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Culture & People


The culture of Turkey is a diverse one, derived from various elements of the Ottoman Empire, European and the Islamic traditions. The nation was modernised primarily by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. As he transformed a religion-driven former Ottoman Empire into a modern nation-state with a very strong separation of state and religion, there was a corresponding increase in the methods of artistic expression. During the first years of the republic, the government invested a large amount of resources into fine arts such as paintings, sculpture and architecture. This was done as both a process of modernisation and of creating a cultural identity. Because of the different historical factors playing an important role in defining a Turkish identity, the culture of Turkey is an interesting combination of clear efforts to be "modern" and Western, alongside a desire to maintain traditional religious and historical values.


Article 66 of the Turkish Constitution defines a "Turk" as anyone that is " bound to the Turkish state through the bond of citizenship". The legal use of the term "Turkish" (a citizen of Turkey) is different from the ethnic definition. However, the majority of the Turkish population are of Turkish ethnicity. Besides the minorities that have legal status as defined and internationally recognised by the Treaty of Lausanne; namely Greeks, Armenians and Jews; other ethnic groups include Abkhazians, Albanians, Arabs, Bosniaks, Chechens, Circassians, Georgians, Hamshenis, Kabardin, Kurds, Laz, Levantines, Ossetians, Pomaks, Roma, Syriacs and Zazas, the largest non-Turkic ethnicity being the Kurds, a distinct ethnic group traditionally concentrated in the southeast. While the term "minority" itself remains a sensitive issue in Turkey, it is to be noted that the degree of assimilation within various ethnic groups outside the recognised minorities is high, the following generations generally adding into the melting-pot of the Turkish main body. Within that main body, certain distinctions based on diverse Turkic origins could be made as well by taking account of the same tendency as mentioned.

Though Turkish is the sole official language throughout Turkey, broadcasts in local languages and dialects on state media outlets include Arabic, Bosnian, Circassian and Kurdish .


Turkey is a country in Southeast Europe and on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and is a crossroads of cultures from across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus and South and Central Asia. The music of Turkey includes elements of Central Asian folk music, Arabic, Persian classical music, ancient Greco-Roman music and modern European and American popular music. Turkey, rich in musical heritage, has developed this art in two areas, Turkish classical music (similar to Greco- Roman) and Turkish folk music (Similar to Central Asian). The biggest Turkish pop star of the 20th century was probably Sezen Aksu, known for overseeing the Turkish contribution to the Eurovision Song Contest and was known for her light pop music.

Ottoman court music has a large and varied system of modes or scales known as makams, and other rules of composition. These can be arranged in certain ways to create a fasil, which is a suite of music consisting of a prelude, postlude and a primary section which begins with and is punctuated by improvisatory pieces called taksim.

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