Your basic guide on what to do and where to visit in Turkey
FethiyeNational Park / TownMORE
PergaAncient Ruins / TownMORE
SardisAncient Ruins / TownMORE
The Republic of Turkey welcomes you!
Situated on one of the most important geopolitical locations on Earth, Anatolia has always been the epicenter of the earliest civilizations known to man. Republic of Turkey is blessed to be situated on this culturally rich peninsula, not only rich in history and culture but also both agricultural and natural resources.
Surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the South, the Aegean Sea to the West, the inland Marmara Sea to its North-West and the Black Sea to the North, Turkey witnesses a wide range of different climates and fauna in every corner. Summers are hot and dry, with winters being wet and mild, harsher in the interior and mountanous areas.
Turkey borders Greece and Bulgaria to the West, and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq and Syria to the East, truly forming a land-bridge between Asia and Europe.
With a booming economy, owing to its rich natural and agricultural resources, Turkey is the 2nd fastest growing country in the world as of 2012, right after China. Coal, iron, copper, chromium, mercury, gold, limestone, marble are the primary natural resources of Turkey. The abundance of rivers and stillwater reserves feed its agriculture and provide hydropower.
Quick Facts about Turkey
- Population: 75 million
- Religion: 90% Sunni Muslim, 5% other Islam faiths, 3% Orthodix, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, %2 other or identify themselves as having no religion
- Time: Turkish Standard Time, GMT +3
- Government: Republican Parliamentary Democracy
- Currency: Turkish Lira (TL, TRY)
- Languages: Turkish (official), Kurdish, Greek, Armenian, Arabic, Ladino
- Alphabet: Latin Alphabet
- Calendar: Gregorian Calendar
- Major Cities: Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Bursa, Adana, Antalya
- Industries: Automotive, textiles, food, mining, steel, petroleum, construction, lumber, paper, tourism, agriculture
- Area: 780,580 sq. km
- Highest Mountain: Mt. Ararat (Agri Dagi), approx. 5165m
- Largest Lake: Lake Van with approx. 8000 sq. km
- Longest River: Kizilirmak, approx 1355 km
Turkey in a Nutshell
- Turkish hospitality is remarkable, even towards Turks from the metropolitan areas visiting villages and towns in Anatolia. Moreso towards foreigners.
- Turkish cuisine is renowned for its richness. It is heavy on meat, and every meal can be an opportunity to barbeque. Despite this, maintaining a vegetarian diet in Turkey is not hard.
- Turkish coffee is widely consumed, but never pass someone offering tea; it is consumed perhaps much more than pure water by an everyday Turk.
- Be prepared to have some sort of dairy product in every food. Yoghurt-based foods and drinks are very common.
- Turkey is an olive country; make sure to purchase your extra virgin olive oils.
- Turkey is also a hazelnut country; 75% of the world’s hazelnut production comes from Turkey. Your favorite chocolate bar most probably has Turkish hazelnut in it.
- Turkey is a secular country. Not only is the veil not mandatory, but is uncommon. Turkish women prefer to wear headscarves (a form of hijab) as a sign of modesty through the Islamic heritage by choice. There are many who prefer not to wear headscarves. Tourists will never feel alienated for not covering their head.
- Football (soccer) is a major deal. Speaking about Galatasaray, Fenerbahce or Besiktas is an instant conversation starter and icebreaker.
- Turkish people are very inquisitive; be prepared for questions about your family and culture.
- Turkey is a “East meets West” country and can simply not be classified as either European or Middle Eastern.
- Turkey is safe; the idea that Turkey is high in terrorist activities against civilians is a myth. Criminality is also as much as one would expect from any corner of the world. As a matter of fact, most neighborhoods in Turkey is as safe as it can get.
- Turkish people do not hate Americans, the Greek, nor the Israeli. Political attitude towards the governance of such states has permeated into the society, but has never been directed towards their people. As a matter of fact, many Turks would refer to the Greek as their brothers, due to the vast cultural similarities.
- Not all Turkish men have mustaches, although some sort of facial hair seems to have become a choice of fashion.
- Camels are not native to Turkey, but some resorts do have some for entertainment purposes. Anatolia otherwise has a lush landscape on its shores, and covered with steppes at its heart.
- Turks are proud of their history, and are rather conservative and nationalistic when it comes to that. Turks love to talk about politics, and speaking about aspects of Turkish history excite many, but be cautious before opening the Pandora’s box.
- Turkish delight and baklava are extremely nutritious; consume in moderation, as hard as it sounds.
Anatolia: The crossroads of civilizations
Anatolia, also referred to as Asia Minor, lies on the western edge of the “golden triangle” of the neolithic period (the others being Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley). During the Copper and Bronze eras, Anatolia reached its peak importance, being at the dead center of the Khorasan-Thebes-Athens triangle.
Among the countless civilizations that have once called the area “home” include the Hittites, Assyrians, Lydians, Lycians, Ionians, Akkadians, Trojans, the Greek, Persians, Seleucids and Armenians. Asia Minor was the most important jumping point to its conquests in the Middle East, and one of its wealthiest domains. Then came the Byzantines, the Eastern Roman Empire with a predominant Greek culture, which simply reshaped Anatolia, carrying its neolithic and classical heritage to the medieval ages.
Remarkably, tribes from all over the known world have left their marks on the region. Countless areas named Galata and Galatia are a testimony of Gaelic/Celtic settlement in the region. Thousand-year-old graffitis and tombstones in Constantinople mark the passing of Scandinavian mercenaries and even Viking raiders.
With the arrival of Turkic tribes from Central Asia in early 11th century, the sociopolitical structure had shifted dramatically; with more and more Turks flocking into the regions left unsettled by the Byzantines, the destiny of Anatolia for the next milennium was set. The Seljuks have conquered a better part of Armenia and Central Anatolia, slowly carving away from the Byzantine lands for the years to come.
Anatolia was conquered by the Mongols twice; the first right after the Fourth Crusade, which had a devastating effect on both the Anatolian Seljuks and the Byzantine Empire in its own, shattering both states into different emirates and principalities who could not resist the Mongol threat, and the second one during the reign of the Ottomans, which brought the early Ottoman state into a short period of turmoil.
The year 1453 AD marks a turning point in the history of both the Ottoman Empire and the region, ending the Byzantine Empire and marking the end of the Medieval Ages. For the centuries to come, Anatolia had become the home of Turks and countless other minorities seeking refuge under the Ottoman Sultan, ranging from Sephardic Jews fleeing from the Spanish Inquisition to Tatars and Circassians from Crimea and Caucasia.
The Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, rising from the ashes of the devastated Ottoman Empire, which was left in ruins after World War I. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Turkey, is still revered among many Turks as a leader, revolutionary and reformist. Turkey prides itself for being the one and only democracy in the Muslim world, and the first democracy ever to have granted universal suffrage to women.