Modern Turkey was founded in 1923 from the remnants of the defeated Ottoman Empire by national hero Mustafa KEMAL, who was later honored with the title Ataturk or “Father of the Turks.” Under his leadership, the country adopted radical social, legal, and political reforms. After a period of one-party rule, an experiment with multi-party politics led to the 1950 election victory of the opposition Democrat Party and the peaceful transfer of power. Since then, Turkish political parties have multiplied, but democracy has been fractured by periods of instability and military coups (1960, 1971, 1980), which in each case eventually resulted in a return of formal political power to civilians. In 1997, the military again helped engineer the ouster – popularly dubbed a “post-modern coup” – of the then Islamic-oriented government. A coup attempt was made in July 2016 by a faction of the Turkish Armed Forces.
Turkey intervened militarily on Cyprus in 1974 to prevent a Greek takeover of the island and has since acted as patron state to the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” which only Turkey recognizes. A separatist insurgency begun in 1984 by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has long dominated the Turkish military’s attention and claimed more than 40,000 lives. In 2013, the PKK and the Turkish Government agreed to a cease-fire, but fighting resumed in 2015. Turkey joined the UN in 1945 and in 1952 it became a member of NATO. In 1963, Turkey became an associate member of the European Community; it began accession membership talks with the EU in 2005. Over the past decade, economic reforms have contributed to a growing economy, although economic growth slowed in recent years.
From 2015 and continuing in 2016, Turkey witnessed an uptick in terrorist violence. The attacks have included bombings in Ankara, Istanbul, and throughout the predominantly Kurdish southeastern region of Turkey. On 15 July 2016, elements of the Turkish Armed forces attempted a coup at key government and infrastructure locations in Ankara and Istanbul. An estimated 300 people were killed and over 2,000 injured when Turkish citizens took to the streets en masse to confront the coup forces. In response, Turkish Government authorities arrested and/or dismissed thousands of military personnel, journalists, and civil servants, including judges and educators, over their alleged connection with the attempted coup. The government accused followers of an Islamic transnational religious and social movement for allegedly instigating the failed coup and designates the followers as terrorists. Following the failed coup, the Turkish Government instituted a three-month State of Emergency in July 2016 that was extended in October 2016. The Turkish Government is considering changing Turkey to an executive presidency.
(SOURCE: The CIA Factbook provides information on the history, people, government, economy, energy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.)