• Countries and Their Cultures
  • Culture of Turkey

Culture Name

Orientation.

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 transhumant 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.

Turkey

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.

Workers from the Dobag Project wash a traditional hand-knotted carpet. Turkish carpets are prized for their quality and intricate design.

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

The Lycian Rock Tombs of Myra, Turkey.

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.

Fishing is an important facet of the Turkish economy.

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.

A view of the ancient city wall surrounding the Midterranean city of Anlanya, Turkey.

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.

Social Stratification

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.

Ankara, Turkey is a fast-paced city.

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.

Political Life

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.

Coffeehouses are male domains.

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.

Socialization

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.

Ninety-eight percent of Turks are nominally Muslim.

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.

Secular Celebrations

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.

Bibliography

Abadan-Unat, Nermin, ed. Women in Turkish Society , 1981.

Ahmad, Feroz. The Turkish Experiment in Democracy, 1950–1975 , 1997.

Anderson, June. Return to Tradition: The Revitalization of Turkish Village Carpets , 1998.

Andrews, Peter A. Ethnic Groups in the Republic of Turkey , 1989.

Ansay, Tugrul, and Don Wallace. Introduction to Turkish Law , 1996.

Arat, Yesim. The Patriarchal Paradox: Women Politicians in Turkey , 1989.

Balim, Cigdem, ed. Turkey: Political, Social and Economic Challenges in the 1990s , 1995.

Baysal, Ayse, et al. Samples from Turkish Cuisine , 1993.

Birand, Mehmet Ali. The Generals' Coup in Turkey , 1991.

Erder, Türkoz. Family in Turkish Society: Sociological and Legal Studies , 1985.

Gole, Nilufer. The Forbidden Modern: Civilization and Veiling , 1996.

Gunter, Michael M. The Kurds and the Future of Turkey , 1997.

Heper, Metin, and Jacob M. Landau, eds. Political Parties and Democracy in Turkey , 1991.

Holod, Renata, and Ahmet Evin. Modern Turkish Architecture , 1984.

Inalcik, Halil, ed. From Empire to Republic: Essays on Ottoman and Turkish Social History , 1995.

Kagîtçîbasî, Çigdem, ed. Sex Roles. Family and Community in Turkey , 1982.

Karpat, Kemal H. Turkey's Politics , 1959.

Lewis, Bernard. The Emergence of Modern Turkey , 1968.

Magnarella, Paul J. Tradition and Change in a Turkish Town , 1974 (rev. ed. 1981).

——. The Peasant Venture: Tradition, Migration and Change among Georgian Peasants in Turkey , 1979.

——. Anatolia's Loom: Studies in Turkish Culture, Society, Politics and Law , 1998.

Mango, Andrew. Turkey: The Challenge of a New Role , 1994.

McDowall, David. A Modern History of the Kurds , 1997.

Metz, Helen Chapin. Turkey: A Country Study , 1996.

Olson, Robert. The Emergence of Kurdish Nationalism and the Sheikh Said Rebellion , 1989.

Ozbay, Ferhunde, ed. Women, Family and Social Change in Turkey , 1990.

Pînar, Selman. A History of Turkish Painting , 1990.

Pope, Nicole, and Hugh Pope. Turkey Unveiled , 1997.

Rittenberg, Libby, ed. The Political Economy of Turkey in the Post-Soviet Era , 1998.

Rugman, Jonathan. Atatürk's Children: Turkey and the Kurds , 1996.

Shaw, Stanford J., and Ezel Kural Shaw. History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey , 1976.

Stone, Frank A. The Rub of Cultures in Modern Turkey , 1973.

Tapper, Richard, ed. Islam in Modern Turkey; Religion, Politics, and Literature in a Secular State , 1991.

Tekeli, Sirin, ed. Women in Modern Turkish Society , 1995.

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—P AUL J. M AGNARELLA

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Turkish Culture

Core concepts, hospitality, community networks.

  • Nationalism

Turkey (officially the Republic of Turkey ) is a large country situated on the crossroads between Europe and Asia. Its geographic position between these continents has exposed Turkish society to both Eastern and Western influences – from the Eastern Mediterranean and Eastern Europe to Central Asia and the Caucasus. As a result, the culture hosts unique blends of both traditional and modern conventions as well as religious and secular practices. Indeed, Turks continue to negotiate their identity as some of the most secular people in the Islamic world.

It is important to note that cultural practices, social attitudes and lifestyles vary significantly across the country. There are substantial differences between localities (rural/urban), regions, socioeconomic status, ethnicities and educational levels. Nevertheless, Turks are generally united by a strong national identity (see National Identity and Kemalism   below). They also share certain core cultural values, such as a sense of honour, hospitality and neighbourliness.

Regional Differences

The Turkish population has become increasingly urbanised, with the majority of people (75.1%) living in industrialised metropolitan areas. 1 This has influenced a shift towards more cosmopolitan lifestyles. For example, it is now far more common for urban Turks to have dinner at a dining table, as opposed to a traditional floor table. Major cities, such as Istanbul and Ankara, are typically very modern and multicultural . However, many classic Turkish institutions remain very popular. For instance, local bazaars continue to be the main trading centres instead of shopping centres.

Traditional cultural practices continue to be observed in many rural areas – particularly in the Eastern regions and along the border with Syria and Iraq. Rural populations often occupy the lowest rungs of the socioeconomic ladder and have less access to education and infrastructure. As a broad generalisation, the further one moves east towards Central, Eastern and Southeast Anatolia, the more traditional and Islamic the culture becomes.

The concept of honour ( onur ) is deeply embedded in Turkish culture, noticeably influencing people’s behaviour. A person’s honour is determined by their personal actions as well as the behaviour of those they are associated with (i.e. their family, community or any 'group' they belong to). Therefore, if an individual does something dishonourable, their origins (e.g. family) may be implicated as the cause. In this way, there is a cultural pressure on individuals to protect their personal reputation ( namus ) and the image of those around them. This may require people to give a public impression of dignity and integrity by stressing their positive qualities, emphasising their family member’s achievements and adhering to social expectations.

