges, extinct volcanoes, plateaux fissured by valleys and plains. Surrounded on its three sides by warm seas, it falls in the temperate climate zone.The climate varies considerably however from region to region: a temperate climate in the Black Sea Region, a Mediterranean climate on the southern coast and the Aegean, a continental and arid climate on the central plateau and a harsh mountain climate in eastern Turkey. Because of these variations in climate, the fauna and flora are some of the richest in Europe and the Middle East.Turkey is separated into seven geographical regions, which are, in order of size: East Anatolia (21 %), Central Anatolia (20%), Black Sea (18%), Mediterranean (15%), Aegean (10%), Marmara (8.5%) and Southeast Anatolia (7.5%).
HistoryThe Turkish nation engaged in a struggle to restore her territorialintegrity and independence, to repulse foreign aggressors, tocreate a new state, to disassociate Turkey from the crumblingOttoman dynasty, to eradicate an old and decrepit order and tobuild a modern country dedicated to political, social andeconomic progress. This was the vision of Atatürk, a general in theOttoman army who had distinguished himself in the defence ofGallipoli (Çanakkale) against the Naval Forces of Britain, France,Australia and New Zealand. The Ottoman victory over the Alliesat Gallipoli renewed Turkeys visions for the empire Atatürkwanted a clean break with the past, to unite the nation in thequest for modernism and to lift Turkey to the level of Europeancountries. On October 29 1923, the republic was proclaimed andAtatürk was elected president. Secularism was established byseparating religious and state affairs.The Latin alphabet replacedthe Arabic script and women were given the right to vote and tobe elected as members of parliament. These reforms, as well asmany others in all aspects of social life, put Turkey on the tracktowards becoming a thoroughly modern country.
HistoryWhen Ataturk died in 1938, he left a legacy of which the Turkish people today are proud. A nationthat had regained confidence in itself after the independence war; a society determined to preservethe political, intellectual, cultural and social values he had bequeathed. The Turkish Republic has nowbeen a member of the international community for over 80 years. During this period, great changeshave occurred and many difficulties have been encountered. But the country remains firmly attachedto the policies initiated by Ataturk. It has established a democratic multi-party political system,developed a vibrant civil society, and embarked on the path of industrialisation and market economy.It has consolidated its ties with the west and with the European Union through membership inNATO and the Council of Europe and Customs Union. These trends mark a radical change from thedays of the Ottoman Empire. Yet there is also continuity. The Turks have inherited both from theIslamic past and their Ottoman past. They have also inherited from their western past, as well asforming a part of the Western present. All these heritages, Eastern and Western, Asian and European,are intermingled in the civilisation of modem Turkey. A symbol of this union is the two bridges thatspan the Istanbul Strait, linking the two continents with many pasts and one future.And Turkey is acandidate country negotiating with European Union for being a member of EU. A Turkishgovernment agency; General Secretariat of European Union is responsible for the negotiations.
Turkish Art & Culture: Past & Present DANCE Turkey has a very ancient folk dance tradition, which varies from region to region, each dance being colourful, rhythmic, elegant and stylish. The following are among the most popular: “Çayda Çıra” from the Sivas region in Central Anatolia is performed by young girls dressed in silver and gold embroidered kaftans who dance in the dark with lighted candles in their hands. In the “Silifke Yoğurdu” from the Mersin region in the South Mediterranean, dancers click wooden spoons together above their heads. “Şeyh Şamil" from the Kars region in the East, is a beautifully dramatised legend of a Caucasian hero. "Kılıç Kalkan” is an epic dance performed with swords and shields from the region of Bursa, and “Zeybek” from Izmir is another epic and vigorous folk dance performed, by male dancers who bang their knees on the floor in between steps. Folklore has also had a considerable influence on ballet. First imported from Europe and Russia, ballet became institutionalised in the Republican era along with other performing arts. The Turkish State Ballet owes its momentum and development to the great British choreographer Dame Ninette de Valois. The State Ballet in both Ankara and İstanbul has, for decades, performed many world classics. Several new foreign and Turkish productions have been introduced into the repertoire over the years and a number of modern dance groups like the infamous “Fire of Anatolia” (Anadolu Atesi) have recently begun to give performances all over the world.
Turkish Art & Culture: Past & Present MUSIC Turkish music evolved from the original folk form into classical through the emergence of a Palace culture. It attained its highest point in the 16th century through the composer “Itri”. Great names in Turkish classical music include “Dede Efendi”, “Hacı Arif Bey” and “Tamburi Cemil Bey”. It is a form that continues to be professionally performed and one that attracts large audiences.Turkish music, locally called Turkish Classical Music, is a variation of the national musical tradition, played with instruments such as the tambur, kanun, ney and ud. Folk music has developed gradually over the centuries in the rural areas of Turkey. It is highly diversified with many different rhythms and themes. Musical archives contain almost 10,000 such folk songs.Turkish religious music, mostly in the form of songs, is centuries old and rich in tradition, embodied most perfectly by Sufi (Mevlevi) music. The Turks were introduced to western classical music through orchestras, which were invited to the Sultans Palace to celebrate occasions such as weddings.The great Italian composer, Donizetti, conducted the Palace Orchestra for many years. The first military band was founded in the 19th century. During the Republican era, the Presidential Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1924, and the Orchestra of the Istanbul Municipality Conservatory played a leading role in introducing and popularising classical music in Turkey. Turkish composers drew their inspiration from Turkish folk songs and Turkish classical music.Today, conductors such as Hikmet Şimşek and Gürer Aykal, pianists like İdil Biret and the Güher and Süher Pekinel sisters, and violinists like Suna Kan are internationally recognised virtuosos. Leyla Gencer was one of the leading sopranos of La Scala Opera, wildly acclaimed whenever she performed in her native Istanbul.
