Useful Info about Turkey

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 780,580 sq. km.
Cities: Capital--Ankara (pop. 4.66 million). Other cities--Istanbul (12.916 million), Izmir (3.86 million), Bursa (2.55 million), Adana (2.06 million), Gaziantep (1.65 million).
Terrain: Narrow coastal plain surrounds Anatolia, an inland plateau becomes increasingly rugged as it progresses eastward. Turkey includes one of the more earthquake-prone areas of the world.
Climate: Moderate in coastal areas, harsher temperatures inland.

People

Nationality: Noun--Turk(s). Adjective--Turkish.
Population (July 2010 estimate): 76.8 million.
Annual population growth rate (2010 estimate): 1.312%.
Religions: Muslim 99% (majority Sunni), Christian and Jewish.
Languages: Turkish (official)
Education: Years compulsory--8. Attendance--97.6%. Literacy--87.4%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--25.78/1,000. Life expectancy--71.96 yrs.
Work force (24.74 million): Agriculture--29.5%; industry--24.7%; services--45.8%.

Government

Type: Republic.
Independence: October 29, 1923.
Constitution: November 7, 1982. Amended in 1987, 1995, 2001, 2007, and 2010.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers (cabinet--appointed by the president on the nomination of the prime minister). Legislative--Grand National Assembly (550 members) chosen by national elections at least every 4 years. Judicial--Constitutional Court, Court of Cassation, Council of State, and other courts.
Political parties with representatives in Parliament: Justice and Development Party (AKP) (336 seats), Republican People's Party (CHP) (101 seats), Nationalist Action Party (MHP) (70 seats), Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) (20 seats), Democratic Left Party (DSP) (6 seats), Democrat Party (DP) (1 seat), Turkey Party (TP) (1 seat), seven independents, and eight vacant seats.
Suffrage: Universal, 18 and older.
National holiday: Republic Day, October 28-29.

Economy

GDP: (2005) $481.5 billion; (2006) $526.4 billion; (2007) $658.8 billion; (2008) $680 billion; (2009) $618 billion; (2010 forecast) $641 billion.
Annual real GDP growth rate: (2005) 8.4%; (2006) 6.9%; (2007) 4.5%; (2008) 1.1%; (2009) -4.7%; (2010 forecast) 6.8%.
GDP per capita: (2005) $6,681; (2006) $7,500; (2007) $9,333; (2008) $10,436; (2009) $8,590; (2010 forecast) $9.000.
Annual inflation rate/CPI: (2005) 7.7%; (2006) 9.7%; (2007) 8.4%; (2008) 10.1%; (2009) 6.5%; (2010 forecast) 7.5%.
Natural resources: Coal, chromium, mercury, copper, boron, oil, gold.
Agriculture (9.3% of GDP): Major cash crops tobacco, cotton, sugar beets, hazelnuts, wheat, barley, grain, olives, and citrus. Provides about 29.5% of jobs and 2.7% of exports.
Industry (25.6% of GDP): Major growth sector, types--automotive, electronics, food processing, textiles, basic metals, chemicals, and petrochemicals. Provides about 24.7% of jobs and 95% of exports.
Trade: Exports (merchandise)--(2005) $73.5 billion; (2006) $85.5 billion; (2007) $107.2 billion; (2008) $132 billion; (2009) $102.1 billion; (2010 as of August) $72.9 billion: textiles and apparel, industrial machinery, iron and steel, electronics, petroleum products, and motor vehicles. Imports (merchandise)--(2005) $116.8 billion; (2006) $139.6 billion; (2007) $170.1 billion; (2008) $201.8 billion; (2009) $140.4 billion; (2010 as of August) $114.9 billion: petroleum, machinery, motor vehicles, electronics, iron, steel, plastics precious metals. Major partners--Germany, U.S., Italy, France, Russia, Japan, China, Iran, U.K.

PEOPLE

Modern Turkey encompasses bustling cosmopolitan centers, pastoral farming villages, barren wastelands, peaceful Aegean coastlines, and steep mountain regions. More than 70% of Turkey's population lives in urban areas that juxtapose Western lifestyles with more traditional ways of life.

The Turkish state has been officially secular since 1924. Approximately 99% of the population is Muslim. Most Turkish Muslims follow the Sunni traditions of Islam, although a significant number follow Alevi and Shiite traditions. Questions regarding the role of religion in society and government, the role of linguistic and ethnic identity, and the public's expectation to live in security dominate public discourse.

HISTORY

Mustafa Kemal, celebrated by the Turkish State as a Turkish World War I hero and later known as "Ataturk" or "father of the Turks," led the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 after the collapse of the 600-year-old Ottoman Empire and a 3-year war of independence. The empire, which at its peak controlled vast stretches of northern Africa, southeastern Europe, and western Asia, had failed to keep pace with European social and technological developments. The rise of national consciousness impelled several national groups within the Empire to seek independence as nation-states, leading to the empire's fragmentation. This process culminated in the disastrous Ottoman participation in World War I as a German ally. Defeated, shorn of much of its former territory, and partly occupied by forces of the victorious European states, the Ottoman structure was repudiated by Turkish nationalists brought together under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal. The nationalists expelled invading Greek, Russian, French and Italian forces from Anatolia in a bitter war. After the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey the temporal and religious ruling institutions of the old empire (the sultanate and caliphate) were abolished.

The leaders of the new republic concentrated on consolidating their power and modernizing and Westernizing what had been the empire's core--Asian Anatolia and a part of European Thrace. Social, political, linguistic, and economic reforms and attitudes decreed by Ataturk from 1924-1934 continue to be referred to as the ideological base of modern Turkey. In the post-Ataturk era, and especially after the military coup of 1960, this ideology came to be known as "Kemalism" and his reforms began to be referred to as "revolutions." Kemalism comprises a Turkish form of secularism, strong nationalism, statism, and to a degree a western orientation. The continued validity and applicability of Kemalism are the subject of lively debate in Turkey's political life. The ruling AKP comes from a tradition that challenges many of the Kemalist precepts and is driven in its reform efforts by a desire to achieve European Union (EU) accession.

