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Travel Insurance Turkey


Turkey Country Guide

  1. CountryFacts
  2. Health
  3. Media
  1. Intro
  2. Geography
  3. People
  4. Travel
  5. Embassies & Visas
  6. Finance
  7. Cities/Regions

Quick Facts

Region: Europe
Full Name: Republic of Turkey
Capital City: Ankara
Language Spoken: Turkish (official), Kurdish, Dimli (or Zaza), Azeri, Kabardian note: there is also a substantial Gagauz population in the Europe part of Turkey


What is this?

Risk Rating Watch

Personnel risk: MODERATE
Evacuation risk: LOW

Turkey Travel Insurance

Get travel insurance to Turkey from Direct Travel Insurance. We offer low cost and high quality travel insurance to Turkey and most of the world.

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Geographic data

39 00 N, 35 00 E

Elevation Extremes

lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m highest point: Mount Ararat 5,166 m

Land boundaries

total: 2,648 km border countries: Armenia 268 km, Azerbaijan 9 km, Bulgaria 240 km, Georgia 252 km, Greece 206 km, Iran 499 km, Iraq 352 km, Syria 822 km

Natural hazards

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

Natural resources

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

Land use

arable land: 29.81% permanent crops: 3.39% other: 66.8% (2005)

Environmental current issues

water pollution from dumping of chemicals and detergents; air pollution, particularly in urban areas; deforestation; concern for oil spills from increasing Bosporus ship traffic


Temperatures in Ankara vary between -4°C (25ºF) and 30°C (86ºF). Marmara and the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts have a typical Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Required clothing Light- to medium-weights and rainwear.

Time difference

time difference: UTC+2 daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October


70,413,958 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 25.5% (male 9,133,226/female 8,800,070) 15-64 years: 67.7% (male 24,218,277/female 23,456,761) 65 years and over: 6.8% (male 2,198,073/female 2,607,551) (2006 est.)

Median age

total: 28.1 years male: 27.9 years female: 28.3 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate

1.06% (2006 est.)

Birth rate

16.62 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate

5.97 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 72.62 years male: 70.18 years female: 75.18 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.92 children born/woman (2006 est.)

Business Practices

A formal suit or jacket and tie should always be worn for business. English is widely spoken in business circles, although an effort by the visitor to speak a little Turkish is appreciated. The majority of people in business value punctuality and visiting cards are widely used. In general, a personal relationship is an important basis for a successful business relationship in Turkey. It is usually important to allow time for friendly conversation before commencing with a business agenda. Office hours are normally 0830-1230 and 1330-1730 Monday to Friday, however there are some regional and seasonal variations.


Street robbery and pickpocketing are common in the major tourist areas of Istanbul. Street crime is most common in the Taksim Square area, in Sultanahmet and in the areas around the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. Visitors are often robbed while distracted by a staged fight or altercation. Women appear to have been targeted for mugging or robbery. Be wary of approaches from strangers offering to change money or offering food and drink, which may be drugged. Two common drugs used are Nembutal and benzodiazepine which, when used incorrectly, can cause death (as occurred in the case of one Western visitor). In other cases, tourists are invited to visit clubs or bars, and then presented with inflated bills, and coerced to pay them by credit card. A number of sexual assaults have been reported in coastal tourist areas (e.g., Marmaris, Bodrum, Antalya, Izmir).


Medium to luxury-type hotels, including international hotels such as the Hilton, Sheraton, Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Conrad and Swiss Hotel, are available in major cities. Apartment rents in Istanbul are expensive. Rents in Ankara and Izmir are more reasonable. The rental of a good quality apartment in a popular area of a city is usually set in a foreign currency, and often 6 months to one year's rent is expected in advance.


Telephone IDD service is available. The country code is 90 and the outgoing international code is 00. There is an extensive internal telephone network, but often an interpreter will be needed for more remote areas. All hotels and PTT offices have fax facilities. The telephone system in Turkey's major cities is good. Internet email and faxes are widely used in international business. Turkish post offices are recognizable by their yellow PTT signs. Major post offices are open 0800-2400 Monday to Saturday and 0900-1900 Sunday.


is 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Electricity 220 volts AC, 50Hz.

