Capital | Ankara
Population | 77,804,122 (July 2010 est.)
Area | 780,580 SQ KM
Official Language | Turkish
Holidays | Republic Day, 29 October (1923)
Currency | Turkish liras (TRY)
Time Zone | UTC+2
Best Time to Visit | April – October
Connecting with the Culture | Haggling your way to a bargain in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Visiting the ancient Cappadocia. Exploring Ephesus, the best-preserved ancient city in the eastern Mediterranean. Letting yourself be scrubbed clean and invigoratingly massaged in a hamam (steam bath). Sailing the blue waters of Turkey’s southwest coast in a traditional gullet (wooden yacht).
Read | Irfan Orga’s Portrait of a Turkish Family, which tells of a family struggling to survive the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the birth of the Turkish Republic.
Listen | to Tarkan, the king of Turkish pop for much of the 1990’s and early 2000’s
Eat | Turkish bread – no Turkish meal would be complete without it.
Drink | raki – a clear, strong spirit made of grapes infused with aniseed
In a Word | Merhaba! (hello!)
Characteristics | Turkish delight; the place where East meets West; kebabs in a dozen different varieties; whirling dervishes; carpet sellers; delicious Turkish bread; tea offered in a shop immediately prior to a sales pitch.
Surprises | Turkey has its very own pop industry and it’s hugely successful.
NEWS ABOUT TURKEY
Turkey sends Army to Syrian Border
(Video: Cihan News Agency)
(HN, 6/28/12) - In a major escalation of tensions between the two former allies, Turkey sent anti-aircraft guns & trucks carrying multiple-rocket launchers to reinforce its southern border following Syria's shooting down of a Turkish fighter jet last week. Meanwhile, huge twin bomb blasts struck the Syrian capital of Damascus, near the Palace of Justice when 2 magnetic bombs exploded in judges' cars. Reports said a 3rd device was defused. On Saturday, Turkey will join its western allies in a UN-sponsored conference in Geneva to discuss President Bashar al-Assad's future. The UK & other western countries are increasingly convinced that Russia can finally be persuaded to support them in pushing for the Syrian leader to step down. Turkey's PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was a friend to Syria, but now is one of the regime's severest critics. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based activist group which collates casualty figures, said that 4,700 people had been killed in the country since April 12, when a UN-sponsored ceasefire was called. (Read more at the Telegraph)
1,500-year-old gospel kept in Ankara excites Vatican, report claims
(HN, 2/21/12) - The Vatican has requested that Turkey allow it to examine a 1500-year-old copy of an apocryphal gospel that was discovered by Turkish police during an anti-smuggling operation in 2000 and handed over to the Ankara Ethnography Museum, the Turkish Bugün daily reported on Thursday. (READ MORE from Today's Zaman)