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Turkey General Overview

Experience the Authentic Turkey... Your way.
Population: 76 Million
Area: Over 780,000 sq km
Ethnic Groups: 80% Turkish, 20% Kurdish
Religion: 99.8% Muslim
Official Language: Turkish
Capital: Ankara
Electricity: 220 volts
Currency: Turkish Lira

A Brief History of Turkey

Turkey is often referred to as the Cradle of Civilisation because of its amazing ancient history – from the Neolithic and Bronze Age through to ancient civilisations such as Hittites, Lydians, Seljuks, Turkoman, Sumerians, Romans, Byzanitums, and finally the Ottomans. The oldest known human settlement is in Catalhoyuk near Konya. This incredible history has blessed Turkey with a diverse cultural heritage, which is still reflected in the modern Turkey of today. Ankara was established as the Capital of Turkey after the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923.

1 Country, 2 Continents, and Several Diverse Neighbours

The majority of Turkey’s land mass lies within the continent of Asia, however, a portion of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, lies in Europe, as does Thrace – a sliver of land in the northwest of the country.

Turkey borders Greece and Bulgaria to the west, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran, Iraq and Syria to the east and south. It is a member of the UN, NATO, Black Sea Economic Co-Operation Organisation, and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

The majority of Turkish people are Muslim, however Turkey has a Secular Constitution and Government established by Ataturk. There are a number of populations of various Christian religions and people of the Jewish Faith each with their own historical Churches and Synagogues.

The Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Aegean Sea, Marmara Sea, the Boshporus, and the Dardenelle Straits surround Turkey – beaches to visit are aplenty.

Istanbul – The Hub of Turkey

Despite not being the official capital, the beating heart of Turkey is the breath-taking city of Istanbul. With a population of around 17 million, it straddles two continents and embodies the many dualities of modern Turkey. Known by various names over the centuries – Byzantium, then Constantinople (or Stambul by the Turks), and finally Istanbul.

The Best Places to Visit

If you check out our Destinations page you can see the myriad of towns that are worth visiting in Turkey. If you are looking for the best places to visit during the warmer months consider Cappadocia for its famous hot air ballooning or Fethiye on the coast – that is extremely popular due to its beautiful long, white beaches. If you are visiting Turkey in the cooler months from March – April, consider taking Gallipoli tours. These are a memorable and moving way to better understand Turkey’s history.

Things to See & Do Around Turkey

Ruins

Turkey has more Greek and Roman ruins than either Greece or Italy, in fact more than these countries combined. Major ancient sites include Troy, Ephesus, Sparta, Aspendos, Aphrodisias, Pergamum, Termessos, and many, many others.

Churches

Early Christian sites worth a visit include the site of the first Christian Church located in Hatay in the South East, the birthplace of the prophet Abraham in Urfa, the legendary landing place of Noah’s Ark at Mt Agri in the East, and the final home of the Virgin Mary located near Ephesus. St Nicholas (or Santa Claus) was born in Patara and became the bishop of Demre on Turkeys Mediterranean Coast. Iznik (previously Nicea) is where the Nicean Creed was formed and the Christian Church officially adopted the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Beaches

Turkey is home to hundreds of beaches and Marinas, mainly on the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. It is blessed with a temperate climate with hot, dry summers and generally mild, wet winters. Temperatures can be harsh in Antaolia and Eastern Turkey from November – April. May – September are considered to be the best times for hot beach weather. Although winters are colder it can be a great time to visit because there are less tourists and discounted prices.

Transport in Turkey

Flights

Thanks to its geographical position in the centre of three continents, Turkey is able to offer fast and convenient transportation with more than 200  direct flights to various destinations in the world. Turkish Airlines has a modern fleet and offers connecting flights to all points of the globe. It is also possible to explore different corners of Turkey by entering the country via road through neighbouring countries located in Asia and Europe.

Cruises

Cruise ships from around the world visit the major ports of Turkey on their journeys. Passengers have the opportunity to visit and explore the port and city centre of Istanbul, Izmir, and Kusadasi. Ferries operate between Northern Cyprus and Mersin and between Bodrum, Kusadasi, and Marmaris to the Greek Islands. Meaning there are many alternatives to arrive in Turkey from the Mediterranean.

Take a Tour With Us

Turkey, the land of hospitality and friendliness, welcomes its visitors any time of the year. Come and enjoy our unique and beautiful landscapes, spectacular sites, ancient monuments, and delicious cuisine – all year round.

Visas

When entering Turkey some countries’ residents are required to purchase a visa, which is valid for 90 days. The cost for Australian and Canadian Residents is Euro 45 or US$60 per person. For US citizens and most other countries it is Euro 15 or $US20 and British citizens GBP10. This must now be purchased online via this link –www.evisa.gov.tr

Currency

The official currency in Turkey is Turk Lirasi. There are abundant cash machine withdrawal points in Istanbul and in other major cities and most small towns. Also change offices are readily available in most cities (but not small towns) and they do not charge commission. You can change money on arrival at airports and ports but the rate is sometimes less favourable.

Dress & Culture

Turkey is a secular  Islamic country.  Modesty and politeness are much admired. Turkish people are very tolerant and welcoming to tourists. Common sense in your dressing is advised.

When you are visiting mosques women need to cover their heads and legs and shorts for men are also not acceptable in Mosques. Always have a scarf handy for those times when you want to enter sacred places, however many mosques provide scarves and pull on skirts for tourists at the main mosques.

Westerners are very welcome to visit mosques which are free of charge. In the summer short sleeved shirts and shorts are acceptable for street wear in the big cities and tourist however it is best not to wear brief clothing out of respect.

Language

Turkish people are very friendly and often stop to help visitors. The Turkish language is like no other except perhaps Korean or Finnish. English is spoken in tourist places but in other areas less so. Regardless people will always help you. Here are a few words you can use – AND SMILE – it’s amazing how a few words and a smile can cut across cultural boundaries!

Merhaba (mare-a-bah) Hello
Sag lun (saaah-lun) – Thanks
Guniydin (goon-i-den) – Good morning
Memnum oldum (mem-num-old-um) – Nice to meet you
Iyi aksumlar (eee-uk-shum-larr) – Good evening
Cok guzel (choc-goo-zel) – Nice, beautiful
Tesekkur ederim  (tear-share-care-ed-erum) – Thank you

Turkey Travel Guide Tours

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