Plug Types


Food And Dining

Turkish food combines culinary traditions of a pastoral people originating from Central Asia and the influences of the Mediterranean regions. Guests are usually able to go into a kitchen and choose from the pots if they cannot understand the names of the dishes.
National specialties:
? Shish kebab (pieces of meat threaded on a skewer and grilled).
? Doner kebab (pieces of lamb packed tightly round a revolving spit).
? Barbunya (red mullet) and kili? baligi (swordfish).
? Dolma (vine leaves stuffed with nuts and currants).
? Karniyarik (aubergine stuffed with minced meat).
? Turkish Delight (originally made from dates, honey, roses and jasmine bound by Arabic gum and designed to sweeten the breath after coffee). National drinks:
? Raki (anisette), known as 'lion's milk', which clouds when water is added. Drinking raki is a ritual and is traditionally accompanied by a variety of meze (hors d'oeuvres).
? Ayran (a refreshing yogurt drink).
? Tea.
? Strong black Turkish coffee.
? Turkish beer, red and white wines. Things to know: Turkey is a secular state and alcohol is permitted, although during Ramadan it is considered polite for the visitor to avoid drinking alcohol.
A service charge is included in hotel and restaurant bills.
There are nightclubs in most main centers, either Western or Oriental, with music and dancing. There are theaters with concerts in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir and most towns have cinemas. Turkish baths (hamam) are popular.

Entry departure requirements

* Please see visa section

Visa immigration information


Passport valid for at least six months from date of arrival in Turkey required by all, except the following nationals:
1. Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland, who can enter with a national ID card (which must have a validity of one year).


Required by all except the following:
(a) 2. nationals of EU countries for stays of up to three months (except those listed under notes 4 and 5 below in Sticker-type entry visas;
(b) 3. nationals of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria* (see Note below), Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong (SAR), Iceland, Iran (providing they have a minimun of US$100 per day while entering Turkey), Israel, Japan, Korea (Rep), Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Monaco, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, San Marino, Singapore, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Uruguay and Vatican City for stays of up to three months;
(c) nationals of Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia and Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic) for stays of up to two months;
(d) nationals of Costa Rica, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Macau (SAR) for stays of up to one month;
(e) transit passengers continuing their journey by the same of first connecting aircraft within 24 hours, provided not leaving the airport and in possession of confirmed onward tickets. If you travel by sea or land via Turkey, you will need a visa. The procedure is the same as for a tourist visa.
Note: (a) Visa exemption for Bulgarians does not apply to those who enter Turkey through certain custom points (contact Consulate for details). Bulgarians must always obtain a visa for transit passages.
Sticker-type entry visas: Tourists and business visitors from the following countries do require visas and can obtain a sticker-type entry visa at the point of entry for a fee. Prices are dependent on nationality (for British nationals, the cost is ?10 [?36 if obtained prior to arrival], and for US nationals, the cost is US$45):
(a) 4. Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Serbia & Montenegro, Slovak Republic, Spain, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and the UK* (see Note below) and USA for stays not exceeding three months;
(b) Albania for stays not exceeding two months;
Note: British National Overseas passport holders should contact the visa section of the Consulate General before traveling.
(b) 5. Greek Cypriot Administrative Region and Romania for stays not exceeding one month;
(c) Georgia for stays not exceeding 15 days (providing they have a minimun of US$50 per day while entering Turkey).

Types of visa and cost

Prices vary according to nationality. Tourist (multiple-entry, up to three months): US$62 Single transit (up to three months): US$46 Study (up to one year): US$124 Work (up to one year): US$129 Some visas must be obtained in advance. Contact the Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy); see Passport/Visa Information.


Multiple entry: three months, two years or five years.

