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With many thanks to Isabel Steyaert for giving us permission to use these pictures on this page.

Turkey the country with two faces a video

Surface area and number of residents.

Turkey has a surface area of 779.452 square kilometres which makes it 18 times as big as The Netherlands, over 2 times as big as Germany and more than 3 times the size of the United Kingdom.

Turkey has 70 million residents, which is 4 times as much residents as The Netherlands. Germany has 82,5 million residents and the United Kingdom has 60,2 million.

Of all the residents, 70% of them are living in the big cities. Ankara, the capitol of Turkey, has 2,94 million residents but the city with the largest number of residents is Istanbul. The last official count in 1990 stated there were 7,3 million people living in Istanbul. In 2004 this number is estimated at 12 million. The surface area of Istanbul is 5712 square kilometres, 26 times bigger than Amsterdam, 6,5 times bigger than Berlin and almost 4 times as big as London.

Geographical position, landscape and nature.

By far the largest part of Turkey, 755.688 square kilometres, is situated in Asia on the Anatolian peninsula, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea. A very small part of Turkey, namely 23.764 square kilometres which mainly is the city of Istanbul and its surroundings, is situated in Europe.
In the west, Turkey is bordering Greece, and Bulgaria, in the east Turkey is bordering Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

Large parts of Turkey are inhospitable; they consist mostly out of steppe’s, mountains and forests.

Brown bears, wolves, wild boars and panthers can still be found here and there. Turkey is an important place of passage for many migratory birds; the Bosporus is famous for it’s station function during the migration of many birds in fall and spring.

And along Turkey’s southcoast huge turtle’s lay their eggs.

Constitution, religion, the population and the reformations.

Turkey, as we know it today, is a Republic founded on October 29th 1923 with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as the first president of Turkey.
Turkey is a parliamentary democracy, which in theory is just like The Netherlands. The head of state is president Sezer.

Over 99% of the Turkish population is Islamic.

Eventhough there are schools in virtually every corner of the country, illiteracy rates are high. In an effort to drive back illiteracy, the Turkish government decided in 1997 to extend compulsory education from 5 to 8 years. (for example, in The Netherlands school-age is from 4 till 16 years).

In the past years, Turkey has carried through many reformations in order to be accepted into the European Union, the EU. Capital punishment (during peacetime) was abolished, the Kurdish minority was given more rights as for example the right to speak Kurdish, the police force was put under more strict supervision and the freedom of speech as also the freedom of the press were extended. On January the 1st 2002, men and women became equal for the law.

Turkey and the European Union.

The member states within the EU are divided about accepting Turkey into the EU. The advocates are of opinion that it would be good to accept Turkey into the EU since it would spread democracy, human rights and because of the economical growth that is expected for Turkey. Furthermore they are afraid that refusing Turkey into the EU, will cause Turkey to turn it’s back on Europe and to become a more Islamic or even a Fundamentalist Islamic nation. Another argument used by the advocates is that from a historical view, Turkey always was a part of Europe.

The opponents are of opinion that the huge country, which Turkey is, will gain too much influence within the EU and therefore over other countries. They also fear that accepting Turkey into the EU will cost a lot of money since Turkey, compared to other countries in the EU, is very poor. Also the different values of an Islamic country are of concern to the opponents. And the fact that Turkey, for the most part, is situated in Asia and therefore cannot be an European country, plays a role in the opinion of the opponents.

On December 17th 2004, the government officials of Turkey and the EU have agreed upon starting the discussion, about the entry of Turkey into the EU, on October the 3rd 2005.

Both, the prime minister of Turkey, Recep Erdogan, and the EU, agree upon the fact it could take another 15 years before Turkey may be accepted as a full member of the EU.
Video images and information about Turkey, made by the Turkish Rotary Club, can be found at: