Turkey has been inhabited since the earliest ages of human civilization. For its 80 million citizens, it is a nation of pride and historical significance. However, Turkey has been more prominent in recent years due to political reasons. The governing party in Turkey, the Justice and Development Party, has largely been in control of the country since 2002. This has indelibly had an impact on many facets of Turkish living. Infrastructure in Turkey has been one of the biggest beneficiaries, and amazing progress has transformed the country’s foundation.
During the last 15 years, Turkey has spent nearly $100 billion to construct new railways, roadways, tunnels, bridges and airports to support its growing status as an international trade partner. In March 2017, the Turkish government allocated an additional $64 billion in order to complete the existing 3,500 infrastructure projects and begin new ones, such as a national space agency.
Due to Turkey’s large size — it is slightly bigger than Texas — travel throughout the country has historically been difficult. The massive infrastructure projects sought to bring its citizens closer together. Improved roadways were necessary; however, Turkey drives less than any other country in Europe. Therefore, new railways and improvements to its bus system have been instrumental in making travel easier.
Perhaps the most important improvement to infrastructure in Turkey focuses on its principal city, Istanbul. As the largest city in Europe by population and fourth by landmass, traveling through Istanbul presents unique challenges. To this end, Turkey has created several innovative approaches to navigating the ancient city. These include the Metrobus system, a rapid-speed bus system completely separate from streets congested by cars. Of more ingenuity and significance is the Marmaray tunnel, a submarine railway system that traverses the Bosphorus Strait, one of the most important waterways in the world.
The glut of projects related to infrastructure in Turkey, despite the astronomical costs, was necessary. The sheer size of the country and the likelihood of earthquakes meant that the country’s infrastructure had to be strong as well as convenient.
Turkey’s bold moves to improve its infrastructure over the last 15 years have modernized the country and tripled its economy. Exports have quadrupled, and travel is faster and easier than it has ever been. Political turmoil aside, Turkey’s efforts to strengthen its infrastructure and by proxy improve its economy should be recognized.
– Eric Paulsen