ETHNONYMS: Türken (German), Türkler (Turkish)
Identification. Ethnically, the Turks are a cultural group united by a common language, but the term "Turk" has no clearly defined racial significance; it can be properly applied to those communities historically and linguistically connected to the nomadic people whom the Chinese identified as the "Tu-Kiu." Some scholars consider that the name "Hiungnu," which appears in Chinese sources of the second millennium b.c.e., refers to the Turks; however, it was probably a generic term that included both Turks and Mongols, and perhaps other peoples.
Today ethnic Turks constitute approximately 80 percent of the population of the Republic of Turkey. Turkish-speaking peoples can be found in Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and China. Turks are linked by their common history and language, which are strong and persistent; additionally they are linked by their religion—Islam; with the exception of the Turkish tribe called the Yakut, who live in eastern Siberia and the Altai region, almost all Turks are Muslims.
Location. Turkey is located in southwestern Asia and fits roughly between 36° and 42° N and 25° and 45° E. It is bounded on the west by the Aegean Sea and Greece; on the north by Bulgaria and the Black Sea; on the northeast by Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan; on the east by Iran, and on the south by Iraq, Syria, and the Mediterranean Sea. The total area of the country is 780,580 square kilometers. The greater part of the country lies in Asia, specifically Asia Minor or Anatolia. About 8 percent of Turkey—called Turkish Thrace—is in Europe. Because of the mountainous terrain and the maritime influence, climates vary greatly. The country has three main temperate climates: Mediterranean on the south and southwestern coasts, Black Sea in the north, and steppe throughout most of Anatolia.
Demography. The population of Turkey in 1994 was estimated as 62,154,000. More than half the population lives in urban areas. Turkey has one of the highest rates of population increase in the world, as the result of a high birthrate, estimated in 1994 to be 25.98 births per thousand and an average death rate of 5.8 deaths per thousand. The current annual rate of growth is 2.02 percent. From 1923 to 1994, the population multiplied by approximately five. Large-scale migration to the cities since the middle of the century has led to overcrowding. In 1990, 65 percent of the population was urban. Istanbul is the cultural, industrial, and commercial center. Ankara is the capital. Other major cities are: Adana, Antalya, Bursa, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Izmir, Kayseri, Konya, and Samsun.
Linguistic Affiliation. Turkish is the language of more than 90 percent of the population of Turkey. Until recently, some scholars contended that Turkish is part of the Ural-Altaic Language Group. Philologists today, however, consider Turkish an Eastern Turkic language. Turkish is an agglutinating language; words are made by adding strings of suffixes to a root that does not change. Perhaps the most striking characteristic of the Turkish language is vowel harmony. The vowels in a Turkish word are either all back vowels (a, ι, o, u) or all front vowels (e, i, ö, ü). Turkish is totally unrelated to Arabic or Persian, but it has borrowed many words from these two languages. In 1928 the Arabic script that had been used to write Ottoman Turkish was abandoned in favor of a twentynine letter Latin script. After the establishment of the modern Republic of Turkey in 1923, attempts were made to purify the Turkish language by creating new words to replace many Arab, Persian, and some French words. These attempts met with only limited success, and borrowed words are still very common.
History and Cultural Relations
The origins of the Turkish peoples are among the nomadic and pastoral peoples who lived east of the Eurasian steppes from the borders of China across Turkestan. Their earliest appearance in history was in what would be today Outer Mongolia, south of Lake Baikal and north of the Gobi Desert. The Turks were once part of a group of Altaic peoples, which includes the Mongols, the Manchu, the Bulgars, probably the Huns, and others. The first group known to be called Turks emerged in the sixth century c.e. The Tu-Kiu founded an empire stretching from Mongolia and the northern frontier of China to the Black Sea. In the seventh century the Arab conquest of Persia carried Islam to the Turkish fringes of Central Asia. In the ninth century and later, many Turks were recruited as slaves for the ʿAbbāsid armies and converted to Islam. Some rose to important administrative positions. The larger portion of Turks, however, still being essentially nomadic in Central Asia east of the Aral Sea, did not accept Islam until the tenth century. Bands of Turks joined in the gradual war of attrition that was being waged by Muslim warriors along the frontiers with the declining Byzantine Empire. A tribe of Turks called the Oghuz (Oğuz) wrested control of Persia from the Ghaznavids and founded the Seljuk Turkish Empire in 1037. The Seljuks took control of Baghdad from the Buyids in 1055. The Seljuk Turkish victory in 1071 over the forces of the Byzantines at Manzikert, northwest of Lake Van, led to the migration of Turkoman tribes into Anatolia. Within a very short time, the Seljuks had penetrated as far as Nicaea (present-day İznik), only 80 kilometers from Constantinople. Although driven away from this city in 1097, their hold on eastern and central Asia Minor was firmly established. By the early twelfth century, most of the Anatolian plateau was a Seljuk principality, which came to be called Rum. The capital of Seljuk Rum was Konya, and in this city there developed a hybrid Islamic culture that combined elements of Arab Sunni Islam with Persian Shia Islam and Turkish mystical humanism. The invasion of the Mongols in the thirteenth century ended the dominance of the Seljuks in Anatolia.
The Ottoman principality of Sogut was one among ten successor-states that survived from the Seljuk Empire and the Mongol protectorate. In the 1290s the ruler of this principality was Osman, from whose name comes that of the dynasty: Osmanli in Turkish. Sogut was located on the Byzantine frontier, closest to Constantinople. As Osman's emirate expanded, it created both the territorial basis and the administrative organization for an empire. Osman's grandson, Murad I, crossed the Hellespont to extend the young empire into the Christian Balkan states. He applied the principle of toleration to allow non-Muslims to become full citizens and rise to the highest offices of state, and thus, at this very early stage, established the character of the vast multilingual and multiethnic Ottoman Empire. In 1453 Sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople, and the city's name was changed to Istanbul. In its first two centuries, most of the Ottoman Empire's energies had been directed toward Christian Europe; however, Selim I (r. 1512-1520), called "the Grim" by Westerners, turned his attention toward Asia. He transformed the Ottoman Empire from a Ghazi state on the western fringe of the Muslim world into the greatest empire since the early caliphate. Selim defeated the Safavids and moved fierce Kurdish tribes to eastern Anatolia to seal that border with the Persians. He defeated the Mamluks and took over their vast empire. The Ottomans became the rulers of Syria, Egypt and the Hejaz—the heartland of Arab Islam. At its peak, the Ottoman Empire stretched from the Persian Gulf to Algeria. The empire reached its cultural zenith under the son of Selim I, Süleyman I, "the Magnificent" (r. 1520-1566). His reign also marked an Ottoman cultural renaissance. A considerable poet in his own right, Süleyman encouraged the arts at his court. Like all great civilizations, the Ottoman absorbed and transformed various external cultural influences. The first sultans took from the Byzantines. Selim and Süleyman brought artisans from Tabriz, in western Persia, to beautify Istanbul. Under Süleyman, with the help of Sinan (the son of a Christian from Anatolia and one of the finest architects of all time), Istanbul became a city of true magnificence, at the point of confluence of Eastern and Western civilization. Immediately after Süleyman's death, the Ottoman Empire began to suffer a decline. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it lost several wars to the expanding Russian Empire. It did enjoy another period of cultural renaissance during the reign of Sultan Ahmed III (r. 1703-1730), which is called the Tulip Period. Some reform of the government was accomplished at this time. Nevertheless, the empire lost territory around the Black Sea and in the Balkans during the last part of the eighteenth century and first half of the nineteenth. Russian ambitions were checked by Great Britain and France in the Crimean War (1854-1856), but the Russo-Turkish War liberated Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia from the control of the sultan. The Ottoman Empire was drawn into World War I, on the side of the Central Powers. With its defeat and the abdication of its last sultan, Mehmed VI, the empire finally collapsed. The Allies sought to divide Turkey among themselves after their victory, but the country saved itself by waging a war of liberation directed by the empire's most successful general, Mustafa Kemal (who would later take the surname "Atatürk"). Turkey made a remarkable recovery under Atatürk's leadership. He abolished the sultanate and the caliphate, and Turkey became a republic on 29 October 1923. It was declared a secular state, and religious toleration was guaranteed by the new constitution. Many other reforms were set in motion to modernize Turkey along Western lines. Turkey remained neutral during World War II, until it joined the Allies in February 1945. It joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1952. Turkey suffered political instability that led to military takeovers in 1960, 1970, and 1980. In 1982 a new constitution was promulgated that provided the reestablishment of democratic government.
