Identification. The English word “Turkish” comes from the ancient Turkish word Türk , which can be used as an adjective or a proper noun. In Turkish, the name of the country is Türkiye . After decades of nationalistic indoctrination, most citizens self-identify as Turks regardless of ethnic background. Some of the major non-Turkish ethnic groups—the Kurds in the southeast, the Arabs in the south, the Laz of the western Black Sea coast, and the Georgians in the northeast and northwest—express double identities.
Location and Geography. Turkey occupies Asia Minor and a small portion of Europe. Its area is 301,382 square miles (814,578 square kilometers). It is bounded on the west by the Aegean Sea; on the northwest by the Sea of Marmara, Greece, and Bulgaria; on the north by the Black Sea; on the east by Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran; and on the south by Iraq, Syria, and the Mediterranean. Although Istanbul (formerly Constantinople) is the major city and was the capital of the Ottoman Empire, the first president—Mustafa Kemal Atatürk—chose Ankara, an interior Anatolian city, as the capital in 1923. Militarily Ankara was less exposed and more easily defended than Istanbul. The choice also symbolized Atatürk’s policy of nationalism, because Ankara was more Turkish and less cosmopolitan than the old capital.
Turkey has 4,454 miles of coastline. The interior consists of mountains, hills, valleys, and a high central plateau. The western coastal plains are generally more densely populated and industrial than are the central and eastern regions, except for Ankara on the central Anatolian plateau. Because Asia Minor had been home to Lydians, Hittites, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, and Ottomans over the centuries, it is dotted with historic monuments.
Physiographically, the country may be divided into five regions. The Black Sea region has a moderate climate and higher than average rainfall. It is dominated by the Pontic mountain range. The west is noted for agriculture, including grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and tobacco. In the more humid east, the mountains leave a narrow coastal plain rarely exceeding twenty miles wide. The Black Sea peoples settled and farmed the valleys and narrow alluvial fans of the area’s rivers, developing a form of steep slope agriculture to grow vegetables and fruits. Tea, the major cash crop, did not become popular until the 1960s. Some villagers combined gardening with transhipment pastoralism, which involves grazing small herds of sheep, goats, and cattle on the lowlands in the winter and in the high Pontic pastures in the summer.
Until recently, the rugged topography limited agriculture, and alternative land-based industries were virtually absent. Thus, many western Black Sea men sought work outside the region in the navy and merchant marine or in major cities, later returning home to retire. While the men worked away, the women kept up the home, farmed the land, and cared for the livestock.
The central Anatolian plateau region is dotted with mountains and denuded of trees. It has a semi-arid climate with high temperatures in summer and low ones in winter. Villagers engage in animal husbandry and cultivate wheat, barley, and sugar beets. Areas unsuited for cultivation are used to graze large herds of sheep, cattle, and goats.
Eastern Anatolia is the most mountainous, remote, undeveloped, and sparsely populated region. Its elevation and cold temperatures make it less suitable for crop cultivation than the rest of Anatolia. Historically, its people engaged predominantly in animal husbandry, especially transhumant nomadism with herds of sheep, cattle, and
goats. A tribal social organization survived longer in this area among the Turkish and Kurdish peoples.The Mediterranean coastal region is lined by the Taurus Mountains. It has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, humid winters. The eastern part, around Mersin and Adana, is known for extensive cotton production by wealthy landowners. Mersin is an important seaport and oilrefining center. The western region is noted for citrus and banana groves. Seminomadic peoples traditionally utilized the Taurus Mountains to graze sheep, goats, cattle, and camels. Women among the Turkish Yürük pastoralists made woolen kilims, rugs, and saddlebags. Tourism is now a major industry.
The Aegean region also has a Mediterranean climate. It contains rich valleys and alluvial plains as well as rolling hills and mountains. A wide variety of crops are produced, including citrus fruits, olives, nuts, sunflowers, tobacco, sugar beets, grains, fruits, and vegetables. The area contains most of Turkey’s prosperous small farmers and food-processing plants. Izmir is the region’s major commercial and industrial center; it is the third largest city and second major port.
The Marmara–Istanbul region, a crossroads of Europe and Asia, is the most densely settled, commercial, industrial, and touristic region. It has a moderate climate, rich soil, and extensive coastlines. As a result of modern development, it has the highest percentage of the population engaged in nonagricultural pursuits of any region in the country. Istanbul, the largest and most cosmopolitan city, leads the country in commerce, shipping, fashion, literature, arts, and entertainment. Over the decades, it has attracted a steady stream of migrants from all parts of the country.
Demography. The annual population increase fell to 1.6 percent in 1998 after decades of annual growth over 2.5 percent. The 1998 population was estimated at 64,566,511, with 65 percent of the people living in urban areas and 35 percent in some thirty-five thousand villages. Turkey does not categorize its population by ethnicity, and the sizes of ethnic groups must be estimated. There are at least thirty-five non-Turkish ethnic groups, including other Turkic peoples who speak different Turkic languages, such as the Uygurs, Kirgiz, Kazaks, Uzbeks, Balkar, and Azerbaijanis. Those who speak non-Turkic languages include Kurds, Armenians, Greeks, Circassians, Georgians, Laz, Arabs, Rom (Gypsies), Ossetes, Albanians, and Chechens. The Kurds are the largest of these groups, probably numbering over ten million. The next largest may be the Arabs concentrated along the Syrian border at about one million and the Laz of the Eastern Black Sea coastal region, who may number about three hundred thousand.
