Turkey is near and at the same time far. We know people of Turkish origin from everyday life, Turkish holiday paradises from vacation, Constantinople from class. For a long time Turkey was perceived as a west-facing secular republic. Today Islam is in the foreground in political and social life.
2023 will mark the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey. Ataturk’s founding myth influenced the transformation process for a long time. Today the religious AKP is at the head of the state. While it used to be “soft power” in foreign policy, Turkey is pursuing its own militarily and politically goals in the Syrian war.
17th place on the list of the world’s strongest economies. These are the ambitious plans of the AKP government for 2023. For a long time this seemed possible. Private consumption and infrastructure projects made the economy boom. At present, a high current account deficit and high inflation are threatening Turkish markets and people. The Turkish central bank should intervene, experts demand – but politics is taking a different course.
Multi-ethnic and multi-religiosity – these are the areas of tension that social and political groups have to deal with. The country’s cultural wealth is also based on diversity and is reflected in the lively cultural activity. Music is part of life and the art scene is exploding too.
According to a2zgov, life in Turkey is colorful and full of senses. “Keyif yapmak” – having fun – that’s part of it. This can be a glass of tea with a view of the Bosphorus or ponder life with friends in a meyhane (Turkish pub) at Raki. Pragmatism is the art of living. There is a solution for everything, because “burasi Türkiye” – this is Turkey.
Location and size of the country
Turkey has a special location in many ways (geographical coordinates: 39 00 N, 35 00 E). It lies on two continents at the same time – with the Bosporus as a connection line to Asia (97% of the land area) and the waterway between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It borders the Balkans, Caucasus and Levant and can also be seen as a bridge between Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. It forms the middle of the “strategic energy ellipse” between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.
It has 7200 km of coastline (Black Sea in the north, Aegean in the west and Mediterranean in the south). Neighboring countries are: Greece (206 km), Bulgaria (240 km), Syria (822 km), Iran (499 km), Iraq (352 km), Armenia (268 km), Georgia (252 km), Azerbaijan (exclave and autonomous Nakhichevan Republic, 9 km). The politically divided island of Cyprus with the Republic of Cyprus and the internationally not recognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus are also not far from the Turkish coast. At a width of 1500 km and a length of 550 km Turkey is 2.3 times the size of Germany.
The country’s diversity is immense: geographically located on 2 continents, historically and culturally significant over millennia. Reason enough for many people to look for their stay there and discover the “sights” for themselves.
Reading and listening tips
“Instructions for Use for Istanbul” by Kai Strittmatter is wonderful reading to get closer to the country and its people. The SZ journalist humorously describes scenes from everyday life in the city. Even for Istanbul connoisseurs there are still some aha experiences in the sense of “So that’s how it is…”.
“Die Türkeireise” by Christian Schüle takes the reader with him in a literary way to personal encounters with people in all parts of the country.
The audio book “Listening to Turkey: A sounding journey through the cultural history of Turkey to the present” by Martin Greve shows numerous examples of cultural-historical work from the first settlement of Anatolia by the Seljuks to the present day. He familiarizes with the old legends, with mystical and folk poets like Mevlana and Yunus Emre, with the culturally diverse songs and dances in Anatolia, he reveals secrets about whirling dervishes and mighty Janissary chapels.
The documentary by Fatih Akin “Crossing the bridge – the sound of Istanbul” makes it possible to approach the country and culture in a musical way. He captures the multicultural influenced musical impressions from street musicians to Turkish superstars.
The soundscape of Istanbul, which inspired Orhan Veli (1914-1950) to write his world-famous poem “I Hear Istanbul”, still influences numerous artists today. In his sound installation “A Walk Through the Bazaar”, Erdem Helvacioglu takes the soundscape of the numerous markets, bargaining and selling of goods as an occasion and combines them with electronic beats to create an alienated music installation.
The fusion of traditional oriental music with electronic rhythms in “Beyond Istanbul-Underground Grooves of Turkey”, compiled by DJ Ipek from Berlin, is not that unusual.
The following books shed light on the current political and social situation:
- Çiğdem Akyol (2016), Erdogan. The biography, Munich: Herder Munich: Herder
- Atac, Ilker / Fanizadeh, Michael (2016). Turkey, continuities, changes, taboos: almond tree
- Krüger, Karen / Esser, Anna. Bosporus Reloaded (2016). Turkey in transition. bpb
- Schweizer, Gerhard (2016). Understand Turkey. from Ataturk to Erdogan. Velcro Cotta