Although there are many large cities and towns in Turkey, Turkish Thrace and Anatolia are essentially rural. About 45 percent of the population lives in rural settlements. There are about 36,000 villages in Turkey. The houses in the villages vary from region to region. In Eastern Anatolia, the Aegean region, and in the Taurus Mountains, they are made of stone. In the Black Sea region, village houses are made of wood, and, on the Anatolian plateau, they are made of sun-dried bricks. A typical village house is two stories high and has a flat roof. The lower floor is used to shelter animals and for storage. Many villages in eastern Turkey lack running water, and some do not have electricity. The number of villagers who are migrating to urban areas continues to grow.
Industry and Trade. Modern industry dates from the beginning of the republic. The government has played an important role in the development of industry from that time and in the late twentieth century owned 47 percent of the industries. Manufacturing accounts for about 20 percent of the nation's gross national product but employs only about 10 percent of the labor force. Turkish industries include textiles, food processing, mining, steel, construction, lumber, and paper. Antimony, borate, copper, and chrome are mined in sufficient quantities to be exported. Tourism is a growing industry and has become an important source of national income. Turkey has close economic ties with Western Europe and applied for full membership in the European Economic Community in 1987. At the same time, it has sought trading partners in the Middle East. Turkey controls the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and has had disputes with Syria and Iraq in this regard. In 1993 it was estimated that there were 1,800,000 Turks working outside of Turkey, mostly in Germany.
Agriculture and Land Tenure. About 30 percent of Turkey's land area is considered arable. More than one-half of the land is devoted to cereals. Agriculture accounts for nearly one quarter of the gross national product and employs 48 percent of the population. The main cash crops include tobacco, cereals, cotton, olives, mohair, wool, silk, figs, grapes, nuts, citrus fruits, and sugar beets. Turkey is self-sufficient in food production, and it exports its surplus. Forests cover about 25 percent of the land and are protected by the state. Much of the wood that is harvested from these forests is used for fuel.
Division of Labor. The mechanization of agriculture has relieved the burden of women's agricultural chores, but the harvest continues to be a time of hard physical labor for all of the members of families who make their living from agriculture. Women continue to do much of the hoeing of vegetables and the digging for potatoes. Girls and young women are involved in the weaving of rugs.
Kinship, Marriage, and Family
Marriage and Domestic Unit. Marriage continues to be a very important institution in Turkey. From the time parents have their first children, thought is given to their eventual marriage. Some of the marriages that take place are "love matches," but most of them are still being "arranged." In villages, girls are still usually married at a young age. In rural areas, large transfers of wealth are often involved in the marriage arrangement. Turks often marry their first cousins and other close kin, under the incest laws of Islam, to keep control of wealth within the extended family; however, many marriages in Turkey today involve completely unrelated persons. Households in rural areas consist of a man, his wife, his adult sons and their wives, and his young children and grandchildren. In the city, households are usually smaller, being limited to the immediate family and paternal grandparents.
Socialization. Parents assume primary responsibility for raising children, and they are assisted by members of the extended family. The educational system of Turkey was modernized after the founding of the republic as part of an effort to Westernize the country. Today education is compulsory for children ages 6 to 14, and in 1991 it was estimated that 78 percent of this age group do attend school. Instruction is coeducational, and, in state schools, free. The literacy rate among persons 15 years of age and older was estimated in 1990 to be 81 percent. Religious instruction in state schools, having been prohibited when the republic was established and then later made optional, is now compulsory. There are not sufficient numbers of elementary or secondary schoolteachers or school buildings. Many schools have a morning and an afternoon session, and often the number of students in a class is greater than forty. Approximately 35 percent of high school graduates go on to higher education. In 1992 there were twenty-nine universities in Turkey.
Social Organization. Strong class prejudice does not seem to be a part of the structure of modern Turkish society, which does, however, show very marked social divisions. This apparent paradox is explained by the fact that although there are very real differences between various social groups, the Turks do not usually think of themselves in terms of class. Political parties are not organized along class lines. The ideology of the republic has avoided class distinctions, and there is increasing social mobility. There is an educated elite in Turkey, which is basically located in the cities. It has been the ruling element in the country in both Ottoman and republican times.
Political Organization. Atatürk established the ideological basis for the modern Republic of Turkey. It has a republican form of government and a democratic, multiparty system. His reforms included the disestablishment of the role of Islam in government and the adoption of the Swiss civil code. The voting franchise includes men and women aged 21 or older. Women were given the vote in national elections in 1934. The 1982 constitution provides for a democratic, parliamentary form of government. The president is elected for a seven-year term and is not eligible for reelection. The prime minister and his or her council of ministers hold executive power, although the president can veto legislation. Turkey is divided into seventy-three provinces (iller ; sing. il ), administered by governors (valiler ; sing. vali ).
Social Control. Turkey has long been familiar with military power. This is evident not only in the Seljuk, Ottoman, and republican governments, but in the prestige patterns of Anatolian village societies. Early nomadic existence on the Central Asian steppe, where boundaries were not stable, created within those Turkish tribes a closer reliance on military force than was generally the case in more settled communities. A strong militaristic attitude continues to permeate Turkish society. The military is respected and, generally, trusted. Conscription, which is fifteen months for males at the age of 20, is viewed as a necessary duty.
Although Turkey is a secular state and has adopted the Swiss civil code, civic morality is still governed to a large degree by the laws and traditions of Islam.
Religion and Expressive Culture
Religious Beliefs and Practices. More than 99 percent of the population is Muslim, and most of them are Sunnites. Estimates of the number of Shiites fall between 5 percent and 35 percent of the population. There are approximately 50,000 Christians and 20,000 Jews in Turkey today. Villagers, although they are for the most part Muslims, continue to believe in superstitions like the evil eye, which is the ancient belief in the power of certain persons to harm or damage someone else with merely a glance. Beliefs in the power of jinn and efrit, as well as other supernatural phenomena, also persist in rural Turkey.
Ceremonies. Most Turks celebrate the two most important Islamic holidays. Ramazan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar; it is the holy month of fasting. Muslims celebrate the end of the fast with Çeker Bayrami (the Candy Holiday), during which visits of friends and relatives take place, and boxes of candy are taken as presents. Kadir Gecesi (the Night of Power) is the eve of the 26th of Ramazan. This is the night on which Mohammed was given the power of prophecy, and it is celebrated in the mosques by prayers and a nightlong service. Kurban Bayrami (the Festival of Sacrifice) comes during the month of Muharrem. If Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca, they must arrive there ten days before Kurban Bayrami. The pilgrimage ends when a sheep or a goat is sacrificed, and the meat is given to the poor. The sacrifice is performed whether the person goes to Mecca or stays at home. The Muslim calendar is based on twelve lunar months and is therefore ten or twelve days shorter than the solar year. This means that the months and the religious holidays fall a bit earlier each year. The Mevlevi dervishes, better known in the West as the Whirling Dervishes, are an order of Sufis that was established by the son of the great mystical thinker, Jalāl ad-Dīn ar-Rūmī, in the thirteenth century. Every year the Mevlevi dervishes have a ceremony in which they whirl for fifteen days before and on the anniversary day of Rūmï's death, which is 17 December.
Clothing. The Western style of clothing has been adopted by most Turks in large urban areas; however, in the rural regions men and women wear baggy pants. Village women enjoy wearing bright colors and flowered prints. The wearing of a turban or a fez by any man in Turkey was outlawed during Atatürk's administration. Many conservative Muslim women wear long coats and white head scarves. Wearing a veil is not against the law, but it is not a usual practice except in some areas of eastern Turkey. Nevertheless, women in villages anywhere will often make an effort to cover their faces in front of strange men, using a corner of their scarf or handkerchief.
Arts. Seljuk and Ottoman Turkish culture is rich—and well represented in museums like the ethnographic museums in Istanbul and Ankara. They include fine examples of calligraphy, rug weaving, ceramics, metalwork, and miniature painting. The weaving of carpets is an industry that dates among the Turks from Seljuk times. Much of the symbolism in the design of Turkish rugs and kilims is pre-Islamic and shares its origins with the Turkish people in Central Asia. Nevertheless, these rugs have become an important part of the prayer ritual in Islam. Turkish culture, since the establishment of the republic, has been dominated by nationalism. Writers, authors, and musicians have left the tradition of Islam. Turkish folk music and dancing are popular. The ministry of culture was established in 1971, and the government extensively supports a national network of the arts, encompassing theater, opera, ballet, music, and fine arts, as well as popular art forms.
Medicine. Medical services provided by the government are free to the poor. Although health services are improving, rural areas suffer shortages of physicians and facilities. In 1992 there were 126,611 beds in 928 hospitals and health centers in Turkey.
Death and Afterlife. Death in Quranic terms is the beginning of a new life, which will be eternal. Muslims believe that it is a phenomenon like the phenomenon of life and is created by Allah (God). When an individual dies, according to Islamic teachings, the dead person begins a long wait that lasts until the day of resurrection. The grave becomes a garden in the garden of heaven or a well in the well of hell, depending on the life that the deceased has led. When Turkish Muslims die, they are buried the next day at the noontime namaz, or call to prayer. There are several rituals that are performed, including washing the body and covering it in a white cotton cloth. Then the body is taken to a nearby mosque and the funeral namaz is performed, after which it is taken to the cemetery and placed in a grave. The body must be attended to as quickly as possible, and people must abstain from exorbitant expenses.
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Halman, Talat, et al. (1983). Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes. Istanbul: Dost.
Kinross, Lord (1971). Atatürk: The Rebirth of a Nation. 5th ed. London: Wiedenfeld & Nicholson.
Kinross, Lord (1977). Ottoman Centuries. New York: Morrow.
Lewis, Bernard (1968). The Emergence of Modern Turkey. London: Oxford University Press.
Lewis, Geoffrey (1974). Modern Turkey. 4th ed. New York: Praeger.
Shaw, Stanford J., and Ezel Kural Shaw (1977). History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. 2 vols. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Stirling, Paul (1965). Turkish Village. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
ALAN A. BARTHOLOMEW
POPULATION: 70.6 million
RELIGION: Islam (Sunni Muslim majority, Alevi Muslim minority)
The Turks' pride in their country and their nationality is expressed in the popular slogan, first coined by the great Turkish nationalist leader Atatürk: Ne mutlu Türkum diyene ("How happy is he who can say he is a Turk"). Turkey is a land of opposites, belonging to both the East and the West. It is a Middle Eastern state and a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Historically, it has been a center of both Christianity and Islam. It has been variously regarded as both a first-world economy and a developing nation. In the 2000s, there are many oppositions at the forefront of events in Turkey. One is between the statist-secularist tradition begun by Atatürk in the 1920s and the liberal pro-Islam movement of Justice and Development Party of Prime Minister Erdoĝan. Another opposition is between the Turkish state and many of Turkey's Kurds, who seek greater autonomy for the Kurdish-majority provinces of Eastern and Southeastern Turkey.
The land known today as Turkey has only been inhabited by Turkish peoples since the 11th century. Before that, it was home to many different groups, including the ancient Hittites, Greeks, Persians, and Romans. In 330 ce, present-day Istanbul, previously known as Byzantium, was named Constantinople by the Roman Emperor Constantine I and became the seat of the Byzantine Empire (and later of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, when it officially broke from Roman Catholicism). The ancestors of today's Turks, known as the Seljuk Turks, won control of the region from the Byzantines in 1071 ce.
By the 15th century, Turkish culture and the Turkish language had spread throughout Asia Minor (as the region was then called), although the Seljuks themselves had been driven from power in the Mongol invasion of 1243. Turkish power revived under the Ottomans, who conquered Constantinople in 1453, eventually building an empire of some 28 million inhabitants that included not only Asia Minor but stretched as far as North Africa and the Caucasus. The power of the Ottoman Empire reached its height during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent in the 16th century, when the Ottoman armies made inroads into Europe, and the skylines of the empire's great cities, including Istanbul, Mecca, and Jerusalem, were transformed by the mosques and mausoleums of the architect Sinan under Süleyman's patronage.
Between the 17th and 19th centuries, the Ottoman empire suffered a gradual decline, eclipsed by the great European powers to the west. The defeat of the Turks in World War I, which they entered on the side of the Central Powers, signaled the final dissolution of their empire, by then known as "the sick man of Europe." The harsh conditions imposed on the Turks by the victorious Allied Powers helped instigate a nationalist uprising led by Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk), who presided over the formation of a secular democratic republic in 1923 and, over the 15 years until his death in 1938, implemented many reforms to modernize and secularize the Turkish nation.
Turkey maintained a position of neutrality during most of World War II and became a charter member of the United Nations in 1945. Since the end of World War II, a backlash against Atatürk's secularization measures—known in Turkey as the "Reaction"—has consistently figured to some extent in the country's political life, often exploited by individual politicians for the purpose of gaining votes. Political rule has been marked by coups in 1960 and 1980, neither of which resulted in long-term military rule. In 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus after a coup that overthrew that country's president, fearing that Greece would annex the island. Turkey's actions resulted in economic and arms embargoes by other nations.
In the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, Kurdish separatists intensified their terrorist activities, resulting in retaliation by the military and international condemnation of human rights abuses. Estimates in 2008 placed the number of Kurds displaced by the conflict at about 1 million. The late 1990s saw the rise of pro-Islam political parties in Turkey. The Welfare Party of Necmettin Erbakan briefly held power in 1997. Its rule was ended by a request from the secularist military that the party step down. Since 2001, the pro-Western, pro-Islam Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Recep Tayyip Erdoĝan has held power in Turkey. Although more moderate than its Islamist predecessors, the party is facing closure by the Constitutional Court on the grounds that it seeks to overthrow Turkey's secular system.
LOCATION AND HOMELAND
Turkey, lying partly in Europe and partly in Asia, has historically served as a bridge between the two continents. With a total area of 779,452 sq km (301,063 sq mi), Turkey is a relatively large country, bounded on the west by Greece, Bulgaria, and the Aegean Sea; on the east by Iran and the former Soviet Union; on the south by Iraq, Syria, and the Mediterranean Sea; and on the north by the Black Sea. It is slightly larger than the state of Texas but has three times the population of the American state. The European portion of Turkey, which is separated from Asian Turkey by the Bosphorus Strait, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles Strait, is commonly known as Thrace and occupies only 3% of the country's area; the Asian portion, called Anatolia or Asia Minor, accounts for the rest.
At the end of 2007 Turkey had a population of 70.6 million. Between 80% and 90% of the population is composed of ethnic Turks, with Kurds forming the country's largest ethnic minority (estimates of the Kurdish population range from 6 to 12 million). The precise number of Kurds is difficult to determine, as many Kurdish speakers identify as ethnic Turks and many monolingual Turkish speakers identify as ethnically Kurdish. Other minorities include Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, and three other groups who have their origins in the Caucasus Mountains: the Circassians, the Georgians, and the Laz.
More than 90% of Turkey's population speaks Turkish as a first language. In the 1920s the nationalist leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk instituted two major language reforms, replacing the Arabic script used during the Ottoman era with a modified Latin alphabet and attempting to eradicate loan words from Arabic, Persian, and other languages by substituting Turkish ones. Nevertheless, words with Arabic and Persian origins still remain part of the language. In addition, a number of modern words that had no Turkish equivalents were subsequently borrowed from European languages, such as the English-derived otomobil, tren, and taksi.
Turkish has no gender, so there are no distinct pronouns for he, she, and it, and there are no definite or indefinite articles. Turkish words are formed by adding suffixes denoting action, place, possession, and other qualities to a root that does not change. A root and its suffixes can become comprehensive enough to form an entire sentence, the most famous example being the following, which means "Weren't you one of the people whom we tried without success to make resemble the citizens of Afyonkarahısar?":
|Thank you||teşekkür ederim|
|To your health!||afiyet olsun (said at the beginning of a meal)|
|May your life by spared!||başiniz saĝolsun! (said when death is mentioned)|
|May it be in the past!||geçmiş olsun! (said in regard to an illness or injury)|
There are two forms of "goodbye": allahaısmarladık, said by the person who is leaving; and güle güle, said by the person who stays behind. There are also two common words for "no": hayır, and the more emphatic (and less polite) yok, which literally means "there is none" and is often uttered with raised eyebrows and pursed lips.
The Turks have a rich tradition of folktales, some of which can take as long as 30 hours to recite. The most popular and numerous involve the legendary Nasrettin Hoca, a comic figure thought to have been a sage and teacher in Akşehir in the 13th century. The following are typical Hoca stories:
One day, the Hoca was sitting in his garden under the shade of a walnut tree. Looking around his garden, he wondered why Allah caused large, heavy watermelons to grow on spindly vines while little walnuts grew on tall trees. He mused that, if he had been the creator, he would have done just the reverse. Just then, a walnut fell from the tree, hitting him on the forehead, and the Hoca thanked Allah for arranging the world just as it was, grateful that he hadn't been struck by a watermelon instead.
When the Hoca lost his donkey, he prayed and thanked God. Asked why he was grateful for losing his donkey, he replied, "I'm fortunate that I wasn't riding him when he got lost, or I would be lost as well."
Other famous folktale heroes include Dedeh Horkut, whose exploits, dating back to the nomadic days of the Turkish people, appear in children's books, and Koroĝlu, a Turkish version of Robin Hood. Following are several well-known Turkish proverbs:
On a winter's day, the fireside is a bed of tulips.
The only head free of worries is that of a scarecrow.
Success depends on a man's reputation, not on his soul.
If you dig a grave for your neighbor, measure it for yourself.
Other folktales include stories told using the shadow puppet characters Karagöz and Hacivat. Karagöz, whose name means "Black Eye," entertains the audience with his low-brow humor. Hacivat is the more dignified and educated of the two, but he is always outsmarted by Karagöz. Karagöz and Hacivat shadow plays are often performed during Ramadan.
More than 99% of Turks are Muslims. Most are HanafiSunni Muslims. Approximately 15%-25% of Turks subscribe to Allevi Islam, a form of Shia Islam. Allevis pray in prayer houses known as Cem Evis. Religious minorities include a small number of Jews whose ancestors fled the Spanish Inquisition in 1492 and found refuge among the Ottomans. There are also small numbers of Armenian, Syrian, and Greek Orthodox Christians. A unique group known as the Dönme are descended from Jews who were followers of the 17th-century false messiah, Shabbatai Zevi, who was ultimately forced to convert to Islam. The religion of the Dönme combines elements of Judaism and Islam.
Although the Turks as a people are Muslims, their country has been a secular state since shortly after World War I, when Atatürk established a democratic republic ruled by codes of law, ending the sovereignty of Islamic law in the country. Nevertheless, Islam is basic to the fabric of everyday life in Turkey. Many Turks interrupt all other activities five times a day for prayer sessions lasting about 10 minutes. The country's religious heritage is also very much in evidence in its legacy of beautiful mosques and minarets that distinguish the Turkish landscape.
Religion is a major point of contention in Turkish society. The leaders of Turkey's judiciary, military, and educational system are highly secularized and suspicious of overt displays of religious piety, such as the wearing of the Muslim headscarf. As of 2008, the popular AK Party of Prime Minister Erdoĝan was locked in a struggle with Turkey's secular elite to create more space for the expression of religious beliefs in the public sphere.
Turkey observes the following secular holidays: New Year's Day (January 1); Children's Day, also known as National Sovereignty Day, which commemorates the establishment of the country's Grand National Assembly in 1923 (April 23); Atatürk's birthday, also National Youth and Sports Day (May 19); Victory Day, commemorating liberation from Greece in 1922 (August 30); Republic Day (October 28 and 29); and the anniversary of Atatürk's death (November 10), a national day of mourning when all forms of entertainment are shut down and the nation observes a moment of silence at 9:05 pm, the hour of Atatürk's death.
The Turks also observe a number of Islamic holidays dated by the lunar calendar. These include Recep Kandili, commemorating the conception of the prophet Muhammad (first Friday of the month of Recep); Miraç Kandili, marking Muhammad's journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and his subsequent ascension to Heaven (26th day of Recep); Berat Kandili, a nighttime holiday similar to All Hallows' Eve in Christianity (14th and 15th days of Saban); and Kadir Gecesi, commemorating the night when the Quran was revealed to Muhammad and he received his calling as the Messenger of God (27th day of Ramazan).