Turkish Art & Culture: Past & PresentTHEATRE AND CINEMA Turkish theatre is thought to have originated from the popular Karagöz shadow plays, a cross between moralistic Punch and Judy and the slapstick Laurel and Hardy. It then developed along an oral tradition, with plays performed in public places, such as coffee houses and gardens, exclusively by male actors. Atatürk gave great importance to the arts, and actively encouraged theatre, music and ballet, prompting the foundation of many state institutions.Turkey today boasts a thriving arts scene, with highly professional theatre, opera and ballet companies, as well as a flourishing film industry. The making of films in the true language of the cinema, free from the influence of the theatre, began towards the 1950s. One of the first of these directors was Ömer Lütfi Akad. Towards the 1960s, some 60 films a year were being made. Starting from that time, directors such as Metin Erksan, Halit Refiğ, Ertem Göreç, Duygu Sağıroğlu, Nevzat Pesen and Memduh Ün produced successful films taking social problems as their subject matter. The period that began in the late 1960s, when television was having an adverse effect on the cinema, saw such prominent directors as Yılmaz Güney, Atıf Yılmaz, Süreyya Duru, Zeki Ökten, Şerif Gören, Fevzi Tuna, Ömer Kavur and Ali Özgentürk. Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Fatih Akın, Ferzan Özpetek, Abdullah Oğuz and Semih Kaplanoğlu are successful directors of today’s Turkish cinema. Nuri Bilge Ceylans film “Uzak” won Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival in 2003. “The Edge Of Heaven” (Yaşamın Kıyısında) which directed by Fatih Akın (2006), won the Award for Best Screenplay (Prix De Scénario) at Cannes 2007. The record holder of Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival “Egg” (Yumurta), film of Semih Kaplanoğlu, was awarded with Best 2nd Film in Estoril European Film Festival, which took place in Portugal and honoured with Eurimages Award by the jury of Sevilla Film Festival in Spain. “Bliss” (Abdullah Oğuz, 2007) has been rewarded with European Councils Human Rights Award. Nuri Bilge Ceylan won the best director award in the 2008 Cannes Film Festival for his Üç Maymun (Three Monkeys). The country enjoys numerous performing arts festivals throughout the year, the most prestigious of which is the Istanbul International Festival and the Antalya Film Festival.
Turkish Art & Culture: Past & Present FINE ARTS Until the 18th century, painting in Turkey was mainly in the form of miniatures, usually linked to books in the form of manuscript illustrations. In the 18th century, trends shifted towards oil painting, beginning with murals. Thereafter, under European inspiration, painting courses were introduced in military schools. The first Turkish painters were therefore military people. The modernisation of Turkish painting, including representation of the human figure, started with the founding of the Academy of Arts under the direction of Osman Hamdi Bey, one of the great names in Turkish painting. In 1923, following the proclamation of the Republic, a society of contemporary painting was set-up, followed by many other such schools. Art exhibitions in Turkey’s cities multiplied, more and more people started to acquire paintings, and banks, and companies began investing in art.
Turkish Art & Culture: Past & Present LITERATURE Literature has long been an important component of Turkish cultural life, reflecting the history of the people, their legends, their mysticism, and the political and social changes that affected this land throughout its long history. The oldest literary legacy of the pre-Islamic period are the Orhon inscriptions in northern Mongolia, written in 735 on two large stones in honour of a Turkish king and his brother. During the Ottoman period, the prevailing literary form was poetry, the dominant dialect was Anatolian or Ottoman, and the main subject beauty and romance. The Ottoman Divan literature was highly influenced by Persian culture and written in a dialect, which combined Arabic, Persian and Turkish. Separate from the aristocratic Divan literature, folk literature continued to dominate Anatolia where troubadour-like poets celebrated nature, love and God in simple Turkish language. Towards the 20th century, the language of Turkish literature became simpler and more political and social in substance. The great and politically controversial poet, Nazım Hikmet, inspired by the Russian poet Mayakowski, introduced free verse in the late 1930s. Nowadays, the irrefutable master of the Turkish popular novel is Yaşar Kemal, with his authentic, colourful and forceful description of Anatolian life.Young Turkish writers tend to go beyond the usual social issues, preferring to tackle problems such as feminism and aspects of die East-West dichotomy that continues to fascinate Turkish intellectuals. The most well-known and widely-read writers of the 1950-1990 period can be listed as follows: Tarik Dursun K., Atilla lhan,Yasar Kemal, Orhan Kemal, Kemal Tahir, Tarik Bugra, Aziz Nesin, Mustafa Necati Sepetçioglu, Firuzan, Adalet Agaoglu, Sevgi Soysal, Tomris Uyar, Selim Ileri, Cevat Sakir (Halikarnas Balıkçısı), Necati Cumalı, Haldun Taner. Prominent poets in this period are: Behçet Kemal Çaglar, Necati Cumalı , Oktay Rıfat, Melih Cevdet Anday, Cemal Süreya, Edip Cansever, Özdemir İnce, Ataol Behramoğlu, Ismet Özel, Ece Ayhan, Turgut Uyar, Sezai Karakoç, Bahaettin Karakoç, Ümit Yasar Oguzcan, Orhan Pamuk . The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2006 was awarded to the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures.
