Turkey spans two continents, Europe and Asia. It is home to about 82 million friendly people, and its lands have been inhabited as far back as 10,000 years. It has been the home of many different peoples. With its diverse geography, ranging from mountainous regions to the sunny Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Sea, Turkey is considered a dynamic and growing country. Turkey is considered an emerging market, with increasing industrialization, growing tourism, and a strong agricultural sector, leading the world in hazelnut, cherries, figs, apricots and pomegranate products.
MATA’s Turkish Heritage
Many members of the Maryland American Turkish Association (MATA) either trace their ethnic heritage directly to Turkey, or Northern Cyprus, or are Americans who have come to respect and admire Turkish culture. But what is Turkish Heritage? Just like “what is an American? Turks are a blend of many cultures dating back many centuries to Asia, Europe, and Northern Africa. Modern day Turks are generally descendants of the peoples of the Ottoman Empire, actually “Osman” in Turkish. Originally established as the House of Osman in the late 1200’s, a tribal branch of the Oghuz Turks, and later the Selchuk Turks. Osman I and his descendants ruled the Ottoman Empire until its demise, and replacement by the formal establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923.
Turkey- A Rich History
The modern day Republic of Turkey was established from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, after their defeat in WW I. During its height, the Ottoman Empire included parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. However, one cannot understand Turkey without understanding the impact that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern day Turkey, had on the country. The establishment of the Republic of Turkey by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a military hero, is a testament to the vision and power of his leadership. Kemal, who later took on the name of “Ataturk”, Father of Turks, was the Republic’s first president until his death (1923- 1938). He rallied the people against the post WW I occupation forces, and established the modern day boundaries of Turkey. He is revered by the people of Turkey to this day. During the 1920’s he not only established the Turkish nation, he abolished the Caliphate, while advocating westernization of the nation, secularization, including advocating for women’s rights. One of his most significant successes was Latinization of the Turkish alphabet from the “Old Turkish” or Arabic script, to the current Latin based alphabet. This dramatically reduced the country’s illiteracy rate and was fundamental in educating the people of the new nation.
Turkey today, like many other nations, is undergoing change. MATA has a diverse constituency, and respecting each individual’s opinion and remaining non-partisan is important, especially since we are a 501 (1) (c) non-profit organization. MATA will therefore, consistent with past policy, refrain from commenting on current political events. Turkey is ruled by a hybrid presidential- parliamentary form of government, with political parties, and a president who is elected independently. The current president is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, elected as president in 2014, his current term expires in 2023.
For additional information on Turkey, please use your search engine and search for “Facts about the Republic of Turkey”, or the “Republic of Turkey”.
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