Turkey is the largest country in Asia Minor. It has an extremely varied nature, diverse climate and topography. Culturally and economically this is a country of great extremes. The contrast between the highly developed and modern cities and backward and conservative province is incredible. The country ranks among the 20 most developed countries in the world, but the benefits are very unevenly distributed. On the one hand are the dynamics, innovation and modern style of life at the metropolis Istanbul, on the other hand is the province in which at many places the lifestyle is generally without changes in the last 100 or 200 years.
Geography. Turkey is located on the border between two continents and has an area of 780,580 sq.km. The majority of the country and the country’s capital are located within the continent of Asia, on the territory of the peninsula of Asia Minor.
On the northwest, where Turkey meets Europe, the country bordered by Bulgaria and Greece (European Union), on the east with Armenia and Iran, on the southeast bordered with Iraq and to the south the country bordered with Syria. Turkey is Black Sea and Mediterranean country.
The Black Sea has a wide outlet to the north and the Mediterranean – to the south and west. European and Asian Turkey are separated by the Bosphorus and Dardanelles, and by the Marmara Sea.
Relief. Turkey has a predominantly mountainous terrain and plateaus. The highest peak is Ararat, which is located near the border with Armenia and has been once on its territory.
Its height reaches 5137 meters. On the north coasts, where the Black Sea is, can be seen the Pontic mountains, which stretches around the coast.
On the south, along the Mediterranean you can find the Taurus mountains. The both mountains are very serious barrier to the movement of the air masses, coming from the north and south.
Between the Pontic mountains and the Taurus mountains is situated extensive plateau of Anadolu and the region of Cappadocia.
The areas with lower altitudes are located in coastal region of the western part of the country. The lowest parts of Turkey are situated on the continent of Europe.
The coastline of the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea is comparatively indented. Strongly indented is the Aegean coast of Turkey to the west.
There are many bays and peninsulas, which have become a major tourist attraction. The country owns a few islands, mainly around the west coast.
Climate. The most of the Turkish territory fall within the subtropical climate zone, with the exception of the mountains that occupy much of the territory of Turkey, which have mountainous climate and are more affected by the altitude than by the geographic location.
Almost the same we can say about the high plateau lands in Anatolia. Here the winters can be very long and harsh, which otherwise are not typical for the subtropical climate zone.
Although the climate is subtropical as a whole, it is quite different in the different parts of the country.
Between the northern Black Sea coast and south coast of the Mediterranean Sea there are huge differences – while the Black Sea is widely open in the north and quite frequently here in the winter invade strong snowstorms from Russia and Ukraine, the Mediterranean in Turkey is a real paradise in the summer, which lasts nine months a year.
For example, in northeastern Turkey the weather is comparatively cool and feels noticeable influence of the temperate latitudes.
Sometimes in the winter cold air masses come from Bulgaria and Romania to the Turkish territory. The most frequently affected by the winter frosts are cities such as Istanbul.
In some winters here invade cold air masses, with heavy snowfalls, blocking the street’s traffic. Usually these blizzards happen in January, but sometimes even in December and February.
Overall, however, the weather in Istanbul is mild. The daytime temperatures range from 9°C in January to about 28°C in August.
From May to October the daytime temperatures are more than 20°C. From June to September the weather is even hot, but not excessively.
Because of the proximity to temperate latitudes, here in the spring and autumn the temperatures are very pleasant and vary around 15 – 20°C.
During the winter months from December to March the weather is cool. The temperatures rarely exceed 10°C, and in January are usually not more than 9°C.
One particular feature of the subtropical climate here is the distribution of the rainfall during the year. The peak of the precipitation last from November to January, similar to many other places in the Mediterranean region.
In the south of Istanbul the climate becomes warmer. In Izmir in August the temperatures usually reach 33°C, which is 5°C warmer in comparison with the temperature in Istanbul.
The summer here is very long. The daily temperatures exceed 20 degrees in April, i.e one month earlier in comparison with Istanbul.
In October there are typical summer daytime temperatures – around 23 – 24°C. The spring and autumn are much less pronounced.
By contrast to the long hot summers, the winters are short, soft and humid. The Aegean Sea keeps warm daytime temperatures in January in Izmir – around and over 12°C.
