Turkey is considered to be the gateway between Europe and Asia; it is an Eurasian country located on the Mediterranean stretching across the Anatolian peninsula in southwest Asia and the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. It is bordered by the Black Sea, the Marmara Sea, the Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea.
Official Name: Republic of Turkey
Area: 780,580 sq. km.
Currency: Turkish Lira (TRY) 1 EUR = 3.30 TRY
Official language: Turkish
Time zone: GMT +2
Dialing Code: +90
Internet top-level domain (TLD): .tr
Emergency services: 112
Religions: 99% Muslim, 1% other
Government: Parliamentary Republic
President: Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Population: ~77 million
Population density: 93/km² (240/sq. miles)
Gross Domestic Product (GDP): USD $791 billion (est. 2008); per capita USD 10,380 (est. 2008)
Human Development Index (HDI): 0.775 (medium) (2007)
Lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
Highest point: Mount Ararat 5,166 m
Days of sunshine per year: 235
Average temperatures: If you are planning your vacation in Turkey, it is a good idea to check the average temperatures so that you can bring the appropriate clothes with you.Depending on the season and which region you visit, you can expect to find varying temperatures in Turkey.The country can be devided into the following regions with reference to temperature:
• Marmara coasts – (Istanbul): Hot summers and mild winters.
• Aegean coasts – (Izmir): Hot summers and mild winters.
• Mediterranean coasts – (Antalya): Hot summers and mild winters.
• Black Sea coast – (Trabzon): Temperate climate, warm summers, mild winters and relatively high rainfall.
• Central Anatolia – (Ankara): Steppe climate with hot, dry summers; cold winters.
• Eastern Anatolia – (Erzurum): Long snowy, cold winters and mild summers.
• Southeast Anatolia – (Diyarbakir): Hot summer, mild and rainy winters.
Main International Airports: for the capital city: Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW) and Istanbul Atatürk International Airport (IST); for the Mediterranean coast: Antalya International Airport (AYT); for the Aegean coast: Dalaman International Airport (DLM)
Ports and Terminals: Aliaga, Diliskelesi, Izmir, Kocaeli (Izmit), Mercin Limani, Nemrut Limani
Shops: Monday-Saturday (09:00-21:00)
Offices: Monday-Friday (09:00-17:00)
Banks: Monday-Friday (09:00-15:00)
Turkey is where the three continents of the old world – Asia, Africa and Europe – are closest to each other. Only three percent of the country is in the European part and the rest are in the Anatolian Peninsula. The total area is 780 000 sq. kilometers, with population of 70 million. About 99 % of the Turkish population is Muslim, although as a whole it is a very liberal and loosely practiced version of the religion.
Straddling two continents, Europe and Asia, and bordering the volatile Middle East, Turkey has an unrivalled history stretching back thousands of years. From the ancient Hittites to the Ottomans, dozens of civilizations have made Turkey their home, leaving behind them a dazzling historical and archaeological heritage.
But despite its ancient roots, Turkey is a rapidly developing modern state. Born from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, the country was transformed by its far-sighted and ambitious first leader Kemal Ataturk. Since his death, the republic has maintained its Western orientation and European aspirations, despite the often-strong counter-current of traditionalism and Islam.
Official holidays in Turkey:
- January, 1 – New Year’s Day
- April, 23 – National Sovereignty and Children’s Day
- May, 1 – Labour and Solidarity Day
- May, 19 – Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day August, 30 – Victory Day
- August, 30 – Victory Day
- October, 29 – Republic Day
The Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean coasts of Turkey display a typical Mediterranean climate of hot summers and mild winters, though Istanbul can have some very cold snaps with snow in the winter. July and August are the hottest months with temperatures around 30°C with quite high humidity during the summer months. Temperatures increase a few degrees when travelling to the south and water temperatures also become warmer. The swimming season is from June to September along the Marmara and north Aegean coasts, while it is from April to October on the south Aegean and Mediterranean coasts.
