Protests in Turkey

On May 28, the government of Turkey started a project to convert one of Istanbul’s parks, called Gezi Park (see image), into a built-up public area with some shops, a mosque, and some other buildings. Some citizens of Istanbul were unhappy about this decision and marched over to the park to stop the construction workers from chopping down the park’s trees. In response, the police used force against these protesters. The next day, the protests spread to other parts of the city, and then spread to other cities in the country. People were upset that the police used force against protesters who were simply trying to save their park. Some people are demanding that the police chiefs step down, and some are demanding that the country’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (see image) step down.

The prime minister of Turkey is the head of the government, and Erdogan has held this post since 2003. Erdogan is well respected and is given credit for improving Turkey’s economy. Since he became the leader 10 years ago, people are earning more money, there are more jobs, and people are selling more products to other countries. However, some Turkish citizens are upset at Erdogan’s government because they feel that some of the new rules made by this government take away from their freedom.

 

The modern country of Turkey was founded in 1923. Its first president was Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who is looked upon as the founder of the country. He was given the title “Ataturk”, which means “Father of the Turks.” It was under him that the first constitution of modern Turkey was written. Before 1923, Turkey was part of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire was one of the largest empires in the world. At its peak, parts of Europe and Africa were also part of the Ottoman Empire. It lasted for over 600 years, and fell at the end of World War I.

 

Today, Turkey is part of two continents, Asia & Europe. Over 99% of the Turkish people are Muslims. However, Turkey is a secular country, meaning Turkey does not support or oppose any religion. Ankara is its capital city and Istanbul is its largest city. Istanbul is the only large city in the world that is a part of two continents. Turkey has also created some of the greatest architectural marvels in the world, and is a gold mine of historical artifacts. Two of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World” (the Mausoleum of Maussollos and the Temple of Artemis) were located in present-day Turkey.

Did you know?

The tallest man in the world is a 30-year old from Turkey. Sultan Kosen (see image) is 8ft 3in (2.5 m) tall.

Did you know?

Van cats (see image) are mainly found in the Lake Van area in eastern Turkey. These cats are large white cats that like to swim in water, and often, their two eyes are of different colors.

Image Credits: VikiPicture for Gezi Park’s image, Randam for Erdogan’s image, Amsterdamman for Sultan’s image, Attaleiv for the Van cat’s image

Sources: CIA Worldfactbook, Wikipedia, Al Jazeera, BBC