The vast Ottoman Empire ruled the region for seven hundred years. When the empire was at its peak in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it controlled parts of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Arabia. Turkey is the last country of the Ottoman Empire.
Turkey has a small piece of land on the western side of the Bosporus Straits, which connect the Black Sea with the Mediterranean Sea, linking it to Europe. Most of Turkey’s land is in Asia, and Turkey is sometimes called Asia Minor. The people of Turkey are Turkish (not Arab) and speak the Turkish language. As much as 90 percent of the Turkish population is Sunni Muslim, which is similar to many Muslim countries in the Middle East.
Turkey is a secular democracy with a democratically elected political leadership, despite Islamic fundamentalists who want an Islamic religious state. Turkey has built dams on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, causing conflict with Syria and Iraq, who want to use more of the water.
Turkey borders northern Iraq and is home to 56 million Turks and 14 million Kurds. The Kurdish claim of a homeland in eastern Turkey has not been recognized by the Turkish government.
Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and is a US ally. The United States was allowed to build military bases in Turkey, which were helpful in Operation Desert Storm during the First Persian Gulf War. However, Turkey did not allow the US military to use these bases as invasion points when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.
Turkey has not been allowed to join the European Union (EU) so far because of Turkey’s controversial human rights record, conflicts with the Kurds, and disagreements with Greece over Cyprus. Turkey may become the first Islamic country to join the EU.
Turkey grows large quantities of food; vast fields of grain extend across the central plateau. Turkey also has some oil resources and minerals.
Source: Iraq, Turkey, and Iran: Turkey
By Saylor Academy, CC-BY 3.0