Turkey, a Country for All

Turkey has a lot to offer to its visitors: breathtaking natural beauties, unique historical and archaeological sites, steadily improving hotel and touristic infrastructure, a tradition of hospitality and competitive prices. Therefore, Turkey became one of the world's most popular tourism destinations. Due to its diversified geography, one can experience four different climates in any one day. The rectangular shaped peninsula is surrounded by three different seas. Its shores are laced with beaches, bays, coves, ports and islands. The summers are long, as much as eight months in some areas. Turkey is also blessed with majestic mountains, valleys, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and grottoes perfect for winter and summer tourism and sport activities.

Skiing fans, mountain climbers, trekkers, hikers and hunters can enjoy new and unforgettable experiences in Turkey .
Turkey is above all a huge museum, an open-air exhibition of all the civilizations nurtured by the soils of Anatolia. The huge amount of historical and archaeological wealth in Turkey seems more appropriate for an entire continent than a single country.
Recently, a new field of tourism has opened up: health tourism. The country is in fact rich with hot springs, healing water and healing mud, which come highly recommended by the medical authorities as a remedy for many diseases.

Over the centuries, Turkey has also been the crossroad of religions, not only of Islam and Christianity, but also of many others now forgotten by history. Many religious devotees can find a site, a shrine, a monument, a tomb or a ruin connected with their faith or belief.

Turkey at a glance

Official Name Republic of Turkey
Date of Foundation 29 October 1923
Capital Ankara
Largest Cities Istanbul , Ankara , Izmir , Adana, Antalya
Area 814.578 km2
Coastal Boarders In the South   : Mediterranean Sea, In the West : Aegean Sea; In the North : Black Sea
Language The official language is Turkish. English is widely spoken in major cities.
Currency Turkish Lira (“TL”)
Time Zone GMT+2; CET+1; EST +7
Business Hours The workweek in Turkey runs from Monday to Friday. Banks, government offices and majority of corporate offices open at  9AM to close at 5pm.
Public Holidays 1 January, 23 April, 1 May, 19 May, 30 August, 29 October.
Religious Holidays These change according to the lunar calendar and are each year 10 days earlier than the previous year : End of Ramadan, usually 3 days; Sacrifice days, usually 4 days
Visas For most of the citizenships these can be obtained upon arrival at the airport and ports
Electricity 220V. European standard round two-pin sockets.
Health Services Cities and major touristic towns have a selection of private inter­national and public hospitals with good standards.
Food As with many Mediterranean nations Turkish food is very    healthy, fresh and enjoyable and has something for every taste.  Mainly based on vegetables, the Turkish cuisine also addresses vegetarians.
Water Tap water is chlorinated and, therefore, safe to drink. However, it is recommended that you consume bottled water, which is readily and cheaply available.
Communications Turkey has three GSM operators, all of them offering 3G services and almost 95% coverage over the country. Internet service is available all around the country. 
International Dial Code +90

Nature & Geography

Turkey is a vast peninsula, covering an area of 814,578 km2 or 314,510 sqm, linking Asia to Europe through the Sea of Marmara and the Straits of Istanbul and Çanakkale (The Dardanelles). The triangular shaped Trace is Turkey ’s European part. Anatolia, Turkey ’s Asian part is a rectangle of 1500 kilometers long and 550 kilometers wide.

It is characterized by a central plateau surrounded by chains of mountains on the north, west and south and a rugged mountainous region in the east with an average elevation of 1050 meters. Turkey 's highest mountain peak at 5165 meters (16,946 ft) is Agri Dagi (Mount Ararat), situated in the north east. It is believed to have been the resting place for Noah's Ark.

Turkey has a quite large river system that allows for important hydroelectric power generation and irrigation. The country's longest rivers, the Sakarya, the Kızılırmak and the Yesilirmak, flow from the Central Anatolia towards the Black Sea. The famous Dicle (Tigris) and Firat (Euphrates) flow from the eastern Anatolia south into Syria and Iraq. Four other rivers: the Büyük Menderes and Gediz flow from the Anatolian Plateau into the Aegean Sea; the Meric, which forms the border between Turkey and Greece ; and the Seyhan, which runs from the eastern highlands all the way into the Mediterranean, all round out the major rivers of Turkey .

Turkey has over 300 natural and 130 artificial lakes. In terms of numbers of lakes, the Eastern Anatolian region is the richest including Lake Van, (the largest of the country). A number of dams have been constructed during the past thirty years, which have resulted in the formation of several large dam lakes including the Ataturk, Keban and Karakaya.

