Recent years have seen a mass campaign by the Turkish government to regulate and modernise the country. This has resulted in a fusing of traditions and culture with modern living. Infrastructure is constantly being improved in many provinces and places like Istanbul and Antalya are seeing mass progress in urban development as more properties are built to cope with the demand from foreign investors.
To understand why Turkey is attracting so much attention, we need to glance over its historical timeline, which will prove why the eyes of the world are on this country.
The Historical Importance of TurkeyStarting with the prehistoric Anatolian era, these lands are on the edge of what was ancient Mesopotamia. Widely respected as the cradle of civilisation, it is to be expected that in antiquity, it become a centre for philosophy, religion, knowledge and development. Even Noah’s ark is suspected to have landed in the region after the great floods.
Communities living in this area progressed to use the bow and arrow for hunting. It was where man learned to farm the land and not just rely on meat as a source of food. He domesticated the wild dog to become a companion and working tool. He invented the wheel and most importantly stopped living in caves.
Evidence of all these development has been found in the archaeological sites of CatalHuyuk and Gobeklitepe. The first is an extensive Neolithic settlement and the second is widely considered by historians to be the world’s first temple, therefore casting doubt on religion and their suggestion of when the world was formed.
All this progress naturally meant that throughout the centuries, these lands would be the focal point and target for many empires, looking to conquer men, religion and gain land. If they controlled ancient Mesopotamia and the surrounding areas, they controlled the world.
Which Empires Succeeded in Conquering Turkey?There are too many to list in one article. Some empires, like the Lycians confined themselves to small areas such as the Mediterranean coast while others like the Persians went onto to conquer as much as possible. They invaded in 1250BC and their demise was the result of a fierce war with the Greeks, and the invasion of Alexander the Great, and his fierce army. The advancement of Rome in 193BC bought many changes that also gave birth to the Byzantium Empire whose capital was current day Istanbul.
The longest and most prolific rule however came from the Ottoman Empire, as they dominated nearly half the world, from their capital Constantinople for over 400 years.
In 1909, the empire was broke and had lost control. Disbanded in 1909, by 1923, the newly formed Turkish Republic was found after a fierce war against Allied forces to gain control of the Bosporus strait and the lands near ancient Mesopotamia.
This saw sweeping changes throughout the country. It was the first time, where the lands on the edge of ancient Mesopotamia adopted western values, such as the introduction of democracy, outlawing for the compulsory Ottoman fez. Women were also free to walk around without covering their faces, heads or bodies and given the vote before most western countries followed suit.
Unfortunately, the country still suffered after-affects from the demise of the Ottoman Empire and because of the complicated history of the region, many cultures and religions turned against each other. Military coups which were accepted according to law, were not a thing of the past either, with the last happening in 1980 which forced Turkey to live for 3 years under the military while democracy was re-introduced.
For decades, it seemed like the rest of the world was content to watch as Turkey continued in a low economic spiral.
Then at the turn of this century, Turkey was finally able to stand up and put into place, more sweeping changes to bring about reform. Along with the development mentioned in the first paragraph, it completely rejuvenated the tourism industry, possibility through its efforts to modernise airports and improve high way conditions. It also introduced a new law allowing foreigners to purchase property. The after effects of the Ottoman’s demise had finally being laid to rest.
The Future of TurkeyPerhaps the one question that everyone is eagerly anticipating the answer for, is will Turkey be accepted into the European Union?
They have received billions in pre-accession funding and many of the sweeping reforms such as the smoking ban, and prohibition of military coups, were in line with EU standards. The proposal is, still on the table though.
Perhaps the biggest criticism coming from the EU is the freedom of speech in Turkey and also because Turkey still insists on compulsory military service for male citizens.
Regarding tourism, in 2013, it was the sixth most visited country in the world. It plans to be number 1 by 2023. For property investment, between May and October of 2014, just over 10,000 properties in Turkey were sold to foreigners, although it is unclear whether this was for permanent residence or as a second holiday home.
In just 15 years, massive changes and implantation of business regulations have boosted the economy and put Turkey back on the map as the pivotal point between east and west. The country now has strong ties with other nations such as America and the United Kingdom, albeit ties with Germany and France can be stand-offish at times.
Turkey goes to the polls on June the 7th so around the world, investors, politicians and academic scholars are keeping an eye on the country but while Turkey still has a long way to go before it becomes fully in line with EU rules and regulations, there is no doubt that the future is looking bright.
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