Turkey is bordered by eight countries: Syria and Iraq to the south; Iran, Armenia, and Nakhchivan to the east; Georgia to the northeast; Bulgaria to the northwest; and Greece to the west. The Black Seas to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Aegean Sea to the west. The Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles (which together form the Turkish Straits) demarcate the boundary between Thrace and Anatolia; they also separate Europe and Asia. Turkey's location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia makes it a country of significant geostrategic importance.
Turkey has been inhabited since the paleolithic age, including various ancient Anatolian civilizations,Aeolian, Dorian and Ionian Greeks, Thracians, Armenians and Persians. 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 greatly 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, upon which it disintegrated into several small Turkish beyliks.
Starting from the late 13th century, the Ottomans united Anatolia and created an empire encompassing much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa, becoming a major power in Eurasia and Africa during the early modern period. The empire reached the peak of its power between the 15th and 17th centuries, especially during the 1520–66 reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. After the second Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683 and the end of the Great Turkish Warin 1699, the Ottoman Empire entered a long period of decline. The Tanzimat reforms of the 19th century, which aimed to modernize the Ottoman state, proved to be inadequate in most fields, and failed to stop the dissolution of the empire. The Ottoman Empire entered World War I (1914–18) on the side of the Central Powers and was ultimately defeated. During the war, major atrocities were committed by the Ottoman government against the Armenians, Assyrians and Pontic Greeks. Following WWI, the huge conglomeration of territories and peoples that formerly comprised the Ottoman Empire was divided into several new states. The Turkish War of Independence (1919–22), initiated by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his colleagues in Anatolia, resulted in the establishment of the modern Republic of Turkey in 1923, with Atatürk as its first president.
Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic with a diverse cultural heritage. The country's official language is Turkish, a Turkic language spoken natively by approximately 85 percent of the population. 70–80 percent of the population are ethnic Turks; the remainder consists of legally recognized (Armenians, Greeks and Jews) and unrecognized (Kurds, Circassians, Arabs, Albanians, Bosniaks, Georgians, etc.) minorities. The vast majority of the population is Muslim. Turkey is a member of the UN, NATO, OECD, OSCE, OIC and the G-20. After becoming one of the first members of the Council of Europe in 1949, Turkey became an associate member of the EEC in 1963, joined the EU Customs Union in 1995 and started full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005. Turkey's growing economy and diplomatic initiatives have led to its recognition as a regional power.
Antiquity and Byzantine Period
The Library of Celsus in Ephesus was built by the Romans in 135 AD. The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, built by king Croesus of Lydia in the 6th century BC, was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Starting around 1200 BC, the coast of Anatolia was heavily settled by Aeolian and Ionian Greeks. Numerous important cities were founded by these colonists, such as Miletus, Ephesus, Smyrna and Byzantium, the latter founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 657 BC. The first state that was called Armenia by neighbouring peoples was the state of the Armenian Orontid dynasty, which included parts of eastern Turkey beginning in the 6th century BC. In Northwest Turkey, the most significant tribal group in Thrace was the Odyrisians, founded by Teres I.
All of modern-day Turkey was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire during the 6th century BC. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, dates back to the Achaemenid rule in Anatolia. The territory of Turkey later fell to Alexander the Great in 334 BC, which led to increasing cultural homogeneity and Hellenization in the area.[
Following Alexander's death in 323 BC, Anatolia was subsequently divided into a number of small Hellenistic kingdoms, all of which became part of the Roman Republic by the mid-1st century BC. The process of Hellenization that began with Alexander's conquest accelerated under Roman rule, and by the early centuries AD the local Anatolian languages and cultures had become extinct, being largely replaced by ancient Greek language and culture.
In 324, Constantine I chose Byzantium to be the new capital of the Roman Empire, renaming it New Rome. Following the death of Theodosius I in 395 and the permanent division of the Roman Empire between his two sons, the city, which would popularly come to be known as Constantinople, became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. This, which would later be branded by historians as the Byzantine Empire, ruled most of the territory of present-day Turkey until the Late Middle Ages; although the frequent Byzantine-Sassanid Wars took place in the eastern regions of Turkey until the first half of the 7th century.
Turkey is a transcontinental Eurasian country. Asian Turkey, which includes 97 percent of the country, is separated from European Turkey by the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles. European Turkey comprises 3 percent of the country. The territory of Turkey is more than 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi) long and 800 km (500 mi) wide, with a roughly rectangular shape. It lies between latitudes 35° and 43° N, and longitudes 25° and 45° E. Turkey's area, including lakes, occupies 783,562 square kilometers (300,948 sq mi), of which 755,688 square kilometers (291,773 sq mi) are in Southwest Asia and 23,764 square kilometers (9,174 sq mi) in Europe. Turkey is the world's 37th-largest country in terms of area. The country is encircled by seas on three sides: the Aegean Sea to the west, the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean to the south. Turkey also contains the Sea of Marmara in the northwest.
