Location: Situated between Europe and Asia, linking
Western and Eastern cultures. Turkey's European border
adjoins Greece and Bulgaria; to the northeast is part of the
former Soviet Union; and to the southeast lies Iran, Iraq
and Syria. The Turkish peninsula is surrounded by four seas:
Mediterranean (south), Aegean (west), Sea of Marmara
(between Europe and Asia) and the Black Sea (north).
Language: The Turkish language uses the Latin
alphabet, plus some additional letters. In the larger
cities, many residents speak English, French and German.
Climate: Varies from region to region: Marmara,
Aegean and Mediterranean coasts: Typical Mediterranean
climate with hot summers and mild winters. Black Sea Coast:
Temperate climate with warm summers, mild winters and
relatively high rainfall. Central Anatolia: Hot, dry summers
and cold winters. Eastern Anatolia: Long snowy, cold winters
and mild summers. Southeast Anatolia: Hot summers with mild,
Government: The Turkish Republic is based on a
secular, democratic, parliamentary system. The Council of
Ministers, headed by the Prime Minister, governs the nation
along with a Grand National Assembly elected by popular
Economy: Agriculture and industry plays an important
role in the economy of Turkey, which has signed a Customs
Union Agreement with the European Union. Turkey is
self-sufficient in food production and produces enough
surplus for export as well. Leading industries include the
processing of agricultural products, metallurgy, textiles,
automobiles, machinery, chemical and petroleum products,
glassware and household appliances. Turkey is becoming a
major European tourist destination. The tourism industry
earns an average annual income of $7 billion for the Turkish
economy, and this amount is increasing yearly.
Religion: The population is 99% Muslim. Turkey is a
secular state and recognizes freedom of worship. It is the
only country in the world in which mosques, churches and
synagogues have coexisted peacefully for centuries.
History: Turkey, known as "the cradle of
civilizations," hosted the first human settlement on its
soil, which has been dates as 12.000 years old. Turkey is
also the home of ancient cultures, including the Hattis,
Hittites, Phrygians, Urartians, Lycians, Lydians, Ionians,
Persians, Macedinians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and
Ottomans. Following the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the
modern Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923 by Mustafa
Kemal, known as Ataturk, an army general and World War I
hero. Ataturk is revered in Turkey and is cited as one of
the world's great statesmen.
Sports & Recreation: A watersports haven, Turkey
offers such activities as sailing, swimming, scuba diving
and snorkeling, rafting and fishing. Skiing and trekking are
also extremely popular along with the thermal springs and
Turkish baths throughout the country.
Cuisine: Turkish food is prepared with
fresh-from-the-garden ingredients. A meal usually begins
with a soup or several of the many traditional meze (hors
d'oeuvres) followed by a fish or a meat dish such as "shish
kebab" or a mixed grill served with rice and vegetables
cooked in olive oil. Dessert may be fresh fruit, sweets or a
pastry such as "baklava". Turkish coffee, wine and the
national drink "raki" complement the meal.
Clothing: Comfortable shoes are essential for touring
archaeological sites. Hats (with visors) and sunglasses are
recommended for the summer sun., and head scarves are
necessary for women vising mosques.
Electricity: 220 volts a.c. throughout Turkey.
Voltage is clearly marked on all hotel outlets.
Tipping: A service charge of 15% is included on most
tourist hotel and restaurant bills, but an additional 10%
above the service charge is appreciated. For taxis,
approximately 10% tip is suggested.
Passports/Visas: U.S. citizens are required to
present a valid passport upon entry. U.S. citizens must
present visas when entering Turkey. Visas can be obtained
from the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C., Consulate
General Offices in the United States, or at border gates in
Turkey. The fee for obtaining a single or multiple-entry
visa is $20.