Turkey is a Eurasian country that stretches across the Anatolian peninsula in southwest Asia and the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. Turkey borders eight countries: Bulgaria to the northwest, Greece to the west, Georgia to the northeast, Armenia, Azerbaijan (the Nakhichevan exclave), and Iran to the east, Iraq and Syria to the southeast. It borders the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Aegean Sea to the west, and the Black Sea to the north. Turkey also contains the Sea of Marmara, which is used by geographers to mark the border between Europe and Asia, thus making Turkey transcontinental.
The region comprising modern Turkey has overseen the birth of major civilizations such as the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Because of its strategic location, where two continents meet, Turkey's culture has a unique blend of Eastern and Western tradition, often described as a bridge between the two civilizations. A powerful regional presence in the Eurasian landmass with strong cultural and economic influence in the area between the Adriatic Sea in the west and China in the east, Russia in the north and the Middle East in the south, Turkey has come to acquire increasing strategic significance.
Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic whose political system was established in 1923 under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, following the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of World War I. Since then, Turkey has become increasingly integrated with the West while continuing to foster relations with the Eastern world. It is a founding member of the United Nations, the OECD, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe; a member state of the Council of Europe since 1949, and of NATO since 1952. Turkey joined the European Economic Community (today known as the European Union) as an associate member in 1963, the Western European Union as an associate member in 1992, and signed the EU Customs Union agreement in 1995. Since 2005, Turkey has been in full accession negotiations with the European Union. Turkey is also a member of the G-20, which brings together the 20 largest economies of the world.
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