Turkey is located in the region of Anatolia, at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, which has been settled since ancient times. The early Anatolan people, whose language may be the origin of Indo-European languages, included the Hittites, of Biblical fame, the Hurrians, and later the Phrygians and Thracians. Migration of Greeks to Anatolia began in 1200 BC, settling the city of Byzantium.
The Ottoman Empire captured Constantinople in 1453, and continued to expand, spreading into Africa and along the Red Sea. In the 1700s, the Ottoman Empire began its slow decline, losing territories and power over the next centuries. The empire was dissolved in the 1920s, in the conflicts of World War I. The Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, with the Treaty of Lausanne, moving the capital to Ankara. Its first president was Mustafa Kemal, who worked to create a secular country with rights for women.
Turkey joined the United Nations after joining the war against Germany and Japan in World War II. The United States strengthened ties with Turkey in 1947, and established its military as a presence during the Cold War. Turkey became a multiparty democracy in 1945, though a few military coups over the next decades sought to end democracy in Turkey.
Turkey shares borders with Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Iraq, and Syria.
- Ankara (capital)
Turkey's location is one of its important characteristics, situated in both Asia and Europe, giving the country a unique culture. Turkey's territory is situated mostly in Anatolia, which is the Asian part of the country, and just 3% of the land area is in Europe. European Turkey is called Thrace.
Asian Turkey is set in the central plateau, with coastal plains along its edges. The Köroğlu Mountains and Pontic are north of Ankara, while the Taurus Mountains are located in southern Turkey. Turkey's highest point is also a very famous one, Mount Ararat, which stands 5,137 meters (16,854 feet) above sea level.
Many important rivers originate in Turkey, including the Euphrates, Tigris, and Aras Rivers. The Dardanelles and the Bosporus make up the Turkish Straits, which separate Anatolia from Thrace. Turkey has coastline along the Aegean Sea, Black Sea, and the Mediterranean. Sea, as well as the Sea of Marmara.
Points of Interest
Turkey's largest city, Istanbul is a cultural capital of the country, as well as the world's only major city to be located in two continents. The Old City of Istanbul (or Constantinople) features Byzantine and Ottoman architecture and historical sites like the Hagia Sophia and various mosques and basilicas. Istanbul is also known for its markets, like the Grand Bazaar, which offer unique handicrafts and local foods like Turkish Delight and tea. The capital, Ankara, is a large city with landmarks such as Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, and Ankara Castle.
There are many historical sites in Turkey, including the ruins of Ephesus and Ani, from the Roman Empire and Armenian period. Natural sites include Mount Nemrut, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its importance as a sanctuary and a tomb, with large stone statues of the gods.
Cappadocia's rock formations and homes dug out of stone are one of Turkey's main attractions. The unusual landscape, formed by the erosion of the volcanic plains, is a surreal setting for caves and underground cities.
The main airport in Turkey is Ataturk International in Istanbul, followed by Esenboga Airport in Ankara. Train is an option for transport into the country, though it can be a very long journey spanning multiple days. It is enjoyed by many travelers for its historical value as the Orient Express and provides an interesting look at the country. High speed rail is available between Ankara and Eskisehir and to Konya. Regular train service is available to most major Turkish cities. Car and bus can be used to travel to and around Turkey from both the Middle East and Europe, but it should be noted that gasoline prices are quite high. Minibuses are available for shorter distance travel, and ferries are also a way to get around, often quickly. Major cities also have developed public transportation systems, including Istanbul's metro and tram system.
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