General Information

Turkey is a country lying on two continents. The European part, which lies on the western side of the Bosporus strait, comprises only 3% of the total area. The remaining 97% occupies the peninsula of Asia Minor. Turkey borders on Greece and Bulgaria in Europe and in the east and in the south in its Asian part on Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq and Syria .

The country has about 70 million inhabitants, 80% of them are Turks and the remaining 20% are Kurds. The dominant religion is Islam, 99% of the population is Muslim.

This country has become a cradle of many cultures over the centuries. It all began before the era of Christ, when the area belonging nowadays to Turkey was under Persian rule and was afterwards conquered by Alexander the Great which initiated the Hellenistic period.

In the 3rd and 2nd century B.C. the majority of Turkish area was under Assyrian Seleucids rule. At the turn of AD, they were replaced by Romans. The emperor of the Roman Empire, Constantin the Great , moved the capital city to Byzantium near the Bosporus strait .

It all happened at the time of the rapid expansion of Christianity which turned out to be the official religion of the empire from the 4th century. Byzantium, which was later called Constantinople, became the centre of the eastern Christianity.

In the 10th century, a Turkish and Muslim dynasty of Seljuk settled here. By the end of the 11th century, its influences were spread all over Minor Asia creating so called “sultanate of Konya”.

With the beginning of the 14th century, on the area of contemporary Turkey, the power was seized by the Ottoman dynasty. In 1326, Ottomans conquered Bursa and started to conquer the Balkans which posed a threat to the new Christian countries in Europe. The conquest of Constantinople in 1453 put an end to the existence of the Byzantine Empire. The city became the capital city of the Ottoman Empire.

The period of the biggest development of the empire was under the rule of Suleyman the Great in the16th century. Ottoman influences spread over the major part of Europe, Near East and Northern Africa. Nevertheless, with the end of the 17th century the empire began to collapse. Its problems began with the defeat of the Turkish army in Vienna in 1683 beaten with the help of an effective succor of Polish troops led by the King Jan III. Lost wars with Austria, Russia and a liberation struggle of the defeated countries in the 19th century resulted in considerable territorial losses in the Balkans.

In the 19th century Turkish rulers carried out reforms to stop the collapse of the country. A movement of the advocates of the constitutional system called the Young Turks expanded which resulted in an bourgeois revolution in 1908. Nevertheless, their alliance with Germany and a defeat in World War I resulted in a final collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The remains of the empire were to be divided between neighboring Christian countries. Due to the national insurrection in 1919 led by Mustafa Kemal Pasha, Turkey was saved. The leader acquired the title of Atatürk, which means "the father of Turks", declared Ankara a capital city in 1920, gave an order to separate the country from its Ottoman past and initiated far-reaching reforms to Europeanize the country.

Turkey is nowadays a country of many contrasts, different cultures and nationalities. Secular monuments of culture and art successfully co-exist here with the latest technical achievements as well as with numerous tourist centers.

Apart from wonderful relicts of Islamic culture, due to its geographical location and rich natural resources, Turkey is also a very attractive place as far as tourism is concerned. It is located on the Anatolian peninsula between two massive mountain ranges, i.e. the Taurus Mountains and the Pontine Mountains. A beautiful sea, sandy beaches, majestic mountains, which start in Mediterranean coasts and run through the calm land of lakes and rich forests and uplands on the Black Sea, stand out against wide and empty steppes of eastern provinces. Numerous Turkish national parks and marshy flood waters are the last homeland for these animal species , which are almost extinct in Europe, as well as for many rare kinds of plants.