There are many ways by which one can gain or lose honour. Typically, honourable behaviour relates to having a high social status, maintaining sexual modesty and exhibiting core Turkish virtues such as honesty and hospitality. ‘ Seref ’ describes honour gained from accomplishments or achievements, whereas ‘izzet’ refers to honour that is derived from being good and generous to others. When one loses honour and feels a deep shame, this is referred to as ‘yuzsuz’ .

It is worth noting that the expectations regarding what is ‘honourable’ and ‘shameful’ can vary significantly among people of different family backgrounds, regions, educational levels and social attitudes. For example, younger Turks may hide certain actions from the older generations who might be deeply offended by such behaviours. Those living in rural areas also tend to have more traditional and rigid views regarding the honour code. In these smaller communities, the social shaming following an act of dishonour can seriously affect one’s life, opportunities, socioeconomic status and self-worth. Nonetheless, the awareness of honour highlights the virtue underlying people’s actions and generally influences Turks to be generous, warm and honest.

Turkey has a collectivist culture whereby strong loyalty is shown to familial and social groups, as well as the broader nation. People’s relationships with their neighbours and community are generally closer than what many from the English-speaking West experience. Friends are often very loyal, performing favours for each other on a regular basis. It is common to call on vast social networks for support and opportunities, especially as the government does not totally guarantee social security in all cases. Though there is a strong group consciousness, Turks generally remain open and inviting to strangers and outsiders. Ultimately, neighbourliness is central to Turkish culture. 

The sociable nature of Turkish society (as well as the very high population density) does not provide very much privacy or seclusion. The details of people’s personal lives are often shared among communities and friends; a family’s shortcomings can quickly become publicly known and damage their honour and reputation ( namus ). Therefore, people may be careful to keep sensitive personal information within the family (see Honour above). Nonetheless, Turkish migrants may miss this aspect of their culture as those in the English-speaking West generally show less interest and concern for the private lives of strangers. It should be noted that the influence of cosmopolitan ideals and technology has led to a general decline of collectivistic /community values in urban areas of Turkey. The younger generation may also show more preference towards individualism .

The Turkish community is often exceptionally generous, attending to those in need very quickly. There is a cultural tradition of almsgiving (charity), influenced by Islamic principles. Selflessness is noticeable on a day-to-day level. For example, a Turk may feel compelled to give their own possessions as gifts when someone compliments them. They also tend to defer decision-making to the other person out of politeness . For instance, when asking for a time to meet, they may answer “whenever you feel like”. While this can slow down day-to-day activities, it's reflective of the humbleness Turks adopt out of politeness . Unsuspecting foreigners can sometimes take advantage of the hospitality of Turks, accepting overly generous offers that are made out of politeness and are customarily meant to be refused. This can put Turks in difficult situations where they find themselves over-extending beyond their means.

In Turkey, daily activity is approached at an easier pace and more time is devoted to personal interactions. There is rarely a great need to rush and so people generally allow engagements to run over-time. Being attendant to relationships with others is sometimes considered more important than being punctual and cutting a conversation short. 

Older men in towns are often seen sitting in teahouses ( çayhane ) sipping drinks and debating over board games and tea all day, while women visit their neighbours to talk about the local/family news. This approach to time and socialisation resembles that of the Mediterranean region Turkey borders. The cultural patience and flexibility is also somewhat influenced by religious fatalism . For example, the common response ‘ Inșallah ’ (God willing) demonstrates people’s belief that events are predetermined by the will of God ( Allah ).

National Origins and Identity

Turkey was previously part of the Ottoman Empire that ruled for six centuries over multiple nations and cultures in Europe, Africa and Asia. Turks were at the centre of this mega-conquest, with the capital Istanbul (known then as ‘Constantinople’) acting as a central trade hub between the East and West. The Ottoman Empire dissolved following its allies’ defeat in World War I. The Republic of Turkey was founded in its place in 1923.

The formation of the modern Turkish state was accompanied by the development of a strong national identity. There was a general declaration that Turkey had been established for ‘Turkish people’. As such, one’s national identity as a Turkish citizen came to take more precedence than one’s ethnic identity. This powerful national identity has arguably unified the country whilst marginalising some minorities (see Ethnicities and Minorities below). Nationalism continues to be one of the strongest ideologies in Turkish society. People are generally very proud of the Turkish country and culture, as well as its Ottoman history. Patriotism is visible on a day-to-day level. For example, one generally sees the Turkish flag displayed wherever they go in Turkey – hanging off houses, shops and highrise buildings.

Turkey’s national identity is often attributed to the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (“father of the Turks”), who was the founder of the Republic of Turkey and its first president. Motivated by ideals of secularism and democratic nationalism, Atatürk implemented a series of reforms during the course of his presidency (1923-1938). These were intended to modernise the country and alter public life to more closely resemble that of European cultures. For example, certain aspects of Western dress were made compulsory for citizens to wear, and the Turkish language was reformed to replace Arabic script with a modified Roman alphabet. He also removed Islam as a state religion after centuries of Islamic tradition and limited the visibility of faith in the public sphere (see Religion for more information). Although the actualisation of his ideologies was complicated by various factors, the shift was dramatic. 

Atatürk’s strongly held ideals and their newfound place in Turkish society were dubbed ‘Kemalism’. Many Turks continue to revere Atatürk for the steps he took to modernise their country and make it more culturally compatible with Europe. It continues to be a crime to insult his name or memory. The military has traditionally been recognised as the ‘protector’ of Kemalism, using force to overthrow leaders who have been perceived as threats to secularism and nationalism. 

Political Shifts

Turkey’s social and political landscape has shifted a lot in recent years. This has been most noticeable in the rise of the populist leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. A religious conservative, Erdoğan has appealed to a large demographic of people who have felt disenfranchised by the secular politics of their country. He was democratically elected, originally taking power in 2002 as prime minister and president subsequently in 2014. However, his governing style has become increasingly authoritarian, limiting social freedoms, controlling the media and jailing those who stand in opposition to him. In 2017, he won a referendum that granted his presidency further unprecedented power.

