Useful Notes / Turkey

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Rarely votes for Christmas.

"Peace at home, peace in the world."
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, now the motto of the Republic of Turkey

Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye), officially known as the Republic of Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye Cumhuriyeti) is a Southern European and Western Asian country, one of a few countries spanning multiple continents. NATO member and applicant to The European Union.

Turkey should not be compared with the rest of the Middle East. It doesn't use the Arabic script (which hasn't been used in Turkey since 1928) or language, the country is strictly secular (the favourite national flamewar is over wearing headscarves in public) and it's culturally somewhat different. It is Muslim, true, but if a leader says so too loudly he risks military take-over by the "Guardian of Secularism", the army. This has happened multiple times for Islam, Communism, what ever the current ideology the Army doesn't like. Recently, however, this trend has changed; the latest indication of a coup attempt lead to a strong public backlash against the Armed Forces. It seems that the Turkish military is no longer a viable force in politics.

Turkey distinctly straddles the line between East and West, given its geographic location. It has often been a melting pot of multiple cultures, with it being built on top of a Greco-Roman Empire with influences from both the Caucasus and from the Middle East. As such, Turkey maintains a unique identity as being not quite European and not quite Middle Eastern, but somewhere in between. Nevertheless, Turkey (or rather, the Anatolian Peninsula that makes up 90% of the country's land area) is widely considered to be a part the traditional Middle East since at least the Middle Ages.

     History - Before Turks 

Anatolia has been a cultural melting pot region for thousands of years. The place is the Ur-Example for "Asia"; the term came to be used for the continent later, by which time the name was suffixed with "Minor" to refer to the original location. It would probably take up pages after pages to describe the region's history before Alp Arslan and his army marched into the peninsula in the 11th century, so here's a summary. The Hurrians and Hittites were the first peoples to settle the area, having been recorded to live there since before the Late Bronze Age collapse circa 1200 BC. Both created empires that were major powers in the ancient Middle East, though by the 1st millennium BC they were subsumed under the Assyrians. There were also the Urartu, the Hurrians' distant cousins who established a state at the Armenian Highlands in the east. Around 600 BC, the Iranians quickly began raising in power, first with Medes and Babylonia conquering Assyria, then Medes defeating Urartu, and finally the Achaemenids took the cake by absorbing all of them and the Babylonians, setting up an empire that stretched from Northern Greece all the way to Sindh.

The ancient Greeks had a lot of tales about Anatolia, but their presence wasn't set until Alexander the Great and the Macedonians conquered the Middle East following the Greco-Persian Wars in the 4th century BC (although some bits of coastal western Anatolia were colonized by proto-Greeks since the Mycenaean era). The enormous Greek influence slowly turned the area as part of the Hellenistic world, but nevertheless it remained culturally distinctive, especially in the east where Armenians were the boss. The Romans, though nominally conquering Anatolia in the 1st century BC, mostly left administration at the hands of the Greeks and locals.

Anatolia was one of the first places reached by Christianity and the place is still significant to Christians. Saint Paul was born in Tarsus, a city in the southern Cilician region. Antioch, present-day Antakya, was where the term "Christian" emerged. Several historic towns at western Anatolia were the so-called "seven churches of Asia" for whom John of Patmos was ordered to pass the revelation. Meanwhile, Armenia (whose possessions extended as far as the Mediterranean) became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as state religion when it did so in 301 AD, almost 80 years before the Romans did.

When the Roman Empire divided, Anatolia was ruled as the principal territories of the Eastern half, later known as the Byzantine Empire. See their article for more details. Their capital, Constantinople, in particular, was the city for Eastern Europeans and Middle Easterners during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. However, the Byzantines and indeed the Romans didn't rule in peace, for they were competing with the Persian Parthians and later the Sassanids. Though they occasionally gained advantages over each other, their permanent holdings cut right in the middle of the former Armenian kingdom, which they carved each for themselves. The Byzantine-Sassanian wars lasted over three centuries, but nothing seemed to change at all, until, in their fatigue, the 7th century AD brought a gamechanger...