Turkey entered World War II on the Allied side shortly before the war ended, becoming a charter member of the United Nations. Difficulties faced by Greece after World War II in quelling a communist rebellion and demands by the Soviet Union for military bases in the Turkish Straits prompted the United States to declare the Truman Doctrine in 1947. The doctrine enunciated American intentions to guarantee the security of Turkey and Greece and resulted in large scale U.S. military and economic aid under the Marshall Plan. After participating with United Nations forces in the Korean conflict, Turkey in 1952 joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Turkey is currently a European Union candidate.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The 1982 Constitution, drafted by the military in the wake of a 1980 military coup, proclaims Turkey's system of government as democratic, secular, and parliamentary. The presidency's powers are not precisely defined in practice, and the president's influence depends on his personality and political weight. The president and the Council of Ministers, led by the prime minister, share executive powers. The current president, who has broad powers of appointment and supervision, was elected by Parliament in August 2007 for a 7-year term. Pursuant to a constitutional amendment package approved by voters in an October 2007 referendum, the president is directly elected by the voters for a term of 5 years and can serve for a maximum of two terms. The prime minister administers the government. The prime minister and the Council of Ministers are responsible to Parliament.

The 550-member Parliament carries out legislative functions. Pursuant to the October 2007-approved constitutional amendment package, members of Parliament are directly elected by the voters for a term of 4 years, although general elections may be called at any time. Election is by the D'Hondt system of party-list proportional representation. To participate in the distribution of seats, a party must obtain at least 10% of the votes cast at the national level as well as a percentage of votes in the contested district according to a complex formula. The president enacts laws passed by Parliament within 15 days. With the exception of budgetary laws, the president may return a law to the Parliament for reconsideration. If Parliament reenacts the law, it is binding, although the president may then apply to the Constitutional Court for a reversal of the law. Constitutional amendments pass with a 60% vote, but require an additional popular referendum unless passed with a two-thirds majority. The president may also submit amendments passed with a two-thirds majority to a popular referendum.

In the November 2002 election of Turkey's 58th government, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) captured 34.3% of the total votes, making Abdullah Gul Prime Minister, followed by the Republican People's Party (CHP) with 19.39% of the vote, led by Deniz Baykal. A special general election was held again in the province of Siirt in March 2003, resulting in the election of AKP's chairman Recep Tayyip Erdogan to a seat in Parliament, allowing him to become prime minister and solidifying AKP’s position in Parliament.

The Turkish Grand National Assembly was to have elected in May 2007 a new president to succeed President Sezer, whose term ended on May 16. Opposition parties led a Constitutional Court challenge to the electoral procedures, which resulted in a series of proposed constitutional amendments and early general elections on July 22, 2007. In the general elections, AKP won 46.6% of the vote, followed by CHP (20.9%), MHP (14.3%) and independents (5.2%). The new Parliament, which was sworn in on August 4, 2007 included 341 AKP members, 97 CHP members, 71 Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) members, 20 Democratic Society Party (DTP) members, 13 Democratic Left Party (DSP) members, one Freedom and Democracy Party (ODP) member, one Grand Unity Party (BBP) member, and five independents. Following the election, Sezer reappointed Erdogan as Prime Minister and then-Foreign Minister Gul again declared his presidential candidacy. The Parliament then elected Gul in the third round of voting on August 28, 2007. Following Gul's move to the presidency, AKP seats in Parliament totaled 340. An MHP deputy died in August 2007, bringing the number of MHP members to 70, and the ban on a DTP deputy expired in July 2008, raising the number of DTP members to 21. President Gul approved Erdogan's proposed cabinet on August 29, 2007, and the new government received a vote of confidence on September 5.

Nationwide local elections for provincial general assemblies, municipal assemblies, and mayoral positions were held March 29, 2009. AKP received 38.39% of the votes in provincial general assemblies and a similar percentage in municipal assemblies. CHP and MHP followed AKP with 23% and 15% respectively. AKP won 10 of 16 metropolitan municipality mayoralties. Though AKP won the elections, party leaders had hoped for a larger percentage of the vote. Prime Minister Erdogan reshuffled his cabinet on May 1, 2009. The next general elections are scheduled for June 2011.

The Judiciary. The judiciary is declared to be independent, but the need for judicial reform and confirmation of its independence are subjects of open debate. Internationally recognized human rights, including freedom of thought, expression, assembly, and travel, are officially enshrined in the Constitution but have at times been narrowly interpreted, can be limited in times of emergency, and cannot be used to violate what the Constitution and the courts consider the integrity of the state or to impose a system of government based on religion, ethnicity, or the domination of one social class. The Constitution prohibits torture or ill treatment; the current government has focused on ensuring that practice matches principle. The law provides most but not all workers with the right to associate and form unions, subject to diverse restrictions.

The high court system includes a Constitutional Court responsible for judicial review of legislation, a Court of Cassation (or Supreme Court of Appeals), a Council of State serving as the high administrative and appeals court, a Court of Accounts, and a Military Court of Appeals. The High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, appointed by the president, supervises the judiciary.

In March 2008 the Constitutional Court agreed to hear a case to close down the AKP because of alleged "anti-secular" activities that contravene the Turkish Constitution. Seventy-one AKP members, including President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan, were named in the case and could have been barred from politics for 5 years. On July 30, 2008 the court voted six in favor and five against closing down AKP; seven votes were required to close down the party. The court decided to cut the party's state funding, worth about $58 million, in half. None of the AKP members were banned.

