GENERAL INFO ABOUT TURKEY
There are probably about 1001 reasons to visit Turkey! Turkey is a heaven for travelers, a country where diverse and rich cultures have lived and thrived. The traditional warm hospitality of the Turkish people is known worldwide. Visitors are welcomed and adored, meaning you’ll never feel like a stranger. Straddling two continents, Turkey plays a role as a bridge between East and West and is home to many historical highlights in its regions. Turkey is also blessed with wonderful nature and stunning geography. Surrounded by seas on three sides, it is covered with mountains, forests, lakes, plains, and many other natural beauties.
The history of the lands of Anatolian Turkey is incredibly rich and one of the oldest on the world. The land has hosted more than 36 civilizations over the past 5,000 years. The whole country is a reflection of this richness in terms of culture, tradition, architecture, archeology, and anthropology and still embodies many ethnic and religious minorities such as Armenians, Jewish, Christians, and old Levantines together in peace. Its borders with Armenia, Iran, Syria, Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia have had a great influence on culture as well. Turkey has a uniqueness of being the cradle of many civilizations with a wealthy heritage of numerous cultural, historical, and archaeological sites.
ATATURK: MUSTAFA KEMAL
Turkey has been a democratic and secular republic since The Proclamation of the Republic in 1923 after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The founder of ‘Modern Turkey’ was the great leader, M. Kemal Ataturk who rallied and led the Turkish people in the 1919–1922 War of Independence. He went on to reform the education system and language by replacing Koranic law with European codes, and initialized the process of building a modern, industrial society.
In 1949, Turkey became a member of the Council of Europe, and in 1952 it joined NATO and played a vital role in the Cold War. Finally, it joined The Customs Union with Europe and applied for full membership of the European Union. If the formal process results positively, Turkey will become a full member of the EU.
The Turkish Republic’s first leader, Ataturk, was an admirer of women’s struggle for equality, and as such pushed through a new Civil Code, adopted in 1926, which abolished polygamy and recognized the equality of women in divorce, custody, and inheritance. The entire educational system, from primary school to university, became coeducational. In Turkish society, women are on an equal footing with men in science, arts, and culture. Indeed, Turkey was ahead of many European countries in the 20th century. In the mid-1930s, 18 women, among them a rural villager, were elected to the National Parliament. Turkey was also the first to appoint a woman as a Supreme Court judge.
The most difficult change in any society is probably language reform. Most nations never attempt it, and those who do usually prefer a gradual approach. During Ataturk’s leadership, Turkey undertook the modern world’s swiftest and most extensive language reform. In 1928, he decided to remove Arabic script, which had been used for a thousand years, replacing it with the Latin alphabet. He asked the experts how long it would take. Most of them said it would take at least five years. “We shall do it,” Ataturk said, “within five months.”
Today, Turkey has major universities all over the country. Outside of Europe and North America, it has one of the world’s highest ratios of university graduates to population. English and German are widely spoken in the cities, French too in places. In small villages, it can be difficult to find people who speak foreign languages but the traditional friendliness of Turkish people has traditionally overcome linguistic barriers. As we know, a warm welcome, help, and food reach across all languages and cultures. But if you learn even a few basic Turkish words, you’ll find you will be welcomed with much enthusiasm.
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