About Turkey

About Turkey

A country as old as history, a paradise of sun, sea, mountains and lakes. Turkey has a magnificent past, and is a land full of historic treasures. The lands of Turkey are located at a point where the three continents making up the old world, Asia, Africa and Europe are closest to each other, and straddle the point where Europe and Asia meet. Geographically, the country is located in the northern half of the hemisphere at a point that is about halfway between the equator and the north pole, at a latitude of 36 degrees N to 42 degrees N and a longitude of 26 degrees E to 45 degrees E. Turkey is roughly rectangular in shape and is 1,660 kilometers long and 550 kilometers wide. Turkey has two European and six Asian countries for neighbors along its land borders. The land border to the northeast with the Commonwealth of Independent States (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Nahcivan ) is 610 kilometers long; that with Iran, 454 kilometers long, and that with Iraq 331 kilometers long. In the south is the 877 kilometer-long border with Syria. Turkey’s borders on the European continent consist of 212-kilometer frontier with Greece and a 269-kilometer border with Bulgaria. Because of its geographical location the mainland of Anatolia has always found favor throughout history, and is the birthplace of many great civilizations. It has also been prominent as a center of commerce because of its land connections to three continents and the sea surrounding it on three sides. Turkey is generally divided into seven regions; the Black Sea region, the Marmara region, the Aegean, the Mediterranean, Central Anatolia, the East Anatolian and Southeast Anatolia regions.

Visa

You may need to have visa to get in to Turkey. You may get it at the airport before the passport control. There is a migration office there so before you go online for the passport control, go to Migration office and have cash USD and in change the exact amount needed. they do not accept credit card. You may also contact: Turkish Embassy to learn about the other formalities and check last changes.

Ancient Geography

Anatolia is a high plateau region rising progressively towards the east, broken by the valleys of about 15 rivers, including the Dicle (Tigris) and the Fırat (Euphrates) found in Northern Mesopotamia. There are numerous lakes and some, such as Lake Van, are as large as inland seas. In the North, the Eastern Black Sea Mountain chain runs parallel to the Black Sea; in the South, the Taurus Mountains sweep down almost to the narrow, fertile coastal plain along the Turkish Riviera, following the ancient Lycian and Pamphylian coasts. Anatolia has been called ‘the cradle of civilizations’ and by traveling through this historic land, one would discover what exactly is meant by this phrase. The world’s first town, a Neolithic city at Çatalhöyük dates back to 6500 B.C. From the Neolithic days up to the present, Turkey boats a rich culture that has made an everlasting impression on modern civilization through the centuries. Centuries of cultures make Turkey a paradise of information and cultural wealth. Hatti, Hitite, Phrygians, Urartian, Lycian, Lydian, Ionians, Greeks, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottomans have all made important contributions to Anatolian and Turkish histories, and ancient sites and ruins scattered throughout the country give proof of each civilization’s unique distinction.

Recent History

Modern Turkey was founded in 1923 from the Anatolian remnants of the defeated Ottoman Empire by national hero Mustafa KEMAL, who was later honored with the title Ataturk, or “Father of the Turks.” Under his authoritarian leadership, the country adopted wide-ranging social, legal, and political reforms. Turkey joined the UN in 1945 and in 1952 it became a member of NATO. In 1964, Turkey became an associate member of the European Community; over the past decade, it has undertaken many reforms to strengthen its democracy and economy, enabling it to begin accession membership talks with the European Union.

Population: More than 70 Million Area Comparative: Slightly Larger than Texas Language: The Turkish language belongs to the Ural-Altaic group, and has an affinity with the Finno-Hungarian languages. Turkish is written in the Latin alphabet and is spoken by some 150 million people around the World. Religion: Although 98% of the whole population is Moslems, the secular form of the state guarantees complete freedom of worship to non-Moslems. Age structure: 0-14 years: 26% (male 9,232,439/female 8,897,135) 15-64 years: 67.3% (male 23,806,367/female 23,053,536) 65 years and over: 6.7% (male 2,140,242/female 2,530,840) (2005 est.)