Turkey is like a mosaic made up of many different reliefs and formations. The climate varies considerably however from region to region: a temperate climate in the Black Sea Region, a Mediterranean climate on the southern coast and the Aegean, a continental and arid climate on the central plateau and a harsh mountain climate in eastern Turkey . Because of these variations in climate, the fauna and flora are some of the richest in Europe and the Middle East.

There are more than 10,000 species of plants in Turkey , 20% of which are found only in these lands. Turkey has a great variety of wild animals, with over 120 species of mammals. The forest belt in the north is home to grey hears and in the south to wild goats. Sea turtles and seals play in the waters of the Mediterranean and the Aegean, just as in other parts of the world, some species have become extinct or are about to extinct such as the wild Asian donkeys, lions and tigers. Some 400 species of indigenous or migratory birds live in Turkey , some of which are extinct in Europe such as the black vulture. According to the International Office of Aquatic Birds and Areas, there are some 800 aquatic species in Turkey .

History & Civilizations

Early Ages :
Anatolia has witnessed civilizations as long as 10,000 years. Anatolia is a melting pot where cultures from Sumer, Babylon and Assyria interacted for centuries with peoples such as the Hattis, Hittites and Hourrites. The result was a unique Anatolian civilization which has long inspired the thoughts and legends of the West. The ancient Bronze Age witnessed the establishment of the first independent city states. They are contemporary with the royal tombs of Mycenae in Greece .

Legendary Troy :
Troy was founded around 3000 BC, and played a major role in the importation of tin, vital for the production of bronze.

The Hittites :
The Hittites arrived in Anatolia towards the second millennium BC. They absorbed much of the Babylonian civilization and long enjoyed a monopoly of iron in Asia. This, combined with the use of the chariot, gave the Hittites a military superiority over Egypt and other Mesopotamian states.

Mitanni Kingdom :
The Mitanni kingdom was contemporary to and the enemy of the Hittites. It was founded by the Hourrites, a people originally from the South Caspian Sea. The Hourrites exercised considerable influence over the religion of the Hittites, and spread the use of two-wheel chariots and the breeding of horses throughout the Near East.

The Urartian State :
At the beginning of the first millennium BC, the Urartus created a unified state whose territory extended from the Caucasus to Lake Urmiya, with its capital in the present city of Van. The Urartus were masters in hydraulic works and skilled in irrigation, drainage and the construction of canals and artificial lakes. They were also known for their horse breeding and formidable cavalry.

The Phrygians and King Midas :
The Phrygians (750-300 BC) settled in Central and Western Anatolia, in the Afyon-Ankara-Eskisehir triangle, declaring Gordion on the Sakarya river to be their capital. Their civilization met its apogee in the second half of the 8th century BC, under the famous King Midas whom, according to the mythology, Apollo ridiculed by having him grow ears of a donkey, and whom Dionysus invested with the power of turning everything he touched into gold. Gordion became a Persian dominion around 550 BC and was liberated in 333 BC by Alexander the Great.

The Lydians invent Money – Sardes :
East of Izmir in Sardis, lived another people, the Lydians, who are thought to have invented money (coins) between 800 and 650 BC. In the 6th century BC, Croesus, the King of Lydia, agreed with the advancing Persians to divide Anatolia along the river Kızılırmak. The Persians, however, did not keep this commitment and continued to encroach on Lydian territory. They remained the sovereign power in Anatolia until the arrival of Alexander the Great in 333 BC.

The Kingdom of Pergamon :
After the death of Alexander the Great, Anatolia became the hub of the Seleucid Empire. Pergamon (Bergama) grew at the expense of its neighbors, and snatched part of Phrygia in 241 BC. The kingdom became prodigiously rich, the emporium of Anatolia and a brilliant intellectual centre.

The Romans
The Roman period of Anatolia began with the death of King Attalus III of Pergamon (Bergama) who willed his country to the Romans because he had no direct heir. Anatolia then lived through a period of peace and prosperity, particularly in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. The “pax Romana” proved to be an extraordinary period of urban development. Ephesus served as the seat of the Roman governor of Asia and as a great commercial and cultural centre.

The Era of Eastern Roman Empire :
The era of Roman Empire is an essential chapter in the history of the region. In 330, Constantine, the Roman emperor, transferred his capital from Rome to Roman Empire to become the Eastern Roman Empire; its official religion was proclaimed to be Christianity in 380 and in 392 paganism was banned. In 476, Rome collapsed and Constantinople remained the sole capital of the empire. Roman Empire was both a state and a civilization, built along the lines of the Roman state, the Greek culture and the Christian faith. The emperor enjoyed divine power and relied heavily on the Church.

Roman Empire knew its first golden age under Justinian. One thousand years of Roman jurisprudence were gathered together in four volumes, a work which had a lasting influence for many centuries. Justinian was also a great builder. The Basilica of Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya - AD 532-7) was constructed during his reign. The history of Roman Empire is one of alternating periods of glory and decay, of religious dissent, of conflicts and wars with Persians, Arabs, Seljuks, Ottomans and peoples of the North.

By the 13th century, the Roman Empire was drawing its final breath. After the mortal wound of 1204, when the Crusaders occupied Constantinople, sacked the city, forced the emperor to leave and established a Latin kingdom, it became a small state.

The Seljuk Turks :
In the 11th century, under their leader Tugrul, the Seljuk Turks founded the dynasty of great Seljuks reigning in Iran , Iraq and Syria. In 1071, his nephew Alp Arslan defeated the Byzantines in Malazgirt, near Lake Van. Anatolia went through a profound transformation ethnically, politically, and in the religious, linguistic and cultural spheres. The Seljuk Sultanate in Anatolia continued until the beginning of the 14th century. The Seljuks created a centralized administration organized around the Sultan, his ministers and provincial governors. Science and literature blossomed, as did mystic poetry. Anatolia was crossed by the great routes linking the east and west, and many of the caravanserais built along these routes still stand today. Agriculture, industry and handicrafts expanded and the country was suddenly rich in mosques, madrasahs (medreses - educational institutions) and caravanserais (kervansarays - roadside inns).
The Seljuk Sultanate collapsed due to internal dissent and Mongol invasions. Anatolia was again fragmented into rival independent principalities, one of which came under Ottoman rule. Anatolia, though divided, had been united by language, religion and race, offering an opportunity for statesmanship and courage. This would be the task of Osman and his successors.

The Ottoman Empire :
In 1296, Osman declared himself the independent Sultan of the region of Söğüt near Bursa he had till then held in fief, and founded the Ottoman State. During the rule of his son Orhan, the whole south-eastern coast of Marmara was under Ottoman control. Orhan had also encouraged and promoted art, literature, science and commerce. He also established a regular standing army, known as the Janissaries. Well paid and disciplined, the Janissaries provided the new Ottoman state with a patriotic force of trained soldiers. In 1453, under Mehmet the Conqueror, the Ottomans took Constantinople, a momentous event for the whole world and a great feat of arms. But the banner of Ottoman success was to be raised much higher and by the late l6th century the Ottomans were deep into Europe. In the following centuries, however, the Ottoman Empire lost its momentum, entered a period of stagnation and then gradually a period of decline.

Wolrd War One :
The final blow to the Empire came with the First World War. Great Britain, France, Russia and Italy formed the Allied Forces. At the end of the war in 1918, the Ottoman government, under the occupation of the Allied Forces, chooses not to further resist a peace treaty embodying the partition of Turkey .

The Visions of Atatürk and Republic of Turkey :
The Turkish nation engaged in a struggle to restore her territorial integrity and independence, to repulse foreign aggressors, to create a new state, to disassociate Turkey from the crumbling Ottoman dynasty, to eradicate an old and decrepit order and to build a modern country dedicated to political, social and economic progress. This was the vision of Atatürk, a general in the Ottoman army who had distinguished himself in the defense of Gallipoli (anakkale) against the Naval Forces of Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand. The Ottoman victory over the Allies at Gallipoli renewed Turkey 's visions for the empire. Atatürk wanted a clean break with the past, to unite the nation in the quest for modernism and to lift Turkey to the level of European countries. On October 29 1923, the republic was proclaimed and Atatürk was elected president. Secularism was established by separating religious and state affairs. The Latin alphabet replaced the Arabic script and women were given the right to vote and to be elected as members of parliament. These reforms, as well as many others in all aspects of social life, put Turkey on the track towards becoming a thoroughly modern country.

A Proud Nation :
When Ataturk died in 1938, he left a legacy of which the Turkish people today are proud.  The Turkish Republic has now been a member of the international community for over 80 years but remains firmly attached to the policies initiated by Ataturk. It has established a democratic multi-party political system, developed a vibrant civil society, and embarked on the path of industrialization and market economy. It has consolidated its ties with the west and with the European Union through membership in NATO and the Council of Europe and Customs Union.

