June 07, 2013
In light of the protests that have erupted in Turkey against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, we wanted to share a few facts about this country situated at the northeast end of the Mediterranean Sea in southeast Europe and southwest Asia. North of Turkey is the Black Sea and on its west is the Aegean Sea. Its neighbors are Greece and Bulgaria to the west, Russia, Ukraine, and Romania to the north and northwest (through the Black Sea), Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran to the east, and Syria and Iraq to the south. The Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, and the Bosporus divide the country.
The history and culture of Turkey is such that coming up with 20 facts out of thousands was an incredibly difficult task. We know that so much has been omitted for the sake of brevity. The list below is a primer to this country’s rich heritage.
1. Turkey is officially known as the ‘Republic of Turkey’.
2. The Republic of Turkey was founded on October 29, 1923, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
3. Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary and constitutional republic.
4. Ankara is Turkey’s capital while Istanbul is its largest city.
5. It has a population of 71.1 million.
6. Of the 87% of the population that is literate 95% are male and 80% female.
7. The major religion of Turkey is Islam, while its official language is Turkish. Kurdish, Dimli, Zaza, Arabic, Armenian, Greek and Azeri are also spoken in the country.
8. Istanbul is the only city in the world built on two continents and has been the capital of three great empires, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman for more than 2000 years.
9. The part of Turkey in Europe is called ‘Thrace’ (an area about equal to the state of Massachusetts), while the part in Asia is called ‘Anatolia’ (an area about the size of the state of Texas).
10. Anatolia is the birthplace of historic legends, such as Omar (the poet), King Midas, Herodotus (the father of history) and St. Paul the Apostle.
11. 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.
12. The oldest known human settlement is in Catalhoyuk, Turkey (7500 BC).
13. Temple of Artemis and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the two of the seven wonders of the ancient world, are in Turkey.
14. Turks introduced coffee to Europe.
15. Turks gave the Dutch their famous tulips.
16. Turkey has 94 State universities and 45 Foundation (Private) universities
17. Approximately 55,000 Turkish students go abroad annually for educational purposes.
18. Turkey has been sending more than 10,000 students a year to the U.S. since 2000 exceeding other European countries such as Britain and Germany.
19. Istanbul’s Robert College (established in 1863), is the oldest American school outside the United States.
20. Turkey provides 70% of the world’s hazelnuts; the nut in your chocolate bar was most probably grown in Turkey.
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