Can we consider Turkey as a Safe country ?
Turkey is not getting out of the headlines.
ISIS, attempted coup, state of emergency, terror:
How safe is it in Turkey?
Thousands of readers inform themselves monthly about this in my contribution “Travel warning Turkey – Is my vacation in Turkey safe?”.
I get emails every day with questions like “Is Turkey safe from ISIS, the PKK, the civil war in Syria?
What about the state of emergency?
As of all the news, I have decided to write detailed answers to these questions.
Is it possible to give binding answers on the security situation in Turkey?
So far, nothing has happened at tourist resorts on the Turkish south coast. Istanbul the only turist destination so far which has been hit. Unfortunately through several attacks.
The attacks in a hotel in Tunisia in 2015 and the Russian plane that crashed in Egypt in autumn show how quickly the situation can change.
It was not the first attack in Tunisia. In Egypt the bomb came unexpectedly. Unfortunately, the unpredicted is what defines the subject of terrorist attacks.
I cannot say that nothing will happen in Turkey. That wouldn’t be realistic.
Nobody can confirm that to you. Nobody can confirm to you that an attack will never take place in UK.
Can the question be answered at all?
The best sources on the security situation in Turkey is the assessment of the Foreign Office in UK and comparable government agencies in other EU countries.
The Foreign Office warns you against going near large crowds in Turkey. This can be, for example, demonstrations, public transport and attraction sights.
The security level of the Austrian Foreign Office for Turkey is currently given on the six-point scale with a “three”. The same warning level applies to Israel, for example. France is rated with a “two”.
Safe and Turkey : The chance to become a victim of a terrorist attack
Turkey has been living with deadly terrorist attacks from various groups for decades. They were perpetrated under the guise of different ideologies. Compared to the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) and other left or right-wing radical terrorist groups in Turkey, the Islamist IS is new.
So there are different terrorist organizations in Turkey. That doesn’t help much in the search for an answer. That just means that the situation is more confusing.
I was looking for statistics
The last paragraphs do not give much hope for the future. That is why I find statistics with numbers on the probability of falling victim to a terrorist attack good. You bring optimism to the matter.
I have found various sources that state that the chance of dying from a terrorist attack is 1 in 20,000,000.
The following causes of death are more likely than dying from a terrorist attack:
- Lightning strike: (1 in 10,000,000) Yes! You are more likely to be struck by lightning and die from it.
- Dogs: (1 in 11,000,000)
- Freeze: (1 in 500,000)
- Go for a walk: (1 in 55,000)
- Falling down a flight of stairs: (1 in 150,000)
- More likely to die from a terrorist attack than
- from the impact of an asteroid: (1 in 75,000,000)
- by fireworks: (1 in 50,000,000)
(Incidentally, you’re more likely to drown in a bathtub, get hit by a vending machine, or accidentally kill yourself while doing DIY.)
But in Turkey there are areas where it is really dangerous!
Yes! You’re right. The border with Syria is dangerous. The surrounding provinces of Syria and Iraq are dangerous. The provinces in which the Turkish army is fighting with the PKK are also dangerous.
So if you are planning a trip to the following provinces and cities, you should change your mind: (All regions are right on the border with Syria and Iraq.)
In particular, the Foreign Office warns you of the cities of Diyarbakır, Mardin, Cizre, Silopi and Nusaybin and the provinces of Şırnak and Hakkâri.
The provinces: Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Mardin, Diyarbakır, Batman, Bitlis, Bingöl, Siirt, Mus, Tunceli and Van are also affected.
I always keep the information from the Foreign Office in the article “Travel warning Turkey – Is my vacation in Turkey is safe?” Up to date. Apart from other news and contributions, I keep the subscribers in my Turkey newsletter up to date about changes in the security situation whenever possible.
What about Antalya, the Turkish Riviera, Side, Alanya, Bodrum, Istanbul, Cappadocia, …? These places in Turkey are safe ?
The first thing I’ll do is show you this card. On the right edge you will find the affected provinces. On the left you see Antalya, Istanbul, …
One of the closest cities to Antalya is Iskenderun. The Google Maps route planner gives you the following distance and travel time between the two cities: 770 kilometers in 8 hours and 50 minutes.