Linguistic Affiliation. The Turks originated in inner Asia. Their language belongs to the Altaic family. The earliest evidence of Turkish writing dates to eighth-century C.E. runic inscriptions on steles along the Orkhon River near present-day Ulan Bator, Mongolia. The language was influenced by Persian and Arabic after the ninth century, when Turks began moving into the Middle East and converting to Islam. After the establishment of the Turkish Republic, many Arabic and Persian words were replaced with words derived from ancient Turkish. As part of Atatürk’s Turkification program, all Muslim citizens were legally required to speak and write in Turkish. Until 1991, publications, radio broadcasts, and public speaking in many non-Turkish languages were legally prohibited. Today the vast majority of young people speak only Turkish. However, most Kurds raised in southeastern Turkey speak Kurdish as well as Turkish.
History and Ethnic Relations
Emergence of the Nation. Present-day Turkey was founded in 1923 as an offspring of the multiethnic and multilingual Ottoman Empire, which existed between the fourteenth and early twentieth centuries and embraced much of the Middle East along with parts of southeastern Europe and North Africa in the sixteenth century. In the nineteenth century, when the Balkans and the Trans-Caspian regions were separated from the empire, many non-Turkish Ottoman citizens fled or migrated to Anatolia and Turkish Thrace to resettle.
With the Ottoman Empire’s demise in World War I, the heartland of the old empire—Istanbul and Asia Minor—was reconstituted as the Republic of Turkey under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal (later called Mustafa Kemal Atatürk). To make Turkey a modern, Western-style, secular nation-state, Atatürk disestablished Islam as the state religion, adopted Western legal codes, and established a compulsory secular educational system in which all young Muslim citizens, regardless of ethnicity, were taught that they were ethnically Turkish and citizens of a Turkish nation-state. After centuries of intermarriage with Mediterranean and Balkan peoples and the assimilation of those peoples into the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish state, the vast majority of today’s Turks physically resemble southern Europeans rather than central Asiatics.
National Identity. The government founded and supported historical and linguistic societies that researched and, if necessary, invented a glorious Turkish past that would instill pride in the country’s citizens. The official policy of Turkish nationalistic indoctrination has been largely effective. Most citizens, regardless of their non-Turkish ancestry, self-identify as Turks both ethnically and nationally, with the exception of some Kurds.
Ethnic Relations. After the post-World War I Treaty of Laussane, only Christian Armenians, Orthodox Greeks, and Jews were allowed to maintain their religious and educational institutions. Since 1999, the only non-Turkish languages taught in public schools have been western European languages and Arabic.
About half the Kurds reside in southeastern Turkey, their traditional homeland. Most of those in other regions have become Turkified though education, work, military service, and intermarriage. Since the 1970s, a growing number of Kurds have rediscovered their non-Turkish roots, based in part on Kurdish, an Indo-European language related to Persian.
Although the use of Kurdish in public speech and print has been legal since 1991, prosecutors often arrest Kurdish speakers and confiscate Kurdish publications under the Anti-Terror Law, which prohibits the dissemination of separatist propaganda. Prosecutors also have used other parts of the criminal code to limit ethnic expression. As of 1999, Kurdish-language broadcasts remained illegal. The Sanliurfa (southeastern Turkey) branch of the Mesopotamian Cultural Center, a corporation established to promote the Kurdish language and culture, was banned in 1997 by the provincial governor. In 1997, the governor’s office in Istanbul refused the Kurdish Culture and Research Foundation permission to offer Kurdish-language classes.
Some Kurds are demanding cultural rights and even independence or regional autonomy for the southeast. Since 1984, the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a secessionist and sometimes terrorist organization, has been fighting the Turkish military in that area. Up to March 1999, about thirty thousand
people, mostly PKK members, had been killed in the fighting. The Turkish military’s actions have engendered support for the PKK, which occasionally carries out cross-border raids from northern Iraq. Turkish armed forces have compelled the evacuation of over a million civilians from the southeast and destroyed over two thousand villages.In June 2000, a Turkish court convicted Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the PKK, of murder and sentenced him to death. Kurds in Turkey, Europe, and other countries demonstrated in support of him. Ocalan has appealed the sentence to the European Court of Human Rights. Should Turkey impose the death penalty on Ocalan, its relations with its Kurdish citizens will become severely strained.
In recent years, Georgians, Circassians, and Laz have been attempting to revive their non-Turkish languages and cultural traditions within the limits allowed by Turkish law. In the early 1990s, a group of Georgian Turks began publishing Çveneburi ,a cultural journal devoted to Georgian poetry, literature, and folklore. These peoples consider themselves Muslims and Turkish citizens with non-Turkish Ottoman ancestries.
The vast majority of citizens, however, share a common Turkish culture with some regional, urban–rural, social class, and ethnic variations. There has been a good deal of intermarriage, especially among Sunni Muslims with different ethnic backgrounds. The state accepts all citizens as Turks. There are no official legal, educational, or employment disabilities associated with ethnicity and no system of ethnic identity cards.
Turkey has expressed concern for the treatment of Turkic peoples in neighboring countries, such as Bulgaria, Iraq, and Iran. However, Turkey is concerned primarily with the rights of Turks in Europe. Turkey is an associate member of the European Union. Since the 1960s, millions of its citizens have immigrated to western European countries to work, and only a small percentage have received European citizenship. Consequently, Turkey has about three million citizens living in Europe.
For Ankara, this overseas workforce has been a mixed blessing. While many send back hard currency to their relatives, many are exposed to political and religious ideas that are prohibited in Turkey. For example, about 20 to 25 percent of Turkish citizens in Europe are Kurds; many were not aware of their ethnic roots until they were educated by Kurdish nationalists there. Kurdish nationalists have also won the sympathy of many Europeans. The forms of cultural suppression exercised by the Turkish government violate the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, a treaty that Ankara has ratified and is obligated to respect.
Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space. Architecture and the use of space have been influenced by economic factors, political ideology, environment, tradition, and foreign ideas. Ottoman architecture with its Byzantine and Islamic elements represented a clear cultural expression of the imperial past. Leaders of the new republic wanted a different architecture that would proclaim their new vision of a Western, secular nation-state. One goal of the republic was to catch up with the material culture and technology of the West. Hence, they turned to western Europe to help create a new capital in Ankara.
Ankara represented a tabula rasa on which a new Turkish order could be constructed. In the early 1920s, it was an insignificant town of 20,000 people, with narrow winding streets and simple mud-brick houses. During the early years of the republic, Ankara was transformed with monumental government buildings symbolizing the ambitions and power of the new state.
Although some early building designs maintained a nostalgic association with the Ottoman past, modern architects and government officials regarded that style as inappropriate. Contemporary architectural styles, inspired by Europe, began to replace Ottoman revivalism in institutional building after 1927. In the late 1920s and early 1930s in part as a result of an economic crisis, the government favored drab forms of international architecture influenced by the Bauhaus school.
In the pre–World War II period, the monumental official architecture of the German and Italian regimes became dominant. Ankara’s Grand National Assembly building (1938–1960) manifested the spirit of National Socialist architecture. In the area of housing, a “Republican Bourgeoisie” consisting of highly paid military and civilian officials played an important role in the acceptance of modern architecture. Western buildings with indoor plumbing and electricity fit their search for a contemporary lifestyle without ties to the past.
After World War II, the International Style became more common. Its site plans were typified by functional geometric elements, and its building facades employed grid systems. The Istanbul Hilton Hotel (1952) became an influential and highly copied example of this style.
In the 1960s, the Bauhaus school with its emphasis on mass production influenced the construction of middle-class urban housing in Ankara and some other cities. Turkey’s first skyscraper, a commercial office building, was constructed in 1959 in Ankara. Since that time, modern skyscrapers and high-rise government, commercial, and apartment buildings have transformed most major cities. Since the 1950s, modern urban centers have been ringed by expanding squatter settlements ( gecekondus )of substandard housing constructed quickly by peasants from rural areas. Today between 50 and 60 percent of Turkey’s urban population consists of gecekondu residents.
Housing styles in small towns and villages are determined by tradition, family structure, environment, local building materials, and income. There is considerable variety in external appearance by region.
Most homes are divided in a selamlîk (a public reception room) and a harem (private family quarters). In traditional households, male guests are confined to the selamlîk , where they converse with the male members of the household, while women stay in the harem . Many traditional homes also have an enclosed garden or courtyard where females can perform some of their domestic duties and chat with neighbors.
In small towns and villages, males dominate public space while females dominate the private space of the home. In the mosque, females pray in an area apart from and outside the view of males. It is not uncommon for movie theaters, restaurants, beaches, and public parks to have a “bachelors” section for males and a “family” section for families and single females. In public transportation conveyances, it is not considered proper for a male to take a seat next to an unrelated female. In recent years, many of these restrictions have been eased in major cities, but coffeehouses and some bars remain exclusively male domains.
Food and Economy
Read more about the Food and Cuisine of Turkey.
Food in Daily Life. Turkish cuisine includes many different stews of vegetables and meat (lamb and beef primarily); borek , kebab , and dolma dishes; and a sourdough bread eaten with almost every meal. Borek is a pastry made of many thin layers of dough interspersed with cheese, spinach, and/or ground meat. Kebab is the common word for meat roasted in pieces or slices on a skewer or as meatballs on a grill. Dolma is the generic name for dishes made of vegetables (e.g., tomatoes and peppers) and leaves (e.g., grape, cabbage, and eggplant) that are stuffed with or wrapped around rice or bulgur pilaf,
ground meat, and spices. Turks are especially fond of eggplant.In the winter, many Turks eat a breakfast of bread with hot soup. In the warmer seasons, they commonly eat bread and jam, hard- or soft-boiled eggs, a white cheese made from sheep’s milk, salty olives, and warm milk or hot tea with milk. A typical noon meal consists of vegetable and meat stew with a side dish of rice or bulgar pilaf and salad, with fruit for desert. Borek or dolma may substitute for the stew. Sweet deserts, such as baklava, are served on special occasions. The evening meal is usually lighter, consisting of leftovers from noon or a kebab with salad. Ordinarily, only water is drunk with the noon and evening meals.
Food preferences and preparations vary by region and ethnicity. For example, the Black Sea is noted for fish, especially anchovy, dishes, while the eastern region is noted for spicy foods. Circassians are famous for preparing chicken in a walnut sauce, while Georgian cuisine is typified by thick corn bread and corn soup. Lahmacun , or Armenian pizza, originated in the southeastern provinces once occupied by Armenians.
All cities have numerous restaurants and snack stands. Many specialize in a limited number of foods, such as kebabs, soups, meat wraps made with pide (a flat bread), pastries, and fish. Others offer a variety of meals, including stews, pilafs, vegetables, and deserts. Inexpensive restaurants cater to workingmen, who commonly eat only breakfast and the evening meal at home. Higher-class restaurants generally set aside a section for females and families. American fast-food chains have become popular in the large cities.
The major food taboo in Turkey is pork, which is forbidden to Muslims. Although the Koran also forbids alcoholic beverages, many Turks drink beer, wine, and liquors. Certain segments of the Muslim population regard other foods as taboo even though their religion does not prohibit them. For example, Yürüks, a formerly nomadic Turkish people, avoid all seafood with the exception of fish. Members of the Alevi sect of Islam do not eat rabbit because it menstruates. Turks in the northwestern province of Balikesir avoid snails, claiming incorrectly that the Koran forbids their consumption.
Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Special dishes are associated with holy days and celebrations. In Gaziantep, yuvarlama (a blend of ground meat, rice, chickpeas, onions, and spices served with yogurt) is a special dish for the Feast of Ramadan at the end of the Islamic month of fasting. In some of the southern provinces the special meal for that
feast consists of lamb kebab served with tomatoes and borek .For the holy month of Ashure , which comes after the Feast of Ramadan, many households prepare a pudding called Ashure to share with guests, friends, and neighbors. According to tradition, Ashure must contain at least fifteen different ingredients, such as peas, beans, almonds, cereals, rice, raisins, rosewater, pomegranate seeds, orange peels, figs, and cinnamon. Throughout much of Turkey, wedding soup, a preparation of lamb meat with bone, egg, lemon juice, flour, butter, and red pepper, is served at wedding celebrations.
Turkish beverages include tea drunk throughout the day, thick coffee usually taken after a meal, ayran (buttermilk), boza (a fermented bulgur drink taken in the winter), and rakî (an aniseed-flavored brandy usually mixed with water). Carbonated drinks have become popular with young people, and beer gardens in major cities have become hangouts for men.
Basic Economy. Turkey is self-sufficient in food production. Fishers, farmers, and animal husbandry workers produce a wide variety of fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and meat for consumers. However, malnutrition affects some of the urban poor and small segments of the rural population in the southeastern region.
In 1996, agriculture contributed 15 percent to the gross national product and 43.1 percent of the labor force was engaged in agriculture. Turkey exports cereals, pulses, industrial crops, sugar, nuts, fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and livestock products. In the early 1990s agricultural products accounted for 15 percent of total exports. However, if one includes cotton and wool, agriculture’s contribution to total exports is even greater.
Since 1984, Turkey has liberalized its policy on food imports. Daily products and luxury food items, especially from European Union countries, are available in most large cities.
Most farmers produce for both domestic consumption and sale. Very few are self-sufficient. The vast majority rely on a well-established network of local and regional markets as well as large wholesalers to sell their surplus product. They then buy food and manufactured items from the proceeds.
Land Tenure and Property. Between the 1920s and 1970, the government distributed more than three million hectares of mostly state land to landless peasants. Although no comprehensive property surveys have been conducted, it is believed that most farm families own some land. According to the data in a 1980 agricultural census, 78 percent of farms had five hectares or less and together accounted for 60 percent of all farmland. Twenty-three percent of farms were between five and twenty hectares and accounted for 18 percent of all farmland. Fewer than 4 percent exceeded a hundred hectares, but they amounted to 15 percent of the farmland.
Less than one-fifth of farmers lease or sharecrop the land they till. Sharecroppers generally receive half the crop, with the remainder going to landlords, who supply seed and fertilizer. Most villages have common pastures for the residents’ herd animals. In the past, southeastern Anatolia had feudal landlords who owned entire villages.
Many large farms have been converted into modern agricultural enterprises that employ machinery, irrigation, and chemical fertilizers. Such farms concentrate on high-value fruits and industrial crops and employ land-poor farmers. Since the 1950s, the mechanization of agriculture has reduced the need for farm labor, causing many villagers to migrate to the cities.
Major Industries. Turkey’s economy is a mix of private and state economic enterprises (SEEs). From
the 1920s to the 1980s, the state owned many of the major manufacturing, banking, and communications companies. Since that time, a policy of privatization of SEEs has been followed. Currently, factories produce a wide variety of products, including processed foods, textiles and footwear, iron and steel, chemicals, cement, fertilizers, kitchen appliances, radios, and television sets. Montage industries that utilize a combination of imported and domestic parts assemble cars, trucks, and buses as well as aircraft. Trade. Since the 1980s, trade has played an increasingly important role in the economy. Turkey’s entrance into a customs union agreement with the European Union (EU) in 1995 facilitated trade with EU countries. In 1997, recorded exports amounted to $26 billion (U.S.), with unrecorded exports estimated at $5.8 billion. The major export commodities were textiles and apparel (37 percent), iron and steel products (10 percent), and foodstuffs (17 percent). The major export partners were Germany (20 percent), the United States (8 percent), Russia (8 percent), the United Kingdom (6 percent), and Italy (5 percent).
Imports were valued at $46.7 billion (U.S.) in 1997. Import commodities included machinery (26 percent), fuels (13 percent), raw materials (10 percent), and foodstuffs (4 percent). The primary import partners were Germany (16 percent), Italy (9 percent), the United States (9 percent), France (6 percent), and the United Kingdom (6 percent).
Division of Labor. Most jobs are assigned on the basis of age, skill, education, gender, and in some cases kinship. There are many small family-owned and -operated businesses in towns and cities. In those businesses, young people, especially sons, are trained from an early age to operate the enterprise. Until the 1960s, many young people, especially males, learned their skills in the traditional apprentice system. Today the Ministry of Education operates thousands of basic and advanced vocational and technical schools for males and females.
Turkey has numerous universities where students of both sexes study to become businesspersons, doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, accountants, bankers, and architects. Civil service jobs require applicants to meet educational requirements and pass a written examination.
Turkish law generally prohibits the employment of children under 15 years of age, except that those who are 13 and 14 may do light, part-time work if they are enrolled in school or vocational training. In practice, the children of poor families work to earn needed income. Aside from farm labor, underage boys work in tea gardens as waiters, auto repair shops, and small wood and metal craft industries. Underage girls generally work at home at handicrafts.
Classes and Castes. The most important determinants of social status are wealth and education. The basic categories include the wealthy urban educated class, the urban middle class, the urban lower class, the large rural landowner class, and the general rural population. A university education is the minimum qualification for entry into the urban educated class, in which there are numerous substrata.