Principal Government Officials

President of the Republic--Abdullah Gul
Prime Minister--Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Ahmet Davutoglu

ECONOMY

Turkey is a large, middle-income country with relatively few natural resources. Its economy is currently in transition from a high degree of reliance on agriculture and heavy industry to a more diversified economy with an increasingly large and globalized services sector. Coming out of a tradition of a state-directed economy that was relatively closed to the outside world, Prime Minister and then President Turgut Ozal began to open up the economy in the 1980s, leading to the signing of a customs union with the European Union in 1995. In the 1990s, Turkey's economy suffered from a series of coalition governments with weak economic policies, leading to high-inflation boom-and-bust cycles that culminated in a severe banking and economic crisis in 2001, a deep economic downturn (GNP fell 9.5% in 2001), and an increase in unemployment. Turkey's economy recovered strongly from the 2001 recession thanks to good monetary and fiscal policies and structural economic reforms made with the support of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Turkey's economy grew an average of 6.0% per year from 2002 through 2007--one of the highest sustained rates of growth in the world. During this period, inflation and interest rates fell significantly, the currency stabilized, and government debt declined to more supportable levels (39.5% of GDP in 2008). However, booming economic growth contributed to a growing current account deficit (-5.6% of GDP or $41.6 billion in 2008). Growth fell to 1.1% in 2008, and the economy contracted by 4.7% in 2009 due to the global economic slowdown and reduced exports. Growth was expected to pick up to 6.8% in 2010, based on strong first and second quarter growth rates. Continued implementation of reforms, including tight fiscal policy, and securing independent Central Bank monetary policies is essential to sustain growth and stability.

After years of low levels of foreign direct investment (FDI), Turkey succeeded in attracting $18.3 billion in net FDI in 2008. Global market conditions reduced foreign capital inflows in 2009, and Turkey attracted $7.7 billion in net FDI in 2009. This amount was expected to fall to around $5 billion in 2010. A series of large privatizations, the stability fostered by the start of Turkey's EU accession negotiations, strong and stable growth, and structural changes in the banking, retail, and telecommunications sectors contributed to the 2008 rise in foreign investment. Turkey has taken steps to improve its investment climate through administrative streamlining, an end to foreign investment screening, and strengthened intellectual property legislation. However, a number of disputes involving foreign investors in Turkey and certain policies, such as high taxation and continuing gaps in the intellectual property regime, inhibit investment. Turkey has a number of bilateral investment and tax treaties, including with the United States, which guarantee free repatriation of capital in convertible currencies and eliminate double taxation.

EU Accession. Turkey and the then-European Economic Community (EEC) entered into an Association Agreement in December 1964. Turkey and the EU also formed a customs union beginning January 1, 1996. The agreement covers industrial and processed agricultural goods and has prompted Turkey to harmonize its laws and regulations with EU standards. Turkey adopted the EU's Common External Tariff regime in 1963, effectively lowering Turkey's tariffs for third countries, including the United States. In 1999 the European Council granted the status of candidate country to Turkey, and accession negotiations with Turkey were opened in October 2005.

Accession talks include a process known as the acquis communautaire that determines to what extent an applicant meets the EU’s rules and regulations. The acquis is divided into 33 chapters that range from free movement of goods to agriculture to competition.

As of late November 2010, Turkey had opened 13 chapters, including the provisionally closed chapter on Science and Research. Most recently, in June 2010, the chapter on Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy was opened. Seventeen chapters are blocked. Three chapters remain unblocked and have yet to be opened. One of the key stumbling blocks to opening new chapters is that Turkey has yet to fully implement the Ankara Protocol, which requires normalizing bilateral relations with EU member Cyprus, something Turkey has said it will not do until both Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities on the island are reunited.

Energy. In 2009, total electricity supply in Turkey reached 194 terawatt-hours (TWh), up by 51% from 2000. Natural gas fueled 49% of power generation, while coal provided 28%, hydropower 19%, oil 3%, and other sources 1%. Electricity demand in Turkey has an annual growth rate of approximately 7.5%, which is higher than the average rate of GNP growth over the last few years. This, combined with the lack of investment in the sector, mainly due to the Government of Turkey's (GOT) control over prices and slow progress in market liberalization, increased concerns regarding electricity shortages. Official data indicated that Turkey would face electricity shortages as of 2009; however, the Government of Turkey revised its projections after experiencing reductions in demand in late 2008, due to the global economic crisis and relatively mild weather. The Ministry of Energy declared a 4.5% annual growth in electricity demand in 2009, half the amount of demand growth in previous years. In 2008, the Government of Turkey passed new legislation to encourage investment in the sector, which introduces incentives for companies bringing their facilities online by 2012. Turkey is currently undertaking privatization of its electricity distribution. Sixteen of 21 electricity distribution facilities have already been tendered.

In 2008, fossil fuels accounted for 90% of total primary energy supply (TPES) in Turkey. Oil, coal, and natural gas each provided 30% of the total, while renewable energy sources provided the remaining 10%. On an energy basis, oil provided 37% of total final consumption, electricity and natural gas 18% each, coal 17%, biomass and waste 7%, and other sources 3%. Coal is the only energy source with significant domestic availability; around 90% of both oil and natural gas is imported. Domestic oil and gas production is mostly from small fields in the southeast, although major exploration projects are active in the Black Sea. TUPRAS, the largest refiner in Turkey, was privatized in 2005. Turkey has a refining capacity of 714,275 barrels per day (b/d).

