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Destination: Turkey

Turkey - One Of The Most Popular Dental Tourism Destination

Turkey's Cappadocia

Country Profile

Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, parliamentary republic with a diverse cultural heritage. Ankara is the capital while Istanbul is the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial center. 

Turkey is a transcontinental Eurasian country. Asian Turkey, which includes 97% of the country, is separated from European Turkey by the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles. European Turkey comprises 3% of the country. Turkey is divided into 7 geographical regions: Marmara, Aegean, Black Sea, Central Anatolia, Eastern Anatolia, Southeastern Anatolia and the Mediterranean.

Turkey's extraordinary ecosystem and habitat diversity have produced considerable species diversity. Anatolia is the homeland of many plants that have been cultivated for food since the advent of agriculture, and the wild ancestors of many plants that now provide staples for humankind still grow in Turkey. The diversity of Turkey's fauna is even greater than that of its flora. The number of animal species in the whole of Europe is around 60,000, while in Turkey there are over 80,000 (over 100,000 counting the subspecies). There are 40 national parks, 189 nature parks, 31 nature preserve areas, 80 wildlife protection areas and 109 nature monuments in Turkey such as Gallipoli Peninsula Historical National Park, Mount Nemrut National Park, Ancient Troya National Park, Ölüdeniz Nature Park and Polonezköy Nature Park.

Turkey is situated in a large Mediterranean geographical location where climatic conditions are quite temperate, diverse nature of the landscape, and the existence in particular of the mountains that run parallel to the coasts, result in significant differences in climatic conditions from one region to the other. While the coastal areas enjoy milder climates, the inland Anatolian plateau experiences extremes of hot summers and cold winters with limited rainfall. Turkey’s diverse regions have different climates because of irregular topography. The Taurus Mountains are close to the coast and rain clouds cannot penetrate to the interior part of the country.

National Demographic

Approximately 70-80% of the country's citizens identify themselves as ethnic Turks. Other ethnic groups include legally recognized (Armenians, Greeks, Jews) and unrecognized (Kurds, Arabs, Circassians, Albanians, Bosniaks, Georgians, etc.) minorities. Kurds are the largest ethnic minority group, making up approximately 20% of the population.

The country's official language is Turkish, which is spoken by 85.54% of the population as the first language. 11.97% of the population speaks the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish as a mother tongue. Arabic and Zaza are the mother tongues of 2.39% of the population, and several other languages are the mother tongues of smaller parts of the population. Endangered languages in Turkey include Abaza, Abkhaz, Adyghe, Cappadocian Greek, Gagauz, Hértevin, Homshetsma, Kabard-Cherkes, Ladino (Judesmo), Laz, Mlahso, Pontic Greek, Romani, Suret, Turoyo, Ubykh, and Western Armenian.

Turkey is a secular state with no official state religion; the Turkish Constitution provides for freedom of religion and conscience. The role of religion has been a controversial debate over the years since the formation of Islamist parties. Other religions in Turkey are Christianity, Judaism, Agnosticism, and atheism.


In fixed-line services, Türk Telekom holds significant market power and presently owns all the telephone exchange, distribution network and transmission infrastructure in Turkey. At the end of the second quarter of 2016, there were 11,248,495 fixed voice subscribers in Turkey. Given that the average household size in Turkey is 3.6 persons, almost the entire domestic population can access fixed voice services, with a certain saturation point having been reached.

In mobile services, the leading companies are TurkcellTürk Telekom, and Vodafone. In the second quarter of 2016, Turkey had 73.6 million mobile phone subscribers and the penetration ratio reached 93.5% (penetration ratio is 106% when the 0-9-year-old population and M2M communication are excluded). Also, Turkey has the longest monthly average mobile voice call duration, 426 minutes. To set up the competition and get services to improve, number portability (that is, the ability to transfer telephone numbers between different operators) was enacted in 2008 and more than 96 million portability transactions have been made so far.

There are more companies providing internet services compared to mobile services. TTNETTurkcell, Superonline and Türksat Co are the largest companies. The most common technology is xDSL, although investors are currently focused on fiber optic interconnecting technologies. Internet service providers give service on a notification basis.

