Turkey is a transcontinental country, which is located in Europe and Asia, with its European territory in eastern Thrace and its Asian portion occupying Anatolia. This unique geographical position offers Turkey significant strategic importance, allowing the country to wield considerable influence over a vast region that includes the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and the Middle East. Regarding the Mediterranean, Turkey shares borders with Greece, Cyprus, Syria, and Lebanon while also playing a major role in the region’s politics and economy.
Similarly, Turkey’s proximity to the Black Sea gives it significant control over its shipping lanes and access to ports across Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Russia. Finally, Turkey’s position on the border of Asia and Europe places it at the heart of the Middle East, making it an important player in the region’s geopolitics, religion, and culture. As a result, Turkey’s strategic position has helped it to emerge as a major player on the global stage, with a strong economy, advanced military, and influential foreign policy.
Asian Turkey, also known as Anatolia, a large region defined by its unique geography. The region is dominated by two mountain ranges, the Taurus Mountains in the south and the Pontic Mountains in the north. These ranges are separated by a high, semidesert plateau known as the Anatolian Plateau.
The Taurus Mountains, which run parallel to the Mediterranean coast, extend the Alpine-Himalayan chain and provide a natural barrier between Anatolia’s coastal and interior regions. The mountains reach up to 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) and contain several important rivers, including the Seyhan, Ceyhan, and Zamantı.
In contrast, the Pontic Mountains, which lie north of the Anatolian Plateau, are lower and more heavily forested, with peaks reaching up to 3,000 meters (9,800 feet). The range runs along the Black Sea coast, strikingly contrasting the coastal plains below.
Between these two mountain ranges lies the Anatolian Plateau, a vast high-altitude semi-desert region that covers much of central Turkey. The plateau has an average elevation of around 900 meters (3,000 feet) and is crossed by several important rivers, including the Euphrates and Tigris. Despite its arid climate, the plateau has been home to human settlements for thousands of years and is known for its unique flora and fauna.
Along the coastal regions of Anatolia, the terrain is more fertile and lush than the interior regions. This is due to the influence of the Mediterranean and Black Sea climates, which provide ample rainfall and mild temperatures throughout the year. As a result, the coastal regions of Anatolia have been home to thriving agricultural communities for centuries, with crops like olives, citrus fruits, and grapes being among the most important.
Overall, the unique geography of Anatolia has played a significant role in shaping the region’s history, ecology, and culture and continues to influence life in modern-day Turkey.
Turkey is a country of significant geographic diversity, located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, resulting in a varied climate. The country’s coastal regions, which include popular tourist destinations such as Antalya, Bodrum, and Marmaris, have a Mediterranean climate. This means these regions experience mild, wet winters and dry, hot summers. The Mediterranean climate is characterized by long, hot, and dry summers, with temperatures typically ranging from 25-35°C (77-95°F), and short, mild winters with temperatures averaging around 12-16°C (54-61°F).
Meanwhile, the interior regions of Turkey, which include areas such as Ankara, Kayseri, and Konya, have a more continental climate. This type of climate is characterized by extremes in temperature, with cold, snowy winters and hot, dry summers. In winter, temperatures in these regions can drop below freezing, with snowfall common in many areas. In summer, the interior regions can experience very hot and dry weather, with temperatures frequently exceeding 35°C (95°F) and sometimes even reaching 40°C (104°F).
The climate difference between Turkey’s coast and interior regions can significantly impact the country’s economy and tourism industry. While the Mediterranean climate along the coast is ideal for beach tourism and agriculture, the cooler temperatures and snowfall in the interior regions are more suitable for winter sports activities such as skiing. Ultimately, the diverse climate of Turkey reflects the country’s unique position at the crossroads of two continents and provides a range of opportunities for visitors and residents alike.
People & Society
Despite its racially diverse population, Turkey has a strong national identity deeply tied to its history and geopolitical position. The country has close cultural and political ties with other Turkic states in Central Asia and the Caucasus, which share linguistic and ethnic similarities with the Turkish people.
However, Turkey’s complex demographic makeup has also led to tensions over issues of minority rights. The largest minority group in Turkey is the Kurds, who primarily reside in the country’s southeastern region. The Kurdish population has been involved in political struggles for greater autonomy and recognition of their cultural identity for decades. This has included periods of violent conflict, particularly since 1984, when the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) began an armed struggle against the Turkish government.
Turkey has recently experienced tensions between secular and conservative political forces. While Turkey has historically been a secular state, with a constitution that enshrined the separation of religion and state, the current political dominance of Islamist parties has challenged this cherished identity. This has led to debates over issues such as education, women’s rights, and religious freedom, creating tensions between different segments of Turkish society.
Despite these challenges, Turkey has applied to join the European Union and has made some progress in aligning its policies with EU standards. However, the country’s political and social complexities and ongoing conflicts in neighboring countries have slowed the pace of progress in this regard. Nevertheless, Turkey remains a key player in the region and on the global stage, with a rich cultural heritage and strategic geopolitical position that continue to shape its role.
Turkey has a liberalized economy that has been steadily growing in recent years. Several key factors have stimulated this growth, including a self-sufficient agricultural sector, a thriving textile industry, a booming tourism sector, and a strong manufacturing base.