Turkey acts as an important link in the East-West Southern Energy Corridor bringing Caspian, Central Asian, and Middle Eastern energy to Europe and world markets. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which came online in July 2006, delivers 1 million barrels/day of petroleum, and in 2007, the South Caucasus Pipeline (from Shah Deniz) started bringing natural gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey. Turkey's interconnector pipeline to Greece, an important step in bringing Caspian natural gas to Europe via Turkey, came online in November 2007. In July 2009, Turkey signed the Nabucco Intergovernmental Agreement, along with Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary, which includes plans for a 2,000-mile natural gas pipeline running from Erzurum, Turkey to Baumgarten, Austria with a 31 billion cubic meter capacity. Alternative proposals to Nabucco include the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) and the Italy-Turkey-Greece Interconnector.

Telecommunications. Parliament enacted legislation separating telecommunications policy and regulatory functions in January 2000, by establishing an independent regulatory body, the Telecommunication Authority. The authority is responsible for issuing licenses, supervising operators, and taking necessary technical measures against violations of the rules. Most regulatory functions of the Transport Ministry were transferred to the authority, and the regulator is slowly gaining competence and independence. The Electronic Communication Law passed in 2008 gave greater autonomy to the Telecommunication Authority. The authority realized some important projects in 2008. Introduction of number portability was a big step forward, encouraging more competition among the GSM mobile phone operators. The authority also held a 3G License tender in 2008, where all the GSM operators participated and started implementing this new technology in Turkey.

The long-expected privatization of the state-owned fixed-line telecommunications company was accomplished by the sale of 55% of Turk Telekom to the Saudi-owned Oger Group in November 2005. The company remains as a monopoly in fixed lines, but the GSM operators' competition against Turk Telekom has been increasing. With liberalization and growth in the economy, there is growing competition for Internet provision, but Turk Telekom remains the sole provider of ADSL wide band Internet.

Environment. With the establishment of the Environment Ministry in 1991, Turkey began to make significant progress addressing its most pressing environmental problems. The most dramatic improvements were significant reductions of air pollution in Istanbul and Ankara. However, progress has been slow on the remaining--and serious--environmental challenges facing Turkey.

In 2003, the Ministry of Environment was merged with the Forestry Ministry. With its goal to join the EU, Turkey has made commendable progress in updating and modernizing its environmental legislation. However, environmental concerns are not fully integrated into public decision-making and enforcement can be weak. Turkey faces a backlog of environmental problems, requiring enormous outlays for infrastructure. The most pressing needs are for water treatment plants, wastewater treatment facilities, solid waste management, and conservation of biodiversity. The discovery of a number of chemical waste sites in 2006 has highlighted weakness in environmental law and oversight.

After long years of silence, Turkey signed the Kyoto Protocol in 2008 and ratified it in 2009. Turkey will not be obligated to reduce its greenhouse emissions until 2012, when the agreement’s second commitment period goes into force.

Transport. The Turkish Government gives special priority to major infrastructure projects, especially in the transport sector. The government is in the process of building new airports and highways, thanks to an increased public investment budget. The government will realize many of these projects by utilizing the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Turkey's primary political, economic, and security ties are with the West, but the AKP government has also sought to strengthen relations with its Middle Eastern neighbors and Central Asian, African, and Latin American countries.

Turkey entered NATO in 1952 and serves as the organization's vital eastern anchor, as it controls the straits leading from the Black Sea to the Aegean and shares a border with Syria, Iraq, and Iran. NATO's Air Component Command Headquarters is located in Izmir and NATO's Rapid Deployable Corps-Turkey is headquartered in Istanbul. Turkey has made important contributions to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, commanding ISAF four times (2002, 2005, 2009-2010, and 2010-2011). Turkey currently commands Regional Command Capital and has set up two Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Wardak and Jowzjan Provinces, with approximately 1,700 troops stationed in Afghanistan.

Besides its relationships with NATO and the EU, Turkey is a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Turkey also is a member of the UN and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Turkey and the EU formed a customs union beginning January 1, 1996. In December 1999, Turkey became a candidate for EU membership. On December 17, 2004, the EU decided to begin formal accession negotiations with Turkey in October 2005.

Turkey is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It has signed free trade agreements with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Israel, and many other countries. In 1992 Turkey and 10 other regional nations formed the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) Council to expand regional trade and economic cooperation. Turkey chaired BSEC in 2007 and hosted the 15th BSEC Summit in Istanbul in June 2007 and the 17th BSEC Council of Foreign Ministers in Ankara in October 2007.

In October 2008 Turkey was elected to hold a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for 2009-2010. Turkey took that seat January 1, 2009 and held the rotating presidency in June 2009 and September 2010.

USEFUL INFORMATION

On Entry / Visa:
While planning your trip to Turkey do not forget to check your passport if it is valid for at least 90 days. Depending on your nationality, most probably your stay as a tourist is limited up to 3 months (for one entrance). For tourist visas, there is no need to apply in advance or to fill in any forms. If you are flying to Turkey, you will buy your visa at the Turkish airport on arrival. You will see the visa desk, situated just before passport control. You must buy your visa, which will be stamped on your passaport by the official, before you join the queue for passport control. The visa for UK passport holders currently costs £10 and must be paid for with a Sterling note. The visa for other EU state-passport holders currently costs € 10 and must be paid for with a Euro note. Visas are multiple entries and are valid for three months. Each passport-holder, including infants, must purchase a visa. With tourist visas you will not have the right to take up paid or unpaid employment or to reside, or to study (including student exchange program) or to establish yourself in business in Turkey.

For more detailed information click here.


Duty Free:
It is permitted to bring the following items into Turkey as duty free goods: Wines, Tobacco & Other Luxury Items. The following allowances apply to the import of both domestic and foreign goods: 200 cigarettes (1 Box) and 50 cigars. Plus: 200 grams tobacco and 200 cigarette papers or 200 grams pipe tobacco or 200 grams chewing tobacco or 200 grams tobacco for argyle or 50 grams snuff. In addition to the above allowances, it is also possible to purchase 200 cigarettes, 100 cigars and 500 grams pipe tobacco in the Turkish Duty Free Shops when entering the country.
The following may also be imported: 1.5 kg coffee; 1.5 kg instant coffee; 500 go teas; 1 kg Chocolate; 1 kg Confectionery; 1 (100 cl) or 2 (75cl or 70 cl) bottles of wine and/or spirits; cologne, lavender water, perfume, essence and lotion (120 ml maximum of each).