Application to

Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy); see see Passport/Visa Information. Applicants must now pre-book an appointment with the relevant Consulate. An online appointment system is available (website:

Application requirements

(a) Valid passport. (b) One recent passport-size photo. (c) Application form. (d) Latest bank statement and photocopy. (e) Fee (varies for different nationals), payable by postal order, company cheque and cash only. (f) ?5 administrative fee. (g) Registered, pre-paid, self-addressed, special delivery envelope if applying by post. (h) Sufficient funds (exact amount required varies according to nationality).
Note: Application requirements may vary according to nationality and type of visa sought.

Working days required

Usually three, but dependent on nationality of applicant. Some applications may be referred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara, which may take much longer (minimum six to eight weeks).

Temporary residence

Apply to the Turkish Consulate General (see Passport/Visa Information) or to the Turkish Diplomatic Mission in the country of residence.

HIV entry requirements

No Test Required

Departure tax

US$50 is levied only on Turkish nationals, not resident overseas departing from Turkey.


Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in the UK

43 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PA, UK
Tel: (020) 7393 0202.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1730.

Turkish Consulate General in the UK

Rutland Lodge, Rutland Gardens, London SW7 1BW, UK
Tel: (020) 7591 6900 or (09068) 347 348 (recorded visa information; calls cost 60p per minute).
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1230 (visas).

Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in the USA

2525 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Tel: (202) 612 6700 or 6740 (consular section).
There is a high threat from terrorism in Turkey. International terrorist groups, as well as indigenous ones, are believed to be currently active in Turkey. Further attacks, including in tourist areas, could well occur. On 16 July 2005, an explosion on a minibus in the western Turkish resort of Kusadasi killed five people. On 11 July 2005, an explosion in the coastal resort of Cesme, western Turkey, injured 20 people.
Four people have died from H5N1 avian influenza in Turkey since December 2005. Others have been treated for the virus. Outbreaks of avian influenza in poultry have occurred across Turkey, including in Istanbul, Ankara and the Aegean coast region. As a precaution, visitors should avoid live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where they may come into contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure that poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked. This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organizations for the latest travel advice:

British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office


US Department of State



The New Turkish Lira (TRY) was introduced on January 1 2005. The old Turkish Lira (TL) was withdrawn from circulation on January 1 2006. It is now only possible to exchange old Turkish Lira for New Turkish Lira at the Central Bank until December 31 2015. 1YTL = 1,000,000TL. Notes are in denominations of TRY100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1. Coins are in denominations of TRY1 and 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 New Kuru? (Ykr).

Currency restrictions

There are no restrictions on the import of local or foreign currency, though visitors bringing in a large amount of foreign currency should declare it, and have it specified in their passport upon arrival to avoid difficulties on departure. No more than the equivalent of US$5000 in local or foreign currency may be exported. It must be shown that this has been obtained from authorized banks.

Banking hours

Mon-Fri 0830-1200 and 1330-1700. Some banks in tourist areas are open daily.

Currency exchange

Cash can usually be exchanged commission free in bureaux de change, banks or hotels. Traveller's cheques can only be exchanged in banks. ATMs are available in most areas. Travelers planning to exchange currency back before leaving Turkey, or making a major purchase which may need to be declared to customs, must retain transaction receipts to prove that the currency was legally exchanged.

Credit cards

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted. Check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

Travellers cheques

Traveller's cheques can only be exchanged in banks. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travelers are advised to take traveller's cheques in Pounds Sterling or US Dollars.

