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Turkey

Turkey is located on the Mediterranean. It was founded in 1923 from what remained of the Ottoman Empire. It joined the UN in 1945 and became a member of NATO in 1952. The capital of Turkey is Ankara. It has a population of 73,193,000 people. The official language is Turkish; however, other languages are spoken, such as Kurdish; Zaza; Arabic; Azeri and Laz.

de_0106_turkey - Gorgon Medusa or Medusa's Head

Attractions

Turkey’s geographical areas vary greatly in terms of climate. Depending on which area you are planning to visit, you will need to leave at different times of the year. The southeastern region has a desert-like climate, and so it is very hot in the summer. The coastal regions, along the Mediterranean, can also be quite hot during the summer months.

Known as much for its nice Mediterranean beaches, Turkey also boasts some of the best skiing in Europe. Between October and April, skiing is possible in the mountainous interior of the country. Between December and March is the peak time for skiing, as the mountains are guaranteed to be covered in snow, and the temperature will be below freezing.

Turkey has a vast and mixed architectural heritage and is known for its many ancient ruins. These include the ruins of Hattusas (a settlement of people who pre-dated the Hittites); Ephesus (one of many of the city ruins left by the Romans and Greeks which is very popular and can be found here; the tombs of the Lycians (another indigenous people and that can be further read about here; and the Cappadocian cave houses and churches. There is a hotel located in these very caves and it also boasts a very educational and informative museum. You can check it out here.

de_0105_turkey - Hagia Sophia interior, Istanbul, Turkey

Local Food & Drink

Turkish food is extremely rich in flavor. It is a combination of Arabic, Caucasian, Central Asian and Mediterranean cuisine. Beef and lamb are the most common meats. As Turkey is predominantly Muslim, pork is hard to come by. Cucumber, tomato, garlic, onion, eggplant, and beans are the primary vegetables. There are many spices used. Bulgar wheat, bread and rice are the primary staples of the Turkish cuisine. Kebabs, Doners, fish, pide (like a pizza) and meatballs are the specialties when it comes to entrees in Turkey. Restaurants generally specialize in one of these entrees. Baklava and Turkish Delight are two desserts that are known world-wide and come from Turkey. There are many different varieties to choose from while you are here.

Ayran is a popular drink in Turkey. It consists of water, yoghurt and sugar. Turkish coffee is also quite popular. It is known for being quite strong, served in little cups and to have muddy grounds sitting at the bottom of said cups. Tea is also quite popular among locals. Some specialty teas are apple, sage and island. Boza is a traditional drink. It is made of fermented wheat, sugar and water and is to be served cold. If you need something with alcohol in it, try raki. It is an anise-flavored liquor. Turkey is also known for its wines and beers. There are two major breweries in Turkey: Efes and Tekel Birasi.

de_0104_turkey - Istanbul

Safety

In Turkey the number for the police is 155. If you are in a rural area you will have to call 156 for the military police, as they have jurisdiction in such areas. For an ambulance, call 112.

In larger cities petty crimes are pretty much the worst you will experience. In Istanbul, they have installed 24-hour cameras which have aided in a great decline of petty crimes. However, common sense routines like carrying your wallet and phone in front pockets and not flashing them about are recommended. Also, not walking down dark alleys at night with lots of money is also recommended.

In Turkey you may be asked for your papers quite a bit, so remember to bring your passport along wherever you go. You will be asked for your papers by military police randomly and at checkpoints. Checkpoints are generally located in hotels, museums, metro stations, malls, etc.

There are poisonous snakes and scorpions in Turkey, so be watchful of this. Due to the heat, in some areas of Turkey you may be sleeping outside. Be sure to shake your shoes out before putting them on. You may find a scorpion has made a temporary home in them.

Motorists in Turkey ignore mostly all traffic laws, so keep this in mind when you are walking along streets. Protests are also quite common in Turkey, so make sure to watch the news before heading to any new destinations.