Valuables:
In order to avoid any problems when leaving the country it is recommended that you register valuable items at the customs office on entry to Turkey. All personal belongings and articles made of precious stones or metals (with no commercial purposes) worth under USDS 15,000 may be brought into and taken out of the country. Jewellery worth more than this amount may only be taken out of the country providing it has been registered on entry or that you can prove that it was purchased in Turkey with legally exchanged currency.


Other Customs Regulations:
Please note that the information provided above is intended to cover items usually carried by tourists visiting Turkey. If you are planning a longer stay or are carrying anything unusual into or out of the country, it is best to check the regulations in more detail.


Electronic Equipment:
One black-and-white television; one colour TV (up to 55cm screen); one pocket colour TV up to 16cm screen; one black-and-white television-radio-tape (combination); one video recording camera and 5 video tape cassettes (blank); camera with eight mm (with ten blank films); one slide machine; pocket PC (Up to 128MB Ram); compact disc player; one portable radio and radio-tape (the properties of the radio-tape will be determined by the undersecretary.); one walkman or small tape-recorder; Game Boys without cassettes and cartridge; record, cassette or compact disc maximum of 5 for each; GSM-Pocket phone (With SIM cards) will be permitted to pass through Customs.


Sports Equipment:
Two partitioned camping tent; one diving suit for underwater diving sports (The quality and efficiency of the suit to be determined by the undersecretary.); glider (a pair); one boat; one surfboard with sailing equipment for water sports; flippers (one pair); other personal belongings one apiece (except for sea motorcycle and sledge); chess set; draughts set; five packs of playing cards will be permitted to pass through Customs.


Tax Refund:
You Can Receive a Tax Refund for the Goods You Purchased In Turkey! Refunds will be made to travellers who do not reside in Turkey. All goods (including food and drinks) are included in the refunds with the exclusion of services rendered. The minimum amount of purchase that qualifies for refund is 5.000.000 TL.

Retailers that qualify for tax refunds must be authorized for refund. These retailers must display a permit received from their respective tax office. The retailer will make four copies of the receipt for your refund, three of which will be received by the purchaser. If photocopies of the receipt are received the retailer must sign and stamp the copies to validate them. If you prefer the refund to be made by check, a Tax-Free Shopping Check for the amount to be refunded to the customer must be given along with the receipt. For the purchaser to benefit from this exemption he must leave the country within three months with the goods purchased showing them to Turkish customs officials along with the appropriate receipts and/or check.


 


There are four ways to receive your refund:

- If the retailer gives you a check it can he cashed at a bank in the customs area at the airport

- If it is not possible to cash the check upon departure or if you do not wish to cash it then, the customer must, within one month, send a copy of the receipt showing that the goods have left the country to the retailer who will, within ten days upon receiving the receipt, send a bank transfer to the purchaser's hank or address

- If the certified receipt and check are brought back to the retailer on a subsequent visit within one-month of the date of customs certification, the refund can be made directly to the purchaser

- Retailers may directly refund the amount to trustworthy customers upon purchase. The refund may be made by the organization of those companies that are authorized to make tax refunds.


Medical Items:
Beds belonging to the ill passengers; motorized and non-motorized wheelchairs; drugs for personal treatment; gas mask and similar protective clothing (maximum 2 pieces) will be permitted to pass through Customs.


Other Items:
One portable typewriter; one camera (plus maximum 5 films); one pram for each child passenger; one bicycle for each child passenger; toys for child passengers (maximum 10); pocket calculator with battery; one iron (with or without steam diffusion); 1 x 1.5 meter seccade (prayer rug) made from wool, cotton or synthetic fabric); one pair binoculars (except night binoculars); one table clock; one gas stove will also be permitted to pass through Customs.


Motorist Rules:
Those who wish to enter the country with their vans, minibuses, automobiles, station wagons, bicycles, motorcycles, motorbikes, sidecars, buses, motor coaches, trailers, caravans or other transport vehicles, will have to provide the following documentations:- Passport - International driving license - The Identification Card - Car license - International green card (Insurance card) - The TR sign should be visible - Transit book Carnet de passage (for those who want to proceed to the Middle East) - Car license Document, where all details related to the car and the owner's name are registered, are to be used. If it is a vehicle of someone else, a power of attorney should be provided. Period: the vehicle can be brought into Turkey for up to 6 Months. The owner should declare on the opposite form, the date of departure at the border gate and should absolutely leave the country at the date declared. If for any important reason the staying period has to be ended, it is necessary to apply to the below addresses before the end of the period declared.

The Turkish Touring and Automobile Club (Türkiye Turing ve Otomobil Kurumu)
1. Sanayi Sitesi Yani, 4.Levent, Istanbul
Tel (212) 282 81 40 (7 lines); Fax (212) 282 80

or The General Directorate of Customs (Gümrükler Genel Müdürlügü)
Ulus - Ankara
Tel (312) 310 38 80, 310 38 18; Fax (312) 311 13 46


In Case of Accident:
the accident should be reported to the police or gendarme. That report has to be certified by the nearest local authority. The owner should apply to the customs authority with his passport and report.If the vehicle can be repaired, it is necessary to inform the customs authority first and take the vehicle to a garage. If the vehicle is not repairable and if the owner wishes to leave the country without his vehicle, he has to deliver it to the nearest customs office, and the registration of his vehicle on his passport will be cancelled. (Only after the cancellation can the owner of the vehicle leave the country.) Following an accident, you can telephone: Trafik Polisi (Traffic Police), Tel 154; Jandarma (Gendarme), Tel 156For more information, contact the Touring and Automobile Association of Turkey.


