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Turkey is a country of seamlessly blending contrasts- from its terrain, to its people and culture. The country welcomes over 30 million visitors every year, drawn by its rich history, breath-taking scenery, and iconic Turkish cuisine. Turkish is the country’s official language, however over 70 other languages and dialects are spoken. Having hosted countless civilisations and empires over the years- including Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans- Turkey flaunts the legacy of each one in its buildings, ruins, and monuments. In a captivating blend of East and West, some of its most notable sights include the Byzantine dome of the Hagia Sophia, the ancient Greco-Roman port city of Ephesus, cliffside Byzantine monasteries, enticing ancient Lycian ruins on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, and the Topkapı Palace which served as the residence and court of past sultans.
Turkey’s varied landscapes also leave much to behold- 8,000km of coastline, ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations in Cappadocia, mineral-rich thermal baths in the cascading snow white travertine terraces of Pamukkale, looming mountain ranges, and blue-flag beaches. The country’s Mediterranean climate allows for the enjoyment of several water activities including diving, windsurfing, rafting, canyoning, kayaking and boat cruises.
While the capital city of Ankara offers its own exposure to Turkish culture, the true heart of the nation lies in Istanbul- a true mixture of old and modern, religious and secular, and European and Asian. The bustling lifestyle of locals mirrors this lively mosaic of contrasts, and people from all countries are welcomed in signature Turkish hospitality.
Turkey has seen remarkable economic and social development since the start of the century. The country has overgone dramatic urbanisation, opened up its economy to foreign trade and finance, standardised many laws and regulations with European Union (EU) standards, and greatly expanded access to public services. Turkey now classifies as an upper-middle-income country with a predominantly free-market economy. Indeed, the country has maintained healthy real GDP growth rates in recent years- 6.1%, 3.2%, and 7.4% in 2015, 2016, and 2017 respectively.
Nowadays, the economy is largely propelled by Turkey’s industry, and increasingly, its services sector. Among the most prominent local industries, there are the automobile, electronics and petrochemical industries, along with the traditional ones of textiles and clothing.
Even through times of political instability, Turkey has managed to uphold its economic progress through solid public finances, a well-capitalized and well-regulated banking sector, and a thriving, diversified private business sector.
Turkey’s economic success however still remains vulnerable. GDP growth for 2018 has moderated to 3.5%. In addition to this, there are pressures from increasingly elevated inflation. Some of the more critical challenges needed to be overcome by the country include lack of transparency in government, erosion of the rule of law, populist spending measures, and susceptibility to political influence which threaten financial market stability and the overall economic outlook. Moody’s Investor Services has also warned that Turkey’s relatively high exposures to external financing puts it in a vulnerable place.
Foreign interest in Turkey’s property market, particularly amongst Gulf countries, has remained constant throughout the political, economic, and financial fluctuations in the country. According to the Turkish Statistics Office, Turkstat, real estate activities accounted for 7.2% of GDP in 2017. Demand drivers include the country’s “crossroads” geographical location, urban renewal and development projects, and strength in the construction sector. The depreciation of the Turkish lira in 2018 has also prompted a spike in overseas interest.
The top-performing provinces for house purchases among foreigners are Istanbul, Antalya, Bursa, and Yalova. The latest statistics show that property sales to foreign buyers totalled to 39,663 for 2018.
In relation to house price growth, Turkey saw an 11% annual increase in residential prices from 2017 to 2018, ranking 7th in Knight Frank’s Global House Price Index. However, when factoring the 16% inflation, house prices have actually fallen in real terms.
Health care in Turkey comprises of both public and private services, and varies in quality depending on the region. Major urban centres such as Istanbul and Ankara have high-quality private hospitals with experienced doctors and medical staff, most of whom can speak English.
Turkey is also setting itself apart as a medical tourism destination, particularly in the areas of cosmetic surgery, dentistry and fertility treatment.
Private or public health insurance is compulsory for all residents who are under 65 and living in Turkey. Although a free public health insurance scheme is available, foreigners still prefer having private medical insurance to complement their public insurance. Numerous international and Turkish companies cater for private expat health insurance. For Europeans, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which offers free medical treatment across Europe, is not valid in Turkey.
According to the Turkish constitution, every Turkish citizen has the right to education, which is free and compulsory for those starting at age 5, going up to grade 12. With the exception of specially licensed and foreign institutions, Turkish must be taught as the mother tongue. As Turkish is the language of instruction in all public school, and considering that the standards of education may vary, foreign nationals are more inclined to send their children to private or international schools in Turkey.
Private schools in Turkey abide by the Turkish national curriculum. The more renowned private schools may offer a bilingual education. There are also international schools, mostly based in Ankara and Istanbul, which offer varying international curricula and teach in a number of foreign languages, including English, German and French.
Most parts of Turkey are considered as safe to visit. While the country is by no means dangerous, caution is advised, in some areas more than others, particularly south-east Turkey and in vicinity of Syrian borders. The country is classified a ‘Not Free’ in the Freedom House Index, particularly in the case of civil liberties. Occasional demonstrations also take place in Turkish cities, some of which have become violent in the past. Furthermore, while petty crime is not uncommon in tourist areas, crime levels remain low. Numbeo classifies Turkey as having moderate crime levels and being highly safe during daylight hours.
Below a few information about the Turkish Citizenship by Investment Programme. You can also access the full list of Turkish Citizenship Free Travel Countries