...and that was the Rashidun Caliphate, one of the biggest and most sudden empires to emerge from anywhere in the world. The Arabs utterly defeated and subsumed the Persians and they also managed to overran the Armenian holdings of the Byzantines, although the latter were spared of the Persians' fate due to sheer self-preservation. Nevertheless, the Byzantines were slowly turning into a Vestigial Empire, their power dwindling and dwindling through time.

     History - Age of Turks (1000s-1400s) 
The Turks were a conglomerate of nomadic peoples who originated from Western Mongolia and Siberia. There were many confederations, some friendly, some hostile to each other. Although they were grouped with other "barbarian" nomadic peoples during antiquity, by the 6th century, they had set up a huge empire in Central Asia named the Turkic Khaganate, facilitating migrations to conquered areas. When the khaganate fell to civil war in 581, the Turks dispersed, some forming their own polities, others joined other nations' armies, etc. Some already reached Europe before the modern Turks did; the Bulgars formed a state in Ukraine which reached coastal Black Sea region, after which their ethnonym was claimed by a Slavic people we know today as the Bulgarians. Then there were the Khazars, who ruled the Pontic-Caspian Steppe and had extensive contacts (including marriage alliances) with the Byzantines. The Khazars notably had a Jewish aristocracy, which is very unusual outside the Levant.

The Turks of Turkey were descended from the Oghuz confederation, who had a state in the eastern Caspian Sea in the 8th century. They worked their way to the top by converting to Islam, becoming obedient slaves to others, then slowly dominating their military. By this method, several Turk-ruled empires cropped up in South, Central, and West Asia. The one which eventually reached Anatolia were the Seljuks under Alp Arslan, who famously defeated the Byzantines at Manzikert in 1071 and forced Romanos IV Diogenes to wash his feet, although he was released. Victory at Manzikert allowed the Seljuks to conquer the region up to the outer reaches of Constantinople and many Turks began to immigrate to Anatolia, thus Turkifying the region. They were succeeded by the Sultanate of Rumnote . The Rum Sultanate were a major target of The Crusades and finally disintegrated following the Mongol invasions of the early 14th century. Several petty kingdoms (beyliks) emerged from their ashes and ruled independently. One of these, a beylik located in the Bithynia region close to Constantinople began to consolidate the others, a brief Timurid invasion in 1402-1413 notwithstanding. Once cornering the Byzantines at all sides, they under Mehmed II besieged Constantinople and then defeated and killed Constantine XI Palaiologos in 1453, officiating the end of the Roman Empire after 1480 years. Their name? The Ottomans.

A note about Turkification. People who hold anti-Turk view would argue that Anatolia only became largely Turkish-speaking because the current inhabitants are "not native" and probably came from the "barbarian east". The truth is more complicated than that. While it is true that the Oghuz Turks introduced Turkish, the locals were responsible for propagating it. Anatolia was already a very populous area in the Middle Ages and there was no room for a mass migration; the small community of pure Turk origin ruled over the largely unchanged indigenous people. To advance up the social hierarchy, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, etc. adopted Turkish and Islam, becoming Turks in the process, although their customs still persist. Those who refused kept their ethnonyms to the present day. Ever wondered why the Caucasoid Turkish people look very different from the Mongoloid Central Asian Turks? This is why.

    History - Age of Turks (1400s-present) 

Historically, Turkey is synonymous with the Ottoman Empire, which was in fact referred to as the "Turkish Empire" or "Imperium Turcicum" by its contemporaries. Since the end of the Turkish Empire, this period has become known as the Ottoman or Osmanic Empire, just as the Eastern Roman Empire has become known as the Byzantine Empire. At its height, the Ottoman Empire spanned three continents and controlled vast swathes of North Africa, Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East. Its main opponents for most of its lifetime were the Habsburgs and the Venetians; the former finally turned the tables on the Turks following the last siege of Vienna while the latter were eventually rendered powerless by the Italian Wars of 1494-1559. In the last centuries of its life, the Ottoman Empire also came into conflict with the Russian Empire, who made some serious gains in the Caucasus. Following the First World War, the empire collapsed, but the institution of the Turkish Sultan actually outlived the Habsburg Emperor and the Russian Tsar by around four years. During its life, the Ottoman Empire served as the Big Bad for Christendom, since it had destroyed the Byzantine Empire and made rapid gains into Europe. The only ally it had in Europe was France, who was squeezed on all sides by Habsburg possessions. That's not to say that the Christendom was the Empire's only enemies though; on the eastern side, the empire also had a famously heated rivalry with Persia's Safavid and later Qajar dynasties. In fact, Persia's conversion to Shia Islam is thought of as a way to defend themselves from being integrated into the Sunni Muslim Ottoman Empire (which had controlled much of the Middle East and is threatening to encroach further east).