Formalities for Private Yacht owners:
Yachts require a Transit Log and may remain in Turkish waters for up to two years maintenance or for wintering. For further information and regulations contact the marina concerned.Upon arriving in Turkish waters, yachts should immediately go for control of the ship to the nearest port of entry which are as follows: Iskenderun, Botas (Adana), Mersin, Tasucu, Anamur, Alanya, Antalya, Kemer, Finike, Kas, Fethiye, Marmaris, Datça, Bodrum, Güllük Didim, Kusadasi, Çesme, Izmir, Dikili, Ayvalik, Akçay, Çanakkale, Bandirma, Tekirdag, Istanbul, Zonguldak, Sinop, Samsun, Ordu, Giresun, Trabzon, Rize, Hopa.Port Formalities: All the required information concerning the yacht, yachtsmen, members, intended route, passports, customs declarations, health clearance, and any obligatory matters must be entered in the Transit Log.The Transit Log is to be completed by the captain of a yacht. Generally, it is necessary to contact the Harbour Authority before leaving. For information on tax-free fuel, contact the Marina Harbour Office.
Note: Provided you possess an official marina license, you may take petrol at no charge.

Currency & foreign exchange:
Turkish Lira is available in the following denominations: Banknotes: 1, 5,10,20,50 &100 TL Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25 & 50 kuruş and 1 TL . Usually, cash can be exchanged without charging commission in exchange offices, banks or hotels. (Travellers from UK should remember that Scottish notes are not accepted in Turkey)
Cash point machines (ATM) are available in most areas, which accept major European credit and cards and give instructions in English. It may be a good idea to inform your bank in advance that you are travelling to Turkey as some will automatically put a stop on cards after the first usage in an attempt to combat fraud.
Exchange rates are published daily in Turkish newspapers. If you are planning to exchange currency back from TL before leaving the country, or are making a major purchase, which may need to be declared to customs, you will need to keep your transaction receipts in order to show that the currency has been legally exchanged.


Language:
The official language is Turkish. English and German are widely spoken in major cities and tourist resorts, and you will find that most Turks welcome the opportunity to practise their language skills and will go out of their way to be helpful. Foreign visitors who attempt to speak even a few words of Turkish, however, will definitely be rewarded with even warmer smiles.

Some useful words and phrases:
Hello··· Merhaba (mare-hah-bah)
Good Morning··· Günaydin (goon-eye-din) (said on meeting)
Good Day··· iyi günler (ee-yee goo -n-ler) (said on meeting or parting)
Good evening··· iyi akşamlar (ee-yee ak-sham-lar) (said on meeting or parting)
Good night·· iyi geceler (ee-yee gedge -e-ler) (said on meeting or parting)
Please··· Lutfen (lute-fen)
Thanks·· Tesekkürler (tesh-e-kiir- ler)
Yes·· Evet (e-vet)
No··· Hayir (higher)
I want··· istiyorum (ist-ee-your-um)
When?··· Ne zaman? (nay za-man)
Today·· Bugün (boo-goon)
Tomorrow·· Yarın (yah-run)
Where?·· Nerede (ne're-de)
My name is.......·· ismim......(is-mim)
Water·· su (sue)
Milk·· slit (suit)
Beer··· bira (beer-a)
Wine··· Şarap (shar-ap)
Tea·· cay (ch-eye)
Coffee·· kahve (car-vay)
Food··· yemek (ye-meck)
Be careful!·· Dikkat!

Numbers
1· bir (beer)
2· iki (icky)
3· üç (ouch)
4· dört (dirt)
5· beş(besh)
6· altı (al-ter)
7· yedi(yea-dee)
8· sekiz (seck-is)
9· dokuz (dock-uz)

10· on (on)
 

Days of the Week:
Monday·· Pazartesi
Tuesday··· Salı
Wednesday·· Carşamba
Thursday·· Perşembe
Friday·· Cuma
Saturday·· Cumartesi
Sunday·· Pazar. There are a number of phrase books and language guides, some with audio cassettes or CD's, which are widely available.


Drugs:
Please note that bringing into or out of the country, together with consumption of, marijuana and other narcotics is strictly forbidden and is subject to heavy punishment. If you have prescribed medication, which you need to take on holiday with you, you will need a doctor's note and/ or a copy of your prescription..


ID Cards and Passports:
Turks have compulsory ID cards, which they must carry with them at all times. Foreigners are also expected to carry such ID with them, which means that you should keep your passport with you at all times. In case you loose your passport, you should immediately contact your country's embassy or consulate in Turkey.


Police:
There are two types of police in Turkey - civil police and military police, gendarme. In many areas you will see that there is the one or the other, and that both fulfil the same function. In some places, there are also specialist tourist police. If you need to report a crime you should go to the nearest police station to where the crime occurred. In touristic areas there will usually be someone available, who speaks English or you can always request a translator. You will usually be asked to submit and sign a statement. It is advisable to request a copy of any relative document in case you need it at a later stage.


Telephone calls:
To dial abroad from Turkey, dial the international code 00 followed by the country code, and then the number including the local area code, but removing the first 0. For example, a London number with an area code of 0207 would be dialed from Turkey as 00 44 207 followed by the number. To dial Turkey from abroad dial the international code 00 followed by the country code, 90 and then the number including the local area code, but removing the first 0. For example, a Fethiye number with an area code of 0252 would be dialled from abroad as 00 90 252 followed by the number.
There are public phone booths which accept cards or tokens (jeton) which can be bought from post offices (PTT) or local shops. Network coverage is extremely good and it is very rare to be in an area where your mobile does not work.


