It could be said that there are certain things which people in Turkey, or at least some people in Turkey, are unhappy about. But it’s also worth reminding ourselves what the country has got absolutely correct in recent decades. The economic growth rate has been very good indeed hitting as much as 8 % or 9% in some years, 4% or 5% more often.
Depending on how you want to count things it’s the 15th or 18th largest economy on the planet and even the GDP per capita puts it 60th which given the historical background is pretty good. Only Malaysia does better among non-oil producing Muslim states. But what’s really impressive is the way that it has dealt with the growth of the cities, the explosive growth of the cities in fact, and it has done so by recognising one simply economic fact – ownership matters.
This is something that all too many really just don’t get and that Turkey did is why those huge cities are as clean and decent as they are and not like the Third World favelas:
Countries such as India and China have witnessed similar urban explosions, but Turkish cities stand out for also offering an impressive quality of life. The proportion of Turks living in cities has swollen from about half the population 30 years ago to 75% today. Between 2000 and 2015 its major urban areas absorbed 15m new residents. Yet despite their rapid growth, Turkish cities are by and large admirably free of squalor and crime. Middle-class parts of Istanbul, Ankara or Izmir, in Turkey’s relatively prosperous west, are indistinguishable from their far wealthier West European counterparts. Yet even the slums in big eastern cities such as Gaziantep and Diyarbakir have proper sanitation, tidy paved streets, parks and well-maintained schools.
If you survive it this isn’t what a short walk around the outskirts of pretty much any South American (places at about the same level of development) city would show you. Other than Peru, for a reason we’ll come to. The reason?
It was not always thus. Thirty years ago the hills around Turkish cities looked much like Brazil’s, stacked higgledy piggledy with unlicensed shantytowns appropriately known as gecekondu (built overnight). Istanbul had worse public transport, worse water quality and worse pollution than shambolic Cairo; the cheap lignite used for home heating clouded its winter skies in a perpetual acrid fug, and the soupy waters of the Golden Horn, a sea inlet that bisects the European side of the city, were too polluted to sustain fish.
Read the complete article on Forbes