Many of his critics accuse him of eroding secularism and democracy , and showing disregard for human rights. Military forces, police forces and other public servant factions are split in support (although many of those in outright opposition have been jailed). In 2016, a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces attempted a coup d’etat  against Erdoğan’s government. This failed, killing over 300 people and leading to a crackdown on civilian opposition. There have been mass civilian arrests (more than 50,000 detained pending trial) and over 100,000 soldiers, police officers, teachers and judges dismissed from their duty. 2 Turkey currently imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world. 3

Divided opinions over Erdoğan have become more pronounced in society. Nevertheless, he continues to appeal to a large number of religious, conservative Turks (generally belonging to the middle and lower classes). Turks living in other countries may talk about politics quite openly. Political analysis and discussion is a pastime for some and the situation in Turkey arguably provides a lot of material to examine. However, consider that the crackdown on political opponents may limit some people’s ability to share their opinion.

Ethnicities and Minorities

Approximately 70-75% of the population is identified as ethnically Turkish. 4 However, there are multiple other ethnic minorities, including (but not limited to) Kurds, Arabs, Zazas, Albanians, Armenians, Circassians and Assyrians. The Turkish government has a history of suppressing the cultural, linguistic and traditional identity of ethnic minorities in its effort to promote the national identity. 5  Ethnicity has largely remained a sensitive subject in Turkey and is not commonly discussed.

The Kurdish people constitute the largest ethnic minority in Turkey. Their population size is a matter of debate, with various estimates indicating they constitute anywhere between 15-20% of the Turkish population. Kurds speak multiple dialects of Kurdish. 6 The majority are Sunni Muslims, although a significant number are Alevis (see Alevis in the Religion section). The Kurdish population is significantly disadvantaged, occupying the lowest socioeconomic income bracket and having lower life expectancies and education levels than the majority Turkish population. 7 Most live in rural areas, particularly concentrated throughout the Eastern provinces of Turkey.

Kurds generally maintain strong ties to their tribal affiliations and follow quite traditional cultural practices. For many, their ethnic identity supersedes the Turkish national identity. However, they are denied official status and have faced systemic marginalisation, such as the discouragement of the Kurdish language in public institutions. Not all Kurds are politically motivated. However, many peaceful Kurdish movements have appealed for equal rights and greater acknowledgment. There have also been rebellions and terrorist attacks orchestrated by Kurdish nationalists demanding that a separate state (‘Kurdistan’) be formed. This has escalated tension between the Turkish government and Kurds.

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Turkey - Culture, Etiquette and Business Practices

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  • An introduction to the country, its history, politics, people and culture
  • Insights into the country’s values, customs and etiquette
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blue mosque istanbul turkey

The Sultan Ahmet Mosque in Istanbul, more commonly known by Westerners as 'The Blue Mosque' due to the tiles used to decorate the interior.

Photo by Adli Wahid on Unsplash

Facts and Statistics

Location: southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia (that portion of Turkey west of the Bosporus is geographically part of Europe), bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Georgia, and bordering the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, between Greece and Syria

Capital: Ankara

Climate: temperate; hot, dry summers with mild, wet winters; harsher in interior

Population: 82+ million (2019 est.)

Ethnic Make-up: Turkish 80%, Kurdish 20% (estimated)

Religions: Muslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), other 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews)

Government: republican parliamentary democracy

Business culture: Ranked 25th by the Business Culture Complexity Index™

Language in Turkey

The official language, Turkish, is the first language spoken by 90% of the 63m population.

  • Minority languages include Kurdish, spoken by 6% of the population.
  • Arabic is spoken by 1.2% of the Turkish population; most of those speakers are bilingual Arabic and Turkish speakers.
  • Other minority languages include Circassian, spoken by more than 0.09% throughout the country, Greek, Armenian and Judezmo, a Romance language spoken by Jews .

Turkish Society and Culture

Islam is the religion of the majority of Turks although the state is fiercely secular. Islam emanated from what is today Saudi Arabia. The Prophet Muhammad is seen as the last of God's emissaries (following in the footsteps of Jesus, Moses, Abraham, etc) to bring revelation to mankind. He was distinguished with bringing a message for the whole of mankind, rather than just to a certain peoples. As Moses brought the Torah and Jesus the Bible, Muhammad brought the last book, the Quran. The Quran and the actions of the Prophet (the Sunnah) are used as the basis for all guidance in the religion.

  • Among certain obligations for Muslims are to pray five times a day - at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and evening.
  • The exact time is listed in the local newspaper each day.
  • Friday is the Muslim holy day although this is not practised in Turkey.
  • However, most males will attend the congregational afternoon prayer.
  • During the holy month of Ramazan all Muslims must fast from dawn to dusk.
  • Fasting includes no eating, drinking, cigarette smoking, or gum chewing.

Ataturk - the father of the modern day state of Turkey. Did you know criticising him in Turkey could land you in jail?

It's 100% true. Click here to learn why.

Photo by Mert Kahveci on Unsplash

Etiquette & Manners in Turkey

Meeting and greeting.

  • When meeting shake hands firmly. When departing it is not always customary to shake hands although it is practised occasionally.
  • Friends and relations would greet each other with either one or two kisses on the cheek.
  • Elders are always respected by kissing their right hand then placing the forehead onto the hand.
  • When entering a room, if you are not automatically met by someone greet the most elderly or most senior first.
  • At social occasions greet the person closest to you then work your way around the room or table anti-clockwise.
  • Greet people with either the Islamic greeting of 'Asalamu alaykum' (peace be upon you) or 'Nasilsiniz' (How are you? pronounced na-sul-su-nuz).
  • Other useful phrases are 'Gunaydin' (Good Morning, pronounced goon-ay-dun), 'iyi gunler' (Good Day, pronounced ee-yee gun-ler) or 'Memnun Oldum' (pleased to meet you).

