Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Contemporary World

1945 to the present

After World War II, a new world order came into being in which two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, played the leading roles. Their ideological differences led to the arms race of the Cold War and fears of a global nuclear conflict. The rest of the world was also drawn into the bipolar bloc system, and very few nations were able to remain truly non-aligned. The East-West conflict came to an end in 1990 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent downfall of the Eastern Bloc. Since that time, the world has been driven by the globalization of worldwide economic and political systems. The world has, however, remained divided: The rich nations of Europe, North America, and East Asia stand in contrast to the developing nations of the Third World.

The first moon landing made science-fiction dreams reality in the year 1969.
Space technology has made considerable progress as the search for new
possibilities of using space continues.



Greece and Turkey

SINCE 1945


see also: United Nations member states -
Greece, Turkey, Cyprus


Before the two neighboring states Greece and Turkey became democracies, both countries suffered under dictatorial regimes. After World War II, both countries became industrial and trading nations. Conflict-laden contentious issues between them have included the mineral resources of the Aegean Sea in the territory that lies between them, which is claimed by both countries, and claims to the island of Cyprus. While Greece had been part of the European Union since the 1980s, Turkey remains a candidate for membership.


Turkey: On the Path to Democracy 1945-1970

Turkey became an industrialized state after World War II, but the path to democracy was not without numerous setbacks.


Anglo-French military guarantees to Turkey given just before the Second World War succeeded in keeping her neutral during the war, despite strong German pressure. Following the death of Kemal Ataturk in 1938, Ismet Inonut became head of state. After 1945, as president, he sought support from the West, and Turkey was accepted into the Marshall Plan program. Membership in NATO followed in 1952. The allocation of Western aid was tied to the pursuit of democratic reform. Turkey therefore adopted a multi-party system, and in the elections of 1950 the newly founded opposition, the Democratic party led by Adnan Menderes gained a majority. The economic boom at the beginning of the 1950s was followed by an economic crisis that put the Democrats under pressure. In addition, the secularist elite criticized the pro-religious policies of the party. President Menderes reacted to the criticism with suppressive measures.

In May i960, a "Committee of National Unity" led by 1 General Cemal Gursel organized a coup against the Menderes government.

Gursel banned the Democratic party and arrested its leadership; 2 Menderes was executed.

Although the new constitution established in 1961 had liberal characteristics, governments were henceforth subject to the scrutiny of a National Security Council dominated by the commanders of the armed forces.

The justice party, the successor party to the Democrats, won the elections of 1965.

The new head of government, 3 Suleyman Demirel, was confronted by growing social and economic problems and rising radicalism.

1 Cemal Gursel, center, after 1961

2 Execution of
Adrian Menderes,

3 Leader of the Justice Party Suleyman Demirel,

Demirel oriented his economic policies toward the West and followed the advice of the World Bank.

Consequently, industry outstripped the 4 agrarian sector, though only a minority profited from this development.

Numerous Turks 5 emigrated.

The workers organized into unions, and the extremist factions that emerged, some of them Islamist, were further to the right and left of the two major parties. Over the decades, terrorist acts by these groups contributed to Turkey's political destabilization.

4 Turkish women and girls in a field harvesting cotton, a main product of the Turkish economy, 1989

5 Turkish immigrant workers waiting at a German airport,



The Kurdish Minority

The Kurdish people live where Turkey, Iran, and Iraq meet. The Kurds feel oppressed by the Turkish government. A separatist organization, the Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK), has made itself the mouthpiece for Kurdish autonomy. These were expressed with increasing violence after 1984.

By 1999,37,000 people had died infighting between the PKK and Turkish forces. It was not until 1991 that the Kurds were officially recognized as a minority. The violence has decreased since the arrest of the PKK leader, Abdullah Qcalan, in 1999. Since 2002 Turkey has eased restrictions on using the Kurdish language in education and broadcasting.

Turkish soldier with the
corpse of a PKK member, 1996




The Major Role of the Military since 1970

Turkey experienced two further military coups. Yet simultaneously Turkey made the transition from a developing country to a country on the threshold of economic takeoff.


In 1971 President Demirel was ousted when the army took power. By suspending civil rights, the junta brutally but effectively fought radical and terrorist factions for two years. The political system remained untouched.

In 1973, the social-democratic Republican People's party under 6 Bulent Ecevit took over government.

6 Biulent Ecevit in front of a picture of
Kemal Ataturk, 1998

Ecevit formed a coalition with Necmettin Erbakan's Islamist National Salvation party. Ecevit was credited with the invasion of Cyprus  that followed the attempted Greek coup of 1974, but this did not translate into support at the polls.

In the following years, he and Demirel took turns in the leading offices of state but were unable to solve the continuing problems facing the country: 9 economic crises, 10 Islamism, and separatist terrorism.

9 Occupants of wooden houses, who have little hope of improvement in living conditions, slum area in Istanbul

10 Four Turkish Muslim women wearing chadors
and a headscarf (right), in contemporary Istanbul

In 1975 there were 34 victims of violence, 1500 by 1980. On September 12, 1980, there was a third coup. General Kenan Evren dissolved parliament and disbanded political parties and unions. Thousands were jailed, tortured and executions were rife. He nonetheless succeeded in reducing the number of terrorist acts. After a new constitution was accepted by referendum in 1982, the military withdrew from power. The centralized government still allowed little autonomy to the country's provinces.

The centrist Motherland party won in the elections of 1983. Prime Minister 8 Turgut Ozal promoted democratization and market reforms, while reducing the influence of the military.

In 1991, he gave the Kurds some cultural autonomy, Ozal oriented himself politically and economically toward the West and in 1987 applied for membership in the European Community. In 1989 Ozal was elected president, and Demirel became prime minister in the elections of 1991 as head of the True Path party.

Demirel then became president after Ozal's death in 1993, and his position as prime minister was filled for the first time ever by a woman, 7 Tansu Ciller.

Since the 1980s, Islamic tendencies in Turkey have been increasing. The Islamic Welfare party first won a majority in the elections of 1995 but was banned in 1998. The electoral success of the newly founded conservative-Islamic AK party in 2002 was also a response of the populace to the economic crisis that was gripping the country.

Prime Minister 11 Recep Tayyip Erdogan has managed to secure the opening of membership negotiations with the European Union, which are due to begin in late 2005.

However, membership remains conditional upon the continuation of political and economic reform, together with full-fledged respect of human rights. Links between the European Community and Turkey began in 1963 through an association agreement, and since 1995 the country has shared a customs union with the EU.

8 Prime Minister Turgut Ozal (right) with his Greek counterpart Andreas Papandreou, 1988

7 Prime minister Tansu Ciller, photo, 1997

11 Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a
visit to the mosque, 2003


see also: United Nations member states -
Greece, Turkey, Cyprus



Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

| privacy