50 Facts about Turkey
By Ralph Kratzer
After my posts about “50 Facts about Cyprus” (click here!) and “50+ Facts about Germany” (click here!) I want to continue this interesting mini series on our websites with 50 Facts about Turkey. Enjoy reading!
1. Turkey’s biggest city Istanbul had been the capital of three of the world’s great empires: the Roman empire, the Byzantine empire, and the Ottoman empire.
3. St. Nicholas, the inspiration for Santa Claus, was born in Patara, Turkey. He was a historic 4th-century Christian saint and Greek Bishop of Myra/Demre, which is situated on the country’s Mediterranean Coast.
4. Turkey is one of the world’s only 5 transcontinental Eurasian countries. Asian Turkey comprises of 97% while European Turkey comprises of 3% of the country. They are separated from each other by the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles.
6. Turkey is the first world hazelnut producer and exporter, with approximately 70% and 82% of the world`s production and export respectively.
7. Antakya/Hatay near the Turkish-Syrian border (then known as Antioch) is home to the Cave Church of St. Peter or the Grotto of St. Peter, where many believe Christianity was born as a religion and one of the pilgrimage destinations for Christians. The Church is a cave carved into the mountainside on Mount Starius. The Church’s stone facade was built by Crusaders who ruled Antioch between 1098 AD to 1268 AD.
9. Once a loved symbol of nationality and a special badge of the Turks, the Fez which was worn by men and women, even if not a Moslem, is hardly seen these days. The Fez was banned on 30 August 1925 and by the 1930s it was almost gone in Turkey.
10. The current 29-letter Turkish alphabet was established as a personal initiative of the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in the 1920s. Turkish was written using a Turkish form of the Arabic script for over a thousand years before.
11. Tulips do not originate from the Netherlands as most people believe. It was a wild flower growing in Central Asia that was cultivated by the Turks as early as 1000 AD. The flower found its way to Western Europe and the Netherlands only in the 17th century.
12. The Anatolian peninsula or Asian Turkey, is one of the oldest permanently occupied regions in the world. European Turkey, called Eastern Thrace, has also been inhabited since 40,000 years ago, and is known to have been in the Neolithic era by about 6000 BC.
14. Julius Caesar’s famous words, “Veni, vidi, vici” (which mean “I came, I saw, I conquered”), were uttered after he won the difficult battle against the kingdom of Pontus, which is located in Northeastern Turkey.
15. Football is the most popular sport in Turkey. Galatasaray won the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup in 2000. The Turkish national team finished 3rd in the 2002 FIFA World Cup Finals. Istanbul has 3 famous football clubs: Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and Besiktas.
16. Göbekli Tepe at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey is the world’s oldest known example of monumental architecture dating some 11,600 years old. It also contains the oldest known temple.
18. It was in 640 BC when coins made of electrum were utilized for the first time in history, namely by King Croesus in Sardis, Turkey.
19. Turkey is home to 2 of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus is near Izmir, and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus is in Bodrum. The Wonders originated during the Greek era in 2nd century BC.
20. The Turkish Delight or Rahat Lokum is one of the oldest sweets in the world with history dating back 500 years. Napoleon and Winston Churchill’s favorites were the ones with pistachio filling, and Picasso used to consume it daily while working.
21. Turkey’s Çatalhöyük is one of the first urban centers in the world (at 7500 BC to 5700 BC) with wall paintings and mural art that provides a direct window into life 9,000 years ago. It is also internationally important for the understanding of the origins of agriculture and civilization.
22. Mount Ararat (5,137 m /16,854 ft) in Eastern Turkey is where Noah’s ark is widely believed to have landed after the Great Flood.
23. The Aşure or Noah’s Pudding is a Turkish dessert said to originate from Noah’s family. It is claimed that when Noah’s Ark came to rest on Mount Ararat, Noah’s family celebrated with this special dish consisting of grains, fruits and nuts.
24. The world’s first underground mosque is constructed in Turkey’s Büyükcekmece district in Istanbul. Built 7 meters beneath the surface, Sancaklar Mosque was inspired by the Cave of Hira and the building won 1st place in the World Architecture Fest competition for religious places.
