If you plan to move to Turkey or have recently relocated, let this brief overview help answer some questions you may have about life in Turkey.
High Living Standards
The most significant advantage of living in Turkey is the cost of living and what you get in return. Compared to the U.S. and Europe, in particular, you get more value for your money.
The cost of housing, transportation, food, and daily expenses are also very reasonable, for the most part.
When it comes to healthcare, Turkey offers some of the most high-quality services.
Most medical procedures and bookings are digitized, meaning you won't have to deal with old-fashioned paperwork or phone calls most of the time. You can also choose your doctors, change your GP when you want, and even go private at various price points.
For education matters, if you live in the biggest cities of Turkey, your children will be able to attend some of the best international schools in the country.
Turkey also provides countless opportunities for a rich social life with numerous activities to do and events to attend throughout the year, even if you have to travel a bit, which is not bad considering all the unique places you could visit.
As evident from its rich traditions, customs, and foods, Turkey is a true amalgamation of diverse people and cultures. Turkish culture carries traces from multiple ethnicities and religions from the Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia to Middle Eastern and Caucasian influences.
Principles such as hospitality, community, nationalism, and honor are the core values of Turkish culture. Turkey also blends tradition with modernism and religion with secularism. Hence, do not expect all Turks to follow conservative lifestyles.
The country and its people place great importance on and unite around its flag, independence, and founder, Atatürk. Respect for the elderly, as proper for many Asian cultures, is also crucial.
In their daily lives, Turks are generous, social, and fatalists. The elderly spend most of their time with their neighbors drinking tea or at village teahouses playing backgammon and chatting. For the youth, it would not be wrong to say it is like that of Europe.
Instead of the weather, people, relatives, and daily news make up small talk for Turks. Politics also used to be a part of this discussion, but in recent years, society has become more divided, and hence a lot of people avoid these conversations now.
Living and Working in Turkey
If you want to relocate and live in Turkey, a job is one of the first things you need to secure.
And as a foreign national, you will be happy to know that you can work in Turkey, provided you have a work visa and work permit.
Most foreigners tend to work in the travel and tourism industry where language skills are crucial; however, more and more foreigners are also working in jobs of more technical nature, such as teaching and engineering.
Apart from some jobs such as nursing, pharmaceuticals, or attorneyship, you can work in many occupations.
A Multicultural Society
One of the best things about living in Turkey is that you will meet people from different ethnic backgrounds and nationalities daily. About 70% of the country is made up of Turks, close to 20% of Kurds, and multiple groups.
Whether it's British or Dutch expats who settled in Turkey decades ago, Russian or Iranian investors, or Syrian business people, the variety of people and social profiles will always be an exciting topic of conversation.
When it comes to ethnicity, you will also notice Armenian influences in the east, Kurdish culture in the southeast, and Balkan traditions in the northwest.
The Turkish Government
Currently headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been in office since 2014, Turkey is a unitary government and multi-party democracy.
Officially formed on October 29, 1923 (which is celebrated as Republic Day every year), the Turkish government was established by the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey.
The seat of government is in Ankara, and the government has 3 branches: legislative, executive, and judicial.
Legislative power is vested in Parliament and its 600 members. They meet at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara.
Executive power is vested in the president and delegated to members of the Cabinet, the central administrative organ. There are 17 ministries within the government. The headquarters is the Presidential Complex in Ankara.
Judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court. The judiciary is made up of the Constitutional Court (Anayasa Mahkemesi), the Council of State (Danıştay), the Court of Cassation (Yargıtay) and the Court of Accounts (Sayıştay).
The Ottoman Dynasty
Before it became the modern Turkish Republic in 1923 and was founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the country was a part of the Ottoman Empire.
- The Osmanoğlu family
When one talks of the Ottomans and royalty, the Osmanoğlu family should come to mind. The members of this family constituted the Ottoman dynasty which ruled the empire from 1299 until 1923.
36 sultans ruled over the empire, the last of which was Sultan Mehmed VI. He and the Imperial Family were forced into exile after the caliphate was abolished in 1924. The descendants mostly live in countries throughout the Middle East, Europe, and the United States, but some live in Turkey.
They adopted the Osmanoğlu surname during their exile.
Turkey: Facts and Figures
Population: 83+ million
According to December 2020 estimates, Turkey's population has surpassed 83 million, going head-to-head with Germany.
Population density: 110 per Km2
However, the population density will be different all over the country. Istanbul has the highest density at 2,900 people per square kilometer, while for Ankara, this figure drops to 205.
As a unitary presidential constitutional republic, Turkey has been divided hierarchically into 81 provinces (or cities), which then subdivided into districts, and further into belde (semi-rural towns), villages (rural), and neighborhoods (urban).
Turkey is a large peninsula surrounded by the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Aegean Sea. It has an inner sea called the Marmara. It is also unique in the sense that it bridges two continents: Europe and Asia.
Being in a seismically active zone, i.e., frequent earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions, Turkey has a varied landscape, including two folded mountain ranges in the north and south, valleys, deltas, and coastal plains. Anatolia, the heart of the country, comprises plateaus and semi-arid highlands.
Almost 85% of the land is at an elevation of at least 450 meters, at an average of 1,332 meters altitude.
More than two-thirds of the land surface in Turkey is rough and mountainous and therefore limited in agricultural value. This is especially true for the eastern parts of the country, where animal husbandry is the main livelihood.
However, with fertile soil, a favorable climate, and adequate rainfall, almost any crop can grow in Turkey. Farming remains a widely-practiced occupation for a majority of the population in all of the regions.
Vegetable products account for over three-quarters of total agricultural production, dominated by fruits and field crops.
Turkey is the world's biggest producer of figs, apricots, hazelnuts, and raisins. It is also among the top 10 producers of grapes, tea, tobacco, wheat, and cotton.
Ironically, despite having world-renowned Turkish coffee, Turkey does not produce its coffee and instead imports from countries like Brazil.
Istanbul and Ankara are the media hubs of the country and produce a variety of domestic and foreign periodicals. Sabah, Sözcü, Hürriyet, Posta and Milliyet are the most popular newspapers. Hürriyet and Sabah also have English-language papers/news sites.
Anadolu Ajansı (AA), Demirören Haber Ajansı (DHA) and İhlas Haber Ajansı (İHA) are the main news agencies.
The public broadcaster is TRT, which has 11 national television channels. The main media conglomerates are Demirören Group, Turkuvaz Group, Çukurova Group, Ciner Group, and Doğuş Group.
The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) oversees all broadcast media.