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Turkey, A Giant In Its Own Right April 30, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Turkey.
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Its rich history, strategic location and growing economy force admiration.

Talk of Turkey and numerous high school students in Cameroon quickly link it to the exploits of Mustafa Kemal aka Atatürk, the father of modern Turkey as they learned in their European history lessons. Turkey’s football ratings have also helped project the name of the country. But in spite of its size – about 779,452 sq kms (just over the size of Cameroon and Gabon put together) or its population of nearly 80 million (four times Cameron’s population size) – the country’s real influence as a strong political entity, a prosperous economy or Islam’s second or third biggest country are not fully grasped by the ordinary Cameroonian.

Turkey, which has grown to become the world’s 15th largest economy or Europe’s seventh, is a Republic lying partly in Europe and partly in Asia. The western part of the country, referred to Thrace, is bounded by the Argean Sea and Greece. Bulgaria and the Black Sea are immediately to the north while the eastern part of the country is bounded by Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Iran and to the south by Iraq, Syria and the Mediterranean Sea.

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A good part of the climate is the Mediterranean type, especially in the western part of the country and the Mediterranean coast with characteristic hot, dry summers and warm, wet winters. Further east along the Black Sea coast, rainfall becomes heavy in summer and autumn. Rainfall is lower in the interior plateau. The highest peak in Turkey is Mount Ararat with 5165 metres, over 1,000 metres higher than Mount Cameroon.

Over 60 per cent of the Turkish population are employed in the agricultural sector with the principal products being cotton, tobacco, cereals, figs, silk, olive oil, dried fruits, nuts and hides. The desire to mechanize agriculture is best manifested by the huge number of tractors used on farms: about 1.2 million.

Turkey also has huge mineral resources including chrome, lignite, copper concentrate and sulphur. Oil reserves also exist in eastern Turkey. The country also has a wide-range of manufacturing industries including food processing, textiles (many Cameroonians are familiar with “Made in Turkey” shirts and suits), iron, steel, cement, leather goods, glass and ceramics.

With about 30 active political parties, Turkey is recognized as the most democratic country amongst the countries with a Muslim majority. It has been member of NATO since early 50s. Turkey’s alliance has mainly been with the western world. The Turkish parliament consists of 550 parliamentarians, who are, according to the constitution, elected for a period of five years; though an early election after 4 years is usual. There is a very low percentage of women in the parliament as a reflection of the man-dominated Turkish society. A party needs to get at least 10% of the votes to sit in parliament, a measure taken by the constitution of 1982 to reduce the number of parties in parliament and to avoid coalition governments.

The president is elected for seven years by the Turkish parliament and has relatively symbolic powers. The Prime minister is head of the executive. Turkey has a centralized system with 80 provinces. Provincial governors are appointed to head provinces. The current Prime Minister is Recept Tayip Erdogan.

The country is overwhelmingly Muslim with 99 per cent of the population mostly Sunni. In spite of this situation, Islam is not a state religion as is the case in several Middle-East or North African countries with Muslim majorities. Non Muslims, constituting one per cent of the population, include Catholics of Armenia extraction, Protestants and Jews.

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