Wikijunior Europe: Turkey
Turkey is a large country in south eastern Europe and western Asia. It shares borders with Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan (Nakhichevan), Iraq, Iran and Syria. The capital city is Ankara. Other large cities are Istanbul and Izmir. Turkey is not a member of the European Union but would like to become a member in the future. The currency of Turkey is the Turkish Lira.
Turkey has a very long history and has been occupied by the Trojans, Greeks, Lydians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, Ottomans, and now the modern day Turks.
Before 1923 Turkey controlled countries across south-eastern Europe, south-western Asia and northern Africa as the Ottoman Empire. Today there are over 50 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa which were once part of the Ottoman Empire.
Turkey lost its empire and became an independent country in 1923. Since World War 2 Turkey has been a close ally of most European countries and the USA. Today the country is fairly prosperous, has good relations with its neighbours and hopes to become part of the European Union in the next few years.
Asian Turkey (made up largely of Anatolia), which includes 97% of the country, is separated from European Turkey by the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles (which together form a water link between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean). European Turkey (eastern Thrace or Rumelia in the Balkan peninsula) includes 3% of the country. The territory of Turkey is more than 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) long and 800 km (500 mi) wide, with a roughly rectangular shape. Turkey's area, including lakes, occupies 783,562 square kilometres (300,948 sq mi), of which 755,688 square kilometres (291,773 sq mi) are in south west Asia and 23,764 square kilometres (9,174 sq mi) in Europe. Turkey's area makes it the world's 37th-largest country, and is about the size of Metropolitan France and the United Kingdom combined. Turkey is encircled by seas on three sides: the Aegean Sea to the west, the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Turkey also contains the Sea of Marmara in the north west.
The European section of Turkey, in the north-west, is Eastern Thrace, and forms the borders of Turkey with Greece and Bulgaria. The Asian part of the country, Anatolia (also called Asia Minor), consists of a high central plateau with narrow coastal plains, between the Köroğlu and East-Black Sea mountain range to the north and the Taurus Mountains to the south. Eastern Turkey has a more mountainous landscape, and is home to the sources of rivers such as the Euphrates, Tigris and Aras, and contains Lake Van and Mount Ararat, Turkey's highest point at 5,165 metres (16,946 ft).
Turkey is geographically divided into seven regions: Marmara, Aegean, Black Sea, Central Anatolia, Eastern Anatolia, south eastern Anatolia and the Mediterranean. The uneven north Anatolian terrain running along the Black Sea resembles a long, narrow belt. This region comprises approximately one-sixth of Turkey's total land area. As a general trend, the inland Anatolian plateau becomes increasingly rugged as it progresses eastward.
Earthquakes are frequent and occasionally severe because most of the mountains were formed by volcanic activity. Turkey has cold, snowy winters and hot, dry summers.
The population of Turkey is just under 77 million. It is the third largest European country by population (after Russia and Germany). Most of the population speaks Turkish which is the national language of Turkey. Islam is the major religion practised in Turkey, where nominally 99% of the Turkish population is Muslim. About 90 percent of the population lives in the Asian part of Turkey and about 10 percent lives in the European part.
The most popular sport in Turkey is football. Other sports such as basketball and volleyball are also popular. Surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, paragliding and other extreme sports are becoming more popular every year. Another major sport in which the Turks have been internationally successful is weightlifting; as Turkish weightlifters, both male and female, have broken numerous world records and won several European, World and Olympic championship titles.
Istanbul is the country's major tourist city and is famous for its mixture of European and Asian culture, architecture and lifestyle. About 29 million tourists visit Turkey every year. Apart from Istanbul, spa resorts, hiking and seaside resorts are popular with tourists. Tourists in Turkey come from a wide range of countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, Iran and Japan.
There are 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey which include the Historical Areas of Istanbul, the ancient city of Troy and the Great Mosque and hospital of Divrigi in the east of the country.
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