Juncture between West and East, successor of seven great civilizations, ambitious economy
Straddling the continents of Europe and Asia, Turkey’s strategically important location has given it major influence in the region – and control over the entrance to the Black Sea.
On the crossroads between the West and the East, Turkey is one of the best countries to experience both the oriental splendor and the modern dynamics of Europe.
Turkey is the successor of seven great civilizations, which determined the human development for centuries after they disappeared. The first of these civilizations was the enigmatic Hittite culture, which was key for transporting the great achievements of Egypt to Europe. Followed by the Anatolian civilization, the Greek culture, the Hellenistic influence of Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire, the territories of Turkey did not cease to be the contact zone between cultures from time immemorial.
Turkey has the world’s 17th largest GDP by PPP and the 18th largest nominal GDP, while the country ranks among the founding members of the OECD and the G0-20 major economies.
The economy has enjoyed strong growth, fuelled by trade and foreign investment. Tourism, agriculture and manufacturing are key sectors.
Turkey has a sizeable automotive industry, which produced over a million motor vehicles in 2012, ranking as the 17th largest producer in the world.
Turkish brands like Beko and Vestel are among the largest producers of consumer electronics and home appliances in Europe, and invest a substantial amount of funds for research and development in new technologies related to these fields.
Other key sectors of the Turkish economy are banking, construction, home appliances, electronics, textiles, oil refining, petrochemical products, food, mining, iron and steel, and machine industry.
Turkey is shinning on tourism as well. In 2013, 37.8 million foreign visitors arrived in Turkey, which ranked as the 6th most popular tourism destination worldwide.
The austerity measures imposed then meant that by the time the global financial crisis came round in 2008, Turkey was in a better position to weather the storm than many other countries.
The level of public debt was already relatively low, and although the effects of the recession were still felt, by 2010 the Turkish economy had started to bounce back and quickly returned to strong growth.
Turkey’s FDI performance in 2013 was reassuringly fine; according to year-end provisional data, the country attracted $12.9bn of FDI in 2013. On a country basis, Germany was the largest investor in Turkey in 2013, followed by the Netherlands, Russia, Azerbaijan and Austria. With respect to the sectorial breakdown, the most attractive sector in 2013 was financial services, with over $3.7bn, followed by energy and manufacturing with $2.5bn and $2bn respectively, according to some statistics featured by The New Economy last year.
Joining the European Union – a longstanding ambition. The second largest NATO’s armed force
Since becoming an EU candidate country in 1999, Turkey has introduced substantial human rights and economic reforms in order to align with EU practices – including easing restrictions on the minority Kurdish language
Formal membership talks were launched in October 2005, but progress has been glacially slow.
Several European countries continue to have serious misgivings over Turkish EU membership, and Germany and France have called for it to have a “privileged partnership” instead.
On the other hand, when it comes to NATO, Turkey has long seen itself as the eastern bulwark of alliance. According to a 2011 NATO estimate, Turkey had the second largest standing armed force in NATO after the US Armed Forces, with an estimated strength of 495,000 deployable forces.