The Turkish economy continued to grow at a good pace, being less affected than others by the international financial crisis. According to Eurostat, in 2009 its GDP increased more than any other European country (9.2%), continuing that constant process of approaching continental levels, from which however it still remains far away (T. is last of all European countries by annual per capita income). In the following years, GDP continued to grow sharply in the 2010-11 two-year period and then contracted slightly. The robust economic growth of Turkey in recent years has attracted foreign capital destined for the construction of modern production plants (among these we note, in particular, those of European car manufacturers under the joint venture). However, overall the value of foreign investments is not as high as one might expect, both due to the difficult economic situation on European markets and because investor confidence is compromised by the geopolitical instability on Turkey’s borders.
The intense infrastructural development, albeit tainted by scandals involving prominent politicians accused of corruption, has led to the construction of important public works, such as the railway tunnel under the Bosphorus (Marmaray), inaugurated on 29 October 2013, and the dams of the GAP project (Great Anatolian Project ; v. beyond). Furthermore, important infrastructural achievements have been carried out in the hydrocarbon transport sector, of which the Turkey is confirmed as a fundamental node of the international network. After the opening in May 2006 of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline to connect the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, in July 2009 an agreement was signed for the construction of the Nabucco gas pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Europe. Looking ahead, the agreement signed on 1 December 2014 in the presence of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin for the construction of a gas pipeline across the Black Sea is of strategic importance. Mutual interests in the energy sector have made Turkey the second largest buyer of Russian gas after Germany and, moreover, Russia undertook to supply technicians for the construction of the first Turkish nuclear power plant in Akkuyu (near Büyükeceli, in southern Turkey) Indicative of the positive moment that the Turkish economy is experiencing is the inversion of the migratory balance (+0.46 ‰): a country historically accustomed to strong outflows has now become a destination for inbound flows. The fact that in many cases these are transits of Syrian migrants or refugees destined for other European countries does not invalidate the overall image of a country that in recent years has gained in terms of attractiveness, both for foreign companies and for international migrants. For Turkey 2001, please check naturegnosis.com.
Compared to this overall positive economic picture, however, it is necessary to highlight some critical elements: youth unemployment, the condition of women, the shortcomings of the training system and the growing gaps both between regions and between cities and countryside. The total unemployment figure (9.5% in 2014) is in line with that of many other countries (9.3%), but the rate for the younger population raises concerns; in fact, youth unemployment reaches 24%, which in a country with an age pyramid squeezed downwards signals the inability to meet the job expectations of the new recruits. Regarding the condition of women, it must be admitted that, for a country that guaranteed them the right to vote earlier than Italy did (precisely in 1935, while in Italy only in 1946), the role in Turkish society has not made substantial progress in recent years, remaining penalized by a social conservatism which undermines its contribution to the growth of Turkish society. This is evident, for example, in the still limited number of women in top positions in public institutions or in the low participation rate of the female workforce (about half the OECD average). The issue of women does not seem to attract the necessary attention from the authorities, as evidenced by the lack of childcare services and the poor education of women, whose illiteracy rate is 9.7%, against 2.1% of the men. In terms of training, albeit with a recent increase in school attendance rates and public funds allocated to the sector, the efforts still appear insufficient: the international rankings relegate the young Turkish generations to the last places in comparison with their peers in advanced countries, and the entire school system still appears to be characterized by antiquated methods that favor conformity, mechanical learning and deference to authority. In this regard, the increase in enrollment in religious schools and the progressive abolition for women of the ban on wearing the veil in schools and universities are significant in the new climate.
As regards territorial imbalances, Turkey is a country that has been urbanizing very rapidly in recent decades, and the share of the rural population on the total has drastically decreased (28.5% in 2011, against 61.5% in 1970). In 2013, out of about 76 million residents, İstanbul alone hosted more than 11 million, which became 14 considering the entire metropolitan area; the capital, Ankara, about 4.5 million and the city of Smyrna, on the Aegean coast, almost 3. The territorial gap is not only in demographic behavior, but in the whole set of social statistics, which show rural areas as less prosperous and less educated. Rapid urbanization thus becomes representative of the growth of a middle class which is configured as substantially urban and which highlights far-reaching social changes. It is no coincidence that the rift between urban and rural areas increasingly marks the electoral geography of Turkey, with the former acting as spokespersons for modernist and secular demands while the latter act as bastions of the parties most committed to the defense of traditional customs and values. In addition to the city-countryside fracture, the geography of Turkey is characterized by profound regional disparities, with the areas of south-eastern Anatolia in conditions of net backwardness compared to the rest of the country: income distribution, education levels, employment rates, the status of women, the effective exercise of civil rights, the quality of public services and communications are still far behind in these regions.