Turkey's economy is a mixture of modern industry and traditional agriculture; great strides have been made since the 1970s to strengthen and diversify the economy. The most productive farmland is in W Turkey, but in the 1970s the country began the massive Southeast Anatolia Project to use the Tigris and Euphrates rivers for irrigation and hydroelectric power. Although plagued by the conflict with Kurdish separatists and bitterly opposed by Syria and Iraq (who are concerned that the downstream water flow from the rivers to them will be severely impeded), the project has nine dams and eight hydroelectric stations in operation (out of 22 and 19 originally planned). The government's goal is to transform arid SE Turkey into a prosperous agricultural-industrial region.
Turkey's chief crops are tobacco, cotton, wheat, barley, corn, rye, oats, rice, olives, sugar beets, pulses, and citrus. Large numbers of sheep, goats (including many mohair-producing Angora goats), and cattle are raised.
The principal minerals extracted are coal, chromium, copper and iron ores, boron, antimony, and mercury. Some petroleum is produced. The leading industrial centers are İstanbul, Ankara, Karabük, Bursa, Izmir, Adana, Samsun, and Diyarbakir. The country's chief industries include food processing, mining, and the manufacture of textiles, motor vehicles, electronics, steel, construction materials, and forest products. Turkey is also noted for the manufacture of carpets, meerschaum pipes and artifacts, and pottery. There is a substantial tourist trade.
Turkey's main ports are İstanbul, Izmir, Samsun, Iskenderun, Mersin, and Trabzon. Turkey has one of the Middle East's best road and rail systems, which includes the Baghdad Railway. The annual value of Turkey's imports is usually considerably higher than that of its exports. The chief imports are machinery, chemicals, semifinished goods, fuels, and transportation equipment. The principal exports are textiles and clothing, foodstuffs, iron and steel products, and transportation equipment. The leading trade partners are Germany, Italy, Great Britain, the United States, Russia, and France. Large numbers of Turks are employed in Western Europe, especially in Germany.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.