Distinctions can be drawn between the urban upper and urban middle classes. The urban upper class includes several groups with high status determined by education, political influence, and wealth. Wealthy businessmen are accorded very high status, as are successful physicians, cabinet ministers, and many members of the assembly, directors of important government departments, and other high-level officials. Since World War II, businessmen have challenged the old military–bureaucratic elite for power and social prestige. Members of the urban upper class are generally westernized; most speak at least one Western language, are well acquainted with European or American life and culture, and have close contact with the diplomatic and foreign business communities.
The urban middle class includes most civil servants, proprietors of medium-size businesses and industries, many persons in service occupations, some skilled workers, and university students. These groups usually are less westernized than the upper class and more oriented to Turkish culture. The urban middle class also includes virtually the entire upper strata of the provincial cities. There is considerable mobility within the urban educated class.
The urban lower class includes semiskilled and unskilled laborers, low-paid service workers, and the urban unemployed. The high rate of migration of young villagers to urban areas makes this the most rapidly growing class. Many migrants have difficulty finding jobs, and others work only seasonally. Many live in poverty in the shantytowns that ring the major cities. Urbanization continues as the rural population grows and urban industry offers better incomes.
Some 30 percent of the population are rural farmers, often referred to as peasants. Improved communications and transportation have brought them into closer contact with towns and cities. Educational efforts since 1923 succeeded in bringing the national literacy level up to 82.3 percent by 1995, although the rural literacy level is lower. Some eastern rural areas are still dominated by large landowners, traditional clan heads, and religious leaders. Young villagers who migrate to towns and cities cannot find their way into the middle class unless they receive further education.
Symbols of Social Stratification. Most men of all social classes have adopted Western styles of dress, including trousers, shirts, and jackets. Men and women in the upper and middle urban classes pay attention to Western fashions. They also live in high-priced apartments and try to possess Western luxury items, such as cars, electronic devices, cell phones, and computers. They have developed a taste for Western literature and music and attend musical events and plays. The upper class favors European-language high schools and universities; the middle class is more satisfied with standard Turkish educational institutions. Both classes prefer to speak an educated Istanbul style of standard Turkish.
Most members of the lower urban classes live in shantytowns. Only a small proportion have graduated from high school ( lise ). The women tend to wear traditional conservative clothing, including head scarves and long coats, even in the summer. They favor Turkish and Middle Eastern music. The peasant and rural classes are the least exposed to Western and urban influences in dress, styles, language, and music. They, like the lower urban class, tend to speak Turkish with regional accents and grammatical peculiarities. The women wear conservative peasant dress consisting of baggy pantaloons and head scarves.
Government. The government operates under the 1982 constitution. All the constitutions (1924, 1961, and 1982) were written and adopted while military leaders were in control. The 1982 constitution states that “Turkey is a democratic, secular and social State . . . loyal to the nationalism of Atatürk” (Article 2). “The Turkish State, with its territory and nation, is an indivisible entity. Its language is Turkish” (Article 3).
The constitution enumerates a long list of civil and political rights but subordinates them to considerations of “national security,” “national unity,” and “public morality.” It also allows the government to impose emergency rule or martial law. The constitution establishes a popularly elected single-chamber national assembly with full legislative powers, a prime minister and cabinet responsible to the national assembly, and a constitutional court with the power of judicial review. It provides for a president with extensive executive powers and legislative veto authority who is elected by the assembly for a seven-year term.
There is a wide array of political parties. It is illegal for parties to appeal to religion, advocate the establishment of a religious state, or claim to represent a class or ethnic group. In recent elections, no party has been able to win more than 22 percent of the vote, leading to coalition governments.
Turkey is divided administratively into eighty provinces ( iller ), which are subdivided into subprovinces ( ilçeler ), which in turn are divided into districts ( bucaklar ). A governor ( vali ) appointed by the minister of the interior heads each province and represents the state. Locally elected representative bodies at the village, city, and provincial levels also play governing roles.
Leadership and Political Officials. Most of Turkey’s political leaders have been high-ranking military officers, university professors, or successful businessmen. Many provincial governors are former generals or career civil servants who graduated from Ankara University’s public administration program. The military elite sees itself as the protector of the constitution and Atatürk’s principles. It has formal influence over governmental matters through the National Security Council, which is composed of the prime minister; the chief of the general staff; the ministers of national defense, the interior, and foreign affairs; and the commanders of the armed forces and the gendarmerie. This body sets national security policy.
Military leaders have been especially concerned about threats to secularism and the unity of the state and nation. In 1997, the militarily dominated National Security Council presented the prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, with twenty demands, including closing religious lodges, enforcing laws prohibiting religious dress in public, closing some state-supported religious schools, cooling relations with Iran, and curtailing the activities of religious organizations.
Citizens often petition elected officials for favors or aid. Unless they are personally acquainted with an official, they convey a petition through a friend or sponsor who knows an official, a member of his or her family, or one of his or her friends.
Turkish law prohibits communist and religious parties. The parties range from socialist (Democratic Left Party), to moderately conservative and free enterprise (Motherland Party), to right-wing ultranationalistic (Nationalist Action Party), to near-religious (Virtue Party).
Social Problems and Control. Internal security and law enforcement are handled primarily by the national police in urban areas and the gendarmerie in rural areas. However, in areas under a state of emergency or martial law, the gendarmerie functions under the military. The national police are armed and authoritarian in demeanor. They have been accused of treating arrested persons roughly to obtain information or confessions during incommunicado detention. The government has instituted human rights training for the police.
The gendarmerie maintains security outside municipal boundaries and guards land borders against illegal entry and smuggling. Recruits are supplied through military conscription. Gendarmes have been subject to the same criticisms as the national police.