City/Region City/Area code Followed by
Adana (0)322 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Adiyaman (0)416 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Afyon (0)272 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Agri (0)472 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Aksaray (0)382 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Amasya (0)358 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Ankara (0)312 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Antalya (0)242 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Ardahan (0)478 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Artvin (0)466 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Aydin (0)256 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Balikesir (0)266 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Bartin (0)378 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Batman (0)488 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Bayburt (0)458 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Bilecik (0)228 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Bing?l (0)426 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Bitlis (0)434 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Bolu (0)374 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Burdur (0)248 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Bursa (0)224 + 7 digit subscriber nr
?anakkale (0)286 + 7 digit subscriber nr
?ankiri (0)376 + 7 digit subscriber nr
?orum (0)364 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Denizli (0)258 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Diyarbakir (0)412 + 7 digit subscriber nr
D?zce (0)380 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Edirne (0)284 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Elazig (0)424 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Erzincan (0)446 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Erzurum (0)442 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Eskisehir (0)222 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Gaziantep (0)342 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Giresun (0)454 + 7 digit subscriber nr
G?m?shane (0)456 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Hakkari (0)438 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Hatay (0)326 + 7 digit subscriber nr
I?el (Mersin) (0)324 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Igdir (0)476 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Isparta (0)246 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Istanbul (Anatolia) (0)216 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Istanbul (Thrace) (0)212 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Izmir (0)232 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Kahramanmaras (0)344 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Karab?k (0)370 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Karaman (0)338 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Kars (0)474 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Kastamonu (0)366 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Kayseri (0)352 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Kilis (0)348 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Kirikkale (0)318 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Kirklareli (0)288 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Kirsehir (0)386 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Kocaeli (Izmit) (0)262 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Konya (0)332 + 7 digit subscriber nr
K?tahya (0)274 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Malatya (0)422 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Manisa (0)236 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Mardin (0)482 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Mugla (0)252 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Mus (0)436 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Nevsehir (0)384 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Nigde (0)388 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Ordu (0)452 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Osmaniye (0)328 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Rize (0)464 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Sakarya (Adapazari) (0)264 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Samsun (0)362 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Sanliurfa (0)414 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Siirt (0)484 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Sinop (0)368 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Sirnak (0)486 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Sivas (0)346 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Tekirdag (0)282 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Tokat (0)356 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Trabzon (0)462 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Tunceli (0)428 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Usak (0)276 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Van (0)432 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Yalova (0)226 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Yozgat (0)354 + 7 digit subscriber nr
Zonguldak (0)372 + 7 digit subscriber nr
  1. Health Information
  2. Recent Disease Outbreak
  3. Hospital Database
  4. AlertsArchive
  5. RiskBackground
  6. RiskAssessment

Dental care

Avoid dental treatment as the standards of care and hygiene cannot be guaranteed.

Medication Availability

Supplies of international medications are generally available from private pharmacies.

Blood supplies

Blood supplies are considered safe in the large city hospitals. Avoid transfusions elsewhere in the country

Medical facilities

Medical facilities are available, but may be limited outside urban areas.

General caution

Recent medical and dental exams should ensure that the traveler is in good health. Carry appropriate health and accident insurance documents and copies of any important medical records. Bring an adequate supply of all prescription and other medications as well as any necessary personal hygiene items, including a spare pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses if necessary. Take personal protective measures against insects. Drink only bottled beverages (including water) or beverages made with boiled water. Do not use ice cubes or eat raw seafood or rare meat. Eat well-cooked foods while they are still hot and fruits that can be peeled without contamination. Avoid roadside stands and street vendors. Only pasteurized dairy products should be consumed.

Specific concerns

According to the U.S. Department of State, there have been recurring outbreaks of dysentery, typhoid, meningitis and other contagious diseases in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir. AIDS occurs. Blood supply may not be adequately screened and/or single-use, disposable needles and syringes may be unavailable. When possible, travelers should defer medical treatment until reaching a facility where safety can be assured. The Department of State has determined that winter air pollution in Ankara is more than a problem of discomfort and constitutes a health hazard. Levels of sulfur dioxide, most notable in winter, often far exceed limits established by the World Health Organization.