In addition, the Turks, like Muslims in other countries, observe the holy month of Ramazan (called Ramadan in Arab countries), a period of fasting when Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours. (Irritability occasioned by this fasting is called Ramazan kafası- "Ramazan head.") The end of Ramazan is marked by Şeker Bayramı, a three-day national holiday when families pay social calls and children go from door to door asking for sweets.
RITES OF PASSAGE
A number of popular traditional beliefs and superstitions still surround childbirth, including the use of magical formulas to ensure the birth of a son and the belief that a newborn child is especially vulnerable to evil spirits during the first 40 days of life. All male Turkish Muslims are circumcised, either at the age of seven or later as part of an initiation into adulthood.
For Turkish men, military service is another major rite of passage. All Turkish men are required to serve in the military. Before men leave for military service, they often perform a traditional dance with their families.
Wedding ceremonies are performed in the town or city hall and are followed by a private reception with food, dancing, and music. Dowries are still paid by the bride's family in some rural areas.
Funerals in Turkey, as in other Muslim countries, are attended only by men. Usually a mevlud (a poem in honor of the prophet Muhammad's birth) is recited. Like people elsewhere in the Islamic world, the Turks avoid ostentation in connection with death, both in the funeral service and in burial arrangements.
The Turks are an exceptionally polite people, particularly to visitors, and they use many courteous phrases in everyday conversation. They have three different ways of saying "thank you": saĝol, teşekkür edermin, and the French-derived mersi. It is considered impolite to hug or kiss members of the opposite sex in public, and a handshake that is too firm is also considered a sign of bad manners. On the other hand, it is acceptable and customary for men to publicly display physical affection toward each other, embracing and kissing when they greet each other and walking down the street arm-in-arm or holding hands. Atatürk introduced the titles of Mr. and Mrs. (Bey and Hanim) to the country.
A commonly used gesture for "no" consists of raising one's chin and clicking one's tongue, sometimes accompanied by shutting or uplifting one's eyes. ("No" can also be communicated by raising one's eyebrows.) A sharp downward nod means "yes," and shaking one's head sideways means "I don't understand." Waving one's hand up and down with the palm toward the ground is a gesture that means "come here."
Although Turkey is a modern, efficient, secular society, some traditional superstitions and customs persist. For example, charms to ward off the evil eye can be seen in most cars and taxis.
Due to its high rate of population growth and the mass migration of the rural poor to cities following World War II, Turkey faces a housing shortage that is among its most serious social problems. Since the 1950s, new urban dwellers unable to afford decent housing have built large numbers of temporary shelters called gecekondus on the outskirts of major cities such as Ankara and Istanbul. The squatter communities created by these dwellings have turned into permanent urban slums, often lacking such standard features as running water, sewer systems, electricity, and pavements. By the 1980s, it was estimated that more than half the residents of many urban centers lived in gecekondus. The government has taken measures to improve life in these shantytowns, including banning the construction of new gecekondus and making provisions to fund the construction of new housing. Between 30% and 40% of Turkey's population still lives in rural areas, where housing types vary by region. Houses in the rural villages of the Black Sea region are made of wood, whereas those on the Anatolian plateau are generally of sun-dried brick. Village houses are generally two stories high with flat roofs. In the eastern part of the country, many lack running water and some have no electricity.
Health care in Turkey is provided by the government through the Ministry of Health. Availability of qualified medical personnel has improved significantly since the 1980s, but it remains better in urban areas than in rural areas, where it is often still inadequate. Persons living in some areas, such as eastern Anatolia, must travel to provincial capitals for medical care. Infant mortality declined from 120 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1980—then one of the highest rates in the world-to 40 per 1,000 in 2008.
By World War I, the Ottoman Empire already had an extensive railway system that included the famous Orient Express line. The country still has excellent rail transportation, although rail service is not available in some parts of southern and southeastern Turkey. There is a modern highway system connected to Europe by the Bosphorus Bridge, and international air service from Istanbul and Ankara. In the 1990s several new highway projects were underway to ease traffic congestion. The main seaports are Istanbul on the Bosphorus and Izmir on the Aegean Sea. In 2008 a new railway linking Turkey with Georgia and Azerbaijan was completed.
Traditionally, Turkish marriages were arranged, and in rural areas some still are. The extended family is still important in rural areas, but less so in cities, although it is not unusual for an urban household to include parents, children, and paternal grandparents. In rural areas, women still marry at young ages, and financial arrangements between the two families are important in making marriage decisions. Massive migrations of rural Turks from the Black Sea and Eastern and Southeastern regions to cities across Turkey has led to a decline in the importance of the extended family. It has also increased the number of women in the labor force.
Modern Western-style clothing has been worn in Turkey since the founding of the republic in the 1920s. In urban areas, both adults and teenagers look much the same as those in the cities of the West, with well-dressed businessmen wearing Italian suits, women taking an interest in the latest fashions from Paris, and young people wearing the universal teen uniform of jeans and athletic shoes. In villages and certain tourist areas, one may still see the traditional salvar, the baggy, loose-fitting trousers worn by both men and women. Bright colors and flowered prints are favored by village women. Although they do not wear veils, many women in rural areas cover their faces with a scarf or handkerchief when they are in close proximity to men they don't know.
Traditional male dress consisted of the salvar, often worn under a long gown with a wide belt in the middle, and the headpiece called a fez (outlawed when Atatürk was in power). In recent years, a style of Muslim headscarf known as the türban has become popular amongst observant Muslim women (this is not to be confused with the head covering worn by males that goes by the same name). Between 1998 and 2008 the türban was officially prohibited in Turkey's universities. Even though approximately 60% of Turkish women cover their heads, many in Turkey's secular elite view the spread of the türban as a worrying sign of increasing religiosity in Turkey.
Turkey is famous for its food, which has been called the French cuisine of the East. The most famous dish of Turkish origin is the shish kebab, pieces of lamb grilled on a skewer. Today, the most popular national dish is the döner kebap, lamb roasted on a turning vertical spit, from which slices are cut as it cooks. Turkey is also famous for its appetizers, called meze, made from meat, fish, and vegetables. The most popular include böreks, rolled phyllo dough stuffed with white cheese and parsley; dolma, various types of vegetables stuffed with rice and meat; and imam bayıldı, eggplant stuffed with ground lamb, onions, and tomatoes. (The name imam bayıldı, means "the imam swooned," suggesting that the dish was so delicious it made a religious leader faint when he tried it.)
The Turks are also noted for their desserts, ranging from the well-known baklava (small pieces of flaky pastry filled with ground walnuts and dripping in honey) to such exotic creations as "nightingale's nest" and "lady's navel." The basic ingredients of Turkish desserts are milk, honey, eggs, nuts, and phyllo dough. Desserts made with milk include muhallabi (rice pudding with cinnamon) and keşkül (a milk, almond, and pistachio mixture topped with dried coconut and pistachio).
In 2004 the adult literacy rate was 87.4% (95.3% for males aged 15 and over, compared with only 79.6% for females of the same age group). Primary education has been available to almost all children between the ages of 6 and 10 since the 1980s. Five levels of education are available: preschool, primary school, middle school, secondary school, and university. Education is not compulsory past middle school, and it is estimated that 89% of children attend primary school. Like medical care in Turkey, the quality of education in rural areas varies significantly. Many rural communities do not have high schools, which sometimes makes it necessary for children to travel great distances if they want to continue their education.
