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State Department: Turkey - Consular Information Sheet, July 31, 1997


Turkey - Consular Information Sheet
July 31, 1997

Country Description: Turkey is a moderately developed nation with extensive tourist facilities of all classes in the main tourist destinations.

Entry Requirements: A passport and visa are required. For further information, travelers in the U.S. may contact the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey at 1714 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, tel. (202) 659-8200, or the nearest Turkish consulate in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, or New York. Overseas, travelers may contact the nearest Turkish embassy or consulate. Holders of official and diplomatic passports must obtain a visa prior to arrival in Turkey. Tourists may purchase a sticker visa at the port of entry.

Areas of Instability: For years, urban and rural acts of terrorism throughout Turkey have caused loss of life and injury to government officials, civilians and some foreign tourists. While most incidents have occurred in eastern Turkey, one terrorist group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) claims to target tourist sites and tourist-oriented facilities in western Turkey as well, in an effort to inflict economic harm on the country. In 1994, PKK bomb attacks at some of Istanbul's most popular tourist attractions, including St. Sophia and the Covered Bazaar, resulted in the death of two foreign tourists. In August 1995, several bombings in Istanbul resulted in two deaths and 36 injuries. Due to PKK bombings on local intercity buses, travelers may be subject to security baggage screening by the Turkish National Police. Some terrorist groups have also targeted the personnel and property of organizations with official and commercial ties to the United States.

Eastern Provinces: Travel to southeastern Turkey could be hazardous, with the exception of coastal areas. Terrorist acts by the PKK continue throughout the eastern provinces. These attacks are not only against Turkish police and military installations, but also against civilian targets, including public ground transportation. While most attacks have been at night, daytime incidents do occur. The PKK has kidnapped foreigners in eastern Turkey to generate media attention for their separatist cause. A number of foreigners, including Americans, have been held by the PKK and eventually released. In 1995, Mount Ararat was declared a special military zone and access is now prohibited. In light of the dangerous security conditions for travelers in eastern Turkey, the U.S. military has advised its personnel to avoid all tourist travel to this region. U.S. Embassy and Consulate personnel travel to southeastern Turkey only for essential U.S. government business. The following provinces in the southeastern part of the country have been under a state of emergency since 1978: Van, Hakkari, Sirnak, Batman, Tunceli, Diyarbakir, Siirt, Bitlis, and Bingol. The provinces of Elazig, Mus, and Mardin are considered "sensitive areas" and are designated one level below state of emergency status.

Travelers are cautioned not to accept letters, parcels or other items from strangers for delivery to the above areas. The same advice applies to requests to take items from those areas. There are indications that the PKK terrorist group has attempted to use foreigners for this purpose. If discovered, individuals could be arrested for aiding and abetting the PKK - a serious charge.

Medical Information: Medical facilities are available, but may be limited outside urban areas. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. The reported number of cases of cholera and other water-borne diseases in the metropolitan Istanbul area has decreased. In the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, there are recurring outbreaks of dysentery, typhoid fever, meningitis and other contagious diseases. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Travelers have found that in some cases, supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage has proved useful. Further information on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559 or by visiting the CDC Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.

Crime Information: Street crime is not a major concern in Turkey. However, as in other large metropolitan areas throughout the world, there is some crime against tourists, particularly in Istanbul, including pickpocketing, purse snatching and mugging. In Istanbul, some tourists have been robbed by English or French-speaking foreigners who have first befriended them, then drugged them using tea, juice, alcohol, or food. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. It provides useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad. An "Istanbul Street Crime Briefing" is available on the U.S. Embassy Ankara's web site at http://www.usia-ankara.org.tr or from the Consular Affairs web site at http://travel.state.gov/turkey.html.

Public Safety: Travel by road in Turkey can be hazardous since local drivers do not always obey traffic rules or take appropriate safety measures, such as using headlights when night falls. Turkey has a very high rate of accident fatalities and injuries to pedestrians. It is imperative to drive defensively and avoid driving at night, especially in rural areas. Driving conditions off the main highways and in remote areas are particularly dangerous. In the eastern provinces, the incidence of terrorism and military countermeasures pose additional risks for road travelers. Turkish authorities expect travelers to cooperate with travel restrictions, security check points, and other security measures. The U.S. Embassy has driver safety information available on request, or it can be accessed directly from the Consular Affairs or U.S. Embassy Ankara web sites listed above.

Dual Nationality: Male U.S. citizens between the ages of 20 and 38 who are also considered to be Turkish citizens may be subject to conscription and compulsory military service upon arrival, and to other aspects of Turkish law while in Turkey, particularly if they entered the country on and are residing under their Turkish identity documents. Those who may be affected should inquire prior to traveling at a Turkish embassy or consulate to determine their status. In some instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. government efforts to provide protection abroad.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. In Turkey, the penalties for possession, use, and dealing in illegal drugs are extremely strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Other Pertinent Information: Unauthorized purchase or removal from Turkey of antiquities or other important cultural artifacts is strictly forbidden. Violation of this law may result in imprisonment. At the time of departure, travelers who purchase such items may be asked to present a receipt from the seller as well as the official museum export certificate required by law.

Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or at one of the U.S. consulates where updated information on travel and security in Turkey is available.

The U.S. Embassy in Ankara is located at 110 Ataturk Boulevard, tel. (90)(312) 468-6110. The fax number is (90)(312) 468-6131. Pre-recorded American citizen and visa information is available on extension 2545. The Internet homepage is: http://www.usis-ankara.org.tr. A variety of information, including visa procedures, American citizen services and road safety, is available from the home page.

The U.S. Consulate in Istanbul is located at 104-108 Mesrutiyet Caddesi, Tepebasi, tel. (90)(212) 251-3602, fax (90)(212) 252-7851. Istanbul specific information can also be accessed via the U.S Consulate's web site: http://www.usisist.org.tr.

The U.S. Consulate in Adana is located at the corner of Vali Yolu and Ataturk Caddesi, tel. (90)(322) 453-9106, fax (90)(322) 457-6591.

There is a U.S. Consular Agent in Izmir located at Kazim Dirik Caddesi 13/8, Atabay Is Merkezi, Daire 805, Pasaport, Izmir, 35210, tel. (90)(232) 441-0072/2203. The fax number in Izmir is (90)(232) 441-2373. The Consular Agency hours are 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and 2:00 p,m, to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The office is closed to the public, except for emergencies, on Friday afternoons.

All U.S. government offices in Turkey are open Monday through Friday and are closed on Turkish and American holidays.

No. 97-125

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated October 24, 1996, to update information on areas of instability, eastern provinces, dual nationality, and public safety, and to include web site addresses.

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