The European section of Turkey, East Thrace (the easternmost region of the Balkan peninsula), forms the borders of Turkey with Greece and Bulgaria. The Asian part of the country is comprised mostly by the peninsula of Anatolia, which consists of a high central plateau with narrow coastal plains, between the Köroğlu and Pontic mountain ranges to the north and the Taurus Mountains to the south. Eastern Turkey, located within the western plateau of the Armenian Highlands, has a more mountainous landscape and is home to the sources of rivers such as the Euphrates, Tigris and Aras, and contains Mount Ararat, Turkey's highest point at 5,137 meters (16,854 ft), and Lake Van, the largest lake in the country. Southeastern Turkey is located within the northern plains of Upper Mesopotamia.
Turkey is divided into seven census regions: Marmara, Aegean, Black Sea, Central Anatolia, Eastern Anatolia, Southeastern Anatolia and the Mediterranean. The uneven north Anatolian terrain running along the Black Sea resembles a long, narrow belt. This region comprises approximately one-sixth of Turkey's total land area. As a general trend, the inland Anatolian plateau becomes increasingly rugged as it progresses eastward.
Turkey's varied landscapes are the product of complex earth movements that have shaped the region over thousands of years and still manifest themselves in fairly frequent earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions. The Bosphorus and the Dardanelles owe their existence to the fault lines running through Turkey that led to the creation of the Black Sea. There is an earthquake fault line across the north of the country from west to east, along which a major earthquake occurred in 1999.
Turkey's extraordinary ecosystem and habitat diversity has produced considerable species diversity. Anatolia is the homeland of many plants that have been cultivated for food since the advent of agriculture, and the wild ancestors of many plants that now provide staples for humankind still grow in Turkey. The diversity of Turkey'sfauna is even greater than that of its flora. The number of animal species in the whole of Europe is around 60,000, while in Turkey there are over 80,000 (over 100,000 counting the subspecies).
The Northern Anatolian conifer and deciduous forests is an ecoregion which covers most of the Pontic Mountainsin northern Turkey, while the Caucasus mixed forests extend across the eastern end of the range. The region is home to Eurasian wildlife such as the Eurasian sparrowhawk, golden eagle, eastern imperial eagle, lesser spotted eagle, Caucasian black grouse, red-fronted serin, and wallcreeper. The narrow coastal strip between the Pontic Mountains and the Black Sea is home to the Euxine-Colchic deciduous forests, which contain some of the world's few temperate rainforests. The Turkish pine is mostly found in Turkey and other east Mediterranean countries. Several wild species of tulip are native to Anatolia, and the flower was first introduced to Western Europe with species taken from the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century.
There are 40 national parks, 189 nature parks, 31 nature preserve areas, 80 wildlife protection areas and 109 nature monuments in Turkey such as Gallipoli Peninsula Historical National Park, Mount Nemrut National Park, Ancient Troya National Park, Ölüdeniz Nature Park and Polonezköy Nature Park.
Ankara, the capital of Turkey, is renowned for the Angora cat, Angora rabbit and Angora goat. Another national cat breed of Turkey is the Van cat. The national dog breeds are the Anatolian Shepherd, Kangal, Malaklı and Akbaş.
The last confirmed death of an Anatolian leopard, closely related to the Persian (Caucasian) leopard and native to the western regions of Anatolia, took place in the Bağözü village of the Beypazarı district in Ankara Province on 17 January 1974. The Persian (Caucasian) leopard is still found in very small numbers in the northeastern and southeastern regions of Turkey. The Caspian tiger is an extinct tiger subspecies (closely related to the Siberian tiger) which lived in the easternmost regions of Turkey until the latter half of the 20th century, with the last confirmed death in Uludere, February 1970. The Eurasian lynx and the European wildcat are other felid species which are currently found in the forests of Turkey.
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 millimeters (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 millimeters (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 millimeters (12 in). May is generally the wettest month, whereas July and August are the driest.[
Tourism in Turkey has experienced rapid growth in the last twenty years, and constitutes an important part of the economy. In 2013, 37.8 million foreign visitors arrived in Turkey, which ranked as the 6th most popular tourism destination in the world; they contributed $27.9 billion to Turkey's revenues. In 2012, 15 percent of the tourists were from Germany, 11 percent from Russia, 8 percent from the United Kingdom, 5 percent fromBulgaria, 4 percent each from Georgia, the Netherlands and Iran, 3 percent from France, 2 percent each from the USA and Syria, and 40 percent from other countries. Turkey has 13 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the "Historic Areas of Istanbul", the "Rock Sites of Cappadocia", the "Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük", "Hattusa: the Hittite Capital", the "Archaeological Site of Troy", "Pergamon and its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape", "Hierapolis – Pamukkale", and "Mount Nemrut";and 51 World Heritage Sites in tentative list, such as the archaeological sites or historic urban centers of Göbekli Tepe, Gordion, Ephesus, Aphrodisias, Perga, Lycia,Sagalassos, Aizanoi, Zeugma, Ani, Harran, Mardin, Konya and Alanya. Turkey hosts two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, which are the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the Temple of Artemis.