Turkey abandoned Islamic law and adopted the Italian penal code in 1926. Serious crimes include premeditated homicide, theft, arson, armed robbery, embezzlement of state property, perjury, and rape. Political speech insulting the president, the military, and parliament has been criminalized. The antiterror law criminalizes written and oral propaganda, meetings, and demonstrations aimed at damaging the unity of the state.
The death penalty can be imposed for certain crimes against the state and premeditated murder, but there have been no executions since 1984. Conviction for a serious felony can disqualify one from holding public office, voting, and practicing certain professions.
Compared to other Middle Eastern countries, the incidence of ordinary crime is low. The most common felonies resulting in incarceration in 1991 were crimes against property (8,360), crimes against individuals (5,879), and crimes against “public decency and family order” (2,681). Every year an unknown number of people are incarcerated for illegal political activity and thought crimes, such as advocating an Islamic state or cultural rights for an ethnic minority.
In addition to Kurdish nationalism, Turkey’s security forces are concerned with narcotics trafficking, since Turkey is a route for the transfer of
hashish from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran to Europe. Military Activity. The Turkish military plays political, cultural, and security roles. Military leaders created the republic in 1923, replaced civilian governments in 1960 and 1980, and forced a civilian government out of office in 1971. Because of universal male conscription, the military is a major national socialization agent for young men of different regions, classes, and ethnicities.
Since joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1952, Turkey has maintained a large military consisting of land forces, navy, air force, coast guard, and gendarmerie. In 1994, it had 503,800 officers and enlisted men on active duty. Defense is usually the largest category in the national budget; from 1981 to 1991, it averaged 20 percent of total government expenditures.
Social Welfare and Change Programs
In 1998, the government estimated that 81.3 percent of the population were covered by state social security and retirement services. Employers pay insurance premiums for work-related injuries, occupational diseases, and maternity leave; employers and employees pay premiums to cover illness, disability, retirement, and death benefits. The government also offers social security insurance to the self-employed and operates orphanages. Local associations or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) associated with mosques and crafts also provide welfare to the needy.
Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations
One of the most important NGOs is the Army Mutual Assistance Foundation (OYAK), created in 1962. It controls a huge investment fund of obligatory and voluntary contributions from military personnel and investment profits. It has invested substantially in the auto, truck, tractor, and tire industries; the petrochemical, cement, and food processing industries; and retail and service enterprises. Through OYAK, the Turkish military became partners with foreign and domestic investors and shares their economic interests. Because of OYAK’s investments, the economic security of thousands of active and retired armed forces personnel became dependent on the profitability of large capitalistic enterprises. Consequently, military corporate interests expanded into the areas of labor law, trade unionism, trade and monetary policy, corporate taxation, tariffs, investment banking, and related matters.
Other major NGOs include the Turkish Trade Association, representing the interests of merchants, industrialists, and commodity brokers; the Turkish Confederation of Employers’ Unions, representing employers; and the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions, representing labor. In addition, NGOs exist for practically every interest group in crafts, sports, social issues, education, religion, and the arts.
Gender Roles and Statuses
Division of Labor by Gender. Turkish law guarantees equal pay for equal work and has opened practically all educational programs and occupations to women. Exceptions are the religious schools that train imams (Islamic prayer leaders) and the job of imam itself. In general, men dominate the high-status occupations in business, the military, government, the professions, and academia. According to traditional values, women should do domestic work and not work in the public arena or with unrelated men. However, women have begun to work more in public.
Lower-class women generally have worked as maids, house cleaners, women’s tailors, seamstresses, child care givers, agricultural laborers, and nurses, but in the early 1990s, about 20 percent of factory employees and many store clerks were women. Middle-class women commonly are employed as teachers and bank tellers, while upper-class women work as doctors, lawyers, engineers, and university teachers. Only a small percentage of women are politicians.
Men work in all these fields but avoid the traditional nonagricultural occupations of lower-class women. Men monopolize the officer ranks in the military and the transportation occupations of pilot and taxi, truck, and bus driver. In urban areas, lower-class men work in crafts, manufacturing, and low-paid service industries. Middle-class men work as teachers, accountants, businessmen, and middle-level managers. Upper-class men work as university teachers, professionals, upper-level managers, businessmen, and entrepreneurs.
Marriage, Family, and Kinship
Marriage. Turks expect adults to marry and have children, and the vast majority do. Because men should not lower their wives’ standard of living, they are not supposed to marry women of a higher economic class. People generally marry within their own religious sect and ethnic group, although interethnic marriages among Sunni Muslims are not uncommon. In traditional Turkish society, the selection of spouses and the marriage ceremony were controlled by kin groups. During the premarital process, the individuals to be married played minor roles. The rituals, especially the imam marriage ceremony, were essential for a morally and socially acceptable marriage.
In 1926, the revolutionary Turkish government abolished Islamic family law and adopted a slightly modified version of the family law in the Swiss civil code. The new Family Law requires and recognizes civil marriage ceremonies only. It requires the consent of mature individuals for a binding marriage contract and prescribes monogamy only. Even though the law prohibits parents from entering into engagement or marital agreements on behalf of their children, arranged marriages without the consent of the brides have been somewhat common. In a 1968 survey, 11.4 percent of women said their marriages had been arranged by their families without their consent, while 67 percent said they had had family-arranged marriages with their consent. The figures for the unconsented arranged marriages ranged from 7.7 percent for women living in Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir to 11.3 percent to 12.5 percent for women living in smaller cities, towns, and villages. An impressive 49.9 percent of the husbands surveyed said their fathers or other relatives had made the final decision about their marriages. This response category ranged from 59.1 percent for village men to 15.3 percent for men in Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir. Today the vast majority of marriages occur with the couple’s consent, but families still play a role recommending and screening potential spouses, especially for their daughters.