The Ottoman Empire entered a long period of decline that is presumed to have started in the late 18th century, but didn't really take off until the 19th century. During that time, Egypt split off and became an independent nation, taking with it a vast amount of income and a large population. Greece won its independence after humiliating the Ottoman Empire in the 1820s, and other Balkan states would soon follow. There were numerous reasons for the Empire's decline. There'd been a string of fairly lackluster Sultans in the 18th century. The Ottoman Navy had been destroyed by a Western coalition at the Battle of Navarino, which ended Ottoman dominance over the Eastern Mediterranean. The Empire's tax system was incredibly inefficient note  and the Sultan's grasp on most parts of his Empire was in name only. A lack of funds meant that the Empire could not afford to sustain a more powerful army, leading to the decline of the famous Janissary corps. It also meant that infrastructure projects, like railroads, were often left up to foreign investors. Outside of the religious madrasas, Turks had no education. Furthermore, the French Revolution spread liberal and nationalist ideals to the provinces of the Empire, encouraging unrest and eventually revolution.

These shortcomings were periodically addressed throughout the 19th century by the sultans, starting with Mahmud II. After the disastrous Greek War of Independence, Mahmud set about modernizing the military by first abolishing and massacring the Janissary Corps, then inviting French and British advisers to open new officer schools. This had some unintended consequences, as the new teachers tended to bring with them Western ideals, and the officers-in-training learned English and French, meaning they now had the ability to read newspapers and literature from Europe. This helped further spur on the push for liberal reform. Under Mahmud II's successor Abdulmecid I, the new Tanzimat reforms were introduced. These included further military reforms, as well as major bureaucratic and tax reforms. This coincided with an attempt to build a sort of Ottoman national identity to try and reduce the strife between ethnic groups. Tanzimat proved to be moderately successful, as it managed to help modernize many parts of the Ottoman Empire. However, it only stymied its continuing decline, as monetary issues halted some of the reforms and forced the Empire further and further in debt to the French and British. The Ottoman Empire briefly flirted with establishing a constitutional monarchy and a parliament, but this didn't stick. Meanwhile, the Russians continued to fight the Turks, both in the Crimean War and the Russo-Turkish War. The latter ended up with the Ottoman Empire being severely diminished at the Congress of Berlin, where most of its Balkan possessions were split into independent nation states, Tunisia was conquered by France, and the British occupied Egypt. The newly independent country of Bosnia was invaded by the Austro-Hungarians in 1878, which would have dire consequences down the line.

Abdulhamid II's reign saw the rise of the Young Turks movement, which was a group of young nationalists (mostly low-level bureaucrats and officers) who wanted to create a modern, and distinctly Turkish, Ottoman Empire. They rebelled in 1908 and forced a new constitution on the Empire while severely limiting the Sultan's power in favor of a brand new democracy. However, this democracy quickly found itself dominated by the Young Turks' party, the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). They would eventually triumph over their opponents, the Freedom and Accord Party. Meanwhile, Italy invaded Libya in 1911 and quickly seized it, and just a year later the Balkan Wars erupted, which caused the Turks to lose almost all of their European territory sans Istanbul. The messy break-up of Ottoman rule in the Balkans would directly lead to World War I.

