A strategically located land that links southwestern Asia with southeastern
Europe and commands the waters connecting the Black Sea
and the Mediterranean, Turkey has for millennia been a prize for
conquerors and a seat of empires. The Hittites, the Persians, the
Greeks, the Romans, and the Ottoman Turks all left their mark on
this fascinating land.The modern Republic of Turkey, which emerged from the ruins of
the Ottoman Empire after World War I, is unusual among the
nations of the Middle East. A democracy in a region rife with autocrats,
a Muslim country that enforces strict separation between religion
and public life and that has always maintained cordial relations
with Israel, Turkey is also a member of NATO and an important ally
of the United States. Yet the nation is not without problems, including
recurrent ethnic conflict and a military with a history of intervening
in government affairs.
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