Turkey is a country at the northeast end of the Mediterranean Sea, bridging two continents: Europe and Asia. The Black Sea is located to its north and the Aegean Sea to its West. Its closest neighbours are Russia, Ukraine and Romania (to the north/northwest), Syria and Iraq (to the south), Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Iran (to the east) and Greece and Bulgaria (to the west).
The Turkish climate varies considerably from area to area. In Istanbul, its capital, the temperature is moderate, at around 4ºC in the winter and around 27ºC in the summer. In the Anatolian Plateau, on the contrary, the temperature varies greatly between night and day, reaching as much as 23ºC in the summer and -2ºC in the winter. In eastern and southeastern Anatolia, meanwhile, the weather can be very chilly, with winter temperatures dropping to -13ºC on average!
Turkey is famous for its rich history, as well as stunning natural sites like Pamukkale, renowned for its dreamlike hot springs and travertines and its proximity to the Roman ruins of Hierapolis, with its famous museum and Roman theatre. The area of Antalya has various beaches and forests in which to lose oneself, while Cappadocia is an ‘otherworldy’ site dotted with cone-shaped rock formations known among travellers as ‘fairy chimneys’. Turkey is also known for its whirling dervishes (Sufi Muslims with ecstatic rituals that leave audiences spellbound) and its Blue Mosque: easily the most visited site in Turkey. Also known as the Sultan Ahmen Mosque, the monument was built from 1609 to 1616, though it is still used as a mosque to this very day.
In 2,900 B.C., the Indo-European Hittites occupied Turkey, though this civilisation collapsed in 1200 B.C. and Turkey was subsequently taken by the Persian, Roman and Byzantine empires. In the early 13th century, the Ottoman Turks made their first appearance in Turkey, taking Constantinople in the 15th century and ruling the area of an impressive 600 years. Their empire comprised a vast area (from the Persian Gulf to the west of Algeria), only to crumble after Sultan Süleyman ceased to rule. In the 19th century, the Russo-Turkish war led to Bulgarian, Romanian and Serbian freedom from the Sultan. In 1909, the Young Turks rebellion led to the adoption of a liberal government. Further down the line (in the early 20th century), the Turkish were defeated in battle with Italy and later, in the Balkan Wars. Turkey fought against the allies in World War I, losing territory when the war ended.
Turkey is home to an immensely large number of plants and animals; there are around 9,000 plant and 8,000 animal species! Turkey is the only country in the world to boast three botanical geographical regions, subject to three main climates. Because the climate is so variable and the country is surrounded by four seas, the Turkish fauna population is vast. Some animals to be found in Turkey include the tiger, deer, sea turtles and Van cat. Common plants include colourful tulips, lilies and snowdrops; Turkey has almost as many types of wild flowers as all of Europe combined!
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