Gift Giving Etiquette

  • Gift giving has no real place in business relationships or etiquette.
  • Relationship building and the like will usually take the form of dining or sight seeing trips rather than lavish gifts.
  • However, if a gift is given it will be accepted well. It is always a good idea to bring gifts from your own country such as food stuffs or craft items.
  • Be aware that Turkey is a Muslim country. Before giving alcohol to anyone be 100% sure that they drink.
  • The only time you would need to give any great thought to gifts would be if you were invited to a Turk's home for dinner.
  • The most usual gifts to take are pastries, (especially 'baklava') and decorative items for the home such as ornaments or vases.
  • Flowers are not usually taken to a host but can be if felt appropriate.
  • It is best to ask a florist for advice on what is best to take.
  • If the host has children take some expensive sweets or candy.

Dining Etiquette

  • Most business entertaining will take place in restaurants.
  • Turks enjoy food and the meal is a time for relaxing and engaging in some good conversation.
  • The protocol of Turkish hospitality dictates that the host always pays for the meal.
  • The concept of sharing a bill is completely alien. You may try and offer to pay, which may be seen as polite, but you would never be allowed to do so.
  • The best policy is to graciously thank the host then a few days later invite them to do dinner at a restaurant of your choice.
  • It may be a good idea to inform the restaurant manager that under no circumstances are they to accept payment from your guests.
  • Evening meals may be accompanied by some alcohol, usually the local tipple called Rakı (pronounced rak-uh).
  • It will comprise of a few courses with the main course always meat or fish based, accompanied by bread and a salad.
  • Turks smoke during meals and will often take breaks between courses to have a cigarette and a few drinks before moving onto the next.
  • Tea or Turkish coffee is served at the end of a meal sometimes with pastries.
  • Turkish coffee is a national drink and should at least be sampled. It comes either without sugar, a little sugar or sweet.
  • Turkish coffee is sipped and allowed to melt into the taste buds so do not gulp it down as you would instant coffee.
  • Never drink to the bottom of the cup as it will be full of ground coffee and taste awful.

People drink and share tea from morning till night! Photo by Zeynep Sümer on Unsplash

Turkish Business Culture and Etiquette

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Relationships & Communication

  • Turks prefer to do business with those they know and respect, therefore spend time establishing a personal relationship.
  • Relationships are fostered in the office, over extended lunches, dinners, and social outings.
  • Courtesy is crucial in all business dealings.
  • Turks do not require as much personal space as many other cultures and will stand close to you while conversing.
  • Do not back away, as this can be construed as unfriendly.
  • Discussions may start slowly, with many questions that may seem irrelevant to the purpose of your visit. It is extremely rude to insist that your colleagues get to the point.
  • Ask about his/her family without prying. Questions about children will be welcomed.
  • The Turks are proud of their country and will enjoy answering questions on their culture and history although be sure to avoid political history.
  • Most Turkish men love football (soccer) and usually support one of three teams: Galatasaray, Beşiktaş or Fenerbahçe. Asking after their team's recent fortunes will always
  • produce lively and animate responses.
  • Once a relationship has been established, communication is direct.
  • It is vital that you maintain eye contact while speaking since Turks take this as a sign of sincerity.

Business Meeting Etiquette

  • Appointments are necessary and should be made 1 to 2 weeks in advance, preferably by telephone.
  • Many Turks take vacation during July or August, so it is best not to try to schedule appointments at that time.
  • It is also not a good idea to schedule meetings during Ramazan (Ramadan).
  • Punctuality is expected although you should be prepared to be kept waiting.
  • First appointments are more social- than business-oriented since Turks prefer to do business with people they know.
  • Small talk helps establish a rapport. Do not immediately begin discussing business.
  • Have all printed material available in both English and Turkish.
  • Presentations should be well thought-out, thorough, and backed up with visual aids such as maps, chart and graphs.

The Turkish negotiation style has its roots in the bazaar culture of the region. Photo by Tolis Dianellos on Unsplash

Business Negotiation Etiquette

  • Always come to Turkey knowing two things. Your success is defined by your ability to build effective personal relationships combined with a clearly outlined and well presented proposal.
  • Business is personal. Although this is changing with the influx of big multi-nationals and a more corporate culture in some of the larger companies, many businesses are still family owned and run.
  • Turks will want to do business with those they like, trust, feel comfortable with and with those that can provide a long term relationship.
  • If they feel you are hiding something or there is an element of suspicion about your motives you may not get very far.
  • Building a relationship with your Turkish counterpart(s) is therefore critical.
  • The first meeting at least should be solely focused on getting to know each other. Once a relationship has been established you can safely move on to business matters.
  • As well as looking to the person, Turks are also astute business people.
  • Ensure your proposal clearly demonstrates the mutual benefit and profitability of any agreement or partnership.
  • Turks are primarily oral and visual communicators so in addition to written statistics, projections and the like try to present information vocally or with maps, graphs and charts.
  • Decision making can be slow. It is most likely that you will meet and negotiate with less senior members of a family first.
  • Once you are seen as trustworthy and your proposal financially viable you will then move on to meet more senior members.
  • A decision is ultimately made by the head of the family/company.
  • When negotiating, the Turks will start at extremes in order to gage your response. Prior to negotiations know your target figure and work slowly towards it through meaningful concessions.
  • When conceding ensure you present this as a favour and a decision made out of respect and liking for your counterpart(s).
  • Try and concede only once you have gained agreement on a reciprocal concession on a separate or related issue.
  • Do not use deadlines or pressure tactics as the Turks will use this to their advantage and reverse the tactic by threatening to cancel agreements or end negotiations.
  • Be patient. It may not always be necessary to focus on financial benefits when negotiating.
  • It is just as useful to point to areas such as power, influence, honour, respect and other non-monetary incentives.

Business Dress Etiquette

  • Business dress is conservative. You will be expected to wear a suit and tie. Similarly women should wear smart professional outfits.
  • In the summer, and especially in the cities of Istanbul, Izmir and Anakara the weather is very hot and humid. It is acceptable to just wear a shirt with trousers and in most cases to not wear a tie.
  • Outside the big cities and especially in the East of Turkey both women and men should wear more conservative clothing.
  • Women are advised to refrain from exposing their legs and arms and to ensure clothes are not tight-fitting.
  • Men should not wear shorts.