Turkish Cuisine

Gastronomes count the Turkish cuisine as one of the best of the world.
It was originally based on the simple nomadic people’s traditions of Central Asia and the habits they took over from the Mediterranean countries when they finally settled in Turkey .

Starters :
One of the characteristics of the Turkish cuisine is the endless Meze, which could be both cold or warm starters and be a whole meal by themselves. They are being eaten together with Raki, an anise drink. Meze is a Turkish word that stands for what one can eat with a drink at any time of the day.

Main courses :
These are mainly fresh fish or Kebabs such as Siskebab (lamb’s meat, tomatoes and rice) or Döner Kebab, lamb’s or calf’s meat grilled on a vertical skewer and tinely sliced. There are also different saucy courses with meat and vegetables. Vegetarians will be well served - there are so many courses without meat - that they will not have to look for a specialized restaurant. Pilaf-rice (Pilav) is just gorgeous.

Deserts :
The one is tastier than the other and with such nice names. “Dilber Dudagi” (the lips of the beloved), “Hanim Göbegi” (lady’s navel) or “Bülbül Yuvasi" (nightingale’s nest). The famous baklava is a pastry with walnuts or pistachios served with syrup and not honey as often is said. We especially recommend puddings and other sweet stuff such as lokum, helva and of course also fresh fruit : strawberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, yellow melons, peers, apples, grapes and watermelon.

Drinks :
Raki can accompany a whole meal. Beer is of good quality. Local distilled vodka, brandy, whisky and gin are far cheaper than the imported ones. Turkish wines (sarap) have a tradition that go back to 7000 B.C. and is most probably the origin of the European wines. Though the Turks are not big wine consumers, their wines are of good quality as well as their liqueurs. A typical refreshing drink, next to water, is ayran (yogurt mixed with water). 

Coffee and Tea :
“Kahve” is a strong coffee without cream nor milk served in small cups. “Cay” comes from the Black Sea area and is being drunk all day long, warm and strong without milk.

Did you know that…

Turkey is known as the Cradle of Civilization. In fact, many civilizations were already here as far as 10,000 B.C.
Turkey borders three major seas : the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea
Turkey was known as Asia Minor; the Asian side of Turkey is known as Anatolia
Turkey is where Alexander the Great cut the intricate Gordian Knot; literally a phrase used for shortcut to Solving Difficult Problems
Turkey is the birthplace of Kind Midas, who turned everything into gold
Turkey was the center of two of the major empires in history : the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires
Turkey provides 70% of the world's hazelnuts : probably the nut in your chocolate bar was grown in Turkey .
Turkey has a 650-year old covered shopping mall of 64 streets, 3500 shops, 22 entrances and 25,000 workers : the famous Grand Bazaar
Turkey is the birthplace of St. Nicholas, popularly known as Santa Claus.
Turkey is the origin of the names of Paris, Philadelphia and Europe.
Turkey is where Noah's Ark landed : at Mount Agri (Ararat), Eastern Turkey .
Turkey is the location for two of the Seven Wonders of the World : the Temple of Artemis and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
Turkey has historical relics pertaining to three of the world's major religions : Christianity, Judaism and Islam
Turkey has the most valuable silk carpet in the world in the Mevlana Museum (Konya) : 144 knots per sq. Cm - 13th century
Turkey is said to have provided the water for the Garden of Eden from its 2 great rivers : the Euphrates and the Tigris.
Turkey is the birthplace of St. Paul (Tarsus).
Turkey is uniquely in two continents : Europe and Asya
Turkey gave the English language many words such as turquoise, parchment, yogurt, meander, angora..
Turkey is the location of the city of Troy in the west of the country, where the Trojan War was fought
Turkey had the world's first female Supreme court Judge and gave women the right to vote in 1934
Turkey is the location of the first known beauty contest, judged by Paris, with Aphrodite, Hera and Athena as leading participants
Turkey has a city, Mardin , which is one of the few places where you can hear the native language of Jesus Christ - Aramaic. The final home of Virgin Mary, to which she traveled with St. John, is located nearby.
Turkey was producing wine as early as 4000BC.
Turkey has the first temple built ever (Urfa - between 9000 and 8500BC) and the first church built ever (St Peter's in Antioch)
Turkey first introduced tulips to Holland and today still suplies tulips to the world
Turkey reputedly has one of the world's 3 greatest cuisines
Turkey has more ancient sites than any other country
Turkey was the first to produce and use coins 2700 years ago
Turkey is the location of the Seven Churches of Revelation
Turkey is one of the safest countries in the world according to comparative statistics.


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