Turkey, slightly larger than the U.S. State of Texas, is located in Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia (that portion of Turkey west of the Bosporus is geographically part of Europe), bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Georgia, and bordering the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, between Greece and Syria.
Modern Turkey was founded in 1923 from the Anatolian remnants of the defeated Ottoman Empire by national hero Mustafa Kemal, who was later honored with the title Ataturk or "Father of the Turks." Under his authoritarian leadership, the country adopted wide-ranging social, legal, and political reforms. After a period of one-party rule, an experiment with multi-party politics led to the 1950 election victory of the opposition Democratic Party and the peaceful transfer of power.
Turkey encompasses bustling cosmopolitan centers, pastoral farming villages, barren wastelands, peaceful Aegean coastlines, and steep mountain regions. More than half 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. Turkish citizens who assert a Kurdish identity constitute an ethnic and linguistic group that is estimated at up to 12 million in number. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was established to assist in the creation of an autonomous region in Southeastern Turkey. Approximately 17% of Turkey's population is Kurdish.
CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes; Federal Research Division, LC, 10/2007; 9/2007; 1/2006