Physical geography

Turkey's land mass is 774.815 sq km. The European and Asian sides are divided by the Istanbul Bogazi (Bosphorus), the Sea of Marmara and the Canakkale Bogazi (Dardanelles). Anatolia is a high plateau region rising progressively towards the east, and is broken by the valleys of about 15 rivers, including the Dicle (Tigris) and the Firat (Euphrates). There are numerous lakes and some, such as Lake Van, are as large as inland seas. In the north, the eastern Black Sea Mountain chain runs parallel to the Black Sea; in the south, the Taurus Mountains sweep down almost to the narrow, fertile coastal plain along the sea coast. Turkey enjoys a variety of climates, changing from the temperate climate of the Black Sea region, to the continental climate of the interior, then, to the Mediterranean climate of the Aegean and Mediterranean coastal regions. The coastline is more than 8,333km long.


Temperatures vary from the high 20s, low 30s in summer to around eight degrees in winter, depending on location.

Economic geography

Tourism: In recent years Turkey has become a major tourist destination in Europe. With the rapid development of both summer and winter resorts, more and more people from all over the world are able to enjoy the history, culture and beautiful sites of Turkey.

Agriculture: This plays a very important role in the Turkish economy. The main crops are wheat, rice, cotton, tea, tobacco, hazelnuts, and fruit. Sheep are Turkey's most important livestock, and Turkey is one of European wool and cotton producer. Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP) GAP is a multi-purpose, integrated development project comprising of dams, hydroelectric power plants and irrigation facilities, that are to be built on the Firat (Euphrates) and Dicle (Tigris) rivers. It will affect agriculture, transportation, education, tourism, health and other sectors. Included in the project Ataturk Dam is among the first ten dams in the world.

Natural resources: The principal minerals extracted are coal, chrome (an important export), iron, copper, bauxite, marble and sulphur.

Industry: Industry is developing rapidly and is directed mainly towards the processing of agricultural products, metallurgy, textiles, and the manufacture of automobiles and agricultural machinery.


According to 1990 census Turkey has 57 million inhabitants, 41 per cent of whom live in the countryside. The major cities are: Istanbul (7.4 mil); Ankara, the capital (3.2 mil); Izmir (2.7 mil); Adana (1.9 mil); Antalya (1.1 mil); and Bursa (1.6 mil).

A brief history

Turkey has been called 'the cradle of civilisation' and by travelling through this historic land the tourist will discover exactly what is meant by this phrase. The world's first town, a neolithic city at Catalhoyuk, dates back to 6,500BC. From the days of Catalhoyuk up to the present time Turkey boasts of a rich culture that through the centuries has made a lasting impression on modern civilisation. Their many centuries of culture makes Turkey a paradise of information and cultural wealth. Hattis, Hittites, Phrygians, Urartians, Lycians, Lydians, Ionians, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans have all held important places in Turkey's history, and ancient sites and ruins scattered throughout the country give proof to each civilisation's unique distinction.

Turkey also has a very fascinating recent history. Upon the decline of the Ottoman Empire, a young man named Mustafa Kemal, who was a soldier by occupation but a great visionary in character, took the defeat of the First World War and turned it into a shining victory by liberating Turkey of all foreign invaders. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the Republic of Turkey on the 29 October, 1923. He led his country into peace and stability, with tremendous economic growth and complete modernisation. Through decades of change and growth Turkey still boasts of this success by effectively living by their adopted motto of 'Peace at home, peace in the world'.


The Turkish population is 99 per cent Moslem. Turkey is a secular state and guarantees complete freedom of worship to non-Moslems.

Languages spoken by nationals

The Turkish language belongs to the Ural Altaic group and has an affinity with the Finno Hungarian languages. Turkish is written in the Latin alphabet and is spoken by some 150 million people around the world.


Local time: GMT + two hours (summer).


The national monetary unit is the Turkish lira (TL.). The coinage is in 500, 1000 and 2500, 5,000 lira pieces. Bank notes are of 5,000,10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 and 250,000, 500,000 lira.

The exchange rates for foreign currencies are published daily. Eurocheques can be cashed immediately, as can traveller's cheques upon producing identification.

Official holidays (all offices and shops closed)

1 Jan, New Year's Day - 23 Apr, National Independence and Children's Day - 19 May, Ataturk Commemoration and Youth and Sports Day - 30 Aug, Victory Day - 29 Oct, Republic Day.