Naming Conventions

  • When addressing a Turk the most common method is to call a man by his first name followed by 'bey' (pronounced bay). So, Ertan Gonca, would be Ertan Bey. Similarly a woman's first name would be followed by 'hanim' (pronounced ha-num).
  • Where professional titles exist such as Doctor or Professor, always use them either on their own of before the first name. Curiously this is also the case with many other professions such as lawyers 'Avukat' or engineers 'Muhendis'. Within Turkish companies and organisations senior ranking staff will be addressed accordingly. A common example is Mr. Manager, 'Mudur Bey'.
  • A common phrase you will hear Turks using is 'efendim' (literally 'my master'). You may hear this from a waiter, a secretary, taxi driver, doorman, shop staff and many others. It is simply a polite way of addressing people you are not familiar with.

Business Card Etiquette

  • Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual.
  • Use both hands to exchange cards.
  • Present your business card to the receptionist when you arrive.
  • Have one side of your business card translated into Turkish. Although not a business necessity, it will impress your business colleagues.
  • Often Turks do not give their business card unless they are certain that they wish to establish a business relationship.

Management Culture

  • Please visit out guide to Turkish management culture for specific information on this topic.

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Turkish Culture, Essay Example

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For the purpose of determine the different cultures that exist around the world, my roommate was generous enough to sit down and explain to me the type of culture that exists in Turkey.  Throughout the discussion, I was able to learn very much about the climate and the weather as well as the general behavioral customs that are typical for the area.  Religion and holidays are a very important part of the culture in Turkey and are highly revered by the people there.  There is also a different type of educational system that exists in the country from that typically found in the United States.  All of these differences were very interesting and showed that while there are differences between the two cultures, there are also several similarities that exist in our common values and how we show appreciation for the groups of people that matter.

First of all, the climate is very different from the United States.  The winter is extremely cold and it snows almost all the time in Turkey during this time of the year.  However, the spring and summer seasons are usually very dry and hot.  There is a lack of seas or lakes around the country, so most of the heat is very dry instead of humid like many parts of northeastern and middle United States.  In the fall, the weather is usually rainy and the winds can become very treacherous.

Many of the Turkish people greet friends by giving them a hand shake and a kiss.  This is not a kiss on the lips, instead the head motions towards one another and makes the motion of a kiss.  Strangers and acquaintances are usually greeted by only a hand shake.  Also, the clothing is left up to the individual to decide what to wear.  There is no traditional clothing in Turkey, so everyone typically wears very casual clothes.  There are no double standards for men and women; everyone is able to choose what he or she would like to wear.

Marriages are usually arranged marriages in Turkey where the parents of both the son and daughter determine who is to be married.  The western part of the country is less traditional because they have more of a European influence on the customs; therefore, there are very few traditional marriages in this area.  Even though the eastern part of the country has a more traditional viewpoint on marriages, many of the Turkish citizens are against having arranged marriages.  This is a debate that continues and is usually based on a family-to-family opinion whether or not the tradition should be upheld.  Nevertheless, after a couple is married the family and friends usually give gifts of gold jewelry to the bride and groom.  The wedding is usually followed by a massive celebration with food, music, cake and other traditional celebratory items.

After the couple has been married, the general custom is that the man will be the supplier for the family and the woman will stay at home to take care of the children.  Many families are giving the woman more freedom to choose whether she would like to work or stay at home.  However, the traditional male role in the family has largely remained the same as it is frowned upon if the woman makes more money than the man.

Finally, the religious views within the country are very important to the culture as a whole.  Turkey is primarily an Islamic country, but there is a large part of the Turkish population that is Christian or Jewish.  Because of these religious views, there is usually a religious ceremony held for anyone that has passed away.  The burial is ceremonious and then following the proceedings, the friends and family will eat a meal at the house of the individual that has passed away.  Most of the families are very close to the immediate and extended family members, so when one person passes away there is usually a very large showing to honor the individual and to mourn their loss.

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Essay on Turkey

Students are often asked to write an essay on Turkey in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Turkey

About turkey.

Turkey is a country that connects Asia and Europe. Its biggest city, Istanbul, was once called Constantinople and was very important in history. Turkey has mountains, beaches, and a famous type of marketplace called a bazaar.

People and Culture

Turkish people are known for their hospitality. They have a rich culture with delicious foods like kebabs and baklava. They also have traditional dances and music. Turkey’s official language is Turkish.

Historical Places

Turkey has many old buildings and ruins. The city of Troy from old stories was found here. There are also beautiful mosques and palaces, like the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace.

Nature in Turkey

Turkey’s nature includes hot springs, snowy mountains, and long rivers. The country is also home to many animals and plants. People visit Turkey to see its natural beauty and enjoy the outdoors.

Modern Turkey

Today, Turkey is a mix of old and new. It has modern cities with tall buildings and fast internet. But it also keeps its history alive. Turkey is a place where the past meets the present.

250 Words Essay on Turkey

Turkey is a country that bridges two continents, Europe and Asia. Its biggest city, Istanbul, is split by the Bosporus Strait, which separates these continents. The country is known for its rich history that dates back to ancient times. Many empires, including the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman, have ruled this land.

Natural Beauty

The country is famous for its beautiful landscapes. From the sandy beaches along the Mediterranean Sea to the moon-like terrain of Cappadocia, Turkey offers a variety of natural wonders. Mount Ararat, the tallest peak, is a stunning sight and is said to be where Noah’s Ark came to rest.

Culture and Traditions

Turkish culture is a colorful tapestry woven from its diverse history and peoples. The country is well-known for its delicious food, like kebabs and baklava. Traditional music and dance, such as the whirling dervishes, are important parts of Turkish culture. The nation also celebrates many festivals throughout the year, showcasing its rich traditions.

Today, Turkey is a modern country with bustling cities. It has markets, schools, and technology just like anywhere else. Turkey is also a member of many international organizations and plays a significant role in global affairs.

In conclusion, Turkey is a country with a blend of ancient history and modern life. Its unique position in the world and rich cultural heritage make it a fascinating place to learn about.