Hepatitis A: Consider active immunization with hepatitis A vaccine or passive immunization with immune globulin (IG) for all susceptible travelers. Especially consider choosing active immunization for persons planning to reside for a long period or for persons who take frequent short-term trips to risk areas. The importance of protection against hepatitis A increases as length of stay increases. It is particularly important for persons who will be living in or visiting rural areas, eating or drinking in settings of poor or uncertain sanitation, or who will have close contact with local persons (especially young children) in settings with poor sanitary conditions. Hepatitis B: Vaccination is advised for health care workers, persons anticipating direct contact with blood from or sexual contact with inhabitants, and persons planning extended stays of 6 months or greater (especially those who anticipate using local health care facilities, staying in rural areas, or having intimate contact with the local population). Polio: A one-time booster dose is recommended for travelers who have previously completed a standard course of polio immunization. Refer to CDC guidelines for vaccinating unimmunized or incompletely immunized persons. Pregnancy is a relative contraindication to vaccination; however, if protection is needed, either IPV or OPV may be used, depending on preference and time available. Rabies: Preexposure vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 30 days who are expected to be at risk to bites from domestic and/or wild animals (particularly dogs), or for persons engaged in high risk activities such as spelunking or animal handling. Need for vaccination is more important if potential exposure is in rural areas and if adequate postexposure care is not readily available. Typhoid: Vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 3 weeks, adventurous eaters, and those who will venture off the usual tourist routes into small cities, villages and rural areas. Importance of vaccination increases as access to reasonable medical care becomes limited. Contraindications depend on vaccine type. Note: All routine vaccines (such as DTP or Td, Hib, MMR, polio, varicella, influenza and pneumococcal) should be kept up-to-date as a matter of good health practice unrelated to travel.

Disease risk summary

Insect-borne illness: these do not generally pose widespread hazards to the traveler. Leishmaniasis (cutaneous) - occurs Leishmaniasis (visceral) - occurs Malaria - occurs Tick-borne relapsing fever - occurs Typhus (including murine and tick-borne) - occurs Food-borne and water-borne illness: pose a major hazard in most areas. Brucellosis - prevalent Cholera - occurs Dracunculiasis - occurs Echinococcosis (hydatid disease) - occurs Hepatitis - common Taeniasis - occurs Typhoid fever - common Other hazards: Diseases such as measles and diphtheria are commonly reported, and cases of polio still occur regularly. Influenza risk extends from November to April. Trachoma and animal rabies may be problems.

Entry requirements

Cholera: None. (However, according to press reports, Turkish health authorities at all sea and air ports and land borders are screening travelers arriving from Central Asia for cholera. It has not been reported that a vaccination certificate is required.)

Recent disease outbreaks

No recent disease outbreaks

Name Address
Acibadem Hospital Bakirkoy Halit Ziya Usakligil Cad No.1 Bakirkoy 34710 Istanbul
Acibadem Hospital Kadikoy Acibadem Tekin Sok. No 8. Kadikoy 801020 Istanbul
Acibadem Out-patient Clinic - Bagdat Bagdat Cad. 347/7-8 Erenkoy Istanbul
Acibadem Out-patient Clinic - Etiler Nispetiye Cad. 40/8 Levent Istanbul 34340
Acibadem Out-patient Clinic - Soyak Libadiye Cad. Bogazici Sit. Goztepe Istanbul
Alman Hastanesi Hospital Siraselvilev Cad 119 Taksim Istanbul 80060
American Hospital Istanbul Guzelbahse Sokak 20 Nisantasi Istanbul 80200
Avrupa Florence Nightingale Hospital Mehmetcik Cad. Cahit Yalcyn Sok. No. 1 Mecidiyekov Istanbul
Bayindir Hospital - Sogutozu Eskisehir Yolu Sogutozu Ankara 06520
Eylul University Hospital Inciralti Izmir 35340
Florence Nightingale Hospital Abide-i Hurriyet Cad. 290 Caglayan/Sisli Istanbul
International Hospital Istanbul Istanbul Caddesi No 82 34149 Yesilkoy Istanbul
MedAmerican Polyclinic Cemil Topuzlu Caddesi No. 46 Ciftehavuylar/Kadikoy Istanbul
Metropolitan Florence Nightingale Hospital Gayrettepe Mah. Cemil Aslan Guder Sok. No. 8 Gayrettepe Istanbul
Private Kusadashi Hospital Turkman mahallesi Ant sokak Kusadasi-Aydin

Risk Background

Turkey was created in 1923 from the Turkish remnants of the Ottoman Empire. Soon thereafter the country instituted secular laws to replace traditional religious fiats. The modern secular republic was established in the 1920s by nationalist leader Kemal Ataturk. In 1945 Turkey joined the UN and in 1949 it became a member of NATO. After years of mounting difficulties which brought the country close to economic collapse, in 2002 a tough recovery program was agreed with the IMF, heralding impressive progress. Economic growth has averaged over 5% and inflation has fallen dramatically. Massive foreign debt remains a burden, however. Turkey's powerful military - which has traditionally seen itself as the guardian of the secular system - has a long history of involvement in politics. In recent years, as Ankara has set its sights firmly on European Union membership, the profile of the military has been lower in public life. Turkey became an official EU candidate country in 1999 and, in line with EU requirements, went on to introduce substantial human rights and economic reforms. The death penalty was abolished, tougher measures were brought in against torture and the penal code was overhauled. There were also significant reforms in the areas of women's rights and Kurdish culture, language education and broadcasting. Periodic military offensives against the forces of the secessionist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), however, dislocated part of the population in southeast Turkey in the 1980s and 1990s, and drew international condemnation. In summer 2004 Kurdish secessionists called off a five-year cease-fire following what they called annihilation operations against their fighters by the Turkish authorities. There have since been clashes between Kurdish fighters and Turkish forces in the southeast. EU membership talks were formally launched in October 2005, following intense negotiations. Accession negotiations are expected to take about 10 years. Relations with Greece have long been strained over territorial disputes in the Aegean and the divided island of Cyprus. Turkey occupied the northern portion of Cyprus in 1974 to prevent a Greek takeover of the island. The beginning of EU membership talks ? a major breakthrough -- came just weeks after Turkey agreed to recognize Cyprus as an EU member. Turkey was careful to note that this was not tantamout to full diplomatic recognition. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer was sworn in May 2000, becoming the first president in modern Turkish history who is neither an active politician nor a military commander. Sezer, previously the chief justice of the constitutional court, is regarded as a secularist, a fact that made him acceptable to Turkey's powerful military. His term is due to end in 2007 when Parliament will choose a successor. Prime Minister Erdogan, leader of the Islamist-based Justice and Development Party (AK), became prime minister several months after his party's landslide election victory in November 2002. Although his AK party has Islamist roots, he insists that it is committed to secularism. He identifies EU entry as a top priority and introduced reforms which paved the way for the opening of membership talks in October 2005.

Risk Assessment

Military action by U.S. and allied forces in Iraq have further raised the prospect that individuals or organizations could carry out attacks against Western interests or personnel. There have been attacks attributed both to transnational terrorist groups and indigenous ones. Further attacks, including in tourist areas, could well occur. In November 2003, terrorist attacks against the British Consulate-General and the headquarters of HSBC in Istanbul caused 33 deaths and injured several hundred. These attacks are believed to be associated with al-Qaeda. Several days earlier, bomb attacks on two synagogues in Istanbul killed 23 people and wounded more than 300. Since these attacks, other terrorist groups have been responsible for a number of devices exploding in locations across Turkey including in Istanbul, Izmir, Mersin, Antalya, and Ankara. Targets have included sites that are linked to Western interests as well as to the Turkish government. In June 2004, the indigenous terrorist group, PKK/KADEK/Kongra-Gel, announced an end to their "unilateral ceasefire" and resumed violent activities. Two of the most significant incidents occurred in July 2005 in the town of Kusadasi, where bombs killed an Irish tourist and a British tourist. In the summer of 2005, incidents occurred in the popular coastal tourist destinations of Cesme, Bodrum, Antalya, and Mersin. Bombings have also taken place in Istanbul, injuring a Dutch citizen and several Turkish citizens. A Kurdish group ostensibly aligned with PKK terrorists claimed responsibility for a number of bombings in tourist areas in the Aegean and Mediterranean coastal resort areas and in Istanbul. This group has also warned tourists not to visit the country. Consistent with their threats, in June 2006 this group claimed responsibility for a restaurant explosion that killed three European tourists in Manavgat, a town in Antalya Province. In late March and early April 2006, there was a wave of unrest in the southeast region of Turkey, where the PKK/KADEK/Kongra Gel has traditionally concentrated its activities. Violent clashes involving protesters and Turkish security forces occurred in the cities of Diyarbakir, Batman, Sirnak, and Sanliurfa, resulting in several deaths, many injuries, and extensive property damage. Examples of terrorist incidents in 2006 include: On August 4, 2006, twin explosions in Adana, on the Mediterranean coast, injured 17 people. On June 25, 2006, an explosion in Manavgat, east of the southern coastal resort of Antalya, killed four people, including three foreign nationals, and injured several more. On June 15, 2006, an explosion in the Eminonu district on the European side of Istanbul injured four people. On June 3, 2006, an explosion in a shopping mall in the southern city of Mersin injured 15 people. On April 16, 2006 an explosion in a suburb of Istanbul reportedly injured 30 people. On April 7, 2006 an explosion in a mosque in the northeastern province of Ordu killed one person and injured up to three others. A device exploded at the Kolordu road junction in Diyarbakir, injuring two people. On April 5, 2006, an explosion in Buyukcekmece, an outer suburb of European Istanbul, injured two people and caused damage to a building housing the governing political party. On March 31, 2006, an explosion occurred in the Faith district of central Istanbul, near the Golden Horn. One person was killed and eleven were injured. On March 15, 2006, a device exploded outside a branch of the HSBC bank in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir. One person is reported to have been injured. On March 9, 2006, a device exploded in Van, eastern Turkey. Three people were killed and 19 were injured. On March 4, 2006, an explosion near a police station in Izmir, on the Aegean coast, damaged vehicles and buildings. There were no injuries. On February 13, 2006, there was an explosion in a supermarket in Istanbul's Bahcelievler district. 17 people were injured. On February 9, 2006, there was an explosion in a caf? in the Bayrampasa district of central Istanbul. 14 people were injured. One died later. On January 30, 2006, a device exploded in the Turkish American Association in Adana, southern Turkey. Five people were injured. Most of the above incidents in Istanbul have occurred in neighborhoods of the city not generally frequented by tourists. PKK/KADEK/Kongra-Gel supporters on a number of occasions in 2005 and 2006 have set public buses on fire after ordering passengers to disembark. In April 2006, an attack of this type resulted in three deaths and at least one severe wounding. Thus far, all attacks on buses have taken place in areas of Istanbul distant from tourist destinations. Turkish military operations against the PKK/KADEK/Kongra-Gel continue. Security forces continue to enforce restrictions on movement in areas bordering Iraq. In addition to the actions of the Kurdish groups, the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) has assassinated US citizens in the past, and continues to be active in Turkey. Groups such as these and the IDBA-C, and others, continue to target Turkish officials and various civilian facilities. In August 2005 Turkish police discovered what appears to have been a planned terrorist attack by a transnational group targeting maritime interests in Turkey. Demonstrations occur regularly in major cities and should be avoided. In late March and early April 2006, the southeast saw demonstrations, some of which were violent with stones and Molotov cocktails being thrown and property being set alight or destroyed. There were 13 deaths and many more injuries in the neighboring provinces of Diyarbakir, Batman, Mardin and Sanliura.


Turkish Radio and Television (TRT), the state broadcaster, runs four national television networks as well as a number of radio stations. Competing with TRT are around 300 private TV stations and over 1000 private radio stations. Although some of the most repressive sanctions have been lifted to enable Turkey to meet EU entry requirements, there are still reports from independent international observers of journalists being imprisoned, or attacked by police. Kurdish-language broadcasts have been introduced in order to meet EU criteria on minorities.
Press: The main newspapers are H?rriyet, Milliyet, Sabah and Zamam. English-language daily newspapers include The Turkish Daily News.
TV: Four state-run channels are operated by TRT. Private channels include Kanal D, Show TV and Star TV. CNN T?rk is the Turkish channel of news network CNN.
Radio: TRT stations include TRT 1 (cultural and educational), TRT 3 (popular music) and TRT 4 (folk and classical music). Show Radyo and Capital Radio are commercial stations, while Radyo Foreks broadcasts news.