Once the centre of the Ottoman Empire, the modern secular republic was established in the 1920s by nationalist leader Kemal Ataturk.
Straddling the continents of Europe and Asia, Turkey’s strategically important location has given it major influence in the region – and control over the entrance to the Black Sea.
Progress towards democracy and a market economy was halting after Ataturk’s death in 1938, and the army – seeing itself as guarantor of the constitution – repeatedly ousted governments seen as challenging secular values.
Joining the European Union has been a longstanding ambition. Membership talks were launched in 2005, but progress has been slow, as several EU states have serious misgivings about Turkish EU membership.
Kurds make up about a fifth of the population. Kurdish separatists who accuse the Turkish state of seeking to destroy their cultural identity have been waging a guerrilla war since the 1980s.
- Republic of Turkey
- Capital: Ankara
- Population 74.5 million
- Area 779,452 sq km (300,948 sq miles)
- Major languages Turkish (official), Kurdish
- Major religion Islam
- Currency Turkish lira