Economy

Tourism: In recent years, Turkey has become a major tourist destination in Europe. With the rapid development of both summer and winter resorts, more and more people are now enjoying the history, culture and beautiful sites of Turkey. Sailing in the Mediterranean, trekking at the Taurus, pony trekking at the mountain villages, snow skiing at the Eluding, jet skiing at the Aegean Coast would give the great opportunity of enjoying a new kind of 4 Seasons, this time not by Vivaldi. Agriculture: Plays a very important role in Turkish economy. The main crops are wheat, rice, cotton, tea, tobacco, hazelnuts and fruits. Sheep are Turkey’s most important livestock and Turkey is one of the major cotton and wool producers. Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP): GAP is a multi-purpose, integrated development project comprising of dams, hydroelectric power plants and irrigation facilities currently being built on the Fırat (Euphrates) and Dicle (Tigris) rivers. Ataturk Dam included in the project, is among the first 10 dams of the World. Natural Resources: coal, iron ore, copper, chromium, antimony, mercury, gold, barite, borate, celestite (strontium), emery, feldspar, limestone, magnesite, marble, perlite, pumice, pyrites (sulfur), clay, arable land, hydropower. As of 1998, Turkey is the world’s largest producer of hard-shell nuts, fig and apricot, the fourth in fresh vegetables, grape and tobacco production and seventh in wheat and cotton production. Turkish delight and helva are famous throughout the world. Turkey is among the leading countries worldwide in textiles and ready-to-wear clothing production. The exports of this sector constitutes 36 percent of total industrial exports. The leather processing industry is also very developed in Turkey, both in terms of technological level and high production capacity. It places second to textiles in terms of export figures.

POLITICAL STRUCTURE The Turkish Republic is based on a secular democratic, pluralist and parliamentary system, where human rights are protected by law and social justice. The National Assembly is elected by popular vote and the nation is governed by the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister. Turkey is a founding member of OECD, the Black Sea Economic Co-operation Organization, and a member of NATO, the European Council and the European Parliament.MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION Electricity: 220 Volts AC, all over Turkey. Tap Water: Not always safe to drink. Weight and measures: Metric system.

Folk Traditions

FOLK TRADITIONS Folk-music: The lively Turkish folk music, which originated on the steppes of Asia, is in complete contrast to the refined Turkish classical music of the Ottoman court. Until recently, folk music was not written down, and the traditions have been kept alive by the ‘aşıklar’ (troubadours). Distinct from folk music is Ottoman military music, now performed by the ‘mehter takımı’ (Janissary Band) in Istanbul, which originated in Central Asia, and is played with kettle drums, clarinets, cymbals, and bells. The mystical music of the Whirling Dervishes (Mevleviler) is dominated by the haunting sound of the reed pipe or ‘ney’, and can be heard in Konya during the Mevlana Festival in December. Folkdances: Each region in Turkey has its own special folkdance and costume, and the best-known of these are listed below: Horon: This Black Sea dance is performed by men only, dressed in black with silver trimmings. The dancers link arms and quiver to the vibrations of the ‘kemence’ (a primitive kind of violin). Kasık Oyunu: The Spoon Dance is performed from Konya to Silifke and consists of gaily dressed male and female dancers ‘clicking‘ out the dance rhythm with a pair of wooden spoons in each hand. Kılıc Kalkan: The Sword and Shield Dance of Bursa represents the Ottoman conquest of the city. It is performed by men only, dressed in early Ottoman battle dress, who dances to the sound of clashing swords and shields, without music. Zeybek: In this Aegean dance, colorfully dressed male dancers, called ‘efe’, symbolize courage and heroism. Folk Heroes Nasrettin Hoca (Nasreddin Dodja): A 13th century humorist and sage from Akşehir. His witticisms are known throughout Turkey and are often used to make a point.Karagöz: Another jester, said to have lived in Bursa in the 14th century and now immortalized as a shadow puppet. Karagöz is a rough man of the people, who uses his ribald wit to get the better of his pompous friend, Hacivat. The puppets are made from gaily painted, translucent animal skin and are projected onto a white screen. Yunus Emre: The 13th century philosopher – poet is one of Turkey’s national treasures. His basic themes were universal love, friendship, brotherhood and divine justice. His simple and pure writing brings out a deep meaning for his readers and although he lived over 700 years ago, his work is still timely and thought provoking. Köroğlu: A 15th century folk poet, Köroğlu was a role model for his contemporaries and a hero of his time. His adventures have been recounted for centuries with prestige and vigor and perhaps now with more interest than ever. Köroğlu was one of the first people to pioneer the ideal of unconditional help for the poor and down – trodden. He was also a great champion against the confines of government control and harassment. Traditional Sports Yağlı Güreş: ‘Grease Wrestling’ is the Turkish national sport and every year, in July, wrestling championships are held in Kırkpınar, Edirne. The contest is made more difficult by the fact that the wrestlers smear themselves with olive oil. Cirit Oyunu: ‘the javelin game’ of daredevil horsemanship is a sport where wooden javelins are thrown at horsemen of opposing teams to gain points. The game is played mainly in Eastern Turkey. Also, in Selçuk, Izmir, camel wrestling and in Artvin Kafkasor a different type of bullfight is held. (June)

