Safety in Turkey

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Turkey is generally considered a safe destination and many expats relocate there 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, including Istanbul's Ataturk Airport. Road safety is also a concern, and expats should take to the roads with caution. 

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.

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.

Terrorism in Turkey

There is an ongoing 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 Kurdistan People's Congress (also known as Kongra-Gel (KGK) or PKK), composed of ethnic Kurds with a separatist agenda, who operate mostly in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. Most recently, the regional terrorist group, Isis, has also carried out attacks in Turkey.
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 along the Mediterranean and Aegean coastal resort areas. Security forces have often been targeted by PKK militants in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern provinces, including Diyarbakir, Batman, Hakkâri, Sirnak, Siirt and Tunceli. Although PKK activity has seen a definite decline in recent years following a ceasefire and talks with the Turkish government, a number of other groups, such as the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) ans ISIL, continue to present a threat. Attacks are more frequent before major political events and anniversaries. Due to the terrorist threat, a number of governments warn their citizens to be vigilant and advise against travel to higher-risk regions.

Due to the ongoing conflict in neighbouring Syria, and the impact this has had on some Turkish towns, which have been struck by stray bullets and artillery rounds, a number of governments also carry advisories against travel to the border areas with Syria. Expats should follow the instructions of their local embassy with regards to travel to the Syrian border or any other high-risk areas in Turkey.

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. Expats should monitor local developments and avoid all large political gatherings.

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.

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