There are several hundred institutions of higher learning in Turkey, including 53 state-supported universities and a number of private universities. In 2005, 2.3 million students were enrolled in Turkish universities, almost double the number that were enrolled 10 years earlier. Students are admitted to Turkey's public universities through a central placement system.
The whirling dervishes, whose white-clad, rapidly turning figures in their swirling skirts are known the world over, are part of a religious tradition that seeks a mystical union with God through music and dance. The Turks also have a centuries-old tradition of folk dancing that varies from one region to the next, each with its own distinctive homemade costumes.
Turkish painting dates back to the court painters of the Ottoman empire who, among other skills, developed the specialty of miniature painting. The contemporary painter Rahmi Pehlivanli is known for his portraits of leading political and diplomatic figures, as well as his landscapes of different regions of the country.
Several of Turkey's leading literary figures in modern times have been involved in political controversies and their works subjected to censorship. The works of Nazim Hikmet, a Marxist-influenced poet who died in the former Soviet Union in 1963, were banned for years but are now gaining belated recognition. The left-wing satirist Aziz Nesin, who published excerpts from Salman Rushdie's controversial Satanic Verses, was jailed for much of his life. (Nesin died in 1995.) Yaşar Kemal, a leading novelist, has been harassed in recent years over the content of a newspaper article he authored. Turkey's most famous filmmaker, Yılmaz Güney, was imprisoned for most of his career, writing screenplays in prison and smuggling them out through friends, together with detailed instructions for their direction. Orhan Pamuk, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2006, was charged by state prosecutors with "insulting Turkishness," although he was never convicted.
Traditional Turkish music is rich and complex both harmonically and rhythmically, incorporating dozens of tonal modes in addition to the major and minor scales of Western music and containing meters with such irregular rhythms (to Western ears) as 7, 9, 11, or 13 beats per measure. Traditional instruments include the ud (which resembles a lute), the santur (a Persian version of the dulcimer), and another lute-like instrument, the tanbur.
The services sector, including a growing tourist industry, accounts for 41.2% of jobs in the Turkish economy. Agriculture accounts for about 35.9%, while industry accounts for about 22.8% of employment. In rural areas, all family members participate in agricultural work, with women routinely performing tasks such as hoeing vegetables and digging out potatoes. Unemployment is a serious problem in Turkey; in 2007 the country's unemployment rate was 9.7%. Unemployment and underemployment are most widespread in the Black Sea and Eastern and Southeastern regions of the country.
The most popular sport in Turkey is soccer, with matches played on weekends between September and May. Like their counterparts in Europe and Latin America, Turkey's soccer fans are wildly enthusiastic, often to the point of violence against each other or against members of losing teams. Large-scale betting is associated with soccer games. Soccer is also played by young people for recreation.
Wrestling is another favorite sport in Turkey, and Turkey has sent many wrestling teams to the Olympic Games. A unique Turkish variety (not represented in the Olympics) is greased wrestling, which makes it harder to hold on to one's opponent. Other sports popular among the Turks include hunting and shooting, skiing (the oldest Turkish ski resort is on Mount Olympus, the legendary home of the gods), and cirit, a traditional sport that involves throwing a javelin while mounted on horseback.
ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION
Among the traditional Turkish forms of relaxation, the best known is the steam bath or hamam. Both men and women use the hamam, although they use it separately, either going on alternate days or using separate facilities. Wood-burning stoves are used as heat sources, with bathers absorbing the heat by lying on raised slabs directly above the stoves.
The time-honored leisure-time haunt of Turkish men is the coffeehouse (kiraathane), where backgammon is often played and one can find customers smoking hookahs. In recent years, hookah bars have become popular amongst young people.
In the large cities of the West, such as Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir, many young Turks enjoy going to discos and bars. Popular music is also a source of entertainment. Tarkan, Sezan Aksu, and Mustafa Sandal are all famous Turkish pop singers. Turkey has also produced a number of successful rock and rap groups.
FOLK ART, CRAFTS, AND HOBBIES
Turkey's most famous handicrafts are its carpets, which sport a dazzling array of designs, many connected with a particular town or region. Most are of the flat-woven kilim variety. Tiles and ceramics have been produced in Turkey since the 11th century and can still be seen adorning the walls of mosques and other buildings.
Another craft found in Turkey is tile making. Turkey's most famous tiles come from the town of Iznik in Western Turkey. The first Iznik tiles date back to Ottoman times. The turquoise tiles are now produced mainly for tourists.
Poverty and unemployment are among Turkey's greatest social problems. In 2003 over 18% of Turks lived on less than $2 per day. Much of the extreme poverty in Turkey is concentrated in the East and Southeast of the country. The conflict with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), poor infrastructure, and lack of investment have prevented these regions from sharing in the recent prosperity of the rest of the country.
The internal displacement of approximately 1 million Kurdish Turks is another major social problem. Many displaced Kurds live in shantytowns and lack access to educational and employment opportunities. Growing tension between ethnic Turks and ethnic Kurds is also a problem in Turkey. Hundreds of thousands of Kurds have migrated to ethnic Turkish-majority cities, which has contributed to overcrowding. The Kurd-istan Workers' Party (PKK) continues to attack the Turkish military. These PKK attacks cause some Turks to view Kurds negatively.
The Turkish constitution grants women the same rights it grants men. Turkey had its first woman prime minister in 1993 and women work in nearly all of Turkey's professions.
However, gender inequality is still present in Turkey, just as it is in nearly every other country around the world. For example, virginity is seen as important for women, but not very important for men. In most Turkish families, women are expected to do the housework and prepare meals for the family. Although women participate in politics, they are underrepresented in parliament and in local governments.
Gender inequality is even more pronounced in the rural areas of Eastern and Southeastern Turkey than in other regions of the country. In the East and Southeast, many girls are prevented by their families from finishing high school. Although uncommon, honor killings of women and girls do occur in conservative areas. Honor killings are murders carried out by male family members against female family members suspected of adultery, pre-marital sex, or other actions perceived to bring dishonor to the family.
Homosexuality is not widely accepted in Turkish culture. Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but gays do not have the right to marry or adopt children. Despite negative attitudes towards Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in Turkey, there are a number of well-known gay and transgender artists in Turkey, such as Bülent Ersoy and Zeki Müren.
Ahmad, Feroz. The Making of Modern Turkey. New York: Routledge, 1993.
Arat, Yesim. "Islamic Fundamentalism and Women in Turkey." Muslim World (1990,): 17-23.
Balim, Çigdem, Ersin Kalaycioglu, Cevat Karatas, Gareth Winrow, and Feroz Yawamee, eds. Turkey: Political, Social and Economic Challenges in the 1990s. New York: E. J. Brill, 1995.
Hale, William. Turkey, the US, and Iraq. London: Saqi, 2007.
Kagitcibasi, Cigdem, ed. Sex Roles, Family, and Community in Turkey. Bloomington: Indiana University Turkish Studies, 1982.
Mango, Andrew. The Turks Today. New York: The Overlook Press, 2004.
Metz, Helen Chapin. Turkey: A Country Study. Library of Congress, Federal Research Division. Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1996.
Onder, Sylvia Wing. We Have No Microbes Here: Healing Practices in a Turkish Black Sea Village. Chapel Hill, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2007.
