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Turkey Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Turkey's local elections on 31 March 2019, held during an economic recession, saw President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) lose key municipalities, including Istanbul and Ankara, to the opposition. AKP dissidents are likely to establish a splinter party before 2020. However, Erdoğan's domestic popularity will likely be buttressed by Turkey's ongoing military offensive against Kurdish militants in northeast Syria. There is an elevated risk of retaliatory attacks by the Kurdish separatist Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (PKK) in western Turkish cities, targeting mainly the security forces. The risk of attacks by Islamic State affiliates is muted.There is a high likelihood, by mid 2020, of punitive measures by the US Congress over Turkey's northeast Syrian offensive, which would risk a renewed Turkish lira collapse. Already, the lira suffered intense losses in October, following a period of relative stability in the preceding few months. The lira's underlying resilience was recently undermined by aggressive interest rate cuts under a newly-installed central bank governor. Besides doubts over central bank independence, a key weakness in the Turkish economy is high short-term external obligations in the private sector.Aggressive fiscal and monetary policy loosening – jeopardising lira stability – is being pursued to stimulate domestic demand, which has contracted since late 2018. These pro-growth policies should end economic losses in the fourth quarter of 2019, but subsequent growth throughout 2020 will likely be modest. A renewed lira collapse would raise the potential for a second recession.Weak domestic demand has significantly cut merchandise and service imports, as a result balancing the current account, which was once in substantial deficit, with monthly surpluses even arising. Given efforts to stimulate domestic demand, the current account will likely slip back into a slight deficit in 2020. Even with the current account now balanced, overall external financing remains difficult given a lack of steady capital inflows.
Last update: November 28, 2019

Operational Outlook

An obstructive bureaucracy and commonplace corruption remain operational weaknesses, particularly for companies seeking either state tenders or business permits – both ministerial and municipal – without a political connection. Bureaucratic inefficiency was further exacerbated by the upheaval of Turkey's legal institutions since the transformation of the political system to a presidential one in 2017, adding to existing instability resulting from the government's extensive purges in late 2016. Although striking rights are constitutionally enshrined, labour strikes and work stoppages in practice remain uncommon in Turkey, given the dominance of "yellow" labour unions that enjoy close relations with the government, as well as the suppression of strike action through law enforcement.

Last update: November 28, 2019

Terrorism

High

Fighting between the Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (PKK) and the government in the country's southeast has abated after reaching a peak in mid 2016. Likely targets for the PKK in the southeast are security forces assets and personnel, as well as pipelines and hydropower plants. There remains an elevated risk of improvised explosive device (IED) and shooting attacks by PKK affiliates and Islamic State militants in major cities like Istanbul and Ankara. Both groups are likely to target the security forces, while the Islamic State is equally likely to target touristic locations, airports, and malls, although its intent will remain unmatched by its capacity.

Last update: August 30, 2019

Crime

Drug trafficking remains the single largest source of illegal proceeds in Turkey. Human trafficking is an equally severe problem, as Turkey provides a key transit route for immigrants from Central Asia and the Middle East trying to enter the EU illegally. Widespread financial crime includes the rigging of bids for state and municipal contracts, bribery, and money laundering at both ministerial and local municipal levels. Lastly, Turkey's porous borders render the country a frequently-used route for arms trafficking. The transit of both arms and individuals in and out of Syria was stopped by a government clampdown on the border in 2016, after having turned a blind eye until then.

Last update: May 24, 2019

War Risks

Turkey's military entrenchment in northern Syria is unlikely to give rise to reprisal attacks targeting Turkish territory by the Syrian government. Turkey's military intervention is taking place with consent from the Syrian government's patron, Russia. Although Turkey considers the territorial consolidation of the Syrian-Kurdish militia group YPG a major threat, a Turkish ground offensive against YPG militants, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, remains unlikely so long as the YPG remains supported locally by US military personnel. An offensive would become likely, however, if the US followed through with its stated intention of withdrawing military from Syria.

Last update: August 30, 2019

Social Stability

Elevated

Mass opposition protests would be likely in the event that the government seeks to dismiss the elected mayors of key cities such as Istanbul and Ankara, the municipalities of which were captured by the opposition in the 31 March 2019 local elections. Opposition protests would likely trigger counter-protests by government supporters, resulting in localised violence, entailing collateral property damage risks, resulting from stone throwing and arson, and the erection of makeshift road barriers. Violent protests in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast are unlikely in the one-year outlook, as evinced by the relative inaction of the Kurdish population since a spate of unrest in 2014.

Last update: November 28, 2019

Health Risk

Very high

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Severe

Natural disasters also pose a potentially significant threat to visitors to the country. Turkey is situated in one of the most active seismic zones in the world; the north of the country often experiences violent earthquakes (e.g. the Izmit earthquake in the summer of 1999 that left 18,000 dead). The east is also affected; a powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey on October 23, 2011, causing 500 deaths.

Turkey also occasionally experiences destructive torrential rains and consequent flooding and landslides. Heavy rain in Istanbul caused flash flooding and significant transportation disruptions on three separate occasions in summer 2017.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Elevated

The road network is of good quality in big cities and infrastructural improvement projects are underway. Road signs are posted in accordance with international protocol. However, traffic fatality rates are worryingly high in Turkey. Pedestrians do not have the right-of-way on Turkish roads and should exercise extreme caution when crossing the street; drivers are generally aggressive and frequently ignore traffic regulations. It is advised to avoid traveling at night on smaller roads outside cities.

It is recommended to use only official taxis equipped with a meter.

The rail network is reliable and connects the major main cities. High-speed rail lines (YHT), which are cheap and comfortable, run between Ankara-Konya and Eskisehir-Istanbul.

Many local airlines operate flights between major cities. Winter weather conditions can lead to severe delays and cancelations, especially in Istanbul at the Istanbul-Atatürk (IST) and Sabiha Gökçen airports.

Travelers should be aware that traffic restrictions may be enforced in districts neighboring Syria and Iraq as well as in the department of Agri, where access to Mounts Ararat and Tendürek requires prior government authorization.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Turkey's climate varies by region. The climate is Mediterranean in nature along the Aegean and Mediterranean seas; summers there are hot and winters are mild. The climate is continental inland with temperatures than can fall below 0°C in the winter and climb above 40°C in the summer (particularly in Anatolia). Along the coast of the Black Sea the climate is more temperate and wetter.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +90
Police: 155
Fire Dept.: 110
Ambulance: 112

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019