500 Words Essay on Turkey

Introduction to turkey.

Turkey is a country that sits in both Asia and Europe. The land is rich in history and culture. It is known for its beautiful landscapes, ancient ruins, and tasty food. The capital city of Turkey is Ankara, but the biggest and most famous city is Istanbul.

Turkey has a very diverse geography. It has seas on three sides: the Black Sea to the north, the Aegean Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. The country has mountains, and the highest one is called Mount Ararat. This mountain is very special in Turkish stories. In the center, there are wide open spaces called plateaus. The climate in Turkey changes from place to place. Some parts have cold winters and hot summers, while others have mild weather all year.

Turkey is a place where many important events in history took place. It was once home to a big empire called the Ottoman Empire. This empire lasted for hundreds of years until 1922. Before the Ottomans, there were other civilizations, like the Romans and Byzantines, who also left their mark. Many old buildings and ruins from these times can still be seen today.

Turkish culture is a mix of many different traditions. Music, dance, and art are very important to Turkish people. They have their own style of carpet-making, which is famous around the world. Turkish food is another big part of their culture. Dishes like kebabs, baklava, and Turkish delight are loved by many. People in Turkey also drink a lot of tea and coffee.

The main language spoken in Turkey is Turkish. This language is different from other European languages. It uses the Latin alphabet, which is the same alphabet English uses, but it was not always like this. Before the 1920s, Turkish was written with Arabic letters.

Turkey has many different kinds of animals and plants because of its varied environments. In the forests, there are bears, wolves, and lynxes. The seas around Turkey have lots of fish and other sea creatures. The country is also a stopping place for birds that fly long distances every year.

Turkey’s economy is growing. It makes money from different things like farming, making clothes and cars, and tourism. Many people from around the world come to see Turkey’s beautiful places and historical sites. The country also has a lot of markets and shops where you can buy things like spices, sweets, and handmade goods.

Turkey is a country with a lot to offer. It has a rich past and a bright future. People from all over the world can enjoy its history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you are interested in exploring old ruins, tasting delicious food, or simply seeing the sights, Turkey has something for everyone. It is a place full of wonders that can teach us a lot about the world and how people have lived in it through the ages.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

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Cultural Differences Between Turkey and USA Research Paper

Introduction, art and architecture.

Comparing cultural and social life of two countries is generally difficult as it involves many elements and especially when they are in two extremes. Regarding Turkey and U.S., one can see the same difficulty. Analyzing the cultural differences, one can see that it calls for a thorough check about customs, belief, food, dress, art, music, language, architecture, government, and so on of the two countries. This paper is an attempt to find out the whether there exists any cultural difference between Turkey and U.S., and if there is what are those differences and how they are differed.

It is a part of common knowledge that a nation’s language and customs are reflect to be the core of national culture and heritage. Americans does not have received any language as their official language. But majority of the people use English as their residential language. In case of Turkey the people have enjoyed the advantages of an official language. With number of other languages the people speak Turkish as their official languages. Spanish, Polish and Greek languages are also part of the oral communication of the people in America. In America the people uses language as a powerful medium for gaining membership to the global community. Analyzing the history we can feel people in America receive language as an effective tool of membership in the homes of world power.

Regarding their words I felt a kind of vowel harmony in their language. It is one of the most important features of Turkish language. Turkish languages follow the subject verb object pattern in their sentences and give more emphasis on the use of suffixes. The use of suffixes in Turkish language is very important and we can feel the grammatical functions of suffixes in their language.

As a person who lived in America more than five years my friend informed me that there is 75 percentage of Americans believed Christianity. When comparing people from Turkey Americans does not follow a strict religious practice in their life. Secularism is an important feature of American belief. I think Islam is the major religion in Turkey and more than 97 percentage of people believed in Islam religion. One of the major differences in belief between America and Turkey is that People in Turkey follow strict religious practices. It is clear that people in Turkey enjoy religious freedom and the constitution ensures it. Even the people believe in Islam religion Turkish people are modern and follow secularism in dressing.

Food is extremely an important element of conventional culture, the attitudes, performs, and styles in a culture influence its in-taking practices too. Popular culture comprises the thoughts and substances created by a society which includes commercial, political and the other schemes. In Turkey food and non-alcoholic beverages, cafés and hotels are cheaper but as the result of the speedy life American’s preferred fast food. After traveling through the ancient Turkish cities, I were forced to believe that turkey’s food manly includes herbs, vegetables, meat and fish; they eat soup and bread in winter, bread and jam in summer. They drink water only at the time of lunch and dinner and they eat lightly at the evening. On the other side Americans give much consideration for eating and they prefer bread and wine during the leisure time, coffee at the community hall and in home rice and beans. Though they like their own regional food they prefer to eat the food of foreign countries especially from Chinese, Greek, French, Indian, Mexican and Italian. The Turkeys have special dishes during the time of celebration and feasts as ‘yuvarlama’ is a special dish they prepare in the time of Ramadan. Tea, coffee and butter milk are the main drinks in Turkish beverages but the young often prefers carbonated drinks. Traditional American food includes conservative European crops such as wheat, dairy products, pork, beef, and poultry. In difference to the Turkish American favors fast foods such as hamburgers, French fries, and soft drinks.

The coming of globalization helps to spread the culture of one country to another. The culture of turkey incase of dressing, art, music are different from USA. The music tastes of turkey are similar to USA. The new generation Turkish people like to hear the songs from the same brand as young Americans hear but not all Turkish people listen to American bands. The bars and clubs of Turkey and USA play the same music. Rap music, metal music and electronic music can be considered as global music types. American music is very rich and diverse and it comprises of jazz, Rock and roll, Folk music, classical music, and new age music. These are the varieties of musical systems in America. People around the world are being influenced by the American pop culture including Turkey. The songs of Some Turkish singers have found a few similarities with the Americans.

