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 West Turkey, but in recent years the country has instituted the massive Southeast Anatolia Project to use the Tigris and Euphrates rivers for irrigation and hydroelectric power. This project envisions the construction of 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric plants on the two rivers. In the late 1990s the giant Atatürk Dam and Reservoir on the upper Euphrates, as well as two other dams and adjacent power plants, had been completed, and six more were under construction. 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 is continuing. The government's goal is to transform arid South East Turkey into a prosperous agricultural-industrial region.
Turkey's chief crops are tobacco, cotton, wheat, barley, corn, rye, oats, rice, olives, figs, raisins, sugar beets, and fruit. Large numbers of sheep, goats (including many mohair-producing Angora goats), and cattle are raised.
The principal minerals extracted are coal, chromium, lignite, copper and iron ores, antimony, mercury, and boron. Some petroleum is produced. The leading industrial centers are Istanbul, Ankara, Karabük, Bursa, Izmir, Adana, Samsun, and Diyarbakir. The country's chief manufactures include textiles, clothing, processed food, iron and steel, petroleum, construction materials (especially cement), forest products, wine, and chemical fertilizer. 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 Istanbul, 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, crude oil, metals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, rubber, and chemicals; the principal exports are textiles and clothing, iron and steel products, agricultural produce, and minerals. The leading trade partners are Germany, the United States, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Turkey joined in a customs union with the European Union in 1995. Large numbers of Turks are employed in Western Europe, especially in Germany.
Turkey's dynamic economy is a complex mix of modern industry and commerce along with a traditional agriculture sector that in 2004 still accounted for more than 35% of employment. It has a strong and rapidly growing private sector, yet the state still plays a major role in basic industry, banking, transport, and communication. The largest industrial sector is textiles and clothing, which accounts for one-third of industrial employment; it faces stiff competition in international markets with the end of the global quota system. However, other sectors, notably the automotive and electronics industries, are rising in importance within Turkey's export mix.
In recent years the economic situation has been marked by erratic economic growth and serious imbalances. Real GNP growth has exceeded 6% in many years, but this strong expansion has been interrupted by sharp declines in output in 1994, 1999, and 2001.
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