Tapper, Richard, ed. Islam in Modern Turkey: Religion, Politics, and Literature in a Secular State. London: Tauris, 1991.
White, Jenny B. Money Makes Us Relatives: Women's Labor in Urban Turkey. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994. White, Jenny. Islamist Mobilization in Turkey: A Study in Vernacular Politics. Washington: University of Washington Press, 2002.
—revised by B. Lazarus
POPULATION: 61.2 million
1 • INTRODUCTION
Since the eleventh century, Turks have inhabited the area that is modern Turkey. The ancestors of today's Turks, known as the Seljuk Turks, won control of the region in ad 1071.
By the fifteenth century, Turkish culture and the Turkish language had spread throughout the area. Power peaked under the Ottoman Turks, who overtook the area in 1453. The Ottomans eventually built one of the great empires in world history. It stretched from the Middle East to northern Africa to southern and eastern Europe.
The power of the Ottoman Empire reached its height during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent in the sixteenth century. During his reign, the Empire took over large parts of southern and eastern Europe. Between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, the Ottoman Empire suffered a gradual decline. After World War I (1914–18), the empire was dissolved. The territory of the empire was divided among the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Greece. The Turks wanted to re-establish their home-land, and were led by Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk) in a successful nationalist uprising. Atatürk helped form a nonreligious, democratic republic in 1923. Over the next fifteen years, until his death in 1938, Atatürk built the modern Turkish nation. Since the end of World War II (1939–45), Turkey has had a series of civilian and military governments. A civilian government has led Turkey uninterrupted since 1984.
2 • LOCATION
Turkey lies partly in Europe and partly in Asia. It has historically served as a bridge between the two continents. It is a relatively large country. It is bordered on the west by Greece, Bulgaria, and the Aegean Sea; on the east by Iran, Armenia, and Georgia; on the south by Iraq, Syria, and the Mediterranean Sea; and on the north by the Black Sea. It is slightly larger than the state of Texas but has three times its population.
In 1994, Turkey had an estimated population of 61.2 million (up from 56.5 million in the 1990 census). Between 80 and 90 percent of the population is composed of ethnic Turks. Kurds form the country's largest ethnic minority. Other minorities include Arabs, Greeks, and Armenians. With more than 160 million people worldwide, many of them in Central Asia, the Turks are among the world's largest ethnic groups.
3 • LANGUAGE
More than 90 percent of Turkey's population speaks Turkish. Words with Arabic and Persian origins are common. In addition, a number of modern words that had no Turkish equivalents were borrowed from European languages. These include words derived from English, such as otomobil (automobile), tren (train), and taksi (taxi).
Turkish words are formed by adding suffixes to a root that does not change. A root and its suffixes can form an entire sentence. The most famous example of this is the following:
It means:"Weren't you one of the people whom we tried without success to make resemble the citizens of Afyonkarahisar?"
There are two forms of "goodbye." Allahaismarladik is said by the person who is leaving. G üle güle is said by the person who stays behind. There are also two common words for "no": hayir, the more emphatic (and less polite), and yok, which literally means "there is none."
4 • FOLKLORE
The Turks have a rich tradition of folktales. Some folktales can take as long as thirty hours to recite. The most popular involve the legendary Nasreddin Hoca, a comic figure who was a teacher in the thirteenth century. The following are typical Hoca stories:
One day, the Hoca was sitting in his garden under the shade of a walnut tree. Looking around his garden, he wondered why Allah (God) caused large, heavy watermelons to grow on spindly vines while little walnuts grew on tall trees. He mused that, if he had been the creator, he would have done just the reverse. Just then, a walnut fell from the tree, hitting him on the forehead, and the Hoca thanked Allah for arranging the world just as it was, grateful that he hadn't been struck by a watermelon instead.
When the Hoca lost his donkey, he prayed and thanked God. Asked why he was grateful for losing his donkey, he replied, "I'm fortunate that I wasn't riding him when he got lost, or I would be lost as well."
5 • RELIGION
More than 99 percent of Turks are Muslims (followers of Islam), mostly of the Sunni sect. Shi'ite and Alawite Muslim populations live in the east and southeast of the country. There are a small number of Jews whose ancestors fled the Spanish Inquisition in 1492. There are also small numbers of Armenian, Syrian, and Greek Orthodox Christians.
6 • MAJOR HOLIDAYS
Turkey observes the following secular (non-religious) holidays: New Year's Day (January 1); Children's Day, also known as National Sovereignty Day (April 23); Atatürk's birthday, also National Youth and Sports Day (May 19); Victory Day (August 30); Republic Day (October 28–29); and the anniversary of Atatürk's death (November 10), a national day of mourning when all forms of entertainment are shut down and the nation observes a moment of silence at 9:05 pm, the time of Atatürk's death.
The Turks also observe a number of Islamic holidays. Recep Kandili commemorates the conception of the prophet Muhammad. Mirac Kandili marks Muhammad's journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and his ascension to Heaven. Berat Kandili is a nighttime holiday similar to All Hallows' Eve in Christianity. Kadir Gecesi commemorates the night when the Koran (the sacred text of Islam) was revealed to Muhammad and he received his calling as the Messenger of God.
7 • RITES OF PASSAGE
A number of popular traditional beliefs and superstitions surround childbirth. Magical formulas are used to ensure the birth of a son. Many people also believe a newborn child is especially vulnerable to evil spirits during the first forty days of life. All male Turkish Muslims are circumcised, either at the age of seven or later as part of an initiation into adulthood.
Wedding ceremonies are performed in the town or city hall. They are followed by private receptions with food, dancing, and music. Dowries (money or material goods paid to the groom's family) are paid by the bride's family in some rural areas.
8 • RELATIONSHIPS
The Turks are an exceptionally polite people, particularly to visitors. They use many courteous phrases in everyday conversation.
It is considered impolite to hug or kiss members of the opposite sex in public. A handshake that is too firm is also considered a sign of bad manners. On the other hand, it is acceptable and customary for men to publicly display physical affection toward each other. They often embrace and kiss when they greet each other, and walk down the street arm-in-arm or holding hands.
9 • LIVING CONDITIONS
Turkey faces a housing shortage that is among its most serious social problems. Since the 1950s, people have built temporary shelters called gecekondus on the outskirts of major cities. The neighborhoods created by these dwellings have turned into permanent slums. They often lack running water, sewage systems, electricity, and pavement. By the 1980s, it was estimated that more than half the residents of some cities lived in gecekondus.
Between 30 and 40 percent of Turkey's population lives in rural areas, where housing types vary by region. Houses in the rural villages of the Black Sea region are made of wood. On the Anatolian plateau they are generally made of sun-dried brick. Village houses are generally two stories high with flat roofs. In the eastern part of the country, many lack running water and some have no electricity.
10 • FAMILY LIFE
In spite of legal equality, women in Turkey often face discrimination. This is especially true in rural areas. Turkish women are not, however, forced to wear the veil (known as the chador ) as women are in other Muslim nations.
In urban areas, working women hold positions similar to those of their counterparts in Europe and the United States. The number of professional women has grown significantly in recent years.
Traditionally, Turkish marriages were arranged. In rural areas some still are. The extended family is important in rural areas, but less so in cities. In rural areas, women still marry at young ages. Financial arrangements between the two families are important in making marriage decisions.
