Turkey is truly the meeting place of Europe and the Middle East. Although, generally, Turkey is considered a middle eastern country, its main hub Istanbul has a European feel with old world charm. This bustling city is a doorway into a country that has two distinct sides.
Turkey is rapidly entering the modern world, and may very soon be part of the European Union. This will take the country into a new phase and could open its doors even wider to tourism and economic growth. Turkey is a wonderful place to visit–whether walking through the old city of Istanbul or strolling down the ancient streets of Ephesus, you begin to understand what an important crossroads Turkey has been throughout history.
Population: 65.7 million
Government: Federal Republic
Square Miles: 483,260 sq mi (779,452 sq km)
Capitol: Ankara (pop 3.7 million)
Official Language: Turkish
People: Turks (85%), Kurds (12%), other Islamic peoples, Armenians, Jews
Major products/industries: Agriculture, motor vehicles, petroleum, engineering, tourism
Traveling in Turkey
Turkish airlines can fly you to most all Turkish cities, but there are other cheaper ways to move around Turkey. Turkish buses are good way to travel through the country–they are cheap, comfortable, and they go everywhere. Trains are a good value if you plan on traveling long distances overnight, if you can get a sleeping compartment, but they don’t travel as frequently or cheaply as buses. If you plan are driving, make sure you have plenty of insurance and nerves of steel. Turkish drivers are famous for their speed and aggressiveness, so driving is not recommended. Taxis are recommended over driving, but if you do happen to be driving and want to avoid getting behind the wheel more than you have to, there are automobile ferries that can bring you down the coast during the summer.
Weather in Turkey
Turkey is a great place to travel in the “shoulder” seasons of spring and fall, when the weather along the coast is best. In the summer the weather can be uncomfortably hot and in the winter the coastal areas are essential closed.
Most places in Turkey you’ll find cuisine not unlike that in the United States. Chicken and lamb seem to be on all menus, often heavily tenderized and breaded. Entrees don’t tend to have heavy sauces on them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot of taste. Most meats or poultry in Turkey are prepared with a lot of spices, which gives the food some flare. On the whole, restaurant meals are reasonably priced, and if you plan on eating out in Istanbul, finding a good inexpensive meal usually means little more than walking down the block from your hotel (hotel restaurants are typically overpriced and less representative of true local cuisine).
What to Know
TurkeyThere is a lot to see and do in Turkey and it is best to research where you would like to go beforehand. It is a large country and seeing what you want in one visit may not be possible, but making sure you get to see Istanbul as well as some of the famous historical sites like Esphesus or Troy should be high on the list.