English Literacy

The English Proficiency Index (EPI) ranks Turkey 43rd among 44 countries, behind countries such as Chile, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia. 44th is Kazakhstan. The survey was conducted by Education First (EF), the world’s largest privately held education company. As such, Turkey’s lacking performance is surprising considering that it is the world’s 16th largest economy and a highly important player in the region. Turkey, however, is an economy still in the process of modernization. It wants to be part of the world’s knowledge economy but hasn’t been able to make the jump. We can argue that English proficiency is not the result of a knowledge economy, but a step towards it, and that conscious programs are needed in order to reach that stage. 

Turkey’s poor English proficiency is part of a broader education problem. Turkey spends only $12,708 dollars per student. That roughly means that there are less money and opportunity in teaching, that textbooks are worse (English textbooks have recently been replaced with ones written and manufactured in Turkey) and extracurricular is almost non-existent.

Perhaps the most notable deficiency here is the age at which language instruction begins. The deficiencies of Turkey’s education system are well known, but it is important to note that English instruction perhaps takes the most significant blow. The result is that it is almost impossible to attain good English skills through Turkey’s education system. This leaves the task to private schools and tutors, which are difficult to afford for a large segment of the population.

It is no secret today that Turkey’s education system is ineffective. In the long run, it is imperative for Turkey’s economic growth to reform its education system, including English education. Turkey’s poor English proficiency, however, is too acute a problem to be left for the long term. The country is growing quickly and needs to transform into a knowledge-driven economy in the near future. 

School System

The Ministry of National Education is responsible for pre-tertiary education. This is compulsory and lasts twelve years: four years each of primary school, middle school and high school. Less than half of 25- to 34-year-old Turks have completed at least high school, compared with an OECD average of over 80%. Basic education in Turkey is considered to lag behind other OECD countries, with significant differences between high and low performers. Turkey is ranked 32nd out of 34 in the OECD's PISA study. Access to high-quality school heavily depends on the performance in the secondary school entrance exams, to the point that some students begin taking private tutoring classes when they are 10 years old. The overall adult literacy rate in 2011 was 94.1%; 97.9% for males and 90.3% for females. 

As of 2017, there are 190 universities in Turkey. Entry to higher education depends on the Student Selection and Placement System (ÖSYS). In 2008, the quota of admitted students was 600,000, compared to 1,700,000 who took the higher education exam in 2007. Except for the Open Education Faculties (AÖF) at Anadolu, Istanbul University, and Atatürk University; entrance is regulated by the national ÖSYS examination, after which high school graduates are assigned to universities according to their performance. According to the 2012–2013 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the top university in Turkey is Middle East Technical University (in the 201–225 rank range), followed by Bilkent University and Koç University (both in the 226–250 range), Istanbul Technical University and Boğaziçi University (in the 276–300 bracket). All state and private universities are under the control of the Higher Education Board (YÖK), whose head is appointed by the President of Turkey; executive order 676 of October 2016 has created a system where in addition the President directly appoints all rectors of all state and private universities. Turkey is a member of the European Higher Education Area and actively participates in the Bologna Process.

Higher Education

Turkish universities are Republican institutions, following Atatürk's principles ("Six Arrows"). Universities, faculties, and institutes of four-year higher education schools are founded by Law, while the two-year vocational schools, departments, and divisions are established by the Council of Higher Education (YÖK). Universities are under the supervision of this Council and their programmes must be regularly accredited. The Council of Higher Education is a fully autonomous national board of trustees without any political or government affiliation. Universities have their rectors, deans, Senate, and administrative boards, as well as student councils. In the universities, the instruction is generally in Turkish. Some universities use English, French, and German as the language of instruction with one preparatory year if necessary.

After the high school, the graduates enter a two-stage examination system known as YGS and LYS (formerly known as ÖSS - Student Selection Examination) in order to be admitted to Higher Education institutions. These nation-wide centralized examinations are administrated by the Student Selection and Placement Center (ÖSYM) every year, which determines candidates for the enrollment of each university and faculty after evaluating the grades of related subjects, their high school average results and their preferences according to the student capacity of each faculty. Those with good grades are qualified for the four-year undergraduate programmes and at the end, they can get a Bachelor's Degree (BA), those who have grades at the limit can be admitted to the two-year higher education programmes and at the end, they can get an Associate's Degree (AA). Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine courses last for five years and Medicine for six years.

