POPULATION79,749,461 (July 2012 est.)
GDP PER CAPITA$14,700 (2011 est.)
RELIGIONSMuslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), other 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews)
ALSO IN MIDDLE EAST, NORTH AFRICA, AND THE CAUCASUSAlgeria
AT THE CENTER
Turkey is a Muslim-majority country with a secular state and a rich religious history. Islam arrived with the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century, and its influence deepened under the Ottoman Empire (1299-1923), whose sultans combined a claim to Islamic legitimacy with pragmatic policies aimed at managing their religiously diverse subjects. Following the collapse of the Empire in the First World War (1914-18) and a bitterly fought war of independence (1918-23), modern Turkey emerged under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1923-38). The country embarked on a process of accelerated secularization, which included the abolishment of the Caliphate in 1924. Since then, Turkey has embraced democratic politics but has struggled to balance its secular and religious heritages. The Turkish Constitution guarantees freedom of worship but bans the use of religion for political purposes. In 1997, the Turkish military forced the abdication of the Welfare Party government, claiming its policies undermined Turkish secularism. However, Welfare’s moderate successor, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), has held power since 2002.