50 interesting facts about Turkey and the Turks

Turkey is an amazing country with a rich history and beautiful nature. It is an extremely popular tourist destination. In this article, we have collected 50 interesting facts about the country itself and its people to help you make a first impression and plan your holiday in Turkey.

The 50 most amazing facts about Turks and Turkey

1. Turkey is one of the few countries in the world that lies on two sides of the world. The largest part of Turkey lies on the Asia Minor Peninsula, which respectively belongs to the Asia part of the world. A smaller part is situated on the Balkan Peninsula, which historically belongs to Europe. The border between Europe and Asia runs through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, which connect the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. 2.

2. The peninsula of Asia Minor has historically been called Anatolia. It was so called by the ancient Greeks. The Greek word Ἀνατολή, i.e. Anatolia, is translated as East.


3. Late Neolithic settlements have been discovered by archaeologists in Turkey. One of them, Çatal-Güyük, is considered to be the oldest city on Earth. It existed 9 millennia ago, although it had no fortress walls or any public buildings typical of cities.

4. The ruins of two of the seven wonders of the ancient world can still be seen in Turkey. They are the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. According to the legend, the Temple of Artemis was burnt down by Herostratus in the IV century B.C., and the Mausoleum in Halicarnassus was destroyed by a strong earthquake in 1494.

5. In ancient times and in the Middle Ages, the territory of modern Turkey changed hands many times. New kingdoms and empires were created here: Hittite, Lydia, Urartu, and Greater Armenia. Anatolia was invaded by the armies of Alexander the Great and the Romans. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the powerful Byzantine Empire established itself here. At the end of XI century, Byzantine Empire fell under the onslaught of Seljuks, natives of Turkestan. The Seljuks, in turn, were supplanted by the Ottomans. The Ottoman Empire became the greatest state formation on the territory of Turkey, and it finally collapsed only in 1922.

6. One of the most popular Turkish series, The Magnificent Century, is about the heyday of the Ottoman Empire. It is based on the love story of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his Slavic-born concubine Alexandra, who goes by the Turkish name Hürrem. The series was shown in more than 50 countries and its actors Halit Urgench, Meryem Uzerli and others became international stars.


7. Modern Turkey was formed on 29 October 1923 after a long war of independence. Its first president was Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Ankara became the capital city at the same time.

8. A popular breed of domestic cat, the Turkish Angora, is originally from Ankara. Back in the 16th century, these cats were brought to Europe, although the modern breed was not bred by breeders until the middle of the 20th century.

Турецкая Ангора

9. The largest city in Turkey is Istanbul. It was founded in 667 BC by Greek settlers. It was first called Byzantium, then Constantinople and later Istanbul. In the Russian chronicles, it appears under the name Tsargrad. Today, Istanbul is home to more than 15 million people and straddles both sides of the Bosporus, being simultaneously in Europe and Asia.

10. One of Istanbul’s main symbols, the Hagia Sophia Cathedral, is a holy place for both Orthodox Christians and Muslims. The cathedral was built in 324 and became a museum in the last century. In 2020, it was renamed the Great Mosque of Hagia Sophia.

Мечеть Айя София

11 Turkey is washed by four seas in the Atlantic basin: the Mediterranean, Aegean, Marmara and Black Sea. Geographers sometimes identify a fifth sea, the Cypriot Sea, located in the northeastern part of the Mediterranean.

12. the best beaches in Turkey are located on the shores of the Mediterranean, in the resorts of Antalya, Oludeniz and Alanya. Beaches of the Black Sea are less popular with tourists because of the colder water. Although there are some amazingly beautiful places here as well, such as the golden sandy beach of Sinop.


13. The longest beach in Turkey is located in Antalya province, near the town of Kalkan. This beach is called Patara Beach and is over 12 kilometres long with a maximum width of 1,500 metres.

14. One of the symbols of Turkey is considered to be the tulip. It is from here that these delicate flowers were introduced to Europe in the 16th century, although biologists believe that the native land of tulips is Iran. It was not until the XVII century that the Netherlands became the world’s centre of tulip cultivation.

15. The twin peaks of Mount Ararat are a symbol of Armenia, but the mountain itself is located in Turkey. Legend has it that this is where Noah’s ark landed after the Great Flood. Ararat is an ancient old volcano. The last eruption took place in 1840, so the threat of a new cataclysm still persists.

16. Turkey has a population of over 84 million people, most of whom are Muslim. The country is secular and religion is separated from the state. But, at the same time, Turks are reverent about their faith, and tourists are advised not to violate Muslim rules.


17. In the country’s public buildings you can see a black arrow on the ceilings which points in the direction of Mecca. After all, it is facing Mecca that Muslims are seated when they pray.

18. Turkey is home to many different indigenous nationalities – Greeks, Armenians, Azeris, Assyrians. But almost 97% of the population is ethnic Turks and Kurds.

19. Turkey’s economy is based on industry, but the country is better known for its agricultural products outside its borders. It is a world leader in growing hazelnuts, cherries, pomegranates, dates and apricots.

20. Before 1934 the Turks had no real surnames. They were replaced by the suffix -Oğlı, which was added to the name and meant Son. But in 1934, the first president of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, issued a law according to which everyone had to take a surname. For example, the surname Ataturk means Father of all Turks.

21. Most people do not associate Turkey with skyscrapers, but they do exist. The Brilliant Skyscraper in Istanbul has 66 floors and is 311 meters high. It is the fourth tallest skyscraper in Europe.

22. The Asian part of Turkey is connected to the European part by four bridges across the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. The longest of the bridges is the Canakkale Bridge. It was built in 2022 and is 4600 meters long. It is the longest suspension bridge in the world.


