Safety in Turkey
Turkey is generally considered a safe destination and many expats relocate to Turkey without problems. Nevertheless, an ongoing risk of terrorism has raised concerns of safety in Turkey, with a number of attacks having targeted popular tourist areas in the past. Road safety is also a concern, and expats should take to the roads with caution.
Although there are no dress restrictions in Turkey, female expats should rather avoid wearing clothing that is too revealing as this may attract unwanted attention.
Crime in Turkey
Crime rates in Turkey are generally low and expats are largely unaffected. Nevertheless, pickpocketing and muggings are common in the popular tourist areas of Turkey, and normal precautions should lower the risk of being a victim of such crimes.
Expats should note that it’s illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish ethnicity, the government or the founder of modern-day Turkey, Mustafa Kemel Ataturk. Penalties for contravening this carry fines and possible imprisonment of up to two years.
Terrorism in Turkey
There is an on-going threat of terrorism in Turkey due to the presence of both local and regional terrorist groups; these largely include Leftists, Kurdish separatists and Islamic extremists. The most prominent terrorist organisation in Turkey is the Kongra-Gel (KGK, PKK), composed of ethnic Kurds with a separatist agenda, who operate mostly in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq.
There have been a number of terrorist attacks in Turkey in recent years, and some of these have specifically targeted public transport and popular tourist areas, including in Istanbul, Ankara, and long the Mediterranean and Aegean coastal resort areas. Security forces are also often targeted by PKK militants in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern provinces, including Diyarbakir, Batman, Hakkâri, Sirnak, Siirt and Tunceli. Attacks are more frequent before major political events and anniversaries associated with the PKK. A number of governments therefore warm their citizens against travel to these regions.
Protests in Turkey
Protests and demonstrations occur quite frequently in Turkey. Taksim Square and Istiklal Caddesi in Istanbul, and the downtown Kizilay area and across the street from the American Embassy in Ankara are popular protest areas. Most protests are directed against the government and its policies.
Road safety in Turkey
Road safety in Turkey is a concern and expats may find driving in Turkey a challenge. Drivers are generally aggressive and often ignore the basic rules of the road. It should be noted that pedestrians don’t have the right of way, so be extra cautious when crossing the road.