60 Interesting Facts About Turkey

Last updated on June 27th, 2016 at 12:19 am

The beautiful country of Turkey has plenty of historical attractions. It is filled with ancient monuments, underground cities, palaces and ruins. Turkey is a great travel destination because there are so many places to explore.

The country has a vibrant culture, delicious cuisine and friendly people. Their landscapes are glorious, making it one of the world’s most enchanting places. The Blue Mosque is popular for its blue walls surrounding its interiors. It is located in Istanbul, which was built in the 1600s. Today, let’s take a look at 60 interesting facts about Turkey.

#1: The place known as Troy from the legendary Trojan Wars is located in Western Turkey.

#2: The oldest recognized human settlement is in Catalhoyuk, which is in Central Turkey.

#3: The country has two places which are part of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. They are the Temple of Artemis and Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

#4: Saint Nicholas, who is popularly known as Santa Claus, was born in Turkey.

#5: The first signs of writing were found in Anatolia, Turkey. It was in 1950 B.C. when clay tablets were found in the Assyrian ruins.

#6: The first Neolithic paintings found on man-made walls were discovered in Catalhoyuk.

#7: The world’s oldest shipwreck was found in Kas. It is currently being displayed in the Submarine Archaeology Museum.

#8: The world’s most precious silk carpet is stored in the Mevlana Museum, which is located in Konya.

Carpet Shop in Ankara
Interesting Facts About Turkey – Carpet Shop in Ankara. Image credit – William Neuheisel

#9: The first ever coins known to man were discovered in Sfard during the seventh century, B.C.

#10: Istanbul was formerly known as Constantinople. It was the Roman Empire’s capital.

#11: The first ever university known to man is located in Harran.

#12: Istanbul was the capital of three empires for 2,000 years: the Roman, Ottoman and Byzantine Empires.

#13: The first man-made Christian Church was discovered in Antioch.

#14: Historical figures such as Homer, Aesop and St. Paul the Apostle were all born in Turkey.

#15: The Antalya Museum features more than 5,000 art exhibits, making it one of the best in the world.

#16: Carpets are very important in Turkish culture. Seen as religious symbols, they are used in mosques.

#17: Turkish food is deliciously scrumptious. They are most famous for their kebabs and seafood.

#18: In Turkey, you will find a dessert made out of chicken. It is called Tavukgogsu.

Tavukgogsu, dessert made from chicken meat.
Tavukgogsu, dessert made from chicken meat. Image credit – ali umar

#19: Ice cream street vendors also perform circus-clown performances to attract customers.

#20: Soup is an essential part of Turkish cuisine. They have it before every meal.

#21: The most famous coffee in Europe is made in Turkey.

#22: There are more than ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites found in Turkey.

#23: The Cotton Palace or “Pamukkale” is a beautiful complex with unique mineral springs.

#24: Seven churches mentioned by John in his revelations are located in Turkey. These are Ephesus, Pergamum, Smyrna, Sardis, Thyatira, Laodicea and Philadelphia.

#25: Turkish people are known to be very patriotic. You will never hear them complain or say bad things about their country.

#26: They give a very high importance to their flag. It is placed everywhere throughout the country.

#27: It is common to kiss an elderly individual’s hand as a sign of respect.

#28: Turkish public buildings commonly have a black arrow placed on their ceilings. It shows the direction of Mecca, which is considered to be the holiest place on Earth for Muslims.

#29: The country takes equality between men and women very seriously. Since 1750, Turkey has had institutions that uphold women’s rights.

#30: They were one of the first countries that allowed women to vote.

#31: Julius Caesar’s famous saying, “I came, I saw, I conquered,” was spoken in the Black Sea in Turkey.

#32: The first ever Church solely dedicated to Mother Mary is found in Ephesus.

#33: The famous Gordian Knot, which was untangled by Alexander the Great, is located in Ankara.

#34: Istanbul is the last stop for the infamous Simplon Orient Express. It is called the “king of trains and train of kings.”

#35: Bargaining is a big part of Turkish culture. It is mostly seen on Istanbul’s streets.

Turkey Map
Map of Turkey

#36: In the Bible, Noah’s Ark is said to have landed on Mount Ararat, located in Eastern Turkey.

#37: Istanbul is famous for being the only city that is part of two continents, Asia and Europe.

#38: Hundreds of marinas and beaches have a “blue flag.” It is only given to the cleanest and best beaches in Europe.

#39: Istanbul is the largest city in the country, but Ankara is Turkey’s capital.

#40: Three percent of Istanbul located in Europe, while 97% is located in Asia.

#41: The species of birds called Turkeys got their name from Turkey (the country).

#42: The color turquoise is derived from the French word ‘turquois,’ which represents the amazing color of