Facts


Population: 74.93 million (2013)
Capital: Ankara
Area: 302,535 mi²


About Turkey
Turkey officially the Republic of Turkey, is a transcontinental country in Eurasia, mainly on the Anatolian peninsula in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, parliamentary republic with a diverse cultural heritage.
Turkey is bordered by eight countries: Greece to the west; Bulgaria to the northwest; Georgia to the northeast; Armenia, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the south. The Aegean Sea is to the west, the Black Sea to the north, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. The Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles, which together form the Turkish Straits, divide Thrace and Anatolia; they also separate Europe and Asia. Turkey’s location between Europe and Asia has retained its geopolitical and strategic importance throughout history.
It is a nation straddling eastern Europe and western Asia with cultural connections to ancient Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Cosmopolitan Istanbul, on the Bosphorus Strait, is home to the iconic Hagia Sophia, with its soaring dome and Christian mosaics, the massive 17th-century Blue Mosque and the circa-1460 Topkapı Palace, former home of sultans. Ankara is Turkey’s modern capital.
Turkey has been inhabited since the Paleolithic by various ancient Anatolian civilisations, as well as Assyrians, Greeks, Thracians, Phrygians, Urartians and Armenians. After Alexander the Great’s conquest, the area was Hellenized, a process which continued under the Roman Empire and its transition into the Byzantine Empire. The Seljuk Turks began migrating into the area in the 11th century, starting the process of Turkification, which was accelerated by the Seljuk victory over the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. The Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm ruled Anatolia until the Mongol invasion in 1243, when it disintegrated into small Turkish beyliks.Turkey has been inhabited since the Paleolithic by various ancient Anatolian civilisations, as well as Assyrians, Greeks, Thracians, Phrygians, Urartians and Armenians. After Alexander the Great’s conquest, the area was Hellenized, a process which continued under the Roman Empire and its transition into the Byzantine Empire. The Seljuk Turks began migrating into the area in the 11th century, starting the process of Turkification, which was accelerated by the Seljuk victory over the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. The Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm ruled Anatolia until the Mongol invasion in 1243, when it disintegrated into small Turkish beyliks.


Currency


The Turkish currency is the Turkish Lira. Banknotes are in denominations of TL1 (rare), 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 liras. The lira is divided into 100 Kuruş (koo-ROOSH), with coins in denominations of Kr 1 (rare), 5, 10, 25 and 50 (Kuruş).


Climate
The coastal areas of Turkey bordering the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas have a temperate Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild to cool, wet winters. The coastal areas bordering the Black Sea have a temperate oceanic climate with warm, wet summers and cool to cold, wet winters. The Turkish Black Sea coast receives the greatest amount of precipitation and is the only region of Turkey that receives high precipitation throughout the year. The eastern part of that coast averages 2,200 millimetres (87 in) annually which is the highest precipitation in the country.
The coastal areas bordering the Sea of Marmara, which connects the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea, have a transitional climate between a temperate Mediterranean climate and a temperate oceanic climate with warm to hot, moderately dry summers and cool to cold, wet winters. Snow falls on the coastal areas of the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea almost every winter, but usually melts in no more than a few days. However snow is rare in the coastal areas of the Aegean Sea and very rare in the coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea.
Mountains close to the coast prevent Mediterranean influences from extending inland, giving the central Anatolian plateau of the interior of Turkey a continental climate with sharply contrasting seasons.
Winters on the eastern part of the plateau are especially severe. Temperatures of −30 to −40 °C (−22 to −40 °F) can occur in eastern Anatolia. Snow may remain at least 120 days of the year. In the west, winter temperatures average below 1 °C (34 °F). Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures often above 30 °C (86 °F) in the day. Annual precipitation averages about 400 millimetres (15 in), with actual amounts determined by elevation. The driest regions are the Konya plain and the Malatya plain, where annual rainfall is often less than 300 millimetres (12 in). May is generally the wettest month, whereas July and August are the driest.


Language
The country’s official language is Turkish, which is spoken by 85.54 percent of the population as mother tongue. 11.97 percent of the population speaks the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish as mother tongue. Arabic and Zaza are the mother tongues of 2.39 percent of the population, and several other languages are the mother tongues of smaller parts of the population. Endangered languages in Turkey include Abaza, Abkhaz, Adyge, Cappadocian Greek, Gagauz, Hértevin, Homshetsma, Kabard-Cherkes, Ladino (Judesmo), Laz, Mlahso, Pontic Greek, Romani, Suret, Turoyo, Ubykh, and Western Armenian.


Economy
Turkey has the world’s 17th largest GDP by PPP and 18th largest nominal GDP. The country is among the founding members of the OECD and the G-20.
The EU – Turkey Customs Union in 1995 led to an extensive liberalisation of tariff rates, and forms one of the most important pillars of Turkey’s foreign trade policy. Turkey’s exports were $143.5 billion in 2011 and reached $163 billion in 2012 (main export partners in 2012: Germany 8.6%, Iraq 7.1%, Iran 6.5%, UK 5.7%, UAE 5.4%). However, larger imports which amounted to $229 billion in 2012 threatened the balance of trade (main import partners in 2012: Russia 11.3%, Germany 9%, China 9%, US 6%, Italy 5.6%).
Turkey has a sizeable automotive industry, which produced over 1.3 million motor vehicles in 2015, ranking as the 14th largest producer in the world. Turkish shipbuilding exports were worth US$1.2 billion in 2011. The major export markets are Malta, Marshall Islands, Panama and the United Kingdom. Turkish shipyards have 15 floating docks of different sizes and one dry dock. Tuzla, Yalova, and İzmit have developed into dynamic shipbuilding centres. In 2011, there were 70 active shipyards in Turkey, with another 56 being built. Turkish shipyards are highly regarded both for the production of chemical and oil tankers up to 10,000 dwt and also for their mega yachts.
Turkish brands like Beko and Vestel are among the largest producers of consumer electronics and home appliances in Europe, and invest a substantial amount of funds for research and development in new technologies related to these fields.


Health
Food is generally free of parasitic or bacterial contamination, but be prudent anyway. Look at where local people are preferring to eat. Do not eat stuff that is sold outdoors, at least in summer and at least which local folk don’t eat. They can spoil fairly quickly without needed refrigeration. Wash thoroughly and/or peel fresh fruits and vegetables. They may be free of biological contaminants but their skin is probably heavily loaded with pesticides.
However tempting it may be on a hot day, try to avoid water from public water tanks and fountains, frequently found in the vicinity of mosques. Also, though tap water is always chlorinated, it is better to drink only bottled water. Bottled water is readily available everywhere except the most remote, uninhabited spots.
There are pharmacies in all cities and many towns. Pharmacies are open from 8:30AM until 7PM, however every town has at least one drugstore on duty overnight, all other pharmacies in the town usually display its name, address and telephone numbers on their windows. Most basic drugs, including painkillers such as Aspirin, are sold over the counter, although only in pharmacies.
Keeping a mosquito repellent handy is a good idea. Although the risk of malaria anywhere in the country is long gone (except the southernmost areas near the Syrian border which used to have a very low level of risk until up to 1980s), mosquitoes can be annoying especially in coastal areas out of cities, including vacation towns at nights between June and September. In some towns, especially the ones near the deltas, mosquito population is so large that people desert the streets during the “mosquito raid” which occurs between the sunset and one hour after that.


Education
The Ministry of National Education is responsible for pre-tertiary education. This is compulsory and lasts twelve years: four years each of primary school, middle school and high school. Less than half of 25- to 34-year-old Turks have completed at least high school, compared with an OECD average of over 80 percent. Basic education in Turkey is considered to lag behind other OECD countries, with significant differences between high and low performers. Turkey is ranked 32nd out of 34 in the OECD’s PISA study. Access to high-quality school heavily depends on the performance in the secondary school entrance exams, to the point that some students begin taking private tutoring classes when they are 10 years old. The overall adult literacy rate in 2011 was 94.1 percent; 97.9 percent for males and 90.3 percent for females.
By 2011, there were 166 universities in Turkey. Entry to higher education depends on the Student Selection Examination (ÖSS). In 2008, the quota of admitted students was 600,000, compared to 1,700,000 who took the ÖSS exam in 2007.


Safety
Due to massive Anti-government protests in most of the major Turkish cities, it’s not advised to visit them as of this moment for it has been reported that tear gas, and water hoses were used. It’s recommended you contact your local embassy first or cancel your plans to visiting Turkey until the situation is resolved.
Big cities in Turkey, especially Istanbul, are not immune to petty crime. Although petty crime is not especially directed towards tourists, by no means are they exceptions. Snatching, pickpocketing, and mugging are the most common kinds of petty crime. However, recently with the developing of a camera network which watches streets and squares –especially the central and crowded ones- 24-hour a day in Istanbul, the number of snatching and mugging incidents declined. Just like anywhere else, following common sense is recommended.
Avoid dark and desolate alleys at night. If you know you have to pass through such a place at night, don’t take excessive cash with you but instead deposit your cash into the safe-box at your hotel. Stay away from demonstrating crowds if the demonstration seems to be turning into an unpeaceful one. Also in resort towns, when going to beach, don’t take your camera or cell phone with you if there will be no one to take care of them while you are swimming. If you notice that your wallet has been stolen it is wise to check the nearest trash cans before reporting the loss to the police. It is often the case that thieves in Turkey will drop the wallet into the trash to avoid being caught in possession of the wallet and proven a thief.


Culture and Religion
Turkey has a very diverse culture that is a blend of various elements of the Turkic, Anatolian, Ottoman (which was itself a continuation of both Greco-Roman and Islamic cultures) and Western culture and traditions, which started with the Westernisation of the Ottoman Empire and still continues today. This mix originally began as a result of the encounter of Turks and their culture with those of the peoples who were in their path during their migration from Central Asia to the West. Turkish culture is a product of efforts to be a “modern” Western state, while maintaining traditional religious and historical values.


Getting Around
Major cities are served by airlines as well, with reasonable prices, beating the bus travel experience especially over longer distances. Tickets can be conveniently bought at the Istanbul domestic terminal and local ticket offices of Turkish Airlines , Onur Air, Pegasus Airlines and Atlasjet among others . Many of the large cities have daily connections to the traffic hubs Ankara and Istanbul, others will have flights on specific days only. Upon arrival at regional airports there will often be a connecting Havaş bus to the city centre, which is much, much cheaper than taking a taxi. They may wait for half an hour, but will be available after the arrival of major flights. In some spots a whole fleet of minibusses will be waiting for an important flight, and then they will head out for cities in the region. For instance, flying to Agri in the East a connecting minibus will head for Dogubeyazit within twenty,thirty minutes or so, so you don’t have to travel into Agri first, then wait for a Dogubeyazit bus. Do ask for such easy connections upon arrival!
Turkey has a very good long-distance bus network with air-conditioned buses, reserved seats and generally good-quality service, at least with the major operators. There are now a few firms providing luxury buses with 1st class seats and service. Standard buses, however, have seats narrower than those of economy class on airplanes. Buses are often crowded, but smoking is strictly prohibited. Bus travel is convenient in Turkey. Go to the Otogar (bus station) in any of the major cities and you can find a bus to almost any destination departing within half an hour, or a couple of hours at the most. Buses are staffed by drivers and a number of assistants. During the ride you will be offered free drinks, a bite or two, and stops will be made every two and a half hours or so at well-stocked road restaurants. The further east you travel, the less frequent buses will be, but even places as far as Dogubeyazit or Van will have regular services to many places hundreds of kilometers away. Only the smallest towns do not have a bus straight to Istanbul or Izmir at least once every two days.
Offering considerably cheap, but slower travel compared with the bus, TCDD (Turkish Republic State Railways) operate passenger trains all over the country. However, as Turkey has fewer than 11,000 km of rail network in the total, many cities and tourist spots are out of rail coverage.
Istanbul–Ankara and Istanbul–Edirne lines are the only lines that are electrified, so the rest of the lines are serviced by diesel trains. The services from Istanbul to the east change their locomotives at Ankara station, and services to the south change their locomotives at Enveriye station, the remote one of two stations in Eskişehir (located about two-thirds distance to Ankara from Istanbul). No steam locomotives run on Turkish railways regularly, except occasional ceremonies.
There are no fees to use the highways except intercity motorways (otoyol). While Turkish highways vary widely in quality and size, the toll motorways have three lanes and are very smooth and fast. Motorways are explicitly signed with distinct green signs and given road numbers prefixed with the letter O. Motorways no longer have toll booths and instead have lanes for automatic (OGS) and pre-paid card (KGS) lanes. Unless you are going to live in Turkey, the refillable KGS card will be what you want.

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