Turkey, as the Ottoman Empire, was initially neutral during World War I. Before the conflict, it was being wooed by Imperial Germany, who invested heavily in Turkey, created the Berlin-Baghdad railway and helped modernise the Ottoman army. After the British forcefully requisitioned two warships ordered by the Ottoman Government, Turkey fell further into the orbit of the Central Powers, and officially joined the war after a German False Flag Operation. During World War I, Turkey fought mainly against the British Empire and her colonies/dominions like Australia, New Zealand, India and Canada in the Middle East and on the Gallipoli peninsula. The Gallipoli Campaign is notable for being a pilgrimage site for Australians and New Zealanders due to the involvement of the ANZACs, as popularised in the Mel Gibson film Gallipoli. Similarly, the war in the Middle East became famous for the actions of T. E. Lawrence (of Lawrence of Arabia fame), who incited the Great Arab Revolt which saw the Arab territories of the Ottoman Empire revolt against their Turkish masters. Unfortunately, this ended as a Full-Circle Revolution for the Arabs, who were promised a unified, independent Arab State but were instead placed under the control of the British and French empires. Turkey also put up a very weak fight against the Russians, owing to their Supreme Commander - Enver Pasha - being a Modern Major General with delusions of conquering Central Asia. Like Napoleon before him and Hitler after him, Enver Pasha made the sad mistake of trying to invade in winter. The Russo-Turkish conflict was one of the few theatres of the First World War where the Russian Army did well against an opponent. Fortunately for them, the Turks were saved by the collapse of the Tsarist regime and Red October. Less fortunately for them, the Central Powers still ended up losing, and the Ottoman Empire soon lost all its territory outwith Anatolia and Thrace.

Following the defeat of the Central Powers, Anatolia was occupied by the Entente. The resulting Treaty of Sèvres partitioned Turkey, ceding western Anatolia and most of Thrace to the Greeks and eastern Anatolia to the Armenians, while placing vast swathes of Asian Turkey under European influence. This led to the Turkish War of Independence, which raged through the early 1920s, and resulted in the Turkish nationalists - led by Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) - establishing the modern Republic of Turkey in 1923, having repulsed the combined forces of Greece, France, Italy and Great Britain (though to be fair, the last three didn't really have their hearts in the war). They gained most of Armenia's land after some seedy deals between them and the Soviet government, who wanted them to go communist (which didn't end up happening), effectively ending centuries of an Armenian presence in the region. Turkey became the first secular state in the Middle East and would remain so for quite some time.

Atatürk is definitely a revered figure in Turkey. It is common to see his portrait prominently featured on keepsakes and at political rallies among waving Turkish flags. As his name suggests, he is considered the founding father of Turkey, aggressively pushing policies of secularization and statism in an attempt to modernize the country. While remembered fondly these days, Atatürk actually had sizable resistance when he first became president, primarily from the religious right-wing that sought to restore the caliphate. Still, his reforms had an immense impact on making Turkey the country it is today.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk died in 1938 and was succeeded by his former Prime Minister İsmet İnönü, largely without incident. Turkey remained neutral for the most part in World War II. Following the annexation of Albania by Fascist Italy, Great Britain made an alliance with Turkey for fear of an Axis invasion. This never transpired and so Turkey remained out of the conflict, albeit while being aligned with the Allies. However, they did declare war on Nazi Germany towards the end as a ceremonial gesture.

Turkey had been a Presidential Dictatorship up until that point, led by Atatürk and his successor İsmet İnönü. However, in the 1950s the CHP note  had a staggering electoral loss to the new Democratic Party. The 1950s saw a major period of growth and expansion for the Turkish economy with new industries opening up, new infrastructural development, and improving literacy and education. However, in 1960 the DP government was ousted in a coup d'etat by the military. İnönü and the CHP were returned to office for a short time before losing another election to a selection of new successor parties to the DP. The military stepped in again, starting a massive period of civil strife in Turkey that lasted for an entire decade. The 1970s saw the rise of the Grey Wolvesnote , an organization that is divisive at best, which engaged in routine street violence in the name of "stopping communism". This period of instability was ended when the military committed another coup d'etat in 1980. This coup had a profound impact on Turkey as thousands of Turks were killed, imprisoned, or purged. The 1980 coup was noticeably more violent than other coups before or since and is a major reason for modern Turks' distrust of their military.

Out of that chaos, the military ruled de facto for a while with a puppet civilian government. Slowly democracy was re-introduced, but it was unstable at best with no ideology gaining a majority, causing many weak coalitions to form. All of this, of course, was under the spectre of another military intervention. Eventually a tenuous coalition government led by Islamist parties emerged, with the dominant one being the decidedly Islamist RP note . When this coalition began to get to "cozy" in regards to religious issues, the military asked Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan to resign, in what was deemed a "soft coup". A more left-leaning coalition formed but proved to be unstable, especially because the social-democratic DSP note  and the nationalist MHP were forced into a coalition despite being on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Turkey was then wracked by an economic crisis. The end result was that the new center-right AKP note  led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğannote  was swept into office. AKP has effectively governed Turkey for the past decade-and-a-half, and and the less said about it, the better.

