Turkey Human and Economic Geography 1998

Turkey Human and Economic Geography 1998

Asia Europe


According to 800zipcodes, in 1998 the Turkish population was 64,479. 000 residents and still tends to increase at a rapid pace: the growth rate during the 1990s remained around 18‰ annually. The distribution of the population has accentuated its characteristics of irregularity: the greatest demographic concentrations occur in the European part (in particular in the province of Istanbul) and in the other coastal regions, especially in the Aegean Sea (provinces of Kocaeli and Smyrna) and in the of Marmara. Values ​​of lower density are instead in the regions of Anatolia, however with significant contrasts between eastern Anatolia – in particular in the more mountainous provinces of the interior and near the borders with Armenia and Iran, where the density (less of 30 residents / km ²) drops to the minimum of the country – and south-eastern Anatolia, between the Syrian border and the hinterland of the Gulf of Alexandretta, where ancient agricultural and commercial traditions have allowed the population densification and the development of important urban concentrations (Gaziantep). On the other hand, in the center of the plateau, the urban center of Ankara (with an average density in the province of the same name of over 140 residents / km ²) contrasts with a regional average value of less than half. Furthermore, the conflict fought between 1984 and 1996 in the extreme south-eastern regions of the country, up to the border with Iraq, between the armed forces and the insurgents of separatist Kurdistan, it has led to a massive emigration, which has further aggravated regional disparities, doubling or tripling the population in the cities of the Turkey eastern and south-eastern and also increasing the influx towards the metropolises of the west, where 40 % of the residents live in precarious conditions.

The urban network of the Turkey does not differ much from the original settlement structure, formed in the Greek-Byzantine era, and made up of coastal commercial cities and modest agricultural-pastoral centers located in the interior of Anatolia, with poor relations of functional integration. The old Turkish city, articulated around a central commercial nucleus (bazaar) and ordered into neighborhoods, each gathered around a religious center, has given way to urban areas that are not integrated and divided within themselves between an isolated historical nucleus and a modern center functionally qualified. The Turkish urban structure has not been influenced even by recent industrialization, as well as local industrial specialization systems capable of influencing regional organization have not developed. In reverse, the location of the large industrial complexes near the main cities was the direct effect of the concentration of capital and investments and represented a further factor of decompensation with regard to the entire economic-territorial system. And so the recent policy aimed at favoring the development of the city of Ankara, beyond industrial plants, tertiary infrastructures and communication routes, has failed to determine the productive progress of ancient medium-sized cities located in the interior of the country.

Economic conditions

Despite the instability of the political situation, the process of economic liberalization launched in the last decade has led the country to experience a phase of rapid expansion, during which the GDP recorded an annual increase, in real terms, of 4, 3 %. The other economic problems remained substantially unsolved: the trade balance recorded a constant deficit (15.4 billion dollars in 1997), inflation, which in 1996 was 77 %, reached 84.6 % in 1998 and debt foreign exchange remains among the heaviest in the world (91 billion dollars in June 1997).

As regards the various productive sectors, it should be noted that the agricultural sector is in full evolution and that the large irrigation works made possible by the dams built on the Euphrates and Tigris will allow in the short term to considerably increase the area intended for arable crops and yields of individual crops. In 1995 the main vegetable productions were wheat, which covers about 40 % of the cultivated land, and barley (15 %); but yields, although on the rise, are still modest (22.3 q / ha for wheat, against a world average of 26.2). The export crops are those of cotton (8 million q of fiber and 20.9 q of seeds in 1998), tobacco (2, 6 million q), vines (36.5 million q of grapes, mostly destined for the production of dried grapes), stone and almond trees. Other notable specialized crops, which fuel the export, are those of the essence rose and the opium poppy. The number of animals is another important voice of the local economy and is still a vital asset to the livelihood of the Interior population is mainly made up of cattle (11, 2 million head in 1998), sheep (30.2 million) and goats (8.4 million, of which over 6 millions of Angora goats that produce the precious mohair). Fishing, practiced especially in the Sea of ​​Marmara and in the Bosphorus, in 1997 ensured 521,665 t of landed product and 1000 kg of sponges. Low level has forest exploitation (18,050. 000 m ³ of wood in 1997).

Hydroelectric resources represent a significant factor of production for local industry and massive investments have been made to them, including the construction of massive dams on the Euphrates (Atatürk and Karakaya). In the basic industry sector, located mainly in relation to the deposits of raw materials, the steel sector is in first place, set up on large complexes operating in the Black Sea region and in the south of the country. Other important industrial sectors are the mechanical one, which achieves 18 % of the industrial added value of Turkey, followed by the agri-food sector (17 %).

Linked to landscape, urban and archaeological attractions, tourism, with 9,753,000 visitors in 1998, has now established itself as an important voice in the country’s economy.

On August 17, 1999, north-western Turkey was hit by a magnitude 7.4 earthquake, with its epicenter in the industrial city of İzmit, on the Sea of ​​Marmara, about 100 kilometers E of Istanbul. The seismic catastrophe caused the death of over 15,000 people and a total upheaval of the territorial fabric (see below: History).

Turkey Human and Economic Geography 1998