Turkey country profile (September 2018)

Official Name: Republic of Turkey
Capital: Ankara
Population: 79.5 million
Area: 779,452 sq km (300,948 sq miles)
Official Language: Turkish (official), Kurdish
Major religion: Islam
Life expectancy: 72 years (men), 79 (women)
Currency: Turkish lira
Member of UN, World Bank

Once the centre of the Ottoman Empire, the modern secular republic was established in the 1920s by nationalist leader Kemal Ataturk.

Straddling the continents of Europe and Asia, Turkey’s strategically important location has given it major influence in the region – and control over the entrance to the Black Sea.

Joining the European Union has been a longstanding ambition. Membership talks were launched in 2005, but have stalled over serious misgivings about Turkey’s human rights record.

AK Party is the ruling party and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the president

A referendum in April 2017 narrowly backed switching to a presidential system of government, which would significantly increase Mr Erdogan’s powers. Critics say the move could usher in authoritarian rule, and amounts to a power grab.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a new term in elections in June 2018 and also gained substantial new powers under a new system approved the previous year by voters.

Turkey has hundreds of private TV and radio stations competing with the state broadcaster, TRT.

Television is by far the most influential news medium; both press and broadcasting outlets are operating by powerful business operators.