Driving Directions Turkey

TURKEY spans Europe and Asia’s continents and guards the sea passage between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea. The mod­ern Republic of Turkey came into being in 1923 following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish War of Independence (1918-23).

Driving Directions

The Mediterranean and Aegean regions of Turkey have hot summers and mild winters, during which most of the yearly rainfall experienced. Along the Black Sea, temperatures are similar, but it is generally more humid, with more significant rain, while a continental climate prevails inland with hot, dry summers and cold winters.

European Turkey, known as Thrace, is a reasonably small, fertile area comprising some 3 percent of its total area. It is separated from the much larger Asiatic Turkey region, known as Anatolia, by the narrow straits of the Bosporus (Istanbul Bogazici), the Dardanelles, and the intervening, broader Sea of Marmara (Marmara Denizi).

Asiatic Turkey is bordered to the north by the Pontine Mountains (Kuzey Anadolu Daglari) and south by the Taurus Mountains (Toros Daglari). It is mostly a region of plateaux, highlands, and rugged mountains dominated by a central plateau.

The highest peaks are in the east, and the greatest of them is Mount Ararat (Agn Dagi), at 5,165 meters or 16,854 feet. According to the Biblical account, Noah’s ark made landfall after the Great Flood on Mount Ararat’s summit. The two great rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, upon which the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia to the south depended, both arise in eastern Turkey.

Vegetation varies from Mediterranean-type bushes to olive and citrus trees, from woodlands along the Black Sea shores to grasslands and coniferous forests inland. Alpine plants are found on the higher slopes and towards the summits of the mountains. Wildlife is well represented, especially in the remote areas, and includes bears, wolves, jackals, wild cats, lesser-spotted eagles, and falcons. Turkey occupies a space where seismic activity is a frequent occurrence, and the country regularly experiences devastating earthquakes.

Agriculture employs almost half the workforce, with the principal crops being wheat, sugar beet, cotton, tobacco, barley, fruit and nuts, maize, and oilseeds. Turkey is self-sufficient in most foodstuffs. The country’s primary mineral resources are chromium, iron ore, coal, magnetite, zinc, and lead – hydroelectric power supplied by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. A growing manufacturing industry produces mainly processed foods, chrome, iron and steel, textiles, motor vehicles, and Turkey’s famous carpets. The country’s main exports are chrome, iron and steel, cotton, dried fruits, tobacco, textiles, leather clothes, and carpets.

Tourism is a fast-developing industry and plays an increasingly important role in the economy.

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About 3 percent of the territory in Turkey belongs to the European region known as Thrace. This region shares borders with Greece and Bulgaria. It is separated from the Asian portion of Turkey by a series of waterways that connect the Black Sea with the Aegean Sea. The rest of the country is located in Asia, mostly on the peninsula of Asia Minor, the westernmost extension of the continent. This region is also called Anatolia, or simply Asiatic Turkey.

Turkey’s terrain is structurally complex and divides into five regions: the Black Sea region in the north; the Sea of Marmara region in the northwest; the Aegean Sea region in the far west; the Mediterranean Sea region in the south; and the Anatolian Plateau region in the country’s center. All regions share a generally mountainous terrain, and many large lakes and rivers appear throughout the country.

Turkey is located on the Eurasian Tectonic Plate; however, its southern borders rest atop the boundaries with the Arabian Tectonic Plate and the African Tectonic Plate. There is also a major fault line beneath the northern part of Asia Minor. As a result of its geological location, the country is subject to a very high seismic activity level. The tremors cause massive damage to buildings and numerous deaths and injuries, especially if they occur at night during the winter months. The most earthquake-prone region centers on an arc that stretches from the general vicinity of the Sea of Marmara to the north of Lake Van (Van Gölü), on the border with Georgia and Armenia.

Turkey has coastlines on four different seas: the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the Aegean Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. Turkey’s northern coast is on the Black Sea, an inland water body that separates Europe from Asia. The Black Sea contains calm waters that are free of tides and dangerous marine life. Called the “Hospitable Sea” by the ancient Greeks, the Black Sea is only half as saline as the Mediterranean Sea and has gentle sandy slopes, making it ideal for swimming.

The Mediterranean Sea, which lies on Turkey’s southern coast, is an almost completely landlocked sea. It links to the Atlantic Ocean at its western point through the Strait of Gibraltar and the Red Sea at its southeastern shore through the Suez Canal. The Aegean Sea to the west of Turkey is an extension of the Mediterranean.

The Sea of Marmara (Marmara Denizi) is a small inland sea situated between Asiatic and European Turkey. It has a surface area of about 11,350 square kilometers (4,382 square miles).

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The term “Middle East” was coined by western Europeans as a geographic designation for those countries of southwest Asia and northeast Africa that stretch from the Mediterranean Sea to Pakistan and Afghanistan’s borders, including nations on the Arabian Peninsula. This area was considered the midpoint between Europe and East Asia, usually called the Far East. In a cultural sense, the term sometimes includes all the countries in the primarily Islamic region. In this sense, the Middle East consists of Afghanistan and Pakistan and some of the North African countries that border the Arabian Peninsula.

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