Even though divorce is not considered an Islamic sin, it occurs infrequently. Divorcees, especially men with children, quickly remarry, usually to divorced women. The new code eliminated a husband’s Islamic prerogative of verbal and unilateral divorce and prescribed a court proceeding. The law recognizes only six grounds for divorce: adultery; plot against life, grave assaults, and insults; crime or a dishonorable life; desertion; mental infirmity; and incompatibility. The evidentiary requirements are so substantial that establishing one of these grounds has proved difficult. A couple cannot divorce by mutual consent.
Domestic Unit, Inheritance, and Kin Groups. Traditionally, most Turks traced their descent and passed on property, especially homes and land, through the male line. Even though most households have always contained only one nuclear family, the ideal household, especially among the rural and urban wealthy, was patrilocal extended, in which a son and his bride lived in his parents’ home after marriage. The basic kinship units are the family ( aile ) and the household ( hane ). Household members normally eat together and share income and expenses. The next larger unit is the patrilineage ( sulale ), consisting of relatives connected intergenerationally by a common male ancestor. While patrilineage is important to old, noble Ottoman families and tribal peoples, it is of little significance to most Turks.
The traditional Turkish household is characterized by male dominance, respect for elders, and female subservience. The father or oldest male is the head, an authority figure who demands respect and obedience. The mother is also respected, but her relationship with her children is warm and informal.
Although supreme authority ordinarily rests with the father, the household is usually mother-centered. The mother, being largely confined to the home, manages and directs its internal affairs. The division of labor has traditionally been clear-cut, with women having responsibility for the internal home, and men providing the income and representing the household to the outside world. Before the 1960s, even grocery shopping was a male duty.
In recent decades, much of this has changed. The new Family Law grants women equal rights to private property and inheritance. A larger percentage of women work outside the home, and educated women demand more equal rights.
Women are very protective of their children. Breast-feeding for a year or more is common. The child commonly sleeps in a hammock or crib near the parents. Boys are socialized to be courageous, assertive, proud, and respectful of elders. When they undergo a painful circumcision ceremony between ages 9 and 12, they are told to be as brave as lions. Girls are socialized to be modest, compliant, supportive of males, virtuous, and skilled in domestic tasks. Fathers are authoritarian disciplinarians; mothers are generally loving and nurturing.
Every woman rejoices when giving birth to a son, because that event increases her status in the eyes of her husband, in-laws, and community. She usually pampers her son, who remains close to her until age 10 or 11, after which he spends most of his time with other males and identifies more closely with men. Mothers and daughters are especially close, as daughters usually spend much of their premarital lives close to their mothers, learning domestic skills: Generally, the father–daughter relationship is rather formal, with little public displaying of affection. Although a daughter or son may argue or joke with the mother, they are respectful and subdued in the father’s presence.
During prepubescence, relations between brothers and sisters are free and easy. Later, their statuses change as the older sibling takes on some of the rights and duties of a parent. The older sister ( abla ) becomes like a second mother, loved for her warmth and affection. The older brother ( agabey ) assumes the helpful but authoritarian status of a minor father. In extended families, grandparents, especially grandmothers, provide a good deal of child care.
School attendance is compulsory to age 14. The first day of class constitutes an important rite of passage. The children are dressed in black smocks with white collars and taken to school with pomp and ceremony. Most families that can afford it, keep their children in school beyond age 14. Most would like to see their children, especially their sons, complete university, but this is rarely possible for poor families.
Formal etiquette is central to Turkish culture, governing most social interactions and the use of space. Turkish culture has an exact verbal formula for practically every occasion. Etiquette requires the pronouncement of the proper formulas for these occasions.
Strict etiquette governs intergenerational and heterosexual interactions. Unless they are close friends or relatives, older people are addressed formally. For example, older men should be addressed with the title “Bey” (Mister) and women with the title “Hanim” (Lady). Younger people are expected to be reserved in their presence. Adults of the opposite sex are expected not to act casually or show affection toward each other in public. Friends of the same sex may hold hands and greet each other with kisses on the cheek. Upon meeting, men shake hands, but a man does not shake a woman’s hand unless she extends it to him.
People are not criticized for being late. Business meetings usually are preceded by tea and unrelated conversation. Consideration for companions is important. One does not drink, smoke, or eat something without first offering to share it with one’s companions.
Homes are divided into guest and private areas, and it is improper to ask for a tour of the house. The soles of shoes are considered dirty, and shoes are removed when one enters a home or mosque.
Religious Beliefs. Islamic tradition, ideology, and ritual are very important. About 98 percent of Turkey’s citizens are nominally Muslims, of whom about 80 to 85 percent are Sunnis of the Hanafi school and 15 to 20 percent are members of Shiite sects (mostly Alevi). Turkish Muslims recognize the standard Islamic creed and duties, but only the most religious fast or make a pilgrimage to Mecca. Four percent of Turks identify themselves as atheists, and 4 percent as agnostics.
For most Turks, Islam plays an important role in rites of passage: naming shortly after birth, circumcision for boys, marriage, and funerals. The state controls religious education and most religious personnel by supervising the schools that train Sunni imams and certifying imams as state employees who work in community mosques.
In recent decades, a revival of fundamental Islam has been supported by about 20 percent of the population. A small proportion of the population participates in Sufi orders and brotherhoods.
The most important events in the Turkey’s Islamic calendar are Ramazan , the lunar month of fast; Kadir Gecesi (Night of Power), the twenty-seventh day of Ramazan , when Mohammad was appointed the messenger of Allah; Sheker Bayram a three-day national holiday at the end of Ramazan in which people exchange visits and candy; and Kurban Bayram (Feast of Sacrifice), a four-day national holiday held during the lunar month of Hajj (Pilgrimage) to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac. As many as 2.5 million sheep have been sacrificed in Turkey on this holiday; most of the meat is shared with neighbors and donated to the poor.
Medicine and Health Care. Modern Western medical services have expanded significantly over the past two decades. The Ministry of Health is authorized to provide medical care and preventive health services, train health personnel, establish and operate hospitals and clinics, inspect private health facilities, and regulate pharmacies. In 1995, Turkey had 12,500 health facilities and a doctor for every 1,200 persons. The incidence of measles, pertussis, typhoid fever, and diphtheria has declined markedly since the 1970s. Infant mortality declined from 120 per 1,000 in 1980 to 55 per 1,000 in 1992. In rural areas, midwives deliver most babies.
Most urban dwellers have access to public health facilities, but many rural citizens do not. In the countryside and among recent migrants to the cities, folk medicine is still practiced. Peasant women learn folk medicine involving herbs, spices, prayers, and rituals from their mothers and apply it to family members instead of or in addition to modern medicine. Traditionally, some men specialized in folk medicine as well.
The major secular celebrations and official holidays begin with New Year’s Day on 1 January, an adoption from the West. Many people exchange greetings cards, and some celebrate in a Western fashion. National Sovereignty Day on 23 April commemorates the first meeting of the Grand National Assembly. Because 23 April is also National Children’s Day, much of the day is devoted to children’s activities such as dances and music recitals. Youth and Sport Day, commemorating Atatürk’s birth, is celebrated on 19 May. Victory Day, celebrating victorious battles during Turkey’s War of Independence, is observed on 30 August. Republic Day, 29 October, commemorates Atatürk’s proclamation of the republic in 1923. Both Victory Day and Republic Day are celebrated with patriotic parades, music, and speeches.
The Arts and Humanities
Support for the Arts. The Ministry of Culture has implemented a policy of promoting nonreligious Turkish and Western art. It provides a limited number of scholarships for the study of art and music in Europe, especially France. The ministry also supports the Academy of Fine Arts and art museums in the major cities. Most artists come from the middle and upper classes in major cities. Graphic artists rely primarily on major corporations and the upper class to buy their work. They sell through private exhibition and a limited number of art shops. Traditional craft artists who produce ceramics, rugs and kilims, brass and copper ornaments, and embroidery have a broader market for their work. Most sculptors rely largely on state commissions.
Literature. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, Turkish literature centered on the Ottoman court, which produced poetry and some prose. This literature represented a fusion of Persian, Arabic, and Turkish classical styles. Western influences were introduced in the 1860s by a group of intellectuals who attempted to combine Western cultural forms with a more simple form of the Turkish language. This westernizing trend continued throughout the nineteenth century and became more pronounced just before World War I. After 1923, the republic produced an impressive number of novelists, poets, singers, musicians, and artists. Novelists who gained international fame include Halide Edib, Resat Nuri Güntekin, and, more recently, Orhan Pamuk. Several important works dealt with village life, ranging from Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu’s Yaban ( The Stranger ) in the 1930s to Mahmut Makal’s A Village in Anatolia , and Yasar Kemal’s Mehmet My Hawk , which won world recognition in 1961.
Orhan Veli generally is considered the father of modern Turkish poetry, which has been characterized by a rebellion against rigidly prescribed forms and a preoccupation with immediate perception. Some poets have experimented with obscurantist forms and ideas; many others have expressed concern for social democratic issues.
Graphic Arts. Western influence in the graphic arts began in the late Ottoman period with the founding of the Fine Arts Academy in Istanbul, which continues to be staffed by European and European-educated Turkish artists. In the republican periods, Turkish art has involved a mixture of Western and indigenous styles. Practically all artists of note have studied at the academy or in Europe. Some have imitated European forms, while others have searched for a Turkish style and portray Turkish themes such as village and urban scenes in a representational manner. Many sculptors receive state commissions to create monumental works depicting Atatürk and other patriotic themes.
Performance Arts. Foreign plays outnumber Turkish works in the theater, but theater attendance has grown in recent decades and many Turkish playwrights who combine Western techniques with Turkish social issues have had an opportunity to present their works.
Both Ankara and Istanbul have well-respected opera companies. The Presidential Symphony Orchestra gives concerts both in Ankara and on tour. Ankara and Istanbul have music conservatories that include schools of ballet. Several Turkish composers, of whom the best known is Adnan Saygun, have won acclaim in Europe and America for fusing Turkish folk themes with Western forms.
The Istanbul Music Conservatory has taken steps to preserve authentic folk music by recording it in all parts of the country. Annual folk arts festivals in Istanbul present a wide variety of Turkish music and dance.
The State of the Physical and Social Sciences
Most scientific research is carried out at a few universities in Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir. The government funds two-thirds of it. The Technology Development Foundation of Turkey provides grants for industrial research and development (R&D) activities, mostly in electronics, telecommunications, and environmental technologies. The Ministry of Rural Affairs and the Ministry of Housing and Settlement provide funds for social scientific research.
Practically all Turkish leaders in the natural, social, and engineering sciences have received some education abroad, particularly in the United States. Turkey obtains much of its technology for the food-processing, metals, and textiles sectors from abroad. The Supreme Council for Science and Technology, the science and technology policy-making body, sets R&D targets for high-priority activities: information, advanced materials, biotechnology, space, and nuclear technology.
The number of scientific researchers was estimated at 8 per 10,000 members of the labor force in 1992. Almost three-quarters, or 30,172, of those researchers were in universities; basic science (10 percent), engineering (20 percent), health science (34 percent), agriculture (7 percent), social science and humanities (29 percent). Turkey’s only school of social work and research is at Ankara’s Hacettepe University.
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