Turkey is a huge country! It is over 1600 km in length and 800 km wide, giving it a roughly rectangular shape. It’s area – including several lakes thus encompasses over 783 thousand square kilometres, most of it in Asia. Turkey is in fact the 37th largest country in the world. On three of its sides it is surrounded by water – the Black Sea in the north, the Aegean to the west, and the Mediterranean to the south. Of course one must not forget the famous sea of Marmara in the north-west.

Turkey is divided into 7 very distinct regions geographically: the Mediterranean, Marmara, Black Sea, Aegean, Eastern Anatolia, South-Eastern Anatolia and Central Anatolia. All possess very distinct landscapes which are the result of many earth movements of millions of years. And to this day there are regular earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. There was a most severe earthquake in 1999.

Taking a look at the climate, Turkey can be seen to be of Mediterranean type, benefiting from hot, dry summers and mild, cold and wet winters. It has a very dry interior which can suffer from harsh extremes. In Turkey the seasons are quite distinct, and winters very harsh with temperatures as low as -40 C in the mountainous area to the east. Snow can also be found for about 5 months of the year.

Turkey is very diverse and original culturally. It is a subtle fusion of the ancient Anatolian, Ottoman and Western cultures and traditions which began with the gradual westernization of the Ottoman Empire, and to this day continues. Following its gradual transformation from a religion controlled state into a modern nation with separation of church and government, the artistic life of the country also underwent a massive enlarging and diversification, with the government investing in the fine arts, new museums, theatres and building construction. The resulting contemporary Turkish culture is one of a diversified fusion of the old and the new, combining tradition and history with Western ideas.

The fields of literature and music are typical of this rich cultural mixture, and music schools are now thriving throughout the country, teaching musical styles as diverse as traditional Turkish and modern hip-hop. As for literature, the same applies – early influences from the Ottoman Empire and Persia and now being fused with a more Western style.   property turkey

As for buildings and architecture, in Turkey you find a unique blend of Byzantine, ottoman, Islamic and an increasing Western element. This is particularly in evidence in Istanbul where buildings such as the Blue Mosque are set against a background of contemporary high-rise office and apartment blocks.

Moving on to sport, the most popular sport in Turkey is the ubiquitous football. The major teams include Galatasaray, Besiktas and Fenerbahce. In fact Turkey is now becoming a major international force in the game, with Galatasaray winning both the UEFA and UEFA Super Cups in 2000. Then a short while after, Turkey finished third in the World Cup finals in Japan.

Other sports are now also very popular in modern-day Turkey, such as volleyball, basketball and several motor sports. Interestingly enough, by far the most successful of any teams have been the women’s volleyball teams, which have won a number of major European titles and medals.

It is hoped that this short look at Turkey as it is today has given you some insights into this fascinating country at the dawn of a cultural re-awakening in the heart of Europe. In later articles we will be taking a look in much more detail at some of the fascinating aspects of this culturally rich nation.