    Modern Turkey 

Turkey has some other issues relating to human rights and freedom of speech. Their government officially denies the Armenian Genocide as well as similar genocides suffered by the Greeks and Assyrians as the Ottoman Empire was crumbling, even though they were committed by the government the present republic deposed note . They also tend to be uptight about the word "Kurd" and the idea of a separate identity for their eastern, Kurdish-speaking provinces. This is all apparently "insulting Turkishness", the idea of a unified Turkish nation-state. This concept of 'insulting Turkishness' is one of the reasons sites like YouTube are banned in Turkey, allegedly because of insults to Ataturk as you can be prosecuted for insulting Ataturk in Turkey, or saying anything else that allegedly insults Turkishness.

Due to the complex issue of Turkish nationalism and the activities of Kurdish terrorist group PKK, Kurds and the Kurdish language used to be a Flame Bait issue in Turkey. Since 2002, however, the bans on Kurdish radio and television shows were lifted and the option to have a private Kurdish education was introduced, and in 2009, the government began restoring the names of Kurdish towns and villages. Giving in to pressure from the EU and the U.S., the government has even repaired and returned a handful out of the hundreds of churches that after World War I were either converted into mosques, museums, or just left to deteriorate into ruins, back to the (now) small Christian population in the country, mostly just for show (although once Erdogan became president these churches were soon seized by the government and now have an uncertain fate). Provisions against speaking publicly about the Armenian Genocide and an independent Kurdistan were mostly introduced by a military junta that took control in the 1980s, and since then, the Turkish Government has made efforts to improve freedom of speech in the country, due largely to international pressure. Progress in some areas is being made faster than in others; as the 2007 murder of Turkish-Armenian reporter Hrant Dink displayed, speaking out too loudly about taboo topics in Turkey is still a very risky proposition. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Turkey continues to have the world's highest number of jailed journalists, topping the list in 2012 and 2013 and beating out the likes of North Korea, Iran and China.

Turkey famously doesn't get along with Greece very well (Greek and Turkish minorities in both countries were expelled and exchanged in the 20th century), though they've been forced to co-operate a bit by both being in NATO. The Cyprus Question is just the most modern bone of contention. To make a long story short, Greece - when it was still an authoritarian state - made moves towards annexing Cyprus, prompting Turkey to invade and occupy the northern portion of Cyprus, which has a large Turkish population. Since then, Turkey has attempted to get it recognized as an independent country (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus), distinct from the Greek-majority Republic of Cyprus. A third option has been to unify the two countries as a federation. The latest attempt at this was by the UN, who proposed a United Cypriot Republic under the Annan Plan. In a 2004 referendum, 64% of Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of the plan, but it was shot down by the Greek Cypriots, with 76% of them voting against the plan. Since then, unification talks have stalled.

Lately, Turkey has been longing to become a part of The European Union, but its long history as the regional bully has made this difficult for them. Greece is opposed to it due to the Cyprus Dispute. Bulgaria in particular has been against it due to past wrongs committed during the dark days of the end of the Ottoman Empire, and Germany feels that Turkey ought to fess up to their crimes like they had to after World War II, as does France. On the other hand, opposition to Turkish membership has been motivated by far less noble goals. Some European leaders - particularly the former French President Nicholas Sarkozy - fear that Turkey entering the EU would result in an influx of Muslims, due to EU immigration regulations. Proponents of Turkish membership point out its strong economic status (the EU originally being a purely economic union), especially when compared to the latest members, Bulgaria and Romania.