After a four-year faculty, one can go further for his/her Master's Degree which lasts for two years with thesis and non-thesis options. Access to doctoral programs requires a master’s degree and has a duration of minimum four years with a doctoral thesis at the end. The graduates of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Dentistry can directly apply to Ph.D./Doctorate programmes.

The purpose of higher education is to raise the students in line with their interests and skills, in conformance to the science policy of the country and in consideration of qualified manpower needs of society at several levels, to do researches in scientific areas, to arrange for all kinds of publications that show the research and examination results and facilitate advancement of science and technology, to finalize the researches and examinations demanded by the government and to make comments, to make written or oral public announcements explaining the scientific data that shall increase the general level of Turkish society and enlighten the public, and to give non-formal education.

Medical Education

History of Medical Education Schools in Turkey starts at Ottoman Empire times. The first medical school was opened on 14 March 1827. Medical education lasts six years in Turkey. Medical students are selected from among high school graduates through a nation-wide exam. One does not need to have a BA degree in order to apply for medical education in Turkey. Every medical school graduate is qualified to practice as a general practitioner. Those who want to specialize need to take a centrally administered examination organized by the Council of Higher Education. The examination is held twice a year and graduates can sit the examination as many times as they like. Based on examination performance ranks and selected preferences graduates are assigned to institutions.

There are 47 medical schools in Turkey. All but three of them still utilize traditional and integrated systems. Dokuz Eylül University Medical School was the first to implement the problem-based learning curriculum in 1997-98 academic years. It has been followed by Pamukkale University Medical School. Ankara University Medical School (Ankara University School of Medicine), the oldest medical school of Turkey’s capital city, which has been utilizing the traditional method since its foundation in 1945, also implemented the problem-based learning curriculum in 2002.

The Dentistry Profession

Today, Turkish Dentistry, with its organization, scientific level, and its industry, has reached the power and maturity of the international scale to compete with the entire industrialized countries. The competitive capacity and the vision acquired are increasing our expectations for the future.

Turkish Dental Association entered into a long-termed endeavor for this aim following its establishment; and has become a prestigious professional organization well known with its mission and international relations, both in its region and in the globe.

On behalf of our country, in order to reach our target which we have determined, Turkish Dental Association has taken a leading role by improving the unity and by displaying the conjugate movement decision with Dental Faculties, Scientific Dental Societies, Dental Equipment Industrialist and Businessmen Society and Dental Technicians Chambers, who are the components of our profession.

In this context, besides its active memberships in FDI and EROTurkish Dental Association continues its highest-level professional solidarity with Balkan countries, Turkic Republics, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Arab countries.

Turkish Dental Association (TDA) is one of the most active professional associations in Turkey and it acts as the collective "voice" of nearly 24,000 dentists and is founded on June 7th, 1985 as a regulatory body for dentistry in Turkey and the central office is located in the capital city of Turkey, Ankara.

Dentists are organized through local chambers which exist in every city where the number of the dentists is more than 100 and the delegates of the chambers are all represented in the organization of TDA. Currently, there are 34 dental chambers functioning under the supervision of TDA. The Supreme Board of Directors and the Supreme Boards of Auditors and Disciplinary of TDA are elected by local delegates in the General Assembly for a period of two years. The problems of the dental profession and the solutions are discussed in these General Assemblies.

The Council of TDA consists of 11 members. There are 5 members of the Auditors Board and 9 members of the Supreme Disciplinary Board. The Council regularly meets at monthly intervals. The Supreme Disciplinary Board has regular meetings in January, May, and October, while the Supreme Auditors Board meets twice a year. Besides the Council and the Boards, there are also functioning commissions under the supervision of TDA.

Getting There For Dental Care

The wide range of flights to Turkey from the UK (fewer from Ireland) takes between 3hr 30min and 5hr, depending on your start and end point. Only two carriers fly directly to Turkey from North America, so most North Americans reach Turkey via a European gateway airport. Many travelers from Australia and New Zealand use a Round-the-World (RTW) ticket that includes İstanbul; there are direct flights from South Africa to İstanbul.

