Turkey Education and Culture
The modern schooling system started by Mustafa Kemal and continued by his successors, is based on the European model. The arts represent themes of the Turkish tradition while showing Western influence. Radio and television have also reached rural areas, posing a threat to indigenous culture.
At the time of the establishment of the republic, more than 90% of the population was illiterate; the new government introduced important educational reforms and the first Constitution established that elementary education was compulsory for all Turks and free in state schools. In 2005 the literacy rate was 87.6% of adults. Education is compulsory between the ages of 9 and 14.
In the year 2000, according to educationvv, 8,014,733 students were enrolled in 49,599 primary schools. The enrollment rate in secondary education was 79% and 28% in higher education.
Access to Turkish universities is extremely difficult; The main institutions include the University of Istanbul (1453), the Aegean University (1955) in Izmir, the University of Ankara (1946), and the Technical University of the Near East (1956), also in Ankara.
The Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet evolved from traditional poetry to new forms, with greater freedom in images and rhythmic devices.
The transition from Islamic cultural traditions during the Ottoman Empire (see Islamic Art and Architecture), towards a more western trend, has been gradually gaining relevance in the country. Today’s Turkish painters strive to find their own art form, free from Western influences. The sculpture is less developed and the public monuments are, in essence, heroic representations of Mustafa Kemal and warlike commemorations of the Turkish War of Independence.
Popular music is the source of inspiration for important symphonic works (see Music of Islamic countries).
The most recent Turkish poetry survives thanks to the epic poetry of the Manas, poems that have been passed from generation to generation through the years. The early mystical poetry written by Yunus Emre and other authors in the 14th century gave way to a poetic heritage called ‘couch poetry’; the most popular was that recited by minstrels, a tradition that has continued to this day. Most critics point to Kemal Tahit as the most important modern novelist. Other prominent authors are Yasar Kemal and the poet Nazim Hikmet.
In this intricate maze of vaulted pavilions, which began construction in 1459 and became a museum in 1924, collections of objects that belonged to Ottoman sultans are gathered.
Turkey has opera houses in Istanbul and Ankara, with an Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul, three conservatories and a national folk music ensemble, in addition to several cultural institutions. Christian churches have been turned into mosques and those built by the famous architect Mimar Sinan are located in Istanbul, Edirne, Bursa and other cities.
The former palace of the Sultan, is today the Topkapi Museum, which brings together collections of objects that belonged to Ottoman sultans. The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, located in Ankara, has among other valuable objects, with Hittite and Phrygian relics. Among the main libraries are the National Library in Ankara and the Beyazit State Library in Istanbul.
Turkey has 588 daily newspapers, most of which are of low circulation; those with the largest circulation are the Cumhuriyet, the Sabah, the Hürriyet, the Milliyet and the Türkiye, all of them published in Istanbul. The country also has numerous weekly and monthly publications (688 in 2000). The government controls four national radio broadcasts and five television channels, although there are also several private radio and television networks. There are about 37 million radio sets and 30 million television receivers. The country has 263 telephones and 52 computer equipment in use for every thousand residents.
Located on the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul is the main port and largest city in Turkey. The walls seen here are remnants of the original city built in 324 AD by Emperor Constantine I.
According to the 2007 census, the population of the main cities was 11,174,257 residents in Istanbul, 3,428,000 residents in the capital Ankara, 2,409,000 in Izmir or Izmir, 395,388 in Adana and, finally, 459,877 in Bursa. Other major Turkish cities are: Kars, Samsun, Mersin, Van, Edirne (former Adrianápolis), Elâzığ, Kırıkkale, Iskenderun, Isparta, Konya, Malatya, Diyarbakır, Gaziantep, Maras, Adapazarı, Kayseri, Erzurum, Antioch and Antalya.
Official and spoken languages
The official language is the Turkish language. Furthermore, between 10 and 15% of the population speak their mother tongue, generally Kurdish or Arabic.
The Suleiman Mosque in Istanbul was built in 1550. The architect Sinan based his design on Byzantine churches, especially Hagia Sophia. The large central dome, on a square structure, opens onto small vaulted spaces with half domes as buttresses. The four pointed minarets, with balconies, are characteristic of the architectural style of late Islamic mosques.
Islam ceased to be the official religion in 1928. However, 99% of the population is Muslim, mainly Sunni, while the Shiites are in the southeast. Christians make up less than 0.1% of the total population. The Jewish community has about 20,000 members.