Turkey Overview

Physical geography

Located partly in Asia and partly in Europe, Turkey is the most westernized of all the countries that make up the Islamic world. Since the 1920s it has come very close to Europe and, in the last two decades of the twentieth century, it struggled to be admitted to the European Union.

According to Getzipcodes, Turkey is a country in the Middle East located mostly in Anatolia and in a small region of Europe (Eastern Thrace). With an approximately rectangular surface of 779,452 km2, the country is limited to the north with the Black Sea and Bulgaria; to the west, with Greece and the Aegean Sea; to the south, with the Mediterranean Sea, Syria and Iraq; and to the east, with Iran, Georgia and Armenia. European and Asian Turkey are separated by the small Marmara Sea, which communicates with the Aegean through the Dardanelles and, with the Black Sea, through the Bosphorus.

Geology and relief

Most of Anatolia is formed by a central plateau surrounded by young mountains. The Pontic Mountains extend to the north, parallel to the Black Sea coast, and the Taurus mountain range, to the south. Central Anatolia, confined between these two mountain formations, is a plain cut out by several inland basins. In the east, there is the massif of Armenia, with several elevations of volcanic origin, the largest of which is Mount Ararat, with an altitude of 5,137m, the highest point in the country. Western Anatolia, on the other hand, has elongated chains separated by depressions. The plateaus around Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey, are cut by deep valleys, such as those occupied by the Bosphorus and Dardanelles.


There are four climatic regions in Turkey. The southern and western coast has a Mediterranean climate and a high average temperature (29 ° C) in July. In the north, the Black Sea coast presents mild summers and relatively cold winters, with abundant rain. Inland, the dry climate is characterized by wide variations in temperature between winter and summer. On the Aegean and Mediterranean coast, winters are mild and summers are hot. The rains are scarce and there are long periods of drought.

Hydrography. Much of Anatolia is formed by inland basins, such as the extensive lake Van, salty and located at an altitude of 1,720m in the east of the country. The main rivers in the north are Sakarya, Kizil Irmak and Yesil, which flow into the Black Sea. Simav flows into the Marmara Sea; Gediz and Buyukmenderes, in the Aegean; and Seyhan and Orontes, this one coming from Syria, in the Mediterranean. In the east, the Tigris and the Euphrates are born, which end in the Persian Gulf. Other rivers, such as Aras, belong to the inland Caspian basin.

Vegetation and fauna

Coniferous forests cover the northern mountains and coastal plains. On the Aegean and Mediterranean coast, the vegetation is shrub of the Mediterranean type. On the plateaus, the natural vegetation is the steppe, while in the regions less favored by the rains, it is the semi-desert. Typical trees are oak, pine, cedar, palm and fir. The fauna is the characteristic of the eastern Mediterranean. The wild species of the forest regions include wolves, foxes, wild boars, mountain cats, beavers, minks, jackals, hyenas, deer and mountain goats. Typical domesticated animals are the buffalo, the angora goat and the camel.


From the 11th century onwards, the population, predominantly Mediterranean, gained a strong Mongolian component, due to miscegenation with Mongolians from Central Asia. Currently, the Mediterranean type predominates in coastal areas. The most important ethnic minority are the Kurds, who settled in the far east. There is also a small Arab colony on the Syrian border, as well as Armenian, Greek and Jewish communities.

The official language is Turkish, spoken by about ninety percent of the population. The rest speak mainly Kurdish, Arabic and Greek. The Turkish language began to modernize in the late 1920s, with the replacement of the Arabic alphabet by Latin. Islam, especially in the Sunni branch, is professed by almost the entire population. There are small Christian and Jewish minorities, mainly in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.

The increasing industrialization of urban areas has favored an intense rural exodus to the large coastal cities and the capital, Ankara, located inland. Istanbul is the largest metropolis in the country. Zonguldak, the center of a mining and industrial region, Izmir, next to the Aegean Sea, and Adana and Mersin, on the south coast, grew considerably in the last decades of the 20th century. Other major cities are Eskisehir, Bursa and Antalya in the west, and Samsun, Malatya and Erzurum in the east.

Many workers emigrated, from the 1960s, to western Europe, especially to Germany. In the 1970s, workers also emigrated to oil-rich Arab countries. Most were temporary immigrants, who returned after a few years.

Turkey Overview