Turkey Country Facts

Capital city Ankara
Surface 783,562 km²
Population 83,641,000
Road network length 426,906 km
Length of highway network 3,514 km
First highway 1973
Motorway name Otoyol
Traffic drives Right
License plate code TR

Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye), in full the Republic of Turkey (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti) is a large country in mainly western Asia. The country is actually located on two continents, a small European part and a larger Asian part. The country is politically considered part of both Asia and Europe. The country has more than 83 million inhabitants and is more than 22 times the size of the Netherlands. The capital is Ankara but the largest city is Istanbul.


Turkey borders the Aegean Sea to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Black Sea to the north. European Turkey borders Greece to the west and Bulgaria to the north. To the east, Turkey borders Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Part of Cyprus also fallsunder Turkish authority. The country measures 1600 kilometers from east to west and a maximum of 660 kilometers from north to south. The European part makes up 3% of the surface and the Asian part the remaining 97%. The country mainly consists of a plateau with some mountain ranges and narrow coastal plains. The European part of Turkey is also called Thrace and is flatter. The east of Turkey is very mountainous and this is where the rivers Euphrates and Tigris originate. There are also several large lakes here, with Lake Van being the largest. The Ararat is the highest mountain in Turkey at 5165 meters. The Bosphorus Strait separates Asian from European Turkey and connects the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea via the Dardanelles.

The country can be divided into 7 regions; the Marmara region around Istanbul and Thrace, the Aegean region around Izmir, Central Anatolia, Eastern Anatolia, Southeastern Anatolia, the Mediterranean region and the Black Sea region. The country has 81 provinces.

The coastal region of Turkey on the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea has a Mediterranean climate, the coastal region on the Black Sea has a temperate maritime climate with more precipitation. The interior has a continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. Particularly in the east, there is a lot of snow in winter and temperatures drop to -30°C. The average maximum temperature in Ankara ranges from 4°C in January to 30°C in July, with less than 400mm of precipitation per year. In Istanbul, the average maximum temperatures are between 6°C in January and 27°C in July, with 800 mm of precipitation per year.


Turkey’s population grew from 13 million in 1930 to 44 million in 1980 and over 80 million today. Three quarters of Turks live in a city.  The largest city is Istanbul with 12.5 million inhabitants. This is followed by Ankara with 4.5 million inhabitants. Other megacities are Izmir, Bursa, Adana, Konya, Antalya, Mersin, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Izmit, Antakya, Manisa, Samsun, Kayseri, Balikesir and Kahramanmaras. Relatively many large cities are located in the southeast of Turkey.

No statistics are kept on ethnic groups in Turkey. It is estimated that 73% of the inhabitants are Turk, 12% Kurdish and 15% other, including Arabs. Original minority groups such as Armenians and Greeks form only small communities. The Kurds mainly live in the southeast of Turkey, but also elsewhere in the country in the major cities.

The official language of Turkey is Turkish, which is spoken as the first language by approximately 85% of the population. 12% speak the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish. Other languages ​​are smaller and in some cases in danger of extinction.


Turkey is one of the largest economies in the world and part of the G20. Due to the low cost and location close to Europe, Turkey has a lot of manufacturing industry. The car industry in particular is extensive, various European and Asian car manufacturers have factories in Turkey. Turkey also produces a lot of electronics and consumer products. The construction industry is also sizeable due to rapid population and economic growth. Agriculture plays a minor role as a share of the economy, but a relatively large number of people are employed in agriculture. Tourism plays an important role in Turkey, especially the resorts on the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea, with well-known seaside resorts such as Bodrum, Marmaris, Antalya, Side and Alanya. Istanbul is often visited for city trips, but the capital Ankara much less.


Turkey has a long history. The region has played an important role since ancient times. Over a thousand years BC, cities were founded in the area, including Smyrna (Izmir) and Byzantium (Istanbul). From the 6th century BC the area was under the rule of the Achaemenids from Persia. Under Alexander the Great, the Persians were defeated and the area was under the rule of Greece. This is also known as the Hellenistic time. From the 1st century BC the area began to be under Roman rule, present-day Turkey was the battleground between the Romans and the Persians.

In AD 324, Byzantium (Istanbul) was chosen as the capital of the Roman Empire. From the year 395 it became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. This grew into the Byzantine Empire that ruled the area until the Middle Ages. The capital Byzantium was then renamed Constantinople. From the 11th century, the area began to be Turkified, with the introduction of the Turkish language and Islam. This was a gradual transition from a Christian and Greek-speaking Anatolia to an Islamic and Turkish-speaking Anatolia. Under Osman Gazi, the area grew into the Ottoman Empire, which grew into one of the larger empires during the late Middle Ages and early modern period. In 1453 Constantinople fell to the Ottomans.

From the 18th century, the Ottoman Empire began to shrink. In 1877-1878 the Russo-Turkish War was fought, in which Romaniagained independence from the Ottoman Empire. Many Muslims migrated from the Balkans to Anatolia at that time. The shrinking Ottoman Empire fueled a revival of nationalism and conflict, especially with the Armenians in the east. The Ottoman Empire came to an end with the First World War. During the war, the Armenians were deported to Syria, which is today known as the Armenian Genocide. In 1920 the Ottoman Empire was divided by the victors of the First World War. Istanbul and Izmir were occupied by the Allies after the war, but they left after which Turkey was established as a republic, with Atatürk as its first president from 1923 to 1938.

Turkey remained neutral for a long time during World War II and was not involved until the last months of the war, when it sided with the Allies. Turkey joined NATO in 1952 as a strategic partner against Russian influence in the Mediterranean. Turkey was a democracy from 1946, which was interrupted by periods of coup d’état. In 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus, which was home to a Turkish population. Northern Cyprus has been under Turkish rule ever since. From the 1980s, internal conflict with the Kurds flared up. Turkey tried for a long time to become a member of the EEC and later the European Union, but partly because of the resistance in Europe, these ambitions have more or less given up. Prime Minister and later President Erdoğan has been in power since 2003.


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