POPULAR CUSTOMS

Hospitality: Hospitality is one of the cornerstones of the Turkish way of life. Following Koranic tenets and naturally friendly instincts, the Turk is a most gracious and generous host. Even the poorest peasant feels bound to honor his guest ‘misafir’ in the best possible manner. Hospitality is taken to such lengths that a foreigner often feels he is suffering from an overdose of it, after being plied with food and drinks for hours and being unable to refuse anything, lest he hurt his host’s feelings. In addition to ensuring a guest’s material well-being, the Turk makes every effort to converse, no matter what linguistic barriers might exist. While most middle-class, urban-dwelling Turks speak at least one European language, even the uneducated, bravely struggle to make themselves understood, with remarkable success. Turkish Coffee Houses: Even the smallest Turkish village has its coffee-house or ‘Kahvehane’, where men can talk, sip coffee, and play the national game of backgammon ‘Tavla’. In Istanbul, especially men can still be seen smoking their hubble bubble pipes ‘Nargile’ in these coffee houses. Turkish Baths: Owing to the emphasis placed on cleanliness in Turkish society, there have been public bath-houses ‘Hamam’ in Turkey since medieval times. There are separate baths for men and women, or, when there is only one bath house in the town, different days or times of day are allocated for men and women. After entering the ‘hamam’ and leaving one’s clothes in a cubicle, one proceeds, wrapped in a towel ‘peştemal’, to the ‘göbek tası’, a large heated stone where one perspires and is rubbed down by a bath attendant. If the heat proves too much, one can retire to a cooler room for a while. This method of bathing is most refreshing and many of the old marble baths are very interesting, architecturally as well.

TURKISH CUISINE, EATING OUT

would someone come to Turkey just to eat out? Yes, they would .Turkish food is famous throughout the world. The painstaking preparation of simple, but fresh ingredients brings out the richness of their flavors in a way that never fails to delight. The range is enormous, from a number of soups to an astonishing variety of meze (hors d’oeuvre), followed by meat and fish dishes. Then pause a while to contemplate the famous Turkish sweets and pastries before finishing with a Turkish coffee. All Turkish food is prepared from fresh ingredients. The country produces a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and being surrounded on three sides by sea, the range of fish to be found is also considerable. Among alcoholic drinks are the light Turkish beer, excellent wines, and the national drink, ‘rakı‘which clouds when water is added, giving it the popular name of ‘lion’s milk’. The drinking of rakı is a rite in itself, and it is traditionally accompanied by a variety of ‘meze‘ (hors d’oeuvre). Along with world famous Turkish coffee. Wherever you go, coffee or tea will be offered to you. Bottled drinking water and mineral water are easily found everywhere. Especially in the metropolitan cities like Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, you can also find restaurants which feature Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Korean, French, Swiss, German and Italian cuisine.

Source: Turkish Ministery of Cuture and Tourism