Located between Europe and Asia, Turkey has a unique, pivotal strategic position in the world. Turkey is a major trading partner of Europe and its economy has continued to grow exponentially even during the global financial crises. Turkey increasingly plays an important political role not only in the Middle East and Europe but also globally. The first country with a Muslim majority population to join NATO, Turkey is also the only such country to become a candidate to join the European Union in 2005. Turkey also has a breathtakingly rich cultural heritage and a nearly matchless natural and archeological heritage.
Turkey is a country that defies preconceived notions about the Middle East and Islam and challenges some influential social science theses such as the modernization and secularization theses. Turkey is a unique country to learn about history and to analyze contemporary issues including the rise of political Islam, secularism, women’s movements, nationalism, state formation, and the effects of cultural and economic globalization.