To try and appear more qualified to join the EU Turkey has adopted a "zero problems" policy with its direct neighbors, though it hasn't quite panned out so far. They signed a protocol in 2009 with neighboring Armenia which would open their borders (closed since the Nagorno-Karabakh War between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the early 1990's) and attempt to bury the hatchet between the two states. However, the protocols fell into limbo after Armenia unsurprisingly refused to link the protocols with dropping the genocide issue and conceding Karabakh to Azerbaijan, which was likely the whole point of the protocols as now Turkey can say that anything related to genocide recognition or recognizing Nagorno-Karabakh's independence puts its normalization with Armenia in jeopardy. In late 2013 Turkey pulled the Protocols out of limbo and tried to negotiate with Armenia again, hoping to patch things up ahead of the centennial of the Armenian genocide; sure to be a PR nightmare for the country. Meanwhile, it has had shaky relations with just about every other country that borders it except Azerbaijan. However, its relations with the Arab world have been getting increasingly peachy. Arabs—whose view of the Turks wasn't half as bad as those of Turkey's Christian neighbors—have come to see the Turkish model as an excellent path to democracy, for various reasons: Islamist Arabs point to the ruling AK Party's moderate line, while authoritarian Arabs like the aforementioned role for the military. Either way, commercial and cultural links (the latter of which include some very successful soap operas, dubbed into Arabic in the Syrian dialect and the thing to watch if you're a remotely fashionable Arab) with Turkey have grown strong since the early 2000s. Indeed, the Islamist parties that were swept into power in the Arab Revolutions have modeled themselves upon the AK Party,note  and the Turkish government has won tremendous brownie points from the Arab street thanks to its relatively quick denunciation of the Syrian regime and willingness to host Syrian refugees and rebels.

It is important to note that lately Turkey's pursuit of EU membership seems to have stalled completely, even though President Erdoğan has claims to still be open to the idea. However, Turkey has been directing far more resources towards promoting a distinctly none-European Turkish identity by emphasizing their Ottoman roots. Politically, this has seen Turkey move from a fairly isolated non-interventionist state to a far more influential country in the Middle East, especially with their intervention in the Syrian Civil War. This policy has been termed Neo-Ottomanism, although many Turks find this term disparaging.

A peculiarity of Turkey that has been around for a while is the idea of derin devlet, or "deep state", an elite group of elites that is believed to secretly control Turkey. Turks see this organization/cabal/whatever as simple fact, whereas foreigners tend to see it as merely an odd cultural phenomenon. There was a US-backed counter-guerilla movement trained to keep Turkey out of the hands of the reds, whose existence was revealed in 1974, but this group is defunct and it's not entirely clear how it relates to the deep state of today. Even Turks themselves can't seem to agree what the deep state's agenda is or who the head members are; they have been seen as anti-democratic by democratic factions, anti-worker by socialist factions, anti-Islamic by Islamist factions, anti-Kurdish by Kurds, and as ultra-nationalists by everyone else. Some argue that they work for the betterment of Turkey or that they are merely a covert arm of government, others believe their goal is to undermine the government and launch coups, which is understandable since that sort of thing seems to happen a lot. It's not clear who leads them, either; it's been said to be led by descendents of the ottoman sultans, high-level military brass, US-backed guerrillas, criminal kingpins, and corrupt politicians. Whatever the case, the truth is far from certain.

Turkey is also one of the few Muslim-majority countries to have friendly relations with Israelnote , it had briefly deteriorated quickly in 2010, due to a certain incident involving a certain flotilla bound for a certain strip of territory in the Levant. Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu eventually apologized for the raid almost three years later, and ties had been brought to normal.

They're also responsible for changing the name of the city of Constantinople to Istanbul, although the city was known as Kostantiniyye (the Turkish translation of Constantinople) throughout the duration of the Ottoman Empire, after it was captured from the Eastern Roman Empire in 1453. Why we can't say, and it's nobody's business but theirs at any rate...

(Well, since you press us, it's because "Constantinople" is the Greek name for the city. Beware the Internet Backdraft).

     Culture 

Turkey has a notable cultural industry, especially in the music area - the Holly Valance song "Kiss Kiss" was originally sung in Turkish (strangely enough, the original singer is male, while a significant number of the various covers have been sung by women.) Plus belly dancers, which people tend to focus on. The oil wrestling is male-only, so it's usually ignored (of course, it largely depends on the demographic).