Airfares from Europe and North America are at their highest during Easter week and from June to early September. They’re lower in April and May, and from late September into October, while you’ll get the best prices of all between November and March (excluding Christmas and New Year, when seats are at a premium). Australian and New Zealand fares are lowest from mid-January to the end of February and October/November; peak season is mid-May to August, plus December to mid-January. Flight comparison sites are a good way to search for the cheapest option.

The main international airports are in western Turkey. Istanbul's main airport, Istanbul Atatürk International Airport (IST), is in Yeşilköy, 23km west of Sultanahmet. The international terminal (Dış Hatlar) is polished and organized. Close by, the domestic terminal (İç Hatlar) is smaller but no less efficient. Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW), This airport on İstanbul's Asian side is popular with low-cost European airlines but is not as conveniently located as Atatürk. Antalya Airport (AYT), Receives flights from across Turkey and Europe. İzmir Adnan Menderes Airport (ADB), There are many flights from European destinations. Bodrum International Airport (Milas–Bodrum Airport) (BJV), Receives flights from all over Europe, mostly with charters and budget airlines in summer, and from İstanbul and Ankara with the Turkish airlines. Dalaman International Airport (DLM), Seasonal flights from many European cities, and year-round from İstanbul. Ankara Esenboğa Airport (Esenboğa International Airport) (ESB), Numerous international and domestic connections from Ankara, although İstanbul's airports offer more choice.

Turkish Airlines, the national carrier, has extensive international and domestic networks, including budget subsidiaries Sun Express and AnadoluJet. It is generally considered a safe airline, and its operational safety is certified by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Traveling to Turkey by train is slow and expensive. It only makes sense if you are a rail buff or wish to visit several other countries en route. The best route from the UK begins with the Eurostar service from London Waterloo to Paris, then an overnight sleeper to Munich, followed by a daytime Euro-City departure to Budapest, and finally two more nights aboard a sleeper to İstanbul (including a change of engine in Bucharest), making a total journey of five days and four nights. The best train deal is provided by an InterRail pass, which offers unlimited travel (except for express train supplements and reservation fees) on a zonal basis within thirty European rail networks. These passes are only available to European residents, and you must provide proof of residency to purchase one. InterRail passes do not allow free travel between Britain and the Continent; although InterRail pass-holders are eligible for discounts on rail travel in Britain and Northern Ireland, the cross-Channel ferries, and the London to Paris Eurostar service.

You can drive from the UK to Turkey in three to four days. However, this allows little time for stopping and sleeping, and most travelers prefer to do it more slowly, taking in a few places en route. The all-land itinerary goes via Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, though a more relaxing if the less direct route is through France, Italy, and Greece.

Ferries no longer run from Italy direct to Turkey, but it’s possible to take a ferry from either Ancona, Brindisi or Bari to Patras in Greece, and make your way by road or rail to Athens (Piraeus). Regular ferries sail from there to several Greek islands that are linked by further ferries to Turkey.

Visitor Highlights

Tourism in Turkey has experienced rapid growth in the last twenty years and constitutes an important part of the economy. The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism currently promotes Turkish tourism under the Turkey Home name. In 2013, 37.8 million foreign visitors arrived in Turkey, which ranked as the 6th most popular tourism destination in the world; they contributed $27.9 billion to Turkey's revenues. In 2012, 15% of the tourists were from Germany, 11% from Russia, 8% from the United Kingdom, 5% from Bulgaria, 4% each from Georgia, the Netherlands and Iran, 3% from France, 2% each from the United States and Syria, and 40% from other countries. 

Turkey has 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the "Historic Areas of Istanbul", the "Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia", the "Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük", "Hattusa: the Hittite Capital", the "Archaeological Site of Troy", "Pergamon and its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape", "Hierapolis – Pamukkale", "Mount Nemrut (Nemrut Dağ)", "Ephesus", and "Archaeological Site of Ani"; and 49 World Heritage Sites in tentative list, such as the archaeological sites or historic urban centres of Göbekli Tepe, Gordion, Aphrodisias, Perga, Lycia, Sagalassos, Aizanoi, Zeugma, Harran and Sanliurfa, Mardin, Konya and Alanya

Turkey hosts two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Mausoleum in Halicarnassus and the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus.