Turkey is a country that straddles both southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia and is bordered by the Black Sea to the north. It is also known as the Republic of Turkey. It has an area of 783,562 square kilometers (300,948 sq. miles) and about 97% of that is in Asia. It is roughly rectangular in shape 1,600 kilometres (100 miles) long and 800 km (500 mi) long.
Turkey has borders with 8 different countries - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Iran, Iraq and Syria â€“ and also has 7,200 kilometres of coastline. Its capital city is Ankara with a population of around 4.5 million people but its largest city is the former capital Istanbul with about 12 million people. Istanbul is at the entry to the Black Sea and was formerly known as Constantinople and before that Byzantium.
Population of Turkey
The population of the country as at July 2010 was around 76.8 million and increasing by around 1.3% a year. More than 70% of the population live in urban areas and this increases each year. The average life expectancy is 70.1years for men and 73.9 years for women. 66.7% of the population are aged between 15 and 64 years of age.
The official language is Turkish, but a Kurdish language television channel commenced in early 2009. The major ethnic group are the Turkish (70-75%) but the Kurdish people mainly living in the southeastern province of the country are about 18% of the population with other minorities including Arabic, Armenian and Greek being the other 7-12%. About 99% of the population are Muslim, mostly Sunni, with a small number of Christians and Jews.
Turkey has relatively few natural resources and its traditional agriculture sector still accounts for about 30% of the labour force. Industry and commerce are becoming increasingly important with the automotive and electronics industry growing in importance. Tourism has grown rapidly in the last twenty years with 30.9 million visitors to Turkey in 2008.
Turkey is a major shipbuilding nation ranking fourth in the world for both the number of ships ordered and the number of mega yachts ordered. Between 2002 and 2007 the Turkish economy grew an average 6% annually which was one of the highest sustained growth rates in the world. In 2008 growth was only 1.1% and then fell in 2009 because of the global economic slowdown but is growing again in 2010.
There are narrow coastal plains around the Anatolian plateau which becomes increasingly rugged going eastward. The highest point is Mount Ararat (5,166 metres) in the far east of the country which is the legendary landing place of Noah's Ark. In western Asia the Tigris and Euphrates rise in the highlands of Turkey and flow down into the Persian Gulf. Today, as in ancient times, this river system provides water for irrigation. The country encompasses steep mountain regions, peaceful coastlines, rustic farming villages and barren wastelands.
The coastal areas of Turkey have hot, dry summers and mild to cool, wet winters. The arid interior has a continental climate with sharply contrasting seasons where winters are severe and there can be snow on the ground for 120 days a year while summers are hot and dry. July and August are the driest months and May is usually the wettest.
The Anatolian Peninsula has been inhabited since Neolithic times. In 324 the site Istanbul was chosen as the new capital of the Roman Empire and was called Byzantium and has had a long and tumultuous history. Long after the Byzantine Empire had declined, Constantinople, with its magnificent defences, held out against the Turkish advance into Europe, but finally fell in 1453.
Modern Turkey, or the Republic of Turkey, was founded in 1923 after the collapse of the 600-year-old Ottoman Empire and a three-year war of independence. The founder was national hero Mustafa Kemal, who is referred to as "Ataturk" or "father of the Turks." Turkey entered World War II on the Allied side shortly before the war ended, becoming a charter member of the United Nations, in 1952 it became a member of NATO, and in 1964 it became an associate member of the European Community. Over the past decade, Turkey has undertaken many reforms to strengthen its democracy and economy. The government is a republican parliamentary democracy.
The Turkish flag is red with a white crescent moon and white five-pointed star centered just outside the crescent opening. The flag colors and designs closely resemble those on the banner of the Ottoman Empire, which preceded modern-day Turkey. The crescent moon and star are traditional symbols of Islam as well as insignia for the Turks.
Nearly all visitors to Turkey will visit Istanbul. The town stands on a hilly promontory, which encloses its splendid harbour, the Golden Horn. The town is full of historical remains, the most famous being the great mosque of Santa Sophia, once the most famous church in Christendom. There are many beautiful buildings which are the architectural legacy of the Ottoman Empire. The archaeological site of Troy has a history thousands of years old and was the site of the Trojan War, the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia are intriguing, while Turkish baths are a must-do experience.
2010 World Atlas