Turkish food is commonplace, especially in Europe. Many Turkish immigrants work as street vendors or restaurant owners, especially in Germany, and the food of choice is almost always kebab. Turks are also famous for creating sherbet, although some dispute this. Turkish food generally has a lot more in common with the food of the Balkans and Greece than with its southerly neighbors, usually emphasizing a large amount of dairy products like goat cheese and yogurt. Kahvenote  and Çaynote  are the favored beverages, with the former still enjoyed in the kahvehanenote  of Istanbul. Unlike many Muslim-majority countries, the sale of alcohol is perfectly legal and although public drinking is typically discouraged (especially in more conservative areas), alcohol consumption isn't much different than in the West.

Turkey does have its own film industry, but it hasn't gained much notoriety outside of Turkey. Turkish television is much the same, with a lot of locally produced successes, but with little recognition outside of Turkey. Turkish media tends to be very melodramatic and bombastic, with shows and movies often surpassing the two-hour mark.

One interesting observation about Turkish culture is their love for cats, particularly in Istanbul. Besides cats just looking plain old cute, there are pragmatic reasons to keep them around to help kill pests. More importantly, cats are treated with a degree of reverence in Islam, with Muhammad praising them for their cleanliness. Because of this, they are often given free food and water and are allowed to wander into mosques at their leisure.

     Famous Turks 
  • Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The founding father of modern Turkey. An extremely capable military officer in the army during WWI who went on to create the Republic of Turkey and serve as its first President. Modernized and secularized the backward Ottoman Empire into something resembling more of the modern state through his ideology, called Kemalism, which is a key element of the Turkish constitution. Saying that he is highly regarded within the country is akin to saying that a desert is a little dry; a specific hour within a year is set up for every Turkish citizens to remember him in silence.note  Do not insult him in Turkey or risk prosecution.
  • Mehmed II. At the tender age of 21, he succeeded in conquering Constantinople, a city that had been previously sieged fifteen times and with only one success. The fall of Constantinople destroyed Byzantium and established the Ottomans as the spiritual successors to the Roman Empire. Mehmet II used the Byzantine administration model as a blueprint for the Ottoman State, and this model stayed in place long after his death. He also unified Anatolia under the Ottomans and brought the empire into Europe, advancing as far as Belgrade. This is the guy known for his skirmishes with Vlad the Impaler in Wallachia and Stefan the Great in Moldova.
  • Suleiman the Magnificent. The tenth Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, as well as the longest-reigning. Presided over the expansion of Turkey into Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Also known as "Suleiman the Lawmaker" for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system. A distinguished goldsmith and poet, he also oversaw the Golden Age of Ottoman artistic, literary and architectural development. The Süleymaniye Mosque - the second largest mosque in Istanbul - is named after him.
  • Ahmed I. Notable only for creating the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, one of the most impressive mosques in the world and a masterpiece of Turko-Byzantine architecture. Was erected in an effort to distract the public from the Sultan's unsuccessful wars against the Habsburgs and Persia. Until this point, mosques had been paid for with 'war booty' but, due to his recent military failures, Ahmed I had to borrow from the treasury, upsetting the ulema - Muslim legal scholars. Pope Benedict XVI visited the Blue Mosque (as it is also known) in 2006, only the second time in history that a Pope has visited a Muslim place of worship.
  • Sabiha Gökçen was one of Atatürk's adopted daughters, as well as being the worlds first female combat pilot.
  • Ahmet Ertegun was one of the founders of Atlantic Records, and incredibly influential record label that had major hits in soul, rock, and R&B music. Atlantic would go on to be a label for musicians and bands like Ben E. King, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and was even the guy who brought Neil Young in to Crosby, Stills, Nash (And Young).
  • Hamdi Ulukaya. Famous entrepreneur and founder of the yogurt brand Chobani. Hamdi was born and raised in the poor northern part of Anatolia bordering the Black Sea. He was the son of a shepherd, but he ended up coming to America to study, eventually founding the brand with the help of his family.
  • Tarkan. No doubt it would be amiss not to mention Turkey's biggest pop star.


Turkey In Fiction

The Turkish flag http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/turkey_flag_6305.png
The flag reuses the last known flag of the Ottoman Empire, of which it is The Remnant and official successor state — a red field with a star and crescent at the center, symbolizing Islam, the principal religion of the Empire.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/UsefulNotes/Turkey