Turkey Fact File

Article excerpt

The Republic of Turkey occupies the peninsula of Asia Minor. Inland, the salty landscape of the Anatolian Plateau is bordered by the limestone peaks of the Taurus mountains along the Mediterranean to the south. Several mountain ranges separate the plateau from the Black Sea to the north. Turkey also occupies the region of Eastern Thrace in Europe, connecting two continents.

Vegetation: The bare steppes of Central Anatolia are spotted with isolated clumps of planes and poplars, while cherries, apricots and almonds thrive in the alluvial plains. Crocuses, irises and tulips are native to Turkey. "Tulip" comes from the Turkish word for turban.

History: The land occupied by modern Turkey was at the bloody heart of successive European civilisations. In the third millennium BC, Troy was founded on the west coast. By the time Christ was born, the country had been ruled by Hittites, Urartians, Greeks, Carians, Lycians, Phrygians, Lydians, Persians, Greeks again, and finally Romans, founders of the Byzantine Empire. Turkic Seljuks blazed into the interior in the 11th century AD, followed by European crusaders and the Mongol warriors who founded the Ottoman Empire. By the 19th century, the empire was disintegrating: the Russians already having forced the release of the Crimea. The Greek-Turkish War of 1921-23 resulted in the repatriation of all Greeks living in Asia Minor and in 1923 the Turkish Republic was proclaimed.

Politics: Turkey is a multiparty republic with a national assembly elected every five years. Tension exists between religious and secular politics. There is serious ethnic conflict between the government and the Kurdish minority living in the southeast, with a history of killings on both sides. Amnesty International has criticised Turkey's human rights record. …