The government type of turkey is known as the Republican parliamentary democracy and Ankara is the capital of turkey. There are so many administrative divisions in turkey this includes 81 provinces. Such as iller, adana, adiyaman and so on. Turkey got independence on 29 th October 1923 and formed constitution on 7 th November 1982. The head of the government is the president and there are prime minister, deputy prime minister and the president has the power to appoint the council of ministers with the nomination of prime minister. The national assembly elects the president for 2-5 years terms. Among the parliament, the president appoints the prime minister. The constitution formed three Branches which include executive, legislative, and judicial branches. In the beginning, there were 13 independent states in USA in 1776 with a loose federation. America got freedom from Britain in 1783. America adopted a written constitution in 1787. A framework for Legal, political, governmental system was formed in that constitution. The powers are shared by Federal government and individual states in America. The federal government contains Three Branches including executive, legislative, and judicial. The president is considered as the head of the executive branch and there will be popular election in every four years to select the president. President’s cabinet contains other officers of the executive branch. At end of the discussion we can reach the conclusion American constitution provides effective inter relation between the congress and the President.

Turkey is a Muslim country and its tradition is strongly inspired by the customs of the country. The important religion in America is Christian Religion and they have no official religion. We can see the Turkish expressing admiration, politeness and formal air in everyday life. Americans greetings are not formal. It may include handshake, smile and hello. While speaking Turkey people pass niceties between the speakers and generally their conversation is good. In Turkey it is necessary to keep politeness and esteem when meeting new people. People in America shake their hands when they meet for the first time. Exhibition of affection in public places are scowled in Turkey. The close friends who are embracing each other and kissing is not general in America. Frequently American introduced himself as his first name and last name. In General Americans gives gift in times of ceremony. In Turkey we can’t see the people who are sitting on the floor to drink and eat. Compared to the other countries table manners are more comfortable in America. All restaurants in America adopt cash; some shops adopt ATM cards and seldom have other considered check for payment. Beer and wine are served in many restaurants in America. Smoking is abandon in public places in America. Rules of Mosque in Turkey are very important and one should follow the rule who visits the Mosque. Western people should dress conventionally and make sure that their limbs are closed. Women should over their hair and whole body. They keep murmuring when talking and it shows the signal of respect. In USA there are different religious belief and practice, large number of faith and gives equal place for every religion lead USA became the most religious diverse country in the world.

In light of my own experience I can feel that art and architecture have predominant role in cultural formation as they are closely connected with tradition. The art and architecture of Turkey has much prominence in the cultural formation of that country. Reading the reports of many historians’ archeologists we can find it as a real open-air museum of art and architecture. Different archeological evidences have been found out from different parts of Turkey announces the rich architecture of Turkey.

The architecture of the Hittites of Anatolia especially their statues of goddess in gold, bronze and copper are the examples of it. Another prominent architecture existed at the time of Ottoman Empire that paved the way for Turkey’s culture. Regarding the formation of American culture, one cannot find much influence of art and architecture, like the Turks. Anyway, the architectural diversity of US is so popular that it has been influenced with many external forces.

To conclude, we can infer that there exists many cultural differences between Turkey and US that keeps them entirely different cultural entities.

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Turkey tourism essay

Turkey tourism essay 11 models

Last updated Monday , 13-11-2023 on 09:55 am

Turkey tourism essay , with all the important information you are looking for to know all the scenic places in Turkey or to write an essay about tourism in Turkey . This detailed information can be used with ease  for anyone who wants to write Turkey tourism essay.

Turkey tourism essay

Turkey is one of the most beautiful tourist countries in the world where tourists come from everywhere. If you want information about tourism in Turkey, you will find here important information that will help you write Turkey tourism essay.

Turkey is a source of magic and beauty, especially its picturesque landscapes, the islands that attract the attention of its visitors. It is a link between the East and the West. It is also a mixture of Eastern and Western cultures. Turkey has many tourist destinations. 

Aya Sofya Museum: One of the most important tourist and historical sites in Turkey, this museum has undergone many changes throughout history. It was the first to build a central church for the Orthodox Emperors, but during the Ottoman Caliphate it became a mosque, then to a museum after the formation of the new Turkish Republic This museum contains many historical monuments of various centuries, and is available to all week except Monday, in which it closes its doors.

Yıldız Saray Palace:  Yildiz Palace is one of the world’s most famous palaces. Sultan Selim III ordered the building of this palace as a gift to his mother, Sultan Mehrezhe. During the reign of Sultan Hamid, it was a meeting place for all sultans of the Ottoman Empire. Open all week except Saturday and Sunday.

The Bosphorus  Bridge is located in the Ortakoy region. The Bosphorus Bridge is the second bridge between the continents of Europe and Asia. It occupies 16th place in terms of length, and tourists come from all over the world to see on its beauty at sunset. 

Çamlıca This hill is located in the city of Istanbul and is considered one of the finest places around the world. If it stands there, it will create a beautiful panorama around the beautiful city of Istanbul. This hill is also surrounded by binoculars that can see Turkey, The breathtaking nature of its beauty, trees, gardens, parks and roses lend its aesthetic touch to the place.

Turkey is a paradise  in the earth, because it contains many tourist places, museums, palaces, islands, beaches, bridges and landscapes that enchant the eyes of the spectators and provide all the comforts of its tourists.

Princess Islands are eight islands connected to each other and located in the Sea of ​​Marmara, the tourist travels through these eight islands by ships, yachts and small boats, and is one of the most attractive places for tourists in Turkey, the calm blue water and green trees and soft sand are most important reasons for this experience and the traveling to Turkey, and there are many amenities, recreation and accommodation that provide the tourist a chance to enjoy and relax.

Tourism Essay

Turkey at the present time is a major tourist attraction for each of the two continents surrounding it, namely Europe, Asia, as well as the various countries of the Arabian Peninsula.

Turkey is famous for its long history, from the beginning of its inception in the Stone Age and keeping pace with the Byzantine, Roman and Greek eras, until finally to our present time the Ottoman era.

Turkey has a beautiful nature, whether from the plateaus and highlands covered with trees and green herbs to the surrounding coasts such as the Mediterranean, Marmara Sea, the Black Sea, and the Aegean, making it a great tourist destination.

