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Turkey Country Profile
Highrises in Istanbul

Official Name:
Republic of Turkey (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti)

Date of Independence:
29 October 1923 (successor state to the Ottoman Empire)

Population:
71,892,808 (July 2008 est.)

Capital:
Ankara

Biggest City
Istanbul (11,372,613 Mio. in 2007)

Area:
779,452 sq km (300,948 sq miles)

Main religions:
Sunni Muslim (est. 75 percent); Alevi (est. 20-25 percent); small Christian minorities (125,000 people overall; the biggest of the denominations is the Armenian Gregorian, with around 70,000); plus a Jewish minority of around 20,000 people.

Languages:
Turkish is the only official language. Other languages spoken are Kurdish (Kurmanci), Zazaki and Arab and to a lesser extent Georgian, Lazian, Armenian, Aramaic, Greek, Hemshin, as well as Caucasian languages.

Currency:
New Turkish Lira (YTL)

President:
Abdullah Gul (since August 2007)

Prime minister:
Recep Tayyip Erdogan (from March 2003); led his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) to victory in the July 2007 elections.

EU relations:
Turkey was the second country to sign a European Association Agreement in 1963. This provided for the eventual establishment of an EC/Turkey Customs Union, which finally came into effect on 1 January 1996. The agreement also provided for the possibility of Turkey's eventual EC accession. Turkey formally applied for membership in 1987, though it was not until 1999 that the Helsinki European Council formally accepted Turkey as a candidate. The 2004 December European Council agreed to open EU accession negotiations with Turkey on 3 October 2005, endorsing the European Commission's view that Turkey had sufficiently fulfilled the Copenhagen political criteria. The negotiations opened as planned on 3 October 2005.

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Kemal Kirisci on why Kemalists fear the AKP government. © 2008 pre tv. All rights reserved.

Political parties:
Following the most recent elections in July 2007 the following parties are represented in the 550-seat Parliament. The next regular national elections are scheduled for 2012.

Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, won 46.7 percent and 340 seats.

Republican People's Party ( CHP) led by Deniz Baykal, won 20.8 percent and 87 seats.

Nationalist Action Party (MHP) led by Devlet Bahceli, won 14.3 percent and 70 seats.

Independents got 5.2 percent; most of the candidates joined a political party, but 6 remained as independents in parliament.

Democratic Society Party (DTP) won 20 seats through independents.

The Democratic Left Party (DSP) led by Zeki Sezer, entered parliament on the CHP list and formed a group of its own with 13 MPs.

October 2008

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