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Turkey - A Brief Profile
Poised between the continents of Europe and Asia, Turkey is at once a bridge between East and West and, internally, a land of cultural and economic contrasts.
With the end of the Ottoman Empire and the foundation of the Republic by Mustafa Kemal (later Ataturk) in 1923, Turkey entered a period of dramatic and rapid political change. Religion and the state were clearly separated. And today in a society where 99 per cent of the population is Muslim, laws are still formulated according to strictly secular principles.
Political life in the Republic has been punctuated by periods of political instability, military
interventions, a civil conflict in the southeast of the country and by a series of economic crises.
After Turkey's near economic collapse, a stringent recovery programme was agreed with the IMF in 2002. Since then, Turkey has seen impressive progress with economic growth and a dramatic fall in inflation. However, its sizeable foreign debt is still a burden and a tide of migrants from the countryside to the cities in recent years has brought a number of economic and social problems..
Entry to the European Union is a priority, and the government has already made progress in its efforts to fulfil the political and economic criteria required for accession.
Turkey is a member of NATO and sharing a border with Iraq, Turkey also has immediate experience of the refugee, relief and economic issues caused by international embargos and by war. With several parts of its territory lying in earthquake zones, Turkey has also suffered severe natural disasters .
Population - the basics 1
Turkey has a lively economy, with modern, private enterprises thriving alongside state-controlled industries and a large traditional farming sector.
The process of economic recovery, with IMF assistance, has led to a sharp fall in inflation and a rise in exports. Tourism is a key industry and one which is growing. although debt remains a significant problem
Turkey's main exports are clothing and textiles, fruit and vegetables and metal products. Turkey's main export partners are Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and Italy. Its main sources for imports are Germany, Russia, Italy and France.
The capital of Turkey is Ankara. There are 81 provinces.
Turkey's head of state is the President, who is elected by the National Assembly for a seven-year term of office. The current President is Abdullah Gul who has been in office since August 2007.
The Prime Minister is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been in office since March 2003.
The Grand National Assembly of Turkey has one chamber, with 550 seats. MPs are elected by popular vote for five-year terms.
The last election was in July 2007. The next are due to be held in 2012.
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