Modern Turkey is nowadays one of the most open countries for foreign tourism and caters to all markets, so you can find tourist, historical, religious and therapeutic areas in it. It relies entirely on tourism and the development of civilization, which helps it to attract investment.

Essay about Turkey

my name is _( .. ). I am (..) years old . I have (..) sisters. We were able to visit Turkey last summer vacation. I live in (..). This is my first trip.

I really loved visiting Turkey and taking some tours . I loved the cruises that they make and seeing the famous landmarks of Turkey from both sides of the sea.

I liked Turkish architecture very much and found it very attractive. When I listened to the guide telling us about its ancient history, I thought it was modern and surprisingly, but it was an ancient architecture.

I also liked the commercial centers, markets, and handicrafts that they offer for tourism, such as clothes or gold jewelry.

I liked Istanbul very much, and found it to be large in size, and overcrowded. Me and my siblings enjoyed walking around. I also liked very much Turkish food. Everything is good for tourism in Turkey.

It is a pity that the duration of the vacation was only 7 days. These short days are not enough to enjoy a full Turkey. Istanbul only consumes that many days. It contains a huge number of secular tourism areas. I loved this trip so much and would like to repeat it again.

Turkey Essay

Turkey is distinguished by its location between Europe and Asia, and it is considered one of the tourist countries that attracts a large number of tourists. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea from the south, the Black Sea from the north, the Aegean Sea from the west, and the Marmara Sea from the northwest.

Therefore, it is a peninsula where surrounded It has seas from three sides, and this allowed it to have wonderful beaches, whose beauty can be enjoyed in addition to practicing various water sports, such as diving, water skiing, fishing, and practicing various recreational activities.

Essay about Turkey tourism

I watch some Turkish series, and from my observations, I find that the director depicted tourist places within the scenes of the series, so we find beautiful beaches, huge malls, amusement parks, gardens and parks.

Filming tourist places in series and movies is good propaganda, as millions of people around the world watch it, especially if the series is good.

However, Turkey is not only gaining fame through Turkish soap operas. It may be a window only to see the beauty of Turkey.

But certainly we can not forget the role of the Ottoman Caliphate. And Turkey’s role in spreading Islam in many foreign countries. And the strength of the Turkish conquests that occurred over many generations and sultans.

All of this makes me more eager to know its past history and the wonderful civilization and customs that it was before and now. And watch its famous Islamic landmarks, such as the mosques that were built on the finest and most wonderful Islamic building witnessed in history.

Descriptive essay about Turkey

Turkey is one of the wonderful cities that depends heavily on trade. It has many good features. We also find some bad points.

During my visit to Turkey last year, I was able to enjoy a lot of tourism and stay for two whole months. I have been able to visit many tourist areas and beautiful beaches.

Through my experience, I found some strange differences, such as the prices are very expensive in small areas far from the capital, and the accommodation prices are very different.

I also had the experience of buying groceries, or taking a taxi. I have learned that I must always recount  the money after purchase because I find it strangely less than it should be.

I also tried to work besides the residence. I was very surprised by their strictness in requesting the worker from the same country. They prefer to provide work for local youth only.

But anything else like enjoying and walking around is very excellent and it was a great experience that I would like to repeat again.

Short paragraph about Turkey

Turkey is famous for its nature and life open to freedom, which attracts many people. Turkey is famous for its unique geographical location.

The most beautiful thing that distinguishes Turkey is that it contains different climates and geographical nature, as it contains many imaginary scenes such as seas and mountains.

Tourism is one of the most important things that Turkey is interested in. We can see how they benefit from any landscape they have as they allocate cafes with beautiful shapes and take out trips for tourists to watch them and sit in cafes, drink and eat their famous delicious meals.

Paragraph about Turkey

I really loved spending my last summer vacation in Turkey. I found it very wonderful, easy to live, and affordable prices.

I enjoy spending the summer vacation a lot with my family and I in Istanbul, and I found it easy to deal because it is an Islamic country similar to all Arab countries. Its people are friendly and welcoming of newcomers.

I liked the landscape and the beaches a lot, they have amazing views that enchant the mind. I enjoyed my visit very much and would like to come back again in the future.

I want to visit Turkey essay

Turkey is famous for the famous Ottoman disputes that we study and follow in many Turkish series that are broadcast on television, which makes me very excited to visit it and see the amazing tourist attractions that come in Turkish films and series.

I like very much the large mosques that are designed in a distinctive Islamic way, I would like to visit and pray in them and enjoy seeing the unique architecture that has succeeded over centuries.

I also like very much the famous simple neighborhoods in which the indigenous people live, preserving their heritage, customs and traditions.

It can be said that I really love Turkey and would like to visit it, enjoy watching the beaches and enjoy hiking in the green mountainous areas.

I want to go to Turkey essay

Turkey is one of the countries that I would very much like to visit and spend some time from my summer vacation in. Where Turkey has become very famous in the past years through art and shedding light on it through the famous series that show the wonderful attractive scenes and the customs and traditions of its people.

Which makes me very pleased and I would like to visit it and get to know its landmarks better. I would also like to see Istanbul very much, wander the streets, listen to the sound of mosques, and see the famous Turkish-Islamic architecture.

I would really like to visit Turkey and enjoy drinks, especially the famous Turkish tea and enjoy the landscape and see the attractive beaches.

Write an essay on importance of tourism

Undoubtedly, in recent years around the world, interest in tourism has become the largest increase. This is to improve the economy of countries, stop relying on the state’s natural resources and improve external sources that help in entering foreign currencies.

We see many countries changing their policies at the present time, to turn to more open countries, because of their study of the importance of national income from external sources and their lack of dependence on internal resources so that they do not end one day and there are no alternative means.

Therefore, tourism is an important, active and powerful source of income, equal in importance to oil and many rich materials.

We can see the United Arab Emirates, which already possesses several natural resources that help the country in the national income, but they turned to tourism in a large and basic way, so that the tourism revenue in our time is one of the largest types of national income. They live in complete economic development and security. Therefore, tourism is a very important source for the economy of any country.

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