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Official Name: Republic of Turkey

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, rainy winters.

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 vote.

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.