Key Facts: Turkey

by World Grain Staff
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Capital: Ankara

Population: 76,805,524 (July 2009 est.)

Religions: Muslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), other 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews).

Location: Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia, bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Georgia, and bordering the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, between Greece and Syria.

Government: Republican Parliamentary Democracy. Chief of state: President Abdullah Gul (since Aug. 28, 2007); head of government: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (since March 14, 2003).

Economy: Turkey’s dynamic economy is a complex mix of modern industry and commerce along with a traditional agriculture sector that still accounts for about 25% of employment. It has a strong and rapidly growing private sector, and while the state remains a major participant in basic industry, banking, transport and communication, this role has been diminishing as Turkey’s privatization program continues. The largest industrial sector is textiles and clothing, which accounts for one-third of industrial employment; it faces stiff competition in international markets with the end of the global quota system. However, other sectors, notably the automotive and electronics industries, are rising in importance and have surpassed textiles within Turkey’s export mix. Real GDP growth has exceeded 6% in many years, but this strong expansion has been interrupted by sharp declines in output in 1994, 1999 and 2001. Due to global economic conditions, GDP fell to a 0.9% annual rate in 2008 and contracted by 6% in 2009. Inflation fell to 5.9% in 2009, a 34-year low. Despite the strong economic gains from 2002-07, which were largely due to renewed investor interest in emerging markets, IMF backing and tighter fiscal policy, the economy has been burdened by a high current account deficit and high external debt. Further economic and judicial reforms and prospective E.U. membership are expected to continue boosting foreign direct investment. In 2007 and 2008, Turkish financial markets weathered significant domestic political turmoil, including turbulence sparked by controversy over the selection of former Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as Turkey’s 11th president and the possible closure of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Turkey’s financial markets and banking system also weathered the 2009 global financial crisis and did not suffer significant declines due to banking and structural reforms implemented during the country’s own financial crisis in 2001. Economic fundamentals are sound, but the Turkish economy may be faced with more negative economic indicators in 2010 as the global economic slowdown continues to curb demand for Turkish exports.

GDP per capita: $11,200 (2009 est.); inflation: 6.5% (2009); unemployment 14.5% (2009 est.).

Currency: Turkish lira (TRY). 1 U.S. dollar equals 1.48 Turkish liras.

Exports: $102.2 billion (2009 est.): apparel, foodstuffs, textiles, metal manufactures, transport equipment.

Imports: $140.8 billion (2009 est.): machinery, chemicals, semi-finished goods, fuels, transport equipment.

Major crops/agricultural products: Tobacco, cotton, grain, olives, sugar beets, hazelnuts, pulse, citrus; livestock.

Agriculture: 9.4% of GDP and 29.5% of the labor force.

Internet: Code. .tr; 2.961 million (2009) hosts and 24.483 million (2008) users.

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