Despite its prominent status on the international travel scene, as one of the most visited countries in the world, Turkey has sometimes been and is still somewhat widely misunderstood by people who haven’t visited it. Therefore, to present a well-rounded picture of the country, we have listed our favourite facts about Turkey that also make for interesting reading. Turkey is an incredibly diverse country and to summarise it in one sentence or a neat paragraph is an impossible task. However, these facts should highlight the distinct characteristics of the country that also give excellent reasons for you to visit it.
Interesting Facts about the Country of Turkey
1: Turkey is the 37th largest country in the world, covering a massive 783, 562 kilometres. Due to the large size, eight other countries have borders with it including Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Azerbaijani, Armenia, Syria, Iran, and Iraq.
2: The massive size of Turkey also means it has three different climate zones; Mediterranean, Continental and lastly the Black Sea climate that is temperate and wet all year long. So be careful what you pack for your holiday because while it can be rainy and cold in the Northeast region, at the same time, people are sunbathing and swimming on the west and south coasts.
3: Along with its vast size, and extensive borders, there are 7,200 kilometres of coastline. Within that, 444 beaches have received a Blue Flag award making Turkey a popular beach holiday destination. The coastline covers the North, West, and part of the South Coast, so naturally fish is also a highly consumed meal.
4: In 2014, Turkey was the sixth most visited country in the world recording 39 million visitors. Germans and Russians were the top visiting nationalities, while Istanbul was the most visited destination, followed closely by Antalya. Masses of cruise ship passengers who dock into Kusadasi on the Aegean coast to see the ancient city ruins of Ephesus can also take credit for the success.
5: Istanbul Ataturk airport in 2015 officially clocked up the title as being the 11th busiest airport in the world. This included domestic and international flights, as well as layover connecting flights. Many people also use it to get to other places in Turkey such as the Anatolian region of Cappadocia
Food and Drink
6: Did you know that Turks love watermelons? So much so, they are the second biggest producer of watermelons in the world, closely following China. During summer, watch out for watermelons tractors driving slowly through the neighbourhoods. Sold by weight, they are ideal refreshments for the high summer heat
7: Turkey is the world’s biggest nation of tea drinkers beating China and even Britain. Latest figures showed that the average annual tea consumption of each person was 6.961 pounds. Everywhere you go in Turkey, it is likely that the locals will offer you cups of tea.
Facts about Historical Events
8: Now, this is where it really gets interesting because one of the most staggering facts about Turkey is that excavators and historians have uncovered manmade structures in Gobeklitepe that date from 12,000 BC, even earlier than that of Stonehenge. Turkey is home to the world’s oldest manmade structure and this verifies many previous theories that the Mesopotamian plains of southeast Turkey were the cradle of civilization.
9: Turkey has an incredibly interesting Christian history. As well as being home to the world’s first church, the Seven Churches of Revelation as mentioned in the New Testament of the Bible are all located in the Aegean region of Turkey. Also, many historians and scholars believe that Noah’s Ark landed in the Mount Ararat region of Turkey. Saint Paul and Saint John spent a lot of time in the ancient city of Ephesus, and supposedly, the Virgin Mary spent her last days in a small stone house nearby.
10: Turkey has 16 UNESCO world heritage sites and 60 more are on the tentative list waiting for approval. UNESCO is a UN organization that seeks to preserve sites of universal value to support cultural diversity and heritage. Turkey is a unique candidate for the program because Armenian, Georgian, and Greek history are closely intertwined with its historical timeline, therefore diversifying its cultural identity.
11: After the Battle of Zela in Turkey’s current day province of Tokat, Julius Caesar wrote a letter to the Roman senate. It contained his most famous statements and words of “I came, I saw, I conquered.” In addition, while he was sailing the Aegean coast of Turkey, Sicilian pirates kidnapped Julius and held him captive in a small cove. They demanded a ransom for his release and were apparently surprised when Julius said they were not asking for enough and should insist on more pieces of silver.
12: In the southwest region of Turkey, Alexander the Great, one of the world’s most famous conquerors, cut the famous Gordian knot with one swipe of his sturdy sword. Urban legends at that time said whoever managed to do it would become King of Asia. Therefore, the act garnered him great admiration and respect.
13: The southern district of Taurus was where two of the world’s most famous lovers ignited an affair that would eventually lead them both to commit suicide. In 41BC, Roman General Marc Anthony summoned Cleopatra the queen of Egypt to meet him there. They travelled all over Turkey together including a visit to the ancient city of Ephesus. In Alanya, a beach is named after her and in the Mersin province, a city gate is also dedicated to her presence in Turkey