The country’s agricultural industry is particularly noteworthy, as Turkey is one of the world’s largest producers of crops such as hazelnuts, cherries, grapes, apricots, figs, and pistachios. These products are exported to markets worldwide and have helped establish Turkey as a key player in the global agricultural industry.
Another important sector of the Turkish economy is textiles, a major contributor to the country’s export revenues. Textile production in Turkey is renowned for its high quality and craftsmanship, and the industry employs millions of people across the country.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s tourism industry has also seen significant growth in recent years. The country’s unique location, rich history, and stunning natural beauty make it a popular destination for visitors worldwide. In 2019, Turkey welcomed over 50 million visitors, making it one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
Finally, Turkey has a strong manufacturing base, with industries such as steel, automotive, and electronics all playing important roles in the country’s economic development. Additionally, Turkey is strategically located on the route of Asian oil pipelines to Europe, which has further boosted its economic prospects.
In summary, Turkey’s liberalized economy and diverse economic sectors, including self-sufficient agriculture, textiles, tourism, manufacturing, and strategic location along oil pipeline routes, have all played significant roles in the country’s overall economic growth in recent years.
Turkey is rich in history and cultural heritage, and its ancient wonders are a testament to its remarkable past. Two of the most famous ancient wonders of the world were located in modern-day Turkey: the tomb of King Mausolus at Halicarnassus (now Bodrum) and the temple of Artemis at Ephesus.
The tomb of King Mausolus was built in the fourth century BCE and stood as a magnificent structure for over 1,700 years. It was considered a masterpiece of ancient Greek architecture, featuring intricate carvings and sculptures that adorned the exterior of the building. Unfortunately, the tomb was destroyed by an earthquake in the 12th century, and today only a few fragments of the original structure remain.
The temple of Artemis at Ephesus was another ancient wonder in Turkey and is considered one of the most impressive temples of the ancient world. It was built in the sixth century BCE and was dedicated to the goddess Artemis, who was revered as the goddess of hunting, wild animals, childbirth, and fertility. The temple was considered a testament to the power and grandeur of the ancient Greek civilization, featuring massive columns, intricate carvings, and elaborate sculptures. Unfortunately, the temple was destroyed in a fire in the fifth century CE, and only a few ruins remain today.
In addition to these two ancient wonders, Turkey is home to many other historical sites and cultural treasures. These include the ruins of the ancient city of Troy, the stunning rock formations of Cappadocia, and the iconic Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, which has served as a church, a mosque, and now a museum. Overall, Turkey’s history and cultural heritage offer visitors a glimpse into the past and provide a fascinating insight into the rich tapestry of human civilization.
Name: Turkey (Republic of Turkey), local name: Turkiye Cumhuriyeti
Languages: Turkish (official language), Kurdish, and other minority languages
ISO code: tr, internet: .tr
Capital city: Ankara, GPS: 39 56 N, 32 52 E
Time: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time) (no daylight saving time)
Population: 83,593,483 (2023 estimate) (Turkish / Turk(s))
Urban population: 76.6% (2021) – 15.190 million, Istanbul, 5.118 million, Ankara (capital city), 2.993 million, Izmir, 1.986 million, Bursa, 1.771 million, Adana, 1.704 million, Gaziantep (2020)
Location: Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia (that portion of Turkey west of the Bosporus is geographically part of Europe), bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Georgia, and bordering the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, between Greece and Syria. Turkey is a Middle Eastern country. You may find 19 other countries in this area.
Coordinates: 39 00 N, 35 00 E
Bordering countries: (8 nations): Armenia 311 km, Azerbaijan 17 km, Bulgaria 223 km, Georgia 273 km, Greece 192 km, Iran 534 km, Iraq 367 km, Syria 899 km
Land area: 769,632 sq km
Water area: 13,930 sq km
Total area: 783,562 sq km – Slightly larger than Texas.
Terrain: High central plateau (Anatolia), narrow coastal plain, several mountain ranges
Highest point: Mount ararat 5,137 m
Lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
Major rivers: Euphrates River source (shared with Syria, Iran, and Iraq m) – 3,596 km, Tigris River source (shared with Syria, Iran, and Iraq) – 1,950 km
Natural hazards: Severe earthquakes, especially in northern Turkey, along an arc extending from the Sea of Marmara to lake van; landslides, flooding, volcanism: limited volcanic activity. Its three historically active volcanoes are Ararat, Nemrut Dagi, and Tendurek Dagi, have not erupted since the 19th century or earlier.
National holiday(s): Republic Day, 29 October (1923)
Did you know about Turkey?
- Turkey is home to the world’s oldest known human settlement, the ancient city of Çatalhöyük, which dates back over 9,000 years.
- Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, is the only city in the world that spans two continents: Europe and Asia.
- Turkey is the world’s largest producer of hazelnuts, and its hazelnuts are used in the production of Nutella.
- The Turkish alphabet has 29 letters, each with only one sound, making it one of the easiest alphabets to learn.
- The famous Trojan horse from Greek mythology was located in Turkey, in the ancient city of Troy.
You may also be interested in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
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