Turkey is bigger than UK. To show you the distances between the crisis areas and the tourist regions:
- Gaziantep – Antalya: 833 kilometers with a driving time of 10 hours
- Diyarbakir – Antalya: 1,133 kilometers, 13 hours
- Cizere – Antalya: 1,291 kilometers, 14 hours
- Cizere – Istanbul: 1,604 kilometers, 18 hours
- Berlin – Vienna: 680 kilometers, 8 hours
- Berlin – Paris: 1,055 kilometers, 10 hours
- Berlin – Kiev: 1,347 kilometers, 15 hours
- Hamburg – Munich: 775 kilometers, 7 hours
I spend most of my time in Antalya Province. More precisely in Alanya. The entire province is NOT included in the list of endangered areas of the Federal Foreign Office or the Turkish police.
The Syrian border is 800 kilometers away from Antalya!
So that you get an impression of how far 800 kilometers is on the map: That is the same distance between Berlin and Budapest! In between lies the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria!
That is really far!
Despite all of this, something can happen. The Federal Foreign Office is currently calling for increased cautions all across Turkey. However, it is only advisable not to travel to eastern Turkey!
The tourist regions do not advise you against:
The province of Antalya with the Turkish Riviera and Lycian coast,
Mugla Province with the Turkish Aegean Coast and Marmaris Coast,
Play around with the maps yourself a little. You will quickly notice how far the Aegean coast and the turquoise coast are from the borders with Syria and Iraq.
But something happened in Istanbul and Ankara!
Yes! Mostly happened in Istanbul in the past few months. In “Travel Warning Turkey” I have collected media reports on all relevant events. You can read everything in it .
Unfortunately, Istanbul and Ankara are equally affected by IS and the PKK. As the capital of Turkey, Ankara is of course the focal point. This was shown by the attack in autumn with more than 100 deaths and the attack on a military convoy on February 17, 2016.
The Federal Foreign Office is currently warning against participating in demonstrations or large gatherings in Ankara.
Past attacks in Turkey
I was in Paris a month after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. For us in Central Europe, something like this isa completely exceptional occurrence. The media reacted accordingly.
Turkey has lived with terrorist attacks since the 1970s. By 2014 there had been more than 3,000 attacks. These include assassinations, armed robberies and attacks against the police and the military.
It is important to know:
- The number of attacks has decreased significantly in recent years!
- They reached their climax in 1992 in the conflict with the PKK.
The media does its part to fear
The media live from their readership and audience numbers. Extraordinary news brings many readers and viewers. The more extraordinary a message is, the more attention it will generate.
In 2015, 3,475 people died as a result of a car accident in UK. Not a single one made the media headlines.
A terrorist attack is something rare. In fact, it is something very extraordinary. That’s why it appears on all front pages. People respond to such messages. They make us emotionally affected.
Things that happen all the time are perceived differently by us. Or when was the last time you thought that 3,475 people in UK had died after a traffic accident? In contrast, since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, fewer than 20 Germans have died in an Islamist terrorist attack.
The fear of the irrational: “Catastrophic Thinking” or “Fear Porn”
A strong reaction to such extraordinary events is called “Catstrophic Thinking” or “Fear Porn”. “Catastrophic Thinking” is one: “Irrational fear of a worst-case scenario.” Instead of leaning back for a moment, the big picture is faded out and only a small part of reality is perceived. There are billions of people on this planet. All kinds of things happen to all of you every second. Most of them are hard to beat when it comes to insignificance.
This is why special messages are necessary: ”Fear Porn” brings audience numbers!
“Fear Porn” encourages people to deal with a topic further.
“Fear Porn” probably got you to read this post. And maybe it will lead you to look for a lot of other information about the security situation in Turkey.
Another notch is an article published in January: I still remember the text “Now more than ever!” Published in the FAZ is excellent.
In it, the author goes into the subtle fear of an attack. On another topic: If there were no tourists, the IS would have achieved the goal of the attacks in Istanbul.
Can you travel to Turkey after the attacks?
My regular readers know which parts of Turkey I have been to in the last few weeks: Antalya, Istanbul, Alanya, Kas, Demre, Pamukkale, Denizli, Cirali,….
I will spend my summer as normal. With a walk on the beach in the morning, afternoons on the balcony with books and my notebook within reach so that I can write articles for the Turkey travel blog.
I hope that this answers your questions!
In the end it is your decision whether you come to Turkey. Nobody can take it from you.
Reader’s question: What do you think about the security situation in Turkey? Do you consider Turkey as a safe country ? You can share your opinion in the voting below and in the comments column at the bottom of the page.