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Turks

Still seeking a unifying mythology to bring their culture closer together, the Turks draw strength from the land to balance tradition and modernization.

After the First World War, the Ottoman Empire found itself dismantled and under the control of foreign powers. This occupation was finally ended by the Turkish nationalist resistance who, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal, oversaw the birth of the Turkish Republic -- and the official end of the Ottoman Empire -- through the ratification of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923). In the wave of reforms led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and Mustafa İsmet İnönü, Turkey put in place a pluralist and peaceful political regime supported by revenue from agricultural exports and industrial production.

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The victor of the Turkish War of Independence (1919–1922) and the Republic’s first president (1923–1938), Mustafa Kemal Atatürk laid the foundations for new state institutions and dramatically reformed the country. In the wake of Second World War, the transition to multiparty democracy was often interrupted, especially by the army, which still had extensive control over the country’s affairs. This situation persisted until the late 1980s, when the gradual establishment of a pluralistic and democratic system in the country led to the end of brutal military interventions in political life. Located between Europe and Asia, Turkey rose to become a key player in East-West relations during this period. After the Korean War, which involved Turkish armed forces, the country joined NATO in 1952 and formed a long-standing diplomatic and military alliance with the United States. Nevertheless, the country also continued its diplomatic efforts with Turkish-speaking countries and those formerly under Ottoman control, as well as with the European Union. The Ottoman legacy in terms of industrial infrastructure quickly proved inadequate when it came to the needs of the Republic. The new regime, with a state-controlled economy, drew revenue from the primary sector, which it used to develop the country. The result was a mechanized and productive agricultural system that harnessed the various types of agricultural land that exist in Anatolia.

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The establishment of the Republic signaled greater civil and political rights for Turkish women. Given permission by the civil code of 1926 to marry and divorce through the civil courts, women also gained the right to vote in local elections in 1930, and in national elections in 1934.