The Republic of Turkey is situated in southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia bordering the Black Sea, Aegean Sea, and Mediterranean Sea. It shares its land border with eight countries. The country has a total area of 783,562 sq. km with a coastline of 7,200 km. The total population is 82,017,514 (July 2020 est.) and 99.8 percent are Muslim. The capital of Turkey is Ankara and the official language is Turkish.
1. The Turkish National Liberation War gave birth to the Republic of Turkey
After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, its territories were occupied by Britain, France, Russia, and Greece. An Ottoman military commander, Mustafa Kemal, united disorganized resistance groups to fight for national liberation. The Turkish National Liberation War lasted for four years from 1919 to 1922. Their victory led to the signing of a treaty that recognized the creation of a Turkish state and its borders. The Republic of Turkey was proclaimed on October 29, 1923.
2. Excavations in the 1960s unearthed a Stone Age settlement in Turkey
In the 1960s, archeologists found the 37-hectare Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Konya. It is considered one of the world’s earliest settlements from the Stone Age around 7400 BC, an interesting fact about Turkey. This was the time when early humans left behind their nomadic ways and started farming. The site was well preserved, which clearly showed what life was like during that time. The homes were back-to-back with no doors and windows, and the openings were on the roofs.
3. Turkey has the only city in the world that spans two continents
Istanbul, the largest and most populous city in Turkey, spans two continents. It is separated in two by the Bosporus Strait. Three percent of the city that lies in Europe is referred to as the European Turkey, Eastern Thrace, or Turkish Thrace. The rest of Istanbul that lies in Asia is called Anatolia.
4. There are “fairy chimneys” and cave dwellings in the town of Göreme
Unique rock sites are found in the town of Göreme in Cappadocia. They were created millions of years ago when ancient volcanic eruptions spewed ash that blanketed the region. A fun fact about Turkey is that wind and erosion shaped these tuff or porous rocks into towers, cones, and pinnacles that stretch 130 feet into the sky known as “fairy chimneys.” Cave dwellings were carved within these rocks and became home for the locals.
5. Turkey has one of the largest excavated underground cities in the world
The early settlers were able to carve and build a vast network of tunnels and rooms within the rock formations hidden underground in Cappadocia. In 1963, the Derinkuyu City was discovered. It was built around 7th or 8th century BC. This multi-level city is 85 meters deep and can accommodate 20,000 people. There are ventilation shafts, water channels, stables, oil and wine presses, places of worship, and storage rooms for supplies. They were used as a refuge during invasions and religious persecutions.
6. The house of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, is found in Turkey
After the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, the apostle John spirited Mary away to keep her safe. Nobody really knew where until a nun by the name of Anne Catherine Emmerich had visions about the place in Ephesus. In 1891, an expedition team found the ruins of a stone house on Mt. Koressos that matched the description in the vision. They learned that the place was revered by the locals and called it Panaya Kapulu, which means “doorway to or gate of the Virgin.” The house is believed to be where Mary spent the last years of her earthly life, an interesting fact about Turkey. It was restored and pilgrims all over visit the place.
7. Turkey was the birth place of Santa Claus
Santa Claus, who brings presents for children around the world on Christmas Eve, was based on St. Nicholas, who is the patron saint of children. The saint was born around AD 280 in the ancient Lycian seaport of Patara and he became a bishop in the 4th century in Myra known as Demre in modern-day Turkey. Stories of him as a protector and bringer of gifts to children transformed him into the legendary character of Santa Claus. The Dutch who knew him by his nickname, Sinterklaas, brought his legend to America in the 17th century.
8. Turkey is home to 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
The country has a rich history, and so many places here were designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Two of them are a combination of cultural and natural sites while 16 of them are cultural sites. They include the archeological site of the ancient city of Troy, the historic areas of Istanbul, the Neolithic site of Catalhoyuk, and Ephesus, a fun fact about Turkey. More sites are on the tentative list.
9. Two out of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are in Turkey
The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus was built in 6th century BC to honor the Greek goddess of the hunt. It was massive and adorned by beautiful works of art. Today, little remains of what was once a magnificent temple. The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus built in 4th century BC was a tomb of Mausolus, ruler of Caria in Asia Minor. The ruins of the mausoleum are still there. The temple and mausoleum in Turkey are two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
10. Turkey exports more than 70% of the world’s hazelnut
Around 1.8 million acres in Turkey were planted with hazelnut trees of 17 varieties. Each acre has 200 to 280 trees that produced 440 to 1060 pounds of shelled nuts. The condition of the soil, temperature, and climate at the Black Sea region create the ideal place for growing these trees. Most of the nuts were exported to the European Union. With the amount of hazelnuts that the country produced and exported every year, it was dubbed as the hazelnut capital of the world.
11. Istanbul has one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world
One of the favorite places that tourists visit is the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul that dates back to the 15th century. It has more than 60 covered streets and over 4,000 shops, an interesting Turkey fact. It is the best place to shop for jewelries, antiques, carpets, and textiles.
Turkey is well known for its rich culture and history that can be traced back to ancient times. There is so much to learn and discover that will surprise and amaze those people who visit this beautiful country. With all that it has to offer, it has become one of the world’s top travel destinations.
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