Modern Turkey was founded in 1923 from the remnants of the defeated Ottoman Empire by national hero Mustafa KEMAL, who was later honored with the title Ataturk or "Father of the Turks." Under his leadership, the country adopted radical social, legal, and political reforms. After a period of one-party rule, an experiment with multi-party politics led to the 1950 election victory of the opposition Democrat Party and the peaceful transfer of power. Since then, Turkish political parties have multiplied, but democracy has been fractured by periods of instability and military coups (1960, 1971, 1980), which in each case eventually resulted in a return of formal political power to civilians. In 1997, the military again helped engineer the ouster - popularly dubbed a "post-modern coup" - of the then Islamic-oriented government. Turkey intervened militarily on Cyprus in 1974 to prevent a Greek takeover of the island and has since acted as patron state to the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," which only Turkey recognizes. A separatist insurgency begun in 1984 by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has long dominated the Turkish military's attention and claimed more than 40,000 lives. After the capture of the group's leader in 1999, the insurgents largely withdrew from Turkey mainly to northern Iraq. In 2013, the PKK and the Turkish Government agreed to a cease-fire, but fighting resumed in 2015. Turkey joined the UN in 1945 and in 1952 it became a member of NATO. In 1963, Turkey became an associate member of the European Community; it began accession membership talks with the EU in 2005. Over the past decade, economic reforms have contributed to a quickly growing economy.
Late 2015 and the first half of 2016 witnessed an uptick in terrorist violence in Turkey's two largest cities and elsewhere. Several car bomb and gun attacks in Ankara in October 2015, and two attacks there in February and June 2015 were followed by an attack on Istanbul's Ataturk Airport. On 15 July 2016, elements of the Turkish Armed forces attempted a coup at key government and infrastructure locations in Ankara and Istanbul. An estimated 300 people were killed and over 2,000 injured when Turkish citizens took to the streets en masse to confront the coup forces. Turkish Government authorities subsequently conducted mass arrests of military personnel, detained several thousand judges and journalists, and suspended thousands of educators in connection with the coup. The government accused coup leaders of links to the "Gulen" movement - an Islamic transnational religious and social movement, which the government designates as a terrorist group.
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