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Abstract

The strategic location of Turkey makes it a very important country in terms of geopolitics as well as economics. Turkey is located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, the Caucasus, and the Middle East. It is where East meets West without clashing with each other but merging with each other. Even though, industry, trade, and finance are all dominated by the expansive and crowded Istanbul, other cities and towns in Anatolia –the Anatolian Tigers- are industrializing rapidly and now participating in the global economy.

Today, Turkey has the largest economy in the greater Middle East. Depending of the source, Turkey already entered or is about to enter the club of $1 trillion economies. According to CIA World Factbook estimates for 2009, Turkey is a newly industrialized country (NIC) and the 17th largest economy in the world with a GDP-PPP of $903.9 billion in 2008. On the other hand, the World Bank ranks the Turkish economy as the 15th largest economy in the world with a GDP-PPP of $1.028 trillion in 2008. The dynamic Turkish private sector and its new generation young entrepreneurs are replacing the public sector in every segment of the economy. The role of the state and the central government in the economy has been declining since the early 1980s. Especially, the international trade area has been a success story in the process of integrating Turkey to the global economy. Between 2000-2007 total trade volume rose by 19.2% annually from $81 billion to $277 billion. Today, more than 94% of Turkish exports are manufactured goods with auto and auto related products leading the exports. One thing that really differentiates Turkey from the rest of the Middle East is that even though Turkey’s population is 99.9% Muslim, it is a secular representative parliamentary democracy. Establishing a viable democracy and democratic life has been a long battle in the Ottoman Empire as well as in the Republican Turkey. Against all odds and after 15 economic crises and 3 military coups in 85 years, the Turkish experience teaches us that democracy, free-markets, and open society are all very possible in a predominantly Muslim country. So far, Turkey has been the only country in the greater Middle East which successfully fused modernity, democracy, industrialization, and Islam into a viable system.

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