Turkey Focus

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The Turkey Focus section has been launched by CESRAN to keep researchers who have an interest in Turkey and its surrounding region up-to-date with current events.

In this section, you can find updated information, facts and topical articles about Turkey and its neighbourhood. Turkey Focus does not dedicate itself to the support of any one cause, however worthy. Additionally, articles that appear in this section do not necessarily represent a consensus view of the members of the CESRAN board. CESRAN does not expect that readers of this section will sympathise with all the sentiments they find.

Turkey Country Profile

Turkey, known as the “cradle of civilization”, is the birthplace of many great cultures, a synthesis of east and west and a geographical bridge between Europe and Asia. Throughout its rich history, Turkey has been a prominent center of commerce. This has been aided by its strategic, geographic location bordering three continents and surrounded by seas on three sides.
Turkey is a republic based on secular, democratic, and pluralistic principles. The Turkish Republic was established in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and has a parliamentary system of government that constitutionally protects personal rights and freedoms. As a result, Turkey has the divisions of power that one would expect: judicial, legislative, and executive.
In 1945 Turkey joined the UN, and in 1952 it became a member of NATO. Turkey is also a founding member of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, the European Council, the Islamic Conference Association, and an associate member of the European Union.
Geographically, Turkey is divided into seven regions – the Black Sea region, the Marmara region, the Aegean, the Mediterranean, Central Anatolia, the East Anatolian and Southeast Anatolia regions – offering a wide variety of travel experiences from excellent downhill skiing in winter to some of the world’s most spectacular yachting and diving to fascinating historical and cultural tours throughout the country.


  • Full Name: Republic of Turkey
  • Population: 72.5 million [Turkish Statistical Institute, 2009]
  • Capital: Ankara
  • Largest City: Istanbul
  • Area: 783,562 sq km
  • Major Language: Turkish
  • Major Religion: Islam
  • Life Expectancy at birth: 74.3 (women) – 69.4 (men) [UN]
  • Monetary Unit: Turkish Lira
  • GDP: $ 741,448 million [UN, 2008]
  • GNI per capita: $ 10,000 [UN, 2008]
  • Unemployment: % 11 [UN, 2008]
  • Internet domain: tr
  • International dialling code: +90
  • Tourist arrivals at national borders: 24,994 million [UN, 2008]
  • Population growth rate: 1.2 (2005-2010) [UN]

The Mystique of Turkey

  1. The only city in the world located on two continents is Istanbul, which was the capital of three great empires, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman for more than 2000 years.
  2. There are at least 150 archaeological excavations taking place in Turkey each year.
  3. The world’s oldest known human settlement is in Catalhoyuk, Turkey (7500 BC).
  4. Two of the seven ancient wonders of the world, the Temple of Artemis and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, are located in Turkey.
  5. Abraham was born in Sanliurfa in Southeastern Turkey.
  6. Anatolia is the birthplace of historic legends, such as Omer (the poet), King  Midas, Herodotus (the father of history) and St. Paul the Apostle.
  7. Julius Ceasar proclaimed his celebrated words, “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (I came,  I  saw, I conquered) in Turkey when he defeated the Pontus, a formidable kingdom in the Black Sea region of Turkey.
  8. Turks introduced coffee to Europe and the tulip to the Dutch.
  9. St. Nicholas, who became popular as Santa Claus, was born in Demre on Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast.
  10. According to legend, Noah’s Ark landed on Agri Dagi (Mount Ararat) in  Eastern Turkey, the supposed remains of which can be seen there today.
  11. The last meal on Noah’s Ark, a pudding with nearly 20 ingredients, is still served throughout Turkey.
  12. The last home of the Virgin Mary is located in Selcuk, Turkey and, still intact, attracts thousands of visitors each year.
  13. St. John, St. Nicholas, St. Paul and St. Peter all lived and preached throughout Southern Anatolia.
  14. Part of Turkey’s southwestern shore was a wedding gift that Mark Anthony gave to Cleopatra.
  15. Homer was born in Izmir on the west coast of Turkey and he depicted Troy in  his Epic the Iliad.
  16. Aesop, famous for his fables and parables, was born in Anatolia.
  17. Leonardo da Vinci drew designs for a bridge over the Bosphorus, the strait that flows through Europe and Asia. It was never built (although two suspension bridges span the straight today).
  18. Alexander the Great conquered a large territory in what is now Turkey and cut the Gordion Knot in the Phrygian capital (Gordium) not far from Turkey’s present-day capital (Ankara).
  19. Early Christians escaping Roman persecution nearly 2000 years ago sheltered in Cappadocia in Central Anatolia.
  20. The Amazons are supposed to have originated in Turkey’s northeastern region.
  21. The Famous Trojan Wars took place in western Turkey, which is marked with a wooden statue of the Trojan Horse today.
  22. According to Turkish tradition a stranger at one’s doorstep is considered “A Guest from God” and should be accommodated accordingly.
  23. The first church ever built by man (St. Peter’s Church) is located in Antioch (Antakya), in southern Turkey.
  24. The first Ecumenical Council was held in Iznik in Western Turkey.
  25. Suleyman the Magnificent (the famous Ottoman Sultan) was a poet who wrote over 3000 poems, some of them criticizing the greed of mankind.
  26. Turkey provides 70% of the world’s hazelnuts; the nut in your chocolate bar is most probably grown in Turkey.
  27. The most valuable silk carpet in the world which has 144 knots per square centimeter is located in the Mevlana Museum in Konya. In the 13th century, Marco Polo wrote “the best and handsomest of rugs are woven here… and silks of crimson and other rich colors”.
  28. Hezarfen Ahmed Celebi was the first man who flew a significant distance using wings across the Bosphorus.
  29. Anatolia is the location of the first known beauty contest, judged by Paris, with Aphrodite, Hera and Athena as leading participants.
  30. Anatolia was producing wine as early as 4000BC.
  31. Turkey receives children from around the world each year on April 23rd to “honor and cherish the freedom and independence of all people.”
  32. Anatolia is the location of the Seven Churches of Asia.
  33. Anatolia is the origin of the names of Paris, Philadelphia and Europe.

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