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Transforming Turkey: the 1950s

Kayseri buildings from the plane - flickr-erindipity!
Kayseri buildings from the plane. Photo: flickr/erindipity!

Here at ESI we have done a lot of work on Turkey today and its recent past. On this literary walk we have quite a few pages about its Ottoman past as well. We selected this book by Andrew Mango because Mango is one of the best known western scholars of Turkey and he won much acclaim for his biography of Ataturk. In the last few years Turkey has undergone a major transformation spurred by an economic boom. This extract recalls the events of the 1950s when, says Mango, it was also transformed, but clearly under very different circumstances.

The area under cultivation increased from 14 million to 23 million hectares, the number of tractors from under 2,000 to 42,000, the amount of fertilizer used from 42,000 to 107,000 tonnes. The length of metalled roads rose from under 2,000 to 7,000 kilometres; 14 dams, 15 power stations and 20 harbours were built. Private entrepreneurs were encouraged to invest in factories producing consumer goods. But, far from being reduced, the public sector grew in size. Not only was the state responsible for the building of dams and roads, it continued also to produce goods both for investment and for consumption iron and steel, cement, textiles and cheap clothes, sugar, cigarettes and alcoholic drinks. Electoral considerations dictated the choice of sites for new state factories. Private companies flourished by working as subcontractors to the state, whose agencies took on more staff. The government thus bought more support among entrepreneurs and also among the public at large. It became an employment agency creating jobs and generating profits, in the first place for its own supporters. This policy could only be sustained by deficit financing that is by printing money at home, and accumulating debts abroad. But until resources and the patience of foreign creditors in particular, the United States were exhausted, it was a popular policy. In the ten years of the Democrats' rule the gross value of the national product (GNP) rose by an average of 6 per cent a year. Allowing for the increase in population, this was equivalent to a rise of nearly 3.5 per cent per head.

The Turks Today. Andrew Mango. 2004.
[p. 47 / John Murray]

January 2009
Tim Judah

 Back Turkey - Next 
  1. Istanbul: Pamuk's City
  2. Istanbul: Swimming across the Bosphorus
  3. Salonika and the Jews
  4. Salonica: Slaves and Trade
  5. Thessalonika: 1923
  6. Ohrid: Rise and Fall
  7. Tornado of Dust - 1944
  8. Awake Romania - 1989
  9. Novi Sad: Nest of the Serbian nation
  10. Nis: War Capital, 1915
  11. Belgrade and the Selenites
  12. 1996: Serbia Calling
  13. Belgrade Train Station - 1964
  14. Srebrenica: Vengeance
  15. Srebrenica: Blood
  16. Srebrenica: July 1995
  17. Mealtime - Interwar years in Travnik
  18. Dayton: The Napkin Shuttle
  19. London Buses in Sarajevo
  20. The Museum and Bosnian Identity
  21. Foča: The Bosniak
  22. Kosovo: The Swiss Front
  23. Mitrovica: 1908
  24. Pristina: Kosovo like Namibia?
  25. City without traffic - Pristina 1966
  26. Durham in Pristina - 1908
  27. Tirana: 1962
  28. Zog's Tirana
  29. The Kotor - Constantinople Express
  30. Kotor and the Montenegrins
  31. The Rabbi of Stolac
  32. Dubrovnik: England, Wine and Wool
  33. Cetinje: Nikola Under the Elm
  34. Cetinje: 1858
  35. Dalmatia: Ships & Grapes
  36. Prophet of Yugoslavism
  37. The head of the world
  38. 1919: Mushrooms and Lies
  39. Sofia: Bulgaria's Jews during WWII
  40. Zamfirovo: Rural livelihoods in the mid-1990s
  41. Kosovo
  42. Romania: 1914
  43. Istanbul: Food and the frugal Turks
  44. Micklagard: Surprising, cosmopolitan Constantinople
  45. Sukhumi: The history of the region became ashes
  46. Black Sea: The coming of steam and rail
  47. Mestrovic: Motherhood and the Victor
  48. Rizvanovici, Bosnia: Gnashing
  49. Down the Danube with Magris: Ruse
  50. From Pristina to Tskhinvali
  51. Serbia, Historians and Hitler's War
  52. Balkan Strongmen: Bulgaria's Zhivkov
  53. Sarajevo: The Siege Within
  54. Turkey: Osman's Dream
  55. Durres 1961: Beijing on Sea
  56. Cetinje: Eggs for the Ladies
  57. Bosnia: Land of Immigrants
  58. Ottoman Croatia
  59. Harem: All the Sultan's Women
  60. Sibiu: Regime Change, European Style
  61. 1929: The Balkans and the Great Crash
  62. Rumeli and how the Balkans became the Balkans
  63. 1948: Stalin, Kosovo and Swallowing Albania
  64. Transforming Turkey: the 1950s
  65. McMafia and the Balkans
  66. 1916: Serbia in Corfu
  67. Princes Amongst Men
  68. Limp Shevardnadze
  69. Knin: War and Suburbia
  70. In the Mountains of Poetry
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