Turkey, which holds general elections Sunday, is a secular Muslim-majority country that straddles Europe and Asia, located in a strategic zone between Europe, the Middle East and the Caucasus.
: On an area of 779,452 square kilometres (311,781 square miles) unevenly divided between Europe and Asia, Turkey borders Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Greece and Bulgaria.
It has the Mediterranean Sea to its south, the Aegean to the west and the Black Sea to the north and surrounds the Sea of Marmara.
POPULATION: The Turkish Statistics Institute (TUIK) put the population at 73.7 million in 2010.
CAPITAL: Ankara, population 4.7 million. Istanbul is the country's largest city and industrial and commercial hub with a population of 13.2 million (TUIK 2010 figures).
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: Turkish.
RELIGION: Muslim (99 percent): 80 percent Sunni, 20 percent Alevi. Armenians form the largest non-Muslim religious minority, with about 45,000 people, followed by some 35,000 Jews.
RECENT HISTORY: The Republic of Turkey was created as a secular state in 1923 after the collapse of the Ottoman empire at the end of World War I. Its founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was president until his death in 1938.
His successor Ismet Inonu ran the country under a single-party system until 1946, when he introduced multi-party democracy. Turkey was the scene of military coups followed by periods of repression in 1960, 1971 and 1980.
In 1997, an army-led campaign forced the resignation of the country's first Islamist-led government.
Since 1984, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has led an armed rebellion in the Kurdish-majority southeast that has claimed some 45,000 lives.
POLITICS: Abdullah Gul has been president since August 28, 2007.
The Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party, which describes itself as a conservative democratic movement, came to power in November 2002.
Its leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan became prime minister in March 2003.
The party was re-elected in June 2007.
In 2005, Turkey began membership talks with the European Union, but the process is at standstill amid a row over Cyprus and opposition to the country's accession amonng EU members.
Out of 35 policy areas that candidates must negotiate, Turkey has opened talks in only 13, with eight chapters frozen since 2006 over Ankara's refusal to grant trade privileges to Cyprus.
ECONOMY: The economy has staged a strong recovery after a severe recession, with gross domestic product (GDP) growing 8.9 percent in 2010 following a contraction of 4.7 percent the previous year.
Some key indicators for 2010 (TUIK/Treasury):
Per capita income: 10,079 dollars
Inflation: 6.4 percent
Jobless rate: 11.9 percent
Exports: $119.4 billion
Imports: $203.1 billion
Tourism revenues: $20.8 billion
Foreign direct investment: $8.9 billion
Public dept: 41.6 percent of GDP
Turkey has a customs union agreement with the European Union since 1996.
ARMED FORCES: A NATO member since 1952, Turkey has 514,850 troops, 402,000 of them land forces, 52,750 navy and 60,100 air force.