Turkey is situated between 36-42° north latitude and between 26-45° east longitude. Its maximum north-south distance is 650 km (404 miles) while the maximum east-west distance is 1,600 km (994 miles). Turkey is bordered on the west by Greece and Bulgaria, on the east by Georgia and Armenia and Iran, and on the south by Iraq and Syria. Turkey is also surrounded by three seas: the Black Sea in the north, the Aegean Sea on the west, and the Mediterranean Sea on the south. Located within Turkey are two vital straits: the Bosphorus, which connects the Black Sea to the inland Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles, which connects the Sea of Marmara, to the Aegean Sea. Turkey’s land borders measure 2,700 km (1,678 miles) in length while its coasts measures 6,000 km (3,729 miles).
Topographically, Turkey is quite varied. Its surface features developed during several geological eras with the result that one finds young mountains adjacent to ancient ones. The average altitude above sea level is 1,130 m (3,707 ft). The Taurus change of mountains runs almost parallel to the southern coats, while the Anti-Taurus mountains run very nearly the full length of the northern. The two mountain systems converge in eastern Anatolia. Between them, there are broad, high plateaus running east and west. Turkey is divided into seven geographical regions. The Black Sea region stretches along the Black Sea coast. This narrow, mountainous region begins at the border with Georgia and extends westwards to Bilecik.
The Marmara region includes the northwestern part of Turkey and the area around the Sea of Marmara. It includes such historical cities as Edirne, Bursa, and Istanbul as well as the Istanbul and Canakkale straits. The Aegean region is the western reaches of the Anatolian peninsula bordered by the Aegean Sea. It begins at Cape Baba in the north and extends coastwise as far as Marmaris. The Aegean coast is extremely indented with numerous gulf and promontories. It is intersected by mountains of average height extending from inland down to the sea between which there are broad plains and valleys. Izmir is Aegean Turkey’s most important city and port.
The Central Anatolia region covers most of the heartland of the Anatolian peninsula and consists largely of a high plateau that is completely surrounded by mountains. Turkey’s capital, Ankara, is located in the Central Anatolia region. The Mediterranean region extends from the Aegean in the west along the coast. This narrow strip of land is bordered along the north by mountains. While it is somewhat mountainous in the west, the mountains recede inland around Antalya after which there is an extensive littoral plain. The Mediterranean region plays an important role in Turkey’s tourism industry. The Southeastern Anatolia region begins where the Mediterranean region leaves off at the foothills of the Toros mountains. In the Eastern Anatolian region, the northern and southern systems of mountains collide producing an area of vast and lonely splendor. The average altitude of this region is nearly 2,000 m (6,562 ft). Turkey’s highest mountain Ararat (5,165 m – 16,946 ft) is located here as is the country’s biggest lake, Van. In addition to Van, there are a number of other lakes in Turkey, the most important of which are Tuz Golu (Salt Lake), Egridir, Aksehir, Burdur, Iznik, Sapanca, and Manyas.
Some of these lakes are salt; others are fresh and their water is used for irrigation purposes. In addition to being a country of mountains and seas, Turkey is also a land of plains and valleys. Besides the vast Cilician plains (called Cukurova) in the south, there are also the Antalya and Antakya plains in that part of Turkey. In the north are the Carsamba and Bafra plains; in the west, the river valley plains of the Gediz, Kucuk Menderes, and Buyuk Menderes rivers; in western Thrace, the Ergene plain; and in the east the Ilgaz plain. Turkey has a number of rivers including the Kucuk and Buyuk Menderes, Gediz, Kizilirmak, Yesilirmak, Sakarya, Firat, Dicle, Seyhan, Ceyhan, and Coruh. In general terms, Turkey tends to be hot and dry in summer and cool and rainy in winter though climate varies considerably from region to region with Mediterranean, temperate, continental, and Black Sea climates prevailing according to one’s distance from the sea and the altitude.
Such varied climatic conditions are also evident in vegetation and rainfall. Turkey’s northern coast is heavily forested and forests still cover about 13 % of the country.
According to Turkey’s most recent census, the country’s population is nearly 65 million. The great majority of Turkish citizens are Sunni Muslims and speak Turkish though there are a number of small minority groups who maintain their own religious faiths and languages. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be grown year-round in some parts of the country. Principal crops include, in addition to these, grain, legumes, citrus fruits, cotton, tobacco, grapes, hazelnuts, figs, tea, poppies, and sugar beets.
Livestock-raising is an important industry in Turkey and the meat from animals raised on the lush grass of the high plateaus, once tasted, will never be forgotten. From Turkey’s surrounding seas, a wide variety of delicious fish are available in every season.
Textiles-woolen, cotton, and silk-have long been an important industry in Turkey and Turkish woven goods are now exported in substantial quantities. Other industrial activities include ceramics, leather, glass, metal goods, food processing, iron and steel, and paper. Anatolia is particularly rich in deposits of minerals and coal, iron, chromium, manganese, lead, and sulfur are all extracted. While Turkey produces some oil, the amount is not sufficient to meet the country’s needs.
Turkey has an extensive internal transportation network of railways, highways, and airlines that allows convenient and comfortable access to any part of the country. Coastwise shipping also provides connections between Turkey’s major and lesser ports. Passenger lines starting from Istanbul reach up into the Black Sea and down into the Mediterranean. A land of constant contrasts, Turkey is both a very old and a very new country. When the 6 century-old Ottoman empire came to an end it was replaced by a new and dynamic republic-the Republic of Turkey – on October 29th 1923. This new republic was founded on secular principles.
Women and men possess equal rights and it is possible to find women occupying important positions in every profession. Women have the right to vote and to be elected. Polygamy is prohibited by law. Turkey’s capital is Ankara and its official language is Turkish.
The currency unit is the Turkish lira. Turkey is a multi-party, parliamentary democracy. The prime minister, who represents the government, is chosen by the party (or parties) that can secure a majority in the Grand National Assembly. The assembly elects a president, who represents the nation and who serves a term of seven years and cannot be re-elected.