Traveling Luck for Turkey

Turkey is located in Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia (that portion of Turkey west of the Bosporus is geographically part of Europe), bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Georgia, and bordering the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, between Greece and Syria.

Turkey has borders with Armenia for 268km, Azerbaijan for 9km, Bulgaria for 240km, Georgia for 252km, Greece for 206km, Iraq for 352km, Iran for 499km and Syria for 822km.

Land in Turkey is high central plateau (Anatolia); narrow coastal plain; several mountain ranges.

Turkish land covers an area of 780580 square kilometers which is slightly larger than Texas

As for the Turkish climate; temperate; hot, dry summers with mild, wet winters; harsher in interior.

Turk(s) speak Turkish (official), Kurdish, Dimli (or Zaza), Azeri, Kabardian
note: there is also a substantial Gagauz population in the Europe part of Turkey.

Turkish National Map

Turkish Map

Regions of Turkey

Modern Turkey was founded in 1923 from the Anatolian 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 authoritarian leadership, the country adopted wide-ranging 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 Democratic Party and the peaceful transfer of power. Since then, Turkish political parties have multiplied, but democracy has been fractured by periods of instability and intermittent military coups (1960, 1971, 1980), which in each case eventually resulted in a return of 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. 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) - now known as the People's Congress of Kurdistan or Kongra-Gel (KGK) - has dominated the Turkish military's attention and claimed more than 30,000 lives. After the capture of the group's leader in 1999, the insurgents largely withdrew from Turkey, mainly to northern Iraq. In 2004, KGK announced an end to its ceasefire and attacks attributed to the KGK increased. Turkey joined the UN in 1945 and in 1952 it became a member of NATO. In 1964, Turkey became an associate member of the European Community; over the past decade, it has undertaken many reforms to strengthen its democracy and economy, enabling it to begin accession membership talks with the European Union.


Turkey Country Profile

Turkey's dynamic economy is a complex mix of modern industry and commerce along with a traditional agriculture sector that still accounts for more than 35% of employment. It has a strong and rapidly growing private sector, yet the state still plays a major role in basic industry, banking, transport, and communication. 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 within Turkey's export mix. Real GNP growth has exceeded 6% in many years, but this strong expansion has been interrupted by sharp declines in output in 1994, 1999, and 2001. The economy is turning around with the implementation of economic reforms, and 2004 GDP growth reached 9%. Inflation fell to 7.7% in 2005 - a 30-year low. Despite the strong economic gains in 2002-05, which were largely due to renewed investor interest in emerging markets, IMF backing, and tighter fiscal policy, the economy is still burdened by a high current account deficit and high debt. The public sector fiscal deficit exceeds 6% of GDP - due in large part to high interest payments, which accounted for about 37% of central government spending in 2004. Prior to 2005, foreign direct investment (FDI) in Turkey averaged less than $1 billion annually, but further economic and judicial reforms and prospective EU membership are expected to boost FDI. Privatization sales are currently approaching $21 billion.

Turkish natural resources include coal, iron ore, copper, chromium, antimony, mercury, gold, barite, borate, celestite (strontium), emery, feldspar, limestone, magnesite, marble, perlite, pumice, pyrites (sulfur), clay, arable land, hydropower

strategic location controlling the Turkish Straits (Bosporus, Sea of Marmara, Dardanelles) that link Black and Aegean Seas; Mount Ararat, the legendary landing place of Noah's Ark, is in the far eastern portion of the country

Turkish religion is Muslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), other 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews).

Natural hazards in Turkey include severe earthquakes, especially in northern Turkey, along an arc extending from the Sea of Marmara to Lake Van.

Travel Advice on Turkey

Turkey

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments throughout.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • There is a high threat from terrorism in Turkey.  We believe that international terrorist groups, as well as indigenous ones, are currently active in Turkey.  Attacks in public places, including in tourist areas, could well occur.

  • Targets have included Mediterranean and Aegean tourist areas, Istanbul and Turkey's South East.  In August 2006, explosions in the Aegean resort of Marmaris injured 21 people, including 10 British nationals.  In November 2003, terrorist attacks against the British Consulate-General and the headquarters of HSBC in Istanbul caused 33 deaths and injured several hundred.