Here is a typical Mediterranean climate, with dry summers and rainy winters.
The warmest and most pleasant weather in Turkey can be found in the southern resort towns of Marmaris and Antalya, which are protected by the high mountains from the incoming from the north air masses in the winter.
The weather is suitable for the beach from the second half of March, when the water is still cool until the end of November.
In Marmaris and Antalya the winters are very warm and pleasant with daytime temperatures around 15°C.
Even during the coldest months there is plenty of sunshine and beautiful weather for walking and hiking in the nature. The lowest temperatures during the year are in January, when thermometers show about 9°C in the night.
The rainy season lasts from November to January, when fall the biggest part of the precipitations. The climate in southern Turkey is a very moist subtropical. Usually fall for about 1200 mm rain per year.
Nature. Turkey’s natural resources are enormous. As a typical Mediterranean country, here on the coast of the Aegean and Mediterranean sea the nature is dominated by evergreen, dry loving trees and shrubs.
Here grow citrus trees, olives, bananas and many coniferous species. The shores of the Black Sea are quite different.
They fall within the periphery of the subtropical climate zone and are covered mostly by deciduous species and some more resistant palms.
Most of the plants however, are typical for the temperate latitudes. In the mountains, the landscapes are also very diverse.
In some places there are dense coniferous and deciduous forests, while in other places the landscapes are dry and barren.
As a whole, in Turkey the precipitations decreases in direction from west to east. The nature to the west is quite lush and rich in plant and animal species.
This is because the country is affected mainly by air masses coming from the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean. The nature in Anatolia has a dry climate.
Here and there you can see some trees or grassy areas, but the landscape is dominated mainly by yellow colours.
This is because the moist air masses coming from the surrounding seas usually loose their moisture, passing through the mountains and reaching to Anatolia the air masses are already dry.
Turkey is a country rich in water. On the territory of Turkey are the springs of the rivers Euphrates and Tigris, which irrigate large areas not only in country, but also abroad.
Other important rivers are Kızıl Irmak, Sakar, Murat, Araki and so on. They all lead back to the mountain areas of the country. There are also some quite large lakes.
The largest is the Lake Van, to which is named a beautiful breed, pedigree cats (Turkish Van). It is located in the eastern parts of the country.
The second largest lake is Ace, which is located in the Anatolian plateau. According to the tourism the most attractive place in Turkey is the coast between Izmir and Antalya in southwestern part of the country.
This place is entitled to be called “Turkish Riviera” because here are the most beautiful and popular resorts Marmaris, Antalya, Bodrum and Kusadasi.
The beaches are beautiful and the sea can be used from April to November. In some places the beaches are covered with small, oval stones, and in other – with fine golden sand.
An interesting part of the nature of the country are the Turkish Dardanelles and Bosporus, which divide Turkey into European and Asian part. The two straits are the only link between the Black and Mediterranean sea.
Population. Turkey has an estimated population of 70.5 million inhabitants. If Turkey joins the European Union, it will be the second most populated country in the community after Germany.
The population is unevenly distributed on the territory of the country. The main part is concentrated in the developed western parts of Turkey, especially in the area of Istanbul and so-called Aegean Turkey.
The official religion is Islam (Sunni). There are also very small percentage of Christians and Jews, who also live mostly in western parts of the country.
Ethnically, here you can see some diversity. In the northwestern parts of the country (Edirne, Istanbul) live not less Bulgarians. In Izmir (Smyrna) still lives a few Greeks.
In cities such as Istanbul is absolutely usual to have a small number of different foreigners, because it is a world city with multiple offices of foreign companies.
The largest “minority” in the country is presented by 20 million inhabitants, i.e almost one third of the population of Turkey. These are the Kurds.
They live mostly in the eastern parts of the country. Turkey has not a few problems with them, as they are quite large proportion of the population and wish to receive independence and do not select funds with which to achieve that goal.
The Kurds in Turkey with the Kurds living on the territory of the neighbouring countries such as Iran, Iraq and Syria wish to have independence and form their own country – Kurdistan.
Economy. Turkey has a developed economy. It ranks among the 20 most developed countries in the world. It is a member of the G-20. Country’s economy is concentrated in the large cities in the western Turkey.
The standard of living in the country as a whole is average, but it varies and can be said that in Istanbul, Bursa, Ankara, Marmaris, Antalya, Bodrum, Kusadasi and other the living standard is higher, while in the smaller provincial cities, especially in the eastern part of the country is quite low.
Turkey’s economy is versatile developed, but there are sectors, which draws particular attention, as contribute more to the economic growth.
The clothing production and the export of clothes in countries around the world are typical example for an important economic sector.
The tourist industry also occupy a very important place in the Turkish economy. The country has ambitions to become a global tourism leader.
In addition to textile and tourism, Turkey can boast with very well-developed agriculture. The country grow citrus fruits, grapes, tobacco, olives, tea and a wide variety of vegetables (especially tomatoes and cucumbers).
Most of them are intended for export. The extraction and processing of various minerals is also well developed.
Turkey has large ledges of ore and industrial minerals such as zinc, copper, manganese, coal, marble and others. The official currency of Turkey is the Turkish Lira.
– Istanbul. With its population of 11 million people, Istanbul is Turkey’s largest metropolis and the 19th largest city in the world.
It is always among the most advanced, largest and most significant economic and cultural centers, whether it was within the borders of Turkey (as today), Greece or Bulgaria.
Here get together Europe and Asia, the Orient and West, Christianity and Islam.
– Ankara. This is the second largest Turkish city with a population of more than 5 million inhabitants. Although it is the capital of Turkey, Ankara relinquish the leadership to Istanbul.
The Turkish capital is a city with wide boulevards and European look. It posses parks and gardens, modern office buildings, shopping centers and countless opportunities for leisure.
In Ankara, the progress of this country can be felt in everything. And this is very important, because this city is Turkey’s business card to the world.
– Izmir. With a population of around four million inhabitants, Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey. 1000 years BC Izmir was within the boundaries of Greece and bore the name Smyrna.
Today it is a gateway to the Turkish Riviera. From this city on the south around the coast as a rosary are arranged the most beautiful and attractive Turkish resorts.
Many buildings in Izmir today are brand new, as in 1999 an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 on the Richter scale destroyed many buildings in this city. The earthquake took thousands of casualties.
– Bursa. Bursa is the fourth largest city in Turkey. The metropolitan area has a population of nearly 2,000,000 people. The outskirts of the city have a rich history and beautiful sceneries.
Not far away lies the Sea of Marmara. North of Bursa has beautiful beaches and around them has varied accommodation options in luxury hotels and villas.
– Antalya. One of the most popular Turkish resorts is Antalya. Furthermore, Antalya is a large city, which has a population of almost one million people.
It has beautiful beaches, luxurious villas and hotels, numerous restaurants and shops. The city is struggling with the fierce competition of the smaller, but not less attractive competitor – Marmaris.
Antalya is located in wide, overlooking to the south bay. The place is protected from cold north winds in winter and enjoys year round mild and very pleasant climate.
– Marmaris. With a population of 35,000 inhabitants, Marmaris fight to become the number one tourism destination in the Mediterranean and if we have to be quite honest, we have to say it has all prerequisites for it.
Marmaris competes successfully with the giants into the travel industry throughout Europe.
The picturesque landscape in the area, sheltered mountains, crystal clear waters and warm climate are one of the biggest advantages.
Here you can find wonderful hotels, restaurants, villas and everything that even the most discerning tourists would demanded.
– Kusadasi. In translation from Turkish Kusadasi means“ bird island“. Even with a population of only 50,000 inhabitants, the city is known throughout Europe as one of the best and most comfortable places to rest.
The long season, warm waters of the Aegean Sea, the subtropical vegetation, the combination of European, Asian and Mediterranean culture attract crowds of tourists.
Not far from Kusadasi lies the ancient city of Ephesus, which is a real out door archaeological monument.
– Adana. Adana is a city situated in the central southern parts of Turkey, not far from the Mediterranean. It has a population of over 1.3 million inhabitants, which puts it on the fifth place after Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Bursa.
Adana is located about 40 km from the Mediterranean coast. Due to the fact that to the north the city is protected by high mountains, there is a wonderful warm climate, which is a good precondition for development of agriculture.
– Samsun. Samsun is the largest Turkish city on the Black Sea. It is home to around 800,000 people. The city is beautiful with a picturesque location and looks pretty neat.
Here in the winter often falls very heavy snow. The truth is that in fact the city is really very nice, but because of the strong competition, it does not enjoy very high popularity among tourists, who are usually attracted to the metropolitan Istanbul and the nearby town of Bursa, the capital Ankara and the Mediterranean Pearls – Bodrum, Kusadasi, Antalya and Marmaris.
The Turkish culture is very rich and this is one of the reasons to attracts millions of tourists annually. Greater role for the local cultural heritage play the unique position of Turkey between Europe and Asia.
Suffice it to mention that the country is bordered to the northwest with two of the oldest countries in Europe – Greece and Bulgaria, and to the southeast are two Muslim countries – Iran and Iraq, which are carriers of a completely different lifestyle and culture in comparison with those in Europe.
Furthermore the transitional location between the East and West, Turkey is heavily influenced by the fact that there are very wide outlet to the Mediterranean and enjoys to the unique cultural peculiarities, which have only the countries of southern Europe and North Africa.
The country is much closer culturally to Europe than to its Asian neighbours, which share a common religion.
If you are spending some time in some of the Mediterranean cities of Turkey, you will see that the life is very common with the other Mediterranean countries.
Far from the pulsing dynamics of Istanbul, the people like to start the day over a cup of strong Turkish coffee, sitting in one of the many cafes near the sea.
And here, like elsewhere in South Europe the day begins somewhat slowly and gradually.
Similar to the other Mediterranean countries here the people appreciate very much the free time, especially at lunch, when the people like to sit at the table for a long time.
However, the evenings are quite lively and there are people on the streets until late. It is supposed that this habit in southern Europe and Turkey is due to the hot climate in this part of the world. The look of the Turkish cities is not Asian.
Houses, apartment blocks and office buildings was also built in western model. In Turkey today nobody paid attention to the rule that in the city the mosque have to be the highest structure.
On the streets of the Turkish cities the people behave and dress such as in every countries in Europe and America. Contrary to the perception of many people around the world, in Turkey the girls strive to be modern and attractive.
They work, study, wear short skirts, walk and eat in restaurants – they do everything such as the young women in Europe.
The most significant figure in the cultural development of Turkey is the Turkish general and president between 1923-1938, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
He is known for his words “I see the world with an open heart, filled with pure feelings and friendship”.
Actually born in 1881 in Salonika, Mustafa Kemal was transformed the Turkish state beyond recognition. He introduced the Latin alphabet in Turkey as the official script, which until then had not happened in another Islamic country.
Thanks to its policy and what he has done for Turkey, today this country wants to join and become a member of the European Union.
Many countries, however, have reservations regarding Turkey’s membership in the EU.
Regarding to the opinion of some European countries, The European Union is a community of Christian countries and every state, which profess different religion would not be well integrated in this society.
Other countries say that the religion is not a problem, but the Turkey’s geographical position, is not European, but Asian country.
Third argument is that Turkey must first to decide the question with Cyprus, and to resolve the disagreements between Turkey and Armenia on the Armenian genocide issue.
The truth is that Turkey would be very useful to the European Union, but will probably pass some time while the European Union and Turkey decide all contradictions and before member states become unanimous on the question of the membership of Turkey in the community.
When is the best time to visit Turkey? If you have decided to visit some of the Mediterranean resorts of Turkey, the weather is great for swimming since the beginning of April to late November, especially on the south coast.
If you travel in July and August will be good to comply with the high summer temperatures during these months.
From December to March is good to wear spring clothes and a thin jacket, because the winters in Marmaris, Antalya, Bodrum and Kusadasi are very nice and soft and too thick and warm clothing will only weigh in your luggage.
In Istanbul and Antalya is however quite different. There, the winters can be quite severe and the warm clothes are needed.
Well, if you are lucky, you can enjoy to sunny and pleasant days in Istanbul even in January, but do not rely on the chance and take warm clothes into the suitcase.