23. Turkey is known to tourists not only for its beautiful beaches and exotic entertainment, but also as the world’s shopping destination. Millions of tourists fly to Istanbul every year to visit the local shops, boutiques and markets. It sells some of the cheapest goods in Europe, and travel agencies even offer a five-day shopping tour to Istanbul.

24. Europe’s largest shopping mall is also located in Istanbul. It is the Cevahir Shopping and Entertainment Centre on Büyükdere Avenue. It has a total area of more than 420,000 square metres and nearly 350 shops on its six floors.

Торговый центр Джевахир

25. The institution of marriage is highly respected in Turkey. Only 2% of the adult population in the country live alone and do not start a family. And in a quarter of all established couples, the wife is older than the husband. And one in four women prefers a caesarean section to a normal delivery.

26. In Turkish families, spouses never address each other by name. They use beautiful epithets – my darling, my soul, my angel, considering that names are necessary for communication with friends and acquaintances, and real close people do not need such formalities.

27. Turkey has its own tea ceremony, which differs from the Oriental one. Here, tea is brewed in a special double teapot. Turks drink tea in large quantities and very often, but from small cups shaped like a tulip bud.


28. Turkey is also famous for its coffee. The recipe for Turkish coffee calls for the use of a Turkish coffee pot, a special copper pot with a long wooden handle. The coffee is brewed with sugar and drunk very hot from small cups.

29. Turkish cuisine combines features of Greek, Balkan, Caucasian and Arabian cuisine. The food is prepared according to the bans of Islam, for example pork is sold only in the resort areas for the foreign tourists.

30. Among the most popular Turkish dishes are various kebabs with fried meat, flatbreads, chorbas soups, imam bayaldi – baked aubergines.

31. Turkish sweets are very popular among the tourists: baklava, tulumba, lokum, pishmaniye and others. You can’t go to Turkey without enjoying their amazing taste.

Турецкие сладости

32. Fish and fish dishes can only be found in Turkey during the cold season, when the fishing season becomes intense. In summer there is almost no fish in Turkey and it is very expensive.

33. The Turks don’t usually like alcohol, being traditionally the worst-drinking nation in Europe, but you can easily buy alcohol in specialized shops in the country. Including the famous Raki, aniseed vodka with an alcoholic strength of 40 to 70 degrees.

34. There’s no rush in the Turkish way of life. Turks are never in a hurry; being late for an appointment is par for the course. And it’s not a matter of unpunctuality, it’s a national tradition – people live here and now and take great pleasure in it.


35. Turks are very hospitable, but they can also come uninvited at any time. They are capable of sitting around for hours and talking about trivial matters, such as trying to teach foreigners the finer points of local life.

36. Etiquette in Turkey is very ethereal. A man will never sit down with an unfamiliar woman. In public transport, women will sit next to men and men will sit separately. You don’t shake hands with women because it could be interpreted as an offer to get to know them better.

37. Many common gestures in Turkey may be misunderstood by foreigners. For example, shaking your head to the left or right implies misunderstanding. A snap of the fingers indicates approval, a hand to your chest indicates rejection or gratitude.

38. It is not customary to enter a Turkish home with shoes on. Guests and hosts alike should take their shoes off at the entrance. Turks will always have a few pairs of slippers for their guests, but they can bring their own as well.

39. In Istanbul and some other cities in Turkey, you can often see bald men with a black headband. These are not members of any sect or community, but people who have come to the country for hair transplants. Turks themselves go bald early, and so the operation is very popular here.


40. Often in the country you can also see women with henna-painted hands. This is a sign that a Turkish woman is preparing for or has just been to some important event, such as a hen party or a wedding.

41. Turks are a very gambling people, they are prone to take unnecessary risks and ventures. A fight could easily turn into a brawl. Of all sports in the country, football is especially respected and loved.

42. They love and know how to haggle. You’ll be asked double or triple the price, and you’ll fight for every lira. Cheating is considered an honourable trade.

43. Antalya is considered the most budget-friendly resort, Bodrum is the most sophisticated one and there are popular golf courses there. Turks prefer to rest on the beaches of the Aegean Sea.

44. In addition to the hot beaches, there are ten ski resorts in the country, most of them covered by rather high mountains, some of them have snow on their tops all year round.

45. Turkey has several of the largest oceanariums in the world. Among them, in Istanbul with 6.8 million litres of water and in Antalya with 7.5 million litres.


46. Turkey is very sensitive to environmental protection. There are 45 national parks and 250 nature parks, as well as 31 protected areas.

47. The province of Denizli is home to the famous thermal springs of Pamukkale, with water temperatures ranging from 40 to 100 degrees Celsius. Over the centuries, calcium from this water has formed terraced baths adorned with snow-white stalactites.


48. The first hammam in the East appeared in Istanbul. Locals visit the hammam to share news and socialise with friends. In the hamam, the ceilings are always made in the form of a cone, so that water droplets run down the walls and not on the heads of the holidaymakers.

49. The fez headdress is so named after the Moroccan town where they were made. Historically, however, the fez dates back to Byzantium in what is now Turkey.

Турецкий Ван

50. In addition to Angora cats, Turkey is famous for another exotic breed. It is the Turkish Van, a breed that has historically lived near Lake Van in eastern Turkey. These cats are known for their colourful eyes and love of water procedures, so uncharacteristic of felines.


Friends, if you know more interesting facts about Turks and Turkey, please share them in the comments. This country is full of amazing stories, culture and traditions and many would love to learn more. We would be very grateful!

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