• Turkey covers a vast 814,578 sq km (97 percent in Asia, 3 percent in Europe). Four seas lap its 8333-km coastline: the Mediterranean, the Aegean, the Marmara and the Black Sea. Numerous peaks exceed 3000m, the highest being Ararat (Ağrı Dağı; 5165m). Turkey’s three longest rivers – the Kızılırmak, Yeşilırmak and Sakarya – flow into the Black Sea, while its largest lakes is Lake Van (3713 sq km).

The population of over 70 million is 98 percent Muslim (Sunni or Alevi), with dwindling minorities of the Armenian Apostolic or Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox and Jewish faiths. Besides standard Turkish, two dialects of Kurdish are widely spoken; other languages include Arabic, Laz, Circassian, Albanian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Romany and Greek. Well over half the inhabitants live in cities; the four largest are İstanbul, Ankara (the capital), İzmir and Adana.

Turkey’s economy, rated sixteenth in the world in 2011, has undergone sustained growth in recent years. Inflation has fallen to single digits, inward investment rocketed, major infrastructure projects have been realised at an astonishing rate, and the Turkish lira has more than held its own with the major currencies.

Since 1922 Turkey has been a republic. The single-chamber Grand National Assembly (Büyük Meclis) in Ankara has 550 seats, and elects the president.

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