Mobile Phone: A mobile (cell) phone is very useful in Turkey. As foreigner, it is probably impossible to use a mobile phone in Turkey, even a new SIM-card is purchased from a Turkish mobile phone company. Several years ago, the Turkish government passed a law requiring all mobile phones used in Turkey to be registered with the government. Not just the SIM card, but the handset itself. Registration helps prevent terrorist acts. Turkish and foreign visitors are entitled to bring one mobile phone into Turkey each calendar year for use during their stay in Turkey. A personal mobile phone brought into Turkey in this manner is exempt from tax and duty. However, it is necessary to register the mobile phone in order to use it with a SIM card bought from a Turkish network operator. Unregistered phones will be blocked and unable to receive or make calls. There is no charge levied for this registration, and no customs documents are required. Take your mobile phone and your passport to a shop of a Turkish Network Operator (Avea, Turkcell or Telsim). Buy a SIM card, and the clerk will register the SIM card's mobile phone number with your handset's IMEI number, and with your personal information.

Emergency Numbers
Emergency 112
International Operator 115
Directory Assistance 11811
Reversed Charge Calls 131
Police 155
Gendarme 156
Fire Department 110

Driving:
You can drive in Turkey with an international driving licence. You should have a copy of this, together with your passport and insurance documents with you in the car at all times, as you will need it if you are involved in an accident. All of the major international car rental companies, as well as a number of local ones, have offices at airports and all major centres. Driving in Turkey is on the right, as in continental Europe.
Turkish road signs conform to the International Protocol on Road Signs and archaeological and historic sites are indicated by yellow signs. Turkey has a good network of well-maintained roads. There is a 50 km per hour speed limit within urban centres and 90 km outside urban centres. Petrol stations are fairly easy to rind and on main highways, they are often open 24hrs and have restaurants and other facilities attached. Unleaded (kurşunsuz) petrol is easily available. If you are planning on driving to Turkey, as well as your passport, you will need to take your international driving licence, car registration documents and international green card (insurance card) with the TR sign clearly visible (NB: This can be purchased on arrival at the border). You can bring your own car into the country for up to six months. If you wish to keep your car in Turkey for more than six months, you are liable to pay import tax.


Public Transport:
The preferred means of transport in Turkey is by coach and the air-conditioned intercity coach services are comfortable, fast and inexpensive. Each town has a bus station (otogar), where each bus company has its own office, where you can make reservations and buy tickets. Alternatively, you can buy tickets from local travel agencies.


Disabled Travellers:
If you have any queries relating to any-special needs for your holiday, it is best to check direct with us and/ or your tour operator before booking your holiday. The resorts which are located in relatively flat areas and are therefore, better suited to wheelchair users are: Marmaris, Icmeler, Dalyan, Fethiye/ Kaş Beach, Side. Anyone who has difficulty in walking should certainly avoid resorts on steep hills such as Kalkan and Tuning. Obviously, hotel locations vary so do check before booking. Some of the newer and larger hotels have rooms specifically designed for wheelchair users, however, even where hotels do not have specific facilities they will usually try their best to be helpful by, for example, allocating a ground floor room. Many Turkish resorts and cities are not planned for wheelchair access, which can make life difficult, however, you will find that Turks always try their best to be helpful and will gladly improvise to find a solution.

Medical Treatment:

You will need to pay for any medical treatment which you receive in Turkey. For this reason it is advisable to take out medical insurance before travelling. It is not difficult to find English-speaking doctors in all but the most remote areas. There are also foreign run hospitals in many of the larger towns and resorts. You can find a list of hospitals on website: http://www.health-tourism.com/hospitals-clinics-in-turkey/  There are pharmacies in most places with trained pharmacists who are able to offer advice on minor illnesses. Many more medicines are available over the counter.


Tourist Health:
Turkish Tourist Health Society (Turizm Sagligi Dernegi)
(Hacettepe Üniversitesi Tip Fakültesi Plastik ve Rekonstrüktif Cerrahi Ana Bilim Dali, Sihhiye)
06100 ANKARA
Tel (312) 311 93 93, 310 98 08


Turkish Tourist Health Society perfoms the functions below: To provide the travellers in the entire country, mainly in the touristic regions, with proper health care

To secure food hygiene

To prevent environmental pollution

To ensure hygiene and healthy working-conditions in touristic establishments


Post Office Services:
Turkish post offices are easily recognizable by the yellow and black 'PTT' signs in front of them. Major post offices are open from 08.30-17.30 Monday to Friday. In addition to selling stamps and telephone tokens and cards, some post offices will also exchange cash as well as international postal orders and travellers' cheques. There is also an express postal service (APS) operating to 90 countries for letters, documents and small packages. A wide variety of special stamps are available in all PTT centers for philatelists.


Official Holidays/Working Hours:
Working Hours: Offices and banks are generally open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM from Monday to Friday, with a break between 12:00 to 1:30 PM

National / Official Holidays in Turkey: Apr 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day (anniversary of the establishment of Turkish Grand National Assembly)
May 19 Atatürk Commemoration and Youth & Sports Day (the arrival of Atatürk in Samsun, and the beginning of the War of Independence)
Aug 30 Victory Day (victory over invading forces in 1922)
Oct 29 Republic Day (anniversary of the declaration of the Turkish Republic)
Ramazan Bayramı / Sugar Feast :Three-day festival when sweets are eaten to celebrate the end of the fast of Ramazan. (A Moslem moveable feast) (The dates of these religious festivals change according to the Muslim lunar calendar and thus occur 12 days earlier each year.)
Kurban Bayramı / Sacrifies Feast : (A Moslem moveable feast) Four-day festival when sacrificial sheep are slaughtered and their meat distributed amongst the poor, neighbors and within the family