Turkish Art & Culture: Past & Present OPERA AND BALLET In the period prior to the proclamation of the Republic in Turkey, opera, ballet and the theatre were mostly centred around Istanbul and Izmir. The first showing of opera at the imperial court was by artists trained by Guiseppe Donizetti (1788-1856) from the Italian opera. During the Republic, Ahmet Adnan Saygun, Necil Kazım Akses and Cemal Reşit Rey were the first composers of opera, operettas and musicals. A. Adnan Sayguns first two operas, Özsoy and Tasbebek, Necil Kazım Aksess Bay Önder staged in Ankara, a Mozart musical Bastien and Bastienne staged at the Ankara State Conservatory with pupils playing libretto in Turkish (1936),and the staging of western operas such as Madame Butterfly and Tosca (1940-1941).The orchestrations, chorus and solo recitals of 1950-1952 all contributed to form a foundation for the establishment of todays State Opera and Ballet. Meanwhile in 1947, the famous ballerina and teacher Ninette de Valois was invited to Istanbul and through her efforts, the National Ballet School at Yeşilköy was set up. In 1956-57, the first dancers graduated from Ankara State Conservatory and in 1959-60, the State Opera formed a corps de ballet. "Çesmebaşı" which is one of the most important works in Turkish ballet history was first performed in 1965. Notwithstanding the short history of opera in Turkey which only spans 56 years, the General Directorate of State Opera and Ballet counts amongst its members many artists of international fame, and aside from Ankara and Istanbul, many other branches have been set up in cities around the country and the results everywhere have been very successful.
Turkish cuisineTurkish cuisine is renowned as one of the worlds best. It is considered to be one of the three main cuisines of the world because of the variety of its recipes, its use of natural ingredients, its flavours and tastes that appeal to all palates and its influence throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The cuisine originated in central Asia, the first home of the Turks, and then evolved with the contributions of the inland and Mediterranean cultures with which Turks interacted after their arrival in Anatolia. Turkish cuisine is in a sense a bridge between far-Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, with the accent always on enhancing the natural taste and flavour of the ingredients. There is no one dominant element in Turkish cuisine, like sauces in French and pasta in Italian cuisines.While the Palace cuisine was developing in İstanbul, local cuisines in Anatolia were multiplying in several regions, all displaying different geographical and climactic characteristics. These cuisines, after remaining within regional borders for centuries, are now being transported to the big cities and their suburbs as a consequence of large-scale urbanisation and migration towards new urban centres. As a result, the national Turkish cuisine has been enriched by the contribution of a great number of local recipes.
Turkish cuisine A main meal will usually start with soup and the meze, a variety of small cold and hot dishes, which are made for sharing. In many restaurants, a waiter will bring these around on a tray for you to look and make your choice. Tarama salad, cacık (tzatziki), dolma (vine leaves or peppers stuffed with rice), börek (pastries), beyaz peynir (similar to feta) arnavut ciğeri (cubed fried liver) are amongst the many types of mezes found in most of the restaurants.The main course is usually meat or fish.Turks always eat bread with their meal and main courses are usually served with rice. Typically, çoban salatası, a salad made of tomato, cucumber, parsley and onion, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, will be offered as a side dish. Lamb is the most popular meat and prepared in a variety of ways, including “şiş kebap” (grilled cubes of seasoned meat on a skewer). “Köfte”, which are like small lamb meatballs and are well worth trying. Those who prefer something hot and spicy should try “Adana kebap”, which is made of minced lamb but with the addition of hot peppers and spices formed around a flat skewer. There are numerous variations and regional specialities of kebap. Somewhat rich but very tasty, is the İskender or Bursa kebab, named respectively after Alexander the Great and the town in which it originated. It consists of slices of döner meat laid over small bites of a freshly cooked flat bread and covered with tomato sauce and hot butter all served with yoghurt. Turks are traditionally fond of stews called sulu yemek or ev yemeği (home cooked) and therefore there are many restaurants offering these foods which are usually displayed in the entrance of the restaurant in large glass displays making it easier to choose.