Turkey is a fascinating country where one can experience the old Oriental tradition side by side with modern impulse of city life and western luxury.
Area: About 783,562 km² (3% in Europe and 97% in Asia)
Population: 79, 51 million (2016)
Currency: New Turkish Lira (TL)
Today's Turkey has for thousands of years been the home of many early-developed cultures such as the Hittite, Medes, and Persians. The Greeks did also settle in along Turkey’s west coastline in the millennium before the birth of Christ, and created cities like Smyrna (today's Izmir), Ephesus and Miletus. The area was later conquered by Alexander the Great in the 19th century BC. The empire collapsed after his death and a number of smaller states were established in the area. These states where later conquered by the Romans during the 100's BC. At the Roman Empire division in the year 395, Minor Asia (Anatolia) became the center of the east Roman Empire, who later became the Byzantine Empire.
The Ottomans started to become a serious threat to the Byzantine Empire from the 1000’s century. The end of the Byzantine Empire occurred in 1453 when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople (today's Istanbul). The Ottomans also advanced south and east and they had at the beginning of the 16th century conquered large parts of the Arabian Peninsula and almost all of North Africa. The northern part of the empire stretched as far as to Austria and Poland. The Ottoman Empire was the most influential and comprehensive from the mid-16th century to the end of the 17th century.
In the following centuries, the Ottoman Empire was weakened by inner conflicts and several wars with its neighboring countries. As the empire gradually collapsed, smaller nation-states were born. During the Balkan War 1912-1913, where all lands in Europe lost except Eastern Thrace, a former Balkan Peninsula. After the First World War, where Turkey supported Germany, they lost further land areas and decreased to today's size.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk became Turkey's first president between 1923-1938. He was the son of a government official in Thessaloniki, located in the Ottoman Empire. He was quite young when his father died and he decided to focus on a military career. He was quickly influenced by the liberal and nationalist ideas that flourished among younger Ottoman officers. After doing a great job during the Tripoli War 1911-1912, in the Balkan War 1912-1913, and in the First World War, he advanced and became a general. Then he led the liberation war against the Greek occupiers and the occupants were defeated in August 1922.
The Republic of Turkey was proclaimed in 1923 with Atatürk as its president. He made big reform and rule changes in Turkey so they were more adapted to western rules and reforms. Some of the things he did were to introduce the Latin alphabet and to abolish many religious offices. He also modernized the Turkish language from its Arabic and Persian influence as well as made Turkish the only language spoken in schools.
Turkey became a NATO member in 1952 and participated in the Korean War. In 1974, there was a conflict between Turkey and Greece about Cyprus, whose northern part was invaded by Turkey that the same year. Turkey applied for a membership of the EEC (EU) as early as 1959. The application was renewed again in 1987 and Turkey did receive a candidate status in December 1999. Negotiations on EU membership began in October 2005 and are still ongoing.
These dates are national holidays where all government offices, banks, and a lot of shops and restaurants are closed.
January 1st – New Year’s Day
April 23rd – National Sovereignty day and Children’s Day
May 1st – Labor Day
May 19th – Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day
July 15th – Democracy and National Unity Day
August 30th – Victory day
October 29th – Republic Day
There are also a few other national holidays during the Ramadan Feast and Sacrifice Feast. These dates vary from one year to another.
Credit cards: You can use your credit card in most places in Turkey.
Exchange offices, banks, and ATM: s: Banks are often open between 9-17 Monday-Friday and are closed for lunch around 12-13. The exchange offices are open all week and about the same hours as other shops. There are plenty of ATM: s in Turkey where you can withdraw money.
Mosques: It is allowed to visit the Mosques. Just remember to have decent clothes, this means that knees, shoulders, and stomach must be covered, for both man and women. Women must also cover their hair. Before you enter the Mosque you must even take off your shoes. Try not to enter the mosque during prayer, there is usually a notice-board outside the Mosque who specifies the time for prayer.
Passport: To be able to travel to Turkey you need a valid passport. Make sure the passport has a minimum of 6 months left on the expiration date from your return date.
Pharmacy: The Turkish name for pharmacy is “Eczane”. They are often open until 18.00 but in the touristic cities, they are open longer. Most of them are closed on Sundays.
Sockets: Are 220 V 50 Hz son o need for any adapter.
Stones and shells: It is forbidden to bring stones, shells or similar items outside of Turkey since it can be classified as historical objects.
Taking photographs: It is generally allowed to take photograph everywhere in Turkey. Just remember that it is not allowed to photograph government officials such as police and military personnel or their workplaces.
Tips: It is normal to tip about 5-10% in restaurants, to the hotel cleaning staff, and to drivers on excursions.
Vaccinations: There are no mandatory vaccinations for traveling to Turkey.
Visa: Here is a link to countries who require a Visa to enter Turkey. http://www.mfa.gov.tr/visa-information-for-foreigners.en.mfa
Water: The recommendation is to drink bottled water since to bacteria flora in Turkey is different.
Wi-Fi: Most hotels, restaurants, bars, and cafés have Wi-Fi connection and they give their password to their customers.