Other Information:
Children:
Family is very important to Turkish people, and you will find that children are welcomed everywhere, which makes for a very relaxing and enjoyable holiday. It is perfectly normal for even very young children to eat out in the evening with their parents. Many restaurants do provide high chairs, and those that don't seem to be very good at improvising. Formula milk and nappies are easily available, although if you want a specific brand, then it is probably best to take it with you. It is not always easy to find baby food in jars, but restaurants and hotels are very accommodating and will usually be pleased to puree food for you. Again, if your child is used to a specific brand it may be better to take it with you. UHT milk is widely available in small cartons, with a straw, which is useful for toddlers and older children. Most hotels will provide cots if these are requested in advance. These can vary quite widely in standard, however, so it is a good idea to check in advance what type of cot is being provided and whether or not it is suitable for your child, some have lower sides than those common in the UK, for example, so are fine for a baby but not suitable for a more mobile toddler. Children's car seats are still seen as a luxury item in Turkey but most tour operators and car hire companies will be able to provide them for you on request. You should not, however, assume that this will automatically be the case. Most of the large hotels have children's clubs and are able to arrange babysitting services. There are also some tour operators who provide these services. In general, Turks and Turkey have a welcoming, relaxed approach to children and will go out of their way to be accommodating and helpful. As long as you are flexible you should have no problems.

Museums:
Most museums and palaces are open every day of the week except Mondays. There are a few notable exceptions: Topkapı Palace is closed on Tuesdays instead of Mondays; Dolmabahçe Palace is closed Mondays and Thursdays and the Chora Church is closed on Wednesdays. For further information on museums visit: www.kulturturizm.gov.tr


Antiquities:
Please note that it is strictly forbidden to export antiquities or antiques from Turkey and there are severe penalties for those who attempt to do so. In order to export such items legally it is necessary to obtain a certificate from a directorate of a museum. For further information visit: www.kulturturizm.gov.tr


Climate:
The Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean coasts display a typical Mediterranean climate of hot summers and mild winters. July and August are the hottest months with temperatures around 29°C. The humidity is a little high during summer in these regions. Temperatures increase a few degrees when traveling to the south and water temperatures also become warmer. The swimming season is from June to September along the Marmara and North Aegean coasts, while it is from April to October on the South Aegean and Mediterranean coasts.The Black Sea Region has a moderate climate; the summers are warm and winters are mild. In this region the rainfalls are heavier than in any other region. The swimming season in the Black Sea Region is from June to early September and the weather is not so dependable. There is quite a difference between the coastal regions and the inland regions which are at higher altitudes. The climate reaches its extremes in central and eastern Anatolia with hot, dry summers when the temperatures may reach 42°C, and cold, snowy winters. Spring and autumn are best for sightseeing and traveling.


Electricity :
Those who use 110 V or any other than 220 V at home need a converter as Turkey has 220 V power system. Please check your electric appliances before you use them in your hotel room. Only the five stars deluxe properties would have converters so it is advised to bring one with you in case it is needed.


Water:
Although tap water is chlorinated and, therefore, safe to drink, it is recommended that you consume bottled water, which is readily and cheaply available.

Food matters in Turkey:
Sanitation is taken seriously and strictly controlled in general by the authorities. Those who are vegetarian will be able to find vegetable food or at least omelet which is very popular in Turkey, almost in every town. The Turkish and Ottoman Kitchen is one of the world leading kitchens (Supposed to be the third after the Chinese and French). Dishes are mainly cooked with meat (lamb, chicken and cow -please note that in Turkey pork is not eaten-) and vegetables (Beans, Eggplant, Peppers, Onion, Garlic, Potatoes, Courgette). Rice, macaroni , local specialties made from flour (Pide, Manti, Gozleme, Borek...), sweets (Baklava, Kadayıf, Burma, Sobiyet ...) are all widely eaten. Most of the restaurants display their food in windows, or waiters can bring the samples if you request.

Weights and Measures

1 inch = 2.54 centimeters

1 centimeter = 0.3937 inches

1 yard = 0,9144 meters

1 meter = 1.0936 yards

1 mile = 1,6093 kilometers

1 kilometer = 0.6214 miles

1 pound = 0,4536 kilograms

1 kilogram = 2.2046 pounds

Tipping:

At various establishments like hotels, restaurants, Turkish baths, barbers and hairdressers, tipping at a rate of 5% - 15% of the total is common. Taxi and 'dolmus' drivers on the other hand, do not expect tips or even rounded fares. Visiting a mosque:

Five times a day, the 'müezzin' calls the faithful to prayer in this mosque. Before entering a mosque, Muslims wash themselves and remove their shoes. Foreign visitors should also remove their shoes and show the respect they would have to any other house of worship and avoid visiting the mosque during prayer time. Women should cover their heads and arms, and not wear miniskirts. Men should not wear shorts. (In certain famous mosques, overalls are provided for those not suitably dressed.)

On Exit:
For valuable gifts and souvenirs, such as a carpet, proof of purchase is necessary, together with receipts showing that any currency used in its purchase has been legally exchanged. Please note that it is strictly forbidden to export antiques from Turkey. Minerals can only be exported with a special document. There is no limit to the amount of foreign and Turkish currency to be brought into Turkey. Up to US$5000 worth of Turkish or foreign currency can be taken out of the country, providing that it can be shown that the currency has been obtained from authorised banks. Larger amount of foreign or Turkish currency must be transferred abroad through banks.

USEFUL LINKS

Weather in Turkey: http://www.dmi.gov.tr/en-US/forecast-5days.aspx

Ministry of Culture and Tourism: http://www.kultur.gov.tr/EN/ana-sayfa/2-0/20110614.html

Turkish Airlines: http://www.turkishairlines.com/en-INT/index.aspx

News:  http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/