25. Turkey has 11 heritages on the UNESCO World Heritage List as of 2012. They include the Archaeological Site of Troy, City of Safranbolu, Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği, Hattusha – the Hittite Capital, Historic Areas of Istanbul, Nemrut Dağ, Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük, Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex, and Xanthos-Letoon.
27. Turkish food is a mixture and refinement of Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines by Ottoman chefs. It is typically rich in fish, lamb, beef, chicken, eggplants, nuts, garlic, lentils, cumin, pepper, mint, oregano, parsley and paprika.
28. The 7 Churches of Apocalypse are all situated in the Aegean region of Anatolia – Ephesus, Smyrna (Izmir), Pergamum, Thyatira (Nazilli), Sardis, Philadelphia (Alasehir) and Laodicea.
29. In the Book of Genesis, it is said that the Garden of Eden was watered by a river that split into four streams as it went beyond the garden. Two of these streams are believed to be those that rise from the mountains of the eastern part of Turkey, namely Tigris (or Dicle) and Euphrates (or Firat).
30. Turkey’s beaches rank 3rd in the world, with 383 beaches and 21 marinas awarded a Blue Flag, an international eco-label given to beaches and marinas with high water quality, cleanliness and environmental standards. Its Mediterranean resort city of Antalya holds the world record for having the highest number of ‘Blue Flag’ certified beaches across the world with 197 beaches and 6 marinas awarded.
31. Turkey is the birthplace of the following popular historical figures: the biblical Abraham, the poet Homer, St. Paul the Apostle, the storyteller Aesop, and the “Father of History” Herodotus (first conferred by Cicero).
32. 623 years of Ottoman rule was abolished and the newly formed “Republic of Turkey” was officially proclaimed on 29 October 1923 in Ankara. Mustafa Kemal became the republic’s first President and was bestowed the honorific surname “Atatürk” (Father of the Turks).
33. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was actually born in Greece. The founder of modern Turkey was born in 1881 in what was then the Ottoman city of Selanik, now Thessaloniki, Greece’s 2nd biggest city.
34. The typical Greek dish of Moussaka originated in Turkey.
36. Turkey is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. While the entire continent of Europe has 13,000 plant species, Turkey alone has 10,000 plant species. Every 10 days a new plant species is discovered in Turkey. There are 11,500 species of flowers in Europe and Turkey alone has 9,000 species. Turkey is the richest country in Europe in terms of the variety of bird species. The number of animal species in Turkey alone number over 80,000 and to over 100,000 including sub-species. Europe has only around 60,000.
37. Turkey is ranked the 6th most popular tourism destination in the world with 35.5 million foreign visitors in 2012.
39. Istanbul has the historical building of Sirkeci Train Station. This was the last stop of the Simplon-Orient Express – “king of trains and train of kings” – between Paris and Constantinople (Istanbul) from 1883 to 1977. Agatha Christie was one of the passengers of this famous train.
40. Turkey is noted for having one of the three most famous and distinctive traditional cuisines in the world.
42. Early Christians escaping from Roman persecutions found shelter in Cappadocia (Central Anatolia).
43. There are eight countries that share a border with Turkey: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Bulgaria, Greece and Georgia.
44. Just over 80 million people live in Turkey (80,694,485) as of July 2013.
46. Turkey’s warm climate is good for growing crops. Livestock and forestry are also important industries.
47. Turkey has a strong manufacturing sector, it makes and exports cars, planes, electronics, clothing and textiles.
48. Because of its location on top of a number of continental shelf boundaries Turkey is prone to earthquakes especially in the North of the country.
49. The patron Saint of England, otherwise known as St George also originated from Turkey. He was born in an area known as Cappadocia and later lived in Palestine. He was a Roman soldier, objected to the persecution of Christians by the Romans.
50. Finally it´s interesting to know that Turkey is also classed as being one of the few countries in the world that is self-sufficient. If all trade with other countries was suddenly cut, people would still be able to drink and eat most varieties of food as well as have access to fuel and energy.