Turkey is located between the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Seas, sharing its borders with Bulgaria and Georgia as well as Syria and Greece. It forms a connection between Asia and Europe, allowing expats to experience a crossover between Eastern culture and the Western world.
Turkey is a member of the UN and the NATO as well as an associate member of the European Union. Political reforms of the last 10 years have strengthened the democratic process and the Turkish economy and made the country an interesting option for many expats. The Turkish government is a republican parliamentary democracy. The country celebrates its national holiday, the Republic Day, on 29 October. As the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, it gained its independence on this very day in 1923.
Most people who move to Turkey relocate to bigger cities such as Istanbul, Ankara or Izmir. However, the percentage of foreign employees is still quite low. 70–75% of the residents are Turkish, 18% are Kurdish, and only 7–12% belong to other groups, including ethnic minorities such as the Armenians or expats.
Most expats moving to Turkey find work in the industry and services sectors. The latter in particular have become a highly important branch of Turkey’s national economy. They provide a wealth of job opportunities, especially in import-export, banking, finance, and insurance. The traditional agriculture sector is responsible for only 8.2% of Turkey’s economic income. The textiles and clothing industry is another big contributor to the Turkish economy. Other industries like electronics, automobiles and construction are gradually gaining ground as well, and might be a considerable future incentive for expats moving to Turkey.
You may also find work in one of the sectors which recently have gone through the changes of privatization. The government has reduced much of its involvement in basic industries, banking as well as transport and communications.
Many Turkish people are Muslims who refuse to drink alcohol or eat pork. However, this might also apply to those who do not practice their religion. Upon moving to Turkey you might have to readjust a bit when inviting your Turkish friends over for dinner. Try to serve lamb, chicken or fish, until you know more about their individual beliefs and preferences.
Hospitality is an important aspect of the Turkish culture. However, many expats are shocked to find out the boundaries of personal space can easily be crossed. Especially those used to greater personal distance may need some time to adjust to this. It is important that you try to find a balance between being hospitable without allowing friends or neighbors to invade your personal space.
In conversations, avoid talking about political issues. The relationship with Cyprus or the Armenian and Kurdish minorities in particular are sensitive topics for many Turkish people. Therefore they may not be fit for a chat over business lunch or a dinner conversation with casual acquaintances.
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