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The unitary state of Turkey was founded in 1923 and with an area of 783,562 square kilometers, it is situated on two continents: for the most part it is in the Near East and only 3% percent of the national territory is located in South-Eastern Europe. The Turkish coasts are bordered by the Aegean Sea in the west, by the Mediterranean Sea in the south and by the Black Sea in the north. The country also borders on 8 different neighboring countries: in the north it borders Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan; in the east it borders Iran and in the south Syria and Iraq.

Turkey is characterized by a variety of landscapes: the European western part is covered with forests and high hills; there is also intensive agriculture and the metropolis of Istanbul. In the north there are forested mountains with fertile soil in which tea, tobacco, corn and hazelnuts are grown. Central Turkey has plateaus, high mountain ranges and dry steppe landscapes where grains and fruit are grown. In eastern Turkey, there is a high mountain landscape with the highest peaks in the country, such as Mount Ararat. This is also the oldest cultural region of Turkey in which, for example, the two rivers of Euphrates and Tigris run. Agriculturally, this land is used to cultivate grains, vineyards, olives and pistachios.


Because of its location on two continents and the diverse landscape regions, Turkey has various distinct climate zones. The north is characterized by hot summers, mild winters and little precipitation, with the most precipitation falling in the coastal regions of the Black Sea. With its Mediterranean climate, southern Turkey is the warmest region of the country with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Inland however, a continental climate predominates that is characterized by extreme temperature fluctuations with very high temperatures in the summer and very cold winters.


Population The number and makeup of the population groups living in Turkey are not clearly established. Over 70% Turks, almost 20% Kurds and a large number of small ethnic groups live in the country. The official language is Turkish and it is the mother tongue for more than 80% of the population. In addition, 20 non-Turkish languages are spoken among the ethnic minorities. At the beginning of the 20th Century about 20% of the population was Christian and there were over 120,000 Jews in Turkey; today nearly 99% of the Turkish population is Muslim.

The capital of Turkey is Ankara with about 4.5 million inhabitants. It is a university city and also an industrial and services center. Istanbul has around 11 million inhabitants in the city center and, with 12.5 million inhabitants in the entire province, it is not only the largest city and most important economic and cultural center of the country, but also one of the largest cities in the world. The third largest city in Turkey is Izmir with almost 4 million inhabitants and the second largest Turkish commercial port.

Economy and tourism

The economic situation in Turkey is characterized by vast differences: on the one hand, there is the modern West with its industrial centers, especially in the big cities, and, on the other hand, there is the less developed East with its agricultural structures. The most important economic sectors are the textile, automotive and electronics industries, and of course tourism.

The tourist centers in Turkey are in part on the south coast between Antalya in the west and Cape Anamur in the east, known as the “Turkish Riviera”, and in part on the southern Aegean coast with the famous seaside resort of Bodrum. These places are also used as holiday homes by many families from Istanbul and Ankara. Tourist attractions are mainly found in the city of Istanbul, such as the Hagia Sophia mosque, the Archaeological Museum or the old city. Cultural attractions are also found in the ancient cities of Troy, Hierapolis with the travertine terraces of Pamukkale, Ephesus with the library of Celsus, Myra with the Church of St. Nicholas and Göreme National Park with the rock monuments of Cappadocia.