11 • CLOTHING
Modern Western-style clothing has been worn in Turkey since the founding of the republic in the 1920s. In urban areas, both adults and teenagers look much the same as those in the cities of the West. In villages and certain tourist areas, one may still see the traditional salvar, baggy, loose-fitting trousers that are worn by both men and women.
12 • FOOD
The most famous dish of Turkish origin is the shish kebab, pieces of lamb grilled on a skewer. Today, the most popular national dish is the döner kebap, lamb roasted on a turning vertical spit, from which slices are cut as it cooks. A popular entry is köfte (diamond meat patties). A recipe follows.
Turkey is also famous for its appetizers, called meze, made from meat, fish, and vegetables. The most popular include böreks, rolled dough stuffed with white cheese and parsley; dolmasi, various types of vegetables stuffed with rice and meat; and imam bayildi, eggplant stuffed with ground lamb, onions, and tomatoes. The name imam bayildi, means "the imam swooned," suggesting that the dish was so delicious it made a religious leader (an imam) faint when he tried it.
13 • EDUCATION
In 1990, the adult literacy rate (ability to read and write) was 80 percent (90 percent for males aged fifteen and over, compared with only 70 percent for their female counterparts). Primary education has been available to almost all children between the ages of six and ten since the 1980s.
Education is not compulsory past middle school. Even to that level it is estimated that only 60 percent of children attend school. The quality of education in urban and rural areas varies significantly. Many rural communities do not have high schools. This sometimes makes it necessary for children to travel great distances if they want to continue their education.
There are several hundred institutions of higher learning in Turkey. Students are admitted to Turkey's public universities through a central placement system.
14 • CULTURAL HERITAGE
Whirling dervishes are devotees of a small religious sect who attempt to unite with God by dancing frantically to wild music. Their white-clad, rapidly turning figures in swirling skirts are known the world over. The Turks also have a centuries-old tradition of folk dancing. It varies from one region to the next, each with its own distinctive homemade costumes.
Turkish painting dates back to the court painters of the Ottoman Empire. The contemporary painter Rahmi Pehlivanli is known for his portraits of leading political and diplomatic figures and his landscapes of different regions of the country.
Several of Turkey's leading literary figures in modern times have been involved in political controversies. Many of their works have been censored or banned. Although Turkey's constitution guarantees freedom of expression, the government places restrictions on the media. The writings of Nazim Hikmet, a Marxist poet who died in the former Soviet Union in 1963, were banned for years but are now gaining recognition. The left-wing satirist Aziz Nesin, who published excerpts from Salman Rushdie's controversial Satanic Verses, was jailed for much of his life. He died in 1995.
Yasar Kemal, a leading novelist, has been harassed in recent years over the content of a newspaper article he authored. Turkey's most famous filmmaker, Yilmaz Güney, was imprisoned for most of his career, writing screenplays in prison and smuggling them out through friends, along with detailed instructions for their direction.
Traditional Turkish music is rich and complex. Traditional instruments include the ud and the saz (both of which resemble the lute), the darabuka (a drum), and the ney (sometimes spelled nay —a flute).
15 • EMPLOYMENT
The services sector, including a growing tourist industry, accounts for more than half of all jobs. Agriculture accounts for most of the rest. In rural areas, all family members participate in agricultural work. Industry employs less than 10 percent of the work force.
16 • SPORTS
The most popular sport in Turkey is soccer. Matches are played on weekends between September and May. Like their counterparts in Europe and Latin America, Turkey's soccer fans are wildly enthusiastic. Celebrations can sometimes turn into riots.
Wrestling is another favorite sport in Turkey. A unique Turkish variety is greased wrestling, which makes it harder to hold on to one's opponent. Other popular sports include hunting and shooting, skiing (the oldest Turkish ski resort is on Mount Olympus, the legendary home of the Greek gods), and cirit, a traditional sport that involves throwing a javelin while mounted on horseback.
17 • RECREATION
Among the traditional Turkish forms of relaxation, the best known is the steam bath, or hamam. Both men and women use the hamam, although separately. Wood-burning stoves are used as heat sources, with bathers absorbing heat by lying on raised slabs directly above the stoves.
The time-honored leisure-time haunt of Turkish men is the coffeehouse (kiraathane), where backgammon is often played and one can still find customers smoking hookahs (water pipes).
18 • CRAFTS AND HOBBIES
Turkey's most famous handicrafts are its carpets, which sport a dazzling array of designs. Tiles and ceramics have been produced in Turkey since the eleventh century and can still be seen adorning the walls of mosques and other buildings.
Another form of folk art is the traditional shadow-puppet theater called Karagöz. It dates back to the 1400s and was sometimes used as a vehicle for political satire. Today Karagöz is a dying art due to competition from modern forms of entertainment and a shortage of performers willing to go through the difficult training it requires.
19 • SOCIAL PROBLEMS
Turkey's most pressing social problem is its very high rate of population growth. Over-population strains the country's resources (including its educational resources), results in unemployment, and decreases the amount of agricultural produce available for export. High inflation and widespread tax evasion are other ongoing problems.
20 • BIBLIOGRAPHY
Ahmad, Feroz. The Making of Modern Turkey. New York: Routledge, 1993.
Lye, Keith. Turkey. New York: F. Watts, 1987.
Rugman, Jonathan. Ataturk's Children: Turkey and the Kurds. New York: Cassell, 1996.
Embassy of Turkey, Washington, D.C. [Online] Available http://www.turkey.org/turkey/, 1998.
World Travel Guide, Turkey. [Online] Available http://www.wtgonline.com/country/tr/gen.html, 1998.
Turks are an ethnolinguistic group living in a broad geographic expanse extending from southeastern Europe through Anatolia and the Caucasus Mountains and throughout Central Asia. Thus Turks include the Turks of Turkey, the Azeris of Azerbaijan, and the Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tatars, Turkmen, and Uzbeks of Central Asia, as well as many smaller groups in Asia speaking Turkic languages. In a legal sense, however, Turks refers only to citizens of Turkey, even those (up to 20% of the population) who are not ethnically Turkish.
Nomadic Turks began infiltrating into Iran from Central Asia as early as the eighth century. Although the initial contacts generally were peaceful, by the tenth century large groups of Turks were invading Iran, and in the eleventh century they began invading Anatolia. First the Seljuk Turks and subsequently the Ottoman Turks established kingdoms in Anatolia. The Ottomans conquered the Byzantine imperial capital Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1453, and this city then became the center of the Ottoman Empire, which at its height in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries spanned three continents. Although the Ottoman Empire was multiethnic, Europeans often referred to its subjects as Turks and used "Ottoman Empire" synonymously with "Turkey."
During the nineteenth century, some Ottoman/Turkish intellectuals began to advocate panTuranism, a movement to unite all Turkic-language peoples under the Ottoman Empire. After the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, the government rejected pan-Turanism as an official policy. Nevertheless, interest in the cultural, if not political, unity of Turkic peoples has been a strong current among intellectuals in Turkey and has been revitalized since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the emergence in Central Asia of several new Turkic-speaking countries.
Yavuz, M. Hakan. "Turkish Identity Politics and Central Asia." In Islam and Central Asia: An Enduring Legacy or an Evolving Threat? edited by Roland Sagdeev and Susan Eisenhower. Washington, DC: Center for Political and Strategic Studies, 2000.