Political system: Republic
Capital city: Ankara
Total area: 780 580 km²
Population: 71.5 million
Currency: Turkish lira
Located at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, Turkey has a rich cultural and ethnic diversity. Its history stretches from ancient civilisations, such as the Hittites, through the Greek and Roman periods (when St Paul introduced Christianity there) to Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire. The modern Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923 as a western-style secular State. Nearly 99% of the population is Muslim. A considerable Kurdish population lives in the south-eastern part of the country.
In 330 AD, Constantinople (today’s Istanbul), which lies on the Bosphorus between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, became the capital of the Byzantine Empire, the eastern half of the Roman Empire.
Turkey’s architectural gems include the Selimiye and Suleymaniye mosques and the world-famous church of St Sophia, which became a mosque under the Ottomans and is now a museum. The country’s vast archaeological heritage is a major tourist attraction. At its height, the Ottoman Empire was the dominant power in the eastern and southern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Turkish cuisine is based on lamb, while goat’s milk yoghurt is also popular, especially when mixed with cucumber, garlic or mint. There is a long tradition of coffee drinking and coffee houses are a favourite meeting place.
Famous Turks include the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and Nobel Prizewinning novelist Orhan Pamuk.
The official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains key foreign policy issues and has comprehensive information on Turkey's relations with Cyprus and the European Union. Visitors can also access press releases and speeches delivered by the Prime Minister, along with a wide-ranging press review service, complemented with links to the main Turkish media sites. The site also provides contact details for Turkish embassies abroad and foreign diplomatic missions in Ankara, as well as consular information.2. Introduction to the country
The official website of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism offers detailed information on the arts, culture, history and geography of the country. A special section is dedicated to tourism where Turkish main attractions and culture routes are highlighted. The website also contains a news and events section. Useful links guide the visitor through Turkish institutions and ministries.