Harvard University


Risk Ratings  

    LOW MEDICAL RISK for Turkey
    HIGH TRAVEL RISK for Hakkari, Sirnak, Diyarbakir provinces; Areas within ten miles (16km) of the Syrian border

Risk Summary

While the travel risks associated with Turkey are rated as MEDIUM overall, the risk environment varies across the country. Travellers are advised to seek itinerary and profile-specific advice for their accommodation and transportation options countrywide. In the main cities, petty crime – including pickpocketing, bag-snatching, overcharging and a variety of scams – is the main security hazard for foreign visitors. However, co-ordinated terrorist attacks also pose potential direct and indirect threats to foreign travellers. Violent crime involving foreign travellers is unusual. Socio-political activism can lead to outbreaks of unrest in the major cities. Road traffic accidents caused by poor driving standards pose a safety risk for foreign business travellers.

On 15 July 2016, elements of the military attempted to topple the government by force. While the coup attempt involved military seizures of strategic buildings and infrastructure, armed clashes and a large number of consequent casualties, it failed within a matter of hours. The civilian government had by the morning of 16 July 2016 largely stabilised the situation and restored order.

Following the failed coup, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 20 July 2016 announced that the country would be placed under a three-month state of emergency, which was extended seven times before coming to an end on 19 July 2018. The emergency declaration allowed the president to rule largely by decree and aided the government in arresting hundreds of suspected coup participants and sympathisers. The government has since proposed a new ‘anti-terror' legislation that envisions greater power for the local authorities and the security forces to counter the threat of militancy and prohibit public demonstrations.

Tensions between Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the opposition remain a primary feature of Turkey's political environment. In a referendum on 16 April 2017, voters passed a set of constitutional amendments to change the country's system of government from parliamentary to presidential. The changes took effect during the June 2018 general elections, which Erdogan won.

In relation to the threat of terrorism in Turkey, domestic and transnational militant groups have demonstrated their intent and capability to stage attacks, particularly in the capital Ankara and commercial capital Istanbul. There is a persistent risk of large-scale attacks by Islamist militant groups intending to cause mass casualties, though the domestic security and intelligence infrastructure is robust and capable of disrupting many such plots.

The extremist Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for a co-ordinated attack on 28 June 2016 at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport (IST), in which three assailants armed with automatic weapons and suicide vests entered the international terminal and killed 45 people and injured 239 others. A gunman on 1 January 2017 killed 39 people and injured 69 others at Reina nightclub in Istanbul, in an attack that was later claimed by IS. Such incidents demonstrate the enduring militant threat throughout Turkey, particularly in major urban centres.

The vicinity of the Syrian border is subject to persistent security risks due to spillover incidents linked to the civil conflict in Syria. In addition, a long-running insurgency by Kurdish groups, primarily the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), most directly affects numerous south-eastern provinces. A ceasefire between the government and the PKK collapsed in July 2015, and renegotiation of a truce is unlikely to occur soon. Military and government-linked industrial sites are the primary insurgent targets; violence has been most acute in Diyarbakir, Hakkari and Sirnak provinces, where the travel risks are rated as HIGH. However, the risks posed to foreign nationals by such activity are primarily incidental. Associated demonstrations can also lead to violence in urban centres.

This information is intended as a summary of the travel security environment; however, the risks can change at short notice during a crisis or evolving situation. Please check our travel security alerts to ensure you are informed of the most recent developments.


Vaccinations For Turkey
Hepatitis ARecommended for all travellers and expatriates,
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Hepatitis BRecommended for most travellers and expatriates,
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RabiesConsider for certain travellers, especially: For
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Typhoid feverRecommended for adventurous and long-term
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Routine Vaccinations

Disclaimer  Privacy

Travel security advice provided in this report represents the best judgment of AEA International Holdings Pte. Ltd. and Control Risks Group Holdings Ltd. Medical and health advice provided in this report represents the best judgment of AEA International Holdings Pte. Ltd. Advice in this report does not however provide a warranty of future results nor a guarantee against risk.

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