  • On 8 February 2007, Turkish Authorities confirmed an outbreak of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Batman province, South East Turkey.  In January 2006 outbreaks of Avian Influenza resulted in four deaths in Eastern Turkey.  For further information see the Health section below and also read the FCO’s Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet.

  • Almost 1.8 million British tourists visited Turkey in 2005.  Most visits are trouble-free.  The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Turkey is for replacing lost passports and death from natural causes.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling to Turkey.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Examples of recent incidents in the Mediterranean and Aegean Tourist areas include:
  • On 28 August 2006, in Marmaris, a series of explosions injured 21 people, including 10 British nationals.
  • On 28 August 2006, in Antalya, three people were killed in an explosion and at least 30 were injured, including foreign nationals.
  • On 25 June 2006, an explosion in Manavgat, east of the southern coastal resort of Antalya, killed four people, including three foreign nationals, and injured several more.
And in July 2005, an explosion on a minibus (dolmuş) in the resort of Kusadasi killed five people including one British National, and injured 18 people including one British National.
Incidents in Istanbul have taken place in the districts of Sultanahmet, Eminonu, Bagcilar and Bakirkoy. Recent examples include:
Examples of recent incidents in Istanbul include:
  • On 2 April 2006, three people died and two were injured in Istanbul when a bus was attacked and set alight by masked individuals.  No foreign nationals were involved.
  • On 31 March 2006, an explosion occurred in the Fatih district of central Istanbul, near the Golden Horn.  One person was killed and eleven were injured.  No foreign nationals were involved.  No foreign nationals were involved.
  • On 9 February 2006, there was an explosion in a café in the Bayrampasa district of central Istanbul.  14 people were injured; one later died.  No foreign nationals were involved.
South East Turkey
Terrorist incidents in the south east of Turkey perpetrated by the PKK/Kongra-Gel, a Kurdish separatist terrorist organisation, have increased in recent years.  There have been frequent bomb and mine attacks on military personnel and convoys.  There is a need for increased vigilance in this area.  Security forces, who actively pursue the terrorists, operate restrictions on movement in areas bordering Iraq.  You risk arrest if you fail to comply with these restrictions. Recent incidents affecting civilians include:
  • On 12 September 2006, an explosion in the south eastern city of Diyarbakir killed 11 people and injured at least 13.  No foreign nationals were involved.
  • In late March and early April 2006 demonstrations, some of which were violent with stones and Molotov cocktails being thrown and property being set alight or destroyed, resulted in 13 deaths and many more injuries in the neighbouring provinces of Diyarbakir, Batman, Mardin and Sanliura.
You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.  Please read "Security and General Tips" and "Risk of Terrorism when Travelling Overseas" page on the FCO website for further information and advice.
Crime
Street robbery and pickpocketing are common in the major tourist areas of Istanbul.  You should be wary of approaches from strangers offering to change money or offering food and drink, which may be drugged.
A number of sexual assaults have been reported in coastal tourist areas (e.g.  Marmaris, Fethiye, Bodrum, Antalya, Izmir).  You are therefore advised to maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as in the UK.  We advise lone visitors, in particular, never to accept lifts from strangers or passing acquaintances at any time.
Political Situation
Turkey is a stable democracy.  Demonstrations occur regularly in major cities.  You are advised to avoid any areas where demonstrations are taking place.
Local Travel
Security Forces continue to enforce restrictions upon movement in areas bordering Iraq.  You risk arrest if you fail to comply with these restrictions.
Road Safety
You should take particular care when travelling by road throughout Turkey, as road conditions and driving standards can be poor.  Serious traffic accidents are common particularly at night.
If you wish to drive in Turkey, you are required to carry either an International Driving License issued in the UK or a notarised copy, in Turkish, of your Driving License. Please note provisional driving licences are not recognised. An 'A' category standard motorcycle licence is required to hire motorcycles over 50cc in Turkey. An 'A1' category 'light motorcycle' driving licence is only suitable for motorcycles below 50cc. It is against the law not to wear a helmet.
Contravention of the above could result in a heavy fine.
Do not drink and drive.  The Police will breathalyse drunk drivers, fine them on the spot (currently 448 YTL) and immediately confiscate their licence for six months.
Rail Safety
The vast majority of train journeys in Turkey are trouble free.  However, there have been accidents in recent years.  On 22 July 2004, 38 people were killed and over 80 were injured when a high-speed train derailed on the line between Istanbul and Ankara.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Turkey has strict laws against the use, possession or trafficking of illegal drugs.  If you are convicted of any of these offences, you can expect to receive a heavy fine or a prison sentence of four to 24 years.
The export of antiquities is prohibited and carries a prison sentence from five to ten years.
The use of metal detectors is against the law.
Dress modestly if visiting a mosque or a religious shrine.
Do not take photographs near military or official installations.  You should seek permission before photographing individuals.
Homosexuality is not illegal but is not widely tolerated:  public displays of affection could result in prosecution for public order offences.
It is an offence to insult the Turkish nation or the national flag, or to deface or tear up currency.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

A visa is required for British nationals to enter Turkey.  British citizens may obtain a multiple entry visitor's visa valid for 90 days at the port of entry on payment of ten pounds sterling in cash (Scottish currency is not accepted).  If you are a BN(O) passport holder and you arrive at Istanbul airport without a visa obtained from a Turkish mission abroad, you may be refused entry to Turkey.  For further information on entry requirements, you should check with with:  Turkish representation in UK
Your passport should be valid for at least six months on entry into Turkey.
If you take employment without the appropriate permission, you may be escorted from the country by the police authorities or, in some cases, deported.
If you stay in Turkey longer than your visa allows, you will be liable to pay a substantial fine upon departure.  This varies according to how long you have overstayed.  From the moment you have overstayed your visa the minimum fine is 98.40 YLT, rising incrementally each day to 193.20 YTL for an overstay of one month.  If you stay longer than one month the fine increases substantially.
If a parent travels on his/her own with a dual national Turkish child, written permission from the Turkish parent, certified by a notary, must be shown to the immigration authorities on departure, otherwise the child will not be permitted to leave Turkey.


HEALTH

Do not travel without comprehensive medical insurance (including cover for medical repatriation), as private medical treatment is very expensive.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.  The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which concerns free medical treatment in EU countries is not valid in Turkey.  The EHIC has now replaced form E111.
Please refer to the Embassy website for details of English speaking hospitals and doctors, http://britishembassy.org.tr.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date, especially if you intend to visit rural areas.  For further information on health, check the Dept of Health's website at:  www.dh.gov.uk.

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)

On 8 February 2007, Turkish Authorities confirmed an outbreak of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Batman province, South East Turkey.  In January 2006 outbreaks of Avian Influenza in Turkey resulted in four deaths in eastern Turkey, believed to have arisen through close contact with infected poultry.  Since the end of 2003, a number of human deaths have also occurred in Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Iraq, Thailand, Egypt and Vietnam.
The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be low.   However, as a precaution you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of the possibility that the Avian Influenza outbreaks could lead at some point to a human flu pandemic, if the virus mutates to a form, which is easily transmittable between people.
British nationals living longer term in Turkey should take personal responsibility for their own safety in the event of a future pandemic, including considering their access to adequate healthcare and ensuring travel documents are up to date.
You should read this advice in conjunction with the FCO’s:  Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet, which gives more detailed information.

NATURAL DISASTERS
Many parts of Turkey lie on a major seismic fault line and are subject to earthquakes and tremors.  In August 1999 an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter Scale resulted in over 17,000 deaths when it struck Izmit, a town 55 miles south of Istanbul.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see: What We Can Do To Help
In addition to the Embassy in Ankara there are Consulates in Istanbul, Izmir and Antalya and honorary Consulates in Bodrum, Fethiye, Marmaris and Bursa. Full contact details are on the Embassy website, http://britishembassy.org.tr.
Residents or long term visitors should register with the Embassy/nearest Consulate on arrival, but there is no need for short-term visitors to do so.
The British Embassy in Ankara, the Consulates in Istanbul, Izmir and Antayla and Honorary Consulates in Bodrum, Marmaris and Fethiye can provide Emergency Passport services. Full passport services are available at the British Embassy in Ankara and the Consulate in Istanbul. Applications may be lodged, however, at Izmir, Antayla, Bodrum, Marmaris and Fethiye.
ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas. Local currency can also be obtained from banks and exchange bureaux, known as DOVIZ in Turkish.
It is illegal not to carry some form of photographic ID in Turkey. It is therefore advisable to carry a photocopy of your passport with you at all times.


OTHER

Turkey Country Profile