What one should not fail to see

Istanbul: Visit the ruins of Truva (Troy), Behramkale (Assos) and the Gulf of Edremit (Olive Riviera).

Spend the day in Ayvallk, visit ruins of Bergama (Pergamon). Izimir. Visit ruins of Efes then to Kusadasn, in Kusadasl visit the ruins of Priene, Miletos and Didyma. Spectacular formations at Pamukkale, visit Aphrodisias on route. In Bodrum. Marmaris visit the ruins of Knidos and the resort town of Datca, the ruins of Kaunos and the canal of Dalyan. Fethiye, the ruins of Kinik (Xan thos) and Leton, sail to Gocek Gulf. Black sea resorts. Antalya.

Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring

Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean coasts: These coasts have a typical Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. The swimming season becomes shorter the further north one goes: Marmara and North Aegean June to September, South Aegean and Mediterranean April to October.

Black Sea Coast: temperate climate with warm summers, mild winters, and relatively high rainfall.

Central Anatolia: These areas have a steppe climate with hot, dry summers; cold winters.

Eastern Anatolia: Long snowy, cold winters with mild summers. Southeast Anatolia: These areas have a hot summer with mild, rainy winters.

What to wear

Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean coasts - take light, cotton summer clothing and cardigans for the evening.

Black Sea, Central and Eastern Anatolia - besides summer wear, warmer clothing should be taken for cool evenings at high altitudes.

Comfortable shoes are necessary for visiting archaeological and historical sites. Sun hats and sun glasses are advisable in the height of summer. Headscarves should be taken by women for visiting mosques.

Holiday sports

Yachting, underwater diving, rafting, windsurfing, fishing, air sports, caving, skiing, mountaineering, trekking, thermal resorts, horseback riding, ornithology, plateau hiking, national parks, recreation areas.

What to eat and drink

Turkish food is famous throughout the world. The range is enormous, from a number of soups to an astonishing variety of meze (hors d'oeuvre), followed by meat and fish dishes. Then pause awhile to contemplate the famous Turkish sweets and pastries before finishing with a Turkish coffee. All Turkish food is prepared from fresh ingredients. The country produces a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and being surrounded on three sides by sea, the range of fish to be found is also considerable.

Among alcoholic drinks are the light Turkish beer, excellent wines and the national drink, 'raki' (an anisette), which clouds when water is added, giving it the popular name of 'lion's milk'. It is traditionally accompanied by a variety of 'mezze' (hors d'oeuvre). Bottled drinking water and mineral water are easily found everywhere. Tap water is drinkable, but not tasty. In the larger cities you can also find restaurants which feature Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Korean, French, Swiss, German and Italian cuisine.

Frontier formalities

Currency regulations

Limits: There is no limit on the amount of foreign currency that may be brought into Turkey, but not more than $5,000 worth of Turkish currency may be brought into or taken out of the country.

Exchange slips: The exchange slips for the conversion of foreign currency into Turkish lira should be kept, since you may be required to show these when reconverting your Turkish lira back into foreign currency, and when taking souvenirs out of the country (to prove that they have been purchased with legally exchanged foreign currency).

Customs regulations

On entry: The following items may be brought into the country duty free: a) personal effects of the tourist, 200 cigarettes and 50 cigars, 200 grams of tobacco and 200 cigarette papers, or 50 grams of chewing tobacco, or 200 grams of pipe tobacco, or 200 grams of snuff. (In addition to the above allowances, it is possible to purchase 400 cigarettes, 100 cigars, and 500 grams of pipe-tobacco from the Turkish Duty - Free Shops on entering the country). 1.5 kg. coffee, 1.5 kg. instant coffee, 500 grams of tea.1 kilo chocolate and 1 kilo sweets; 15 (100 cc) or 7 (70 cc) bottles of wines and/or spirits. five bottles of perfume (120 ml max. each).

b) Valuable items and all items with a value of over $15,000, must be registered in the owner's passport on entering Turkey, for control upon exit.

c) Gifts, not exceeding 500 DM in value and not for trading purposes, may be brought into the country duty free.

Health regulations for animals

For those who wish to bring domestic animals into the country the following are required:

:a) A 'Certificate of Origin' giving the health record of the animal.

A 'Certificate of Health', issued not more than 15 days before the animal's entry into the country, stating that the animal is in good health and that it has been vaccinated against rabies.

For all information concerning a trip to Turkey, contact your nearest Turkish Tourist Information Office or your travel agent. In Turkey, there are information offices in all principal cities and tourist centres.