The Black Sea Region has a comparatively moderate climate; the summers are warm and winters are mild. Rainfall is also heavier here than in any other region. The swimming season is from June to early September though the weather is not so dependable.
There is quite a difference between the climate of the coastal and the inland regions which tend to be at higher altitudes. The Turkish weather reaches its extremes in central and eastern Anatolia and the Eastern parts of the country, with hot, dry summers when the temperatures may reach 42°C, and freezing, snowy winters. Thus spring and autumn are best for sightseeing and travelling in this part of the country.
In the mountainous and Eastern regions of Turkey, the summers become milder and the winters harsher – temperatures can drop as low as -30°C to -38°C and snow may lay on the ground for around four months, making them ideal for winter sports.
Anatolia (Turkey in Asia) was occupied in about 1900 B.C. by the Indo-European Hittites and, after the Hittite empire’s collapse in 1200 B.C. , by Phrygians and Lydians. The Persian Empire occupied the area in the 6th century B.C. , giving way to the Roman Empire, then later the Byzantine Empire. The Ottoman Turks first appeared in the early 13th century, subjugating Turkish and Mongol bands pressing against the eastern borders of Byzantium and making the Christian Balkan states their vassals. They gradually spread through the Near East and Balkans, capturing Constantinople in 1453 and storming the gates of Vienna two centuries later. At its height, the Ottoman Empire stretched from the Persian Gulf to western Algeria. Lasting for 600 years, the Ottoman Empire was not only one of the most powerful empires in the history of the Mediterranean region, but it generated a great cultural outpouring of Islamic art, architecture, and literature.
After the reign of Sultan Süleyman I the Magnificent (1494–1566), the Ottoman Empire began to decline politically, administratively, and economically. By the 18th century, Russia was seeking to establish itself as the protector of Christians in Turkey’s Balkan territories. Russian ambitions were checked by Britain and France in the Crimean War (1854–1856), but the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) gave Bulgaria virtual independence and Romania and Serbia liberation from their nominal allegiance to the sultan. Turkish weakness stimulated a revolt of young liberals known as the Young Turks in 1909. They forced Sultan Abdul Hamid to grant a constitution and install a liberal government. However, reforms were no barrier to further defeats in a war with Italy (1911–1912) and the Balkan Wars (1912–1913). Turkey sided with Germany in World War I, and, as a result, lost territory at the conclusion of the war.
A New Republic and President
Turkey’s current boundaries were drawn in 1923 at the Conference of Lausanne, and Turkey became a republic with Kemal Atatürk as the first president. The Ottoman sultanate and caliphate were abolished, and modernization, reform, and industrialization began under Atatürk’s direction. He secularized Turkish society, reducing Islam’s dominant role and replacing Arabic with the Latin alphabet for writing the Turkish language. After Atatürk’s death in 1938, parliamentary government and a multiparty system gradually took root in Turkey, despite periods of instability and brief intervals of military rule. Neutral during most of World War II, Turkey, on Feb. 23, 1945, declared war on Germany and Japan, but it took no active part in the conflict. Turkey became a full member of NATO in 1952, was a signatory in the Balkan Entente (1953), joined the Baghdad Pact (1955; later CENTO), joined the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) and the Council of Europe, and became an associate member of the European Common Market in 1963.
Turkey invaded Cyprus by sea and air on July 20, 1974, following the failure of diplomatic efforts to resolve conflicts between Turkish and Greek Cypriots. Turkey unilaterally announced a cease-fire on Aug. 16, after having gained control of 40% of the island. Turkish Cypriots established their own state in the north on Feb. 13, 1975. In July 1975, after a 30-day warning, Turkey took control of all the U.S. installations except the joint defense base at Incirlik, which it reserved for “NATO tasks alone.”
The establishment of military government in Sept. 1980 stopped the slide toward anarchy and brought some improvement in the economy. A constituent assembly, consisting of the six-member national security council and members appointed by them, drafted a new constitution that was approved by an overwhelming (91.5%) majority of the voters in a Nov. 6, 1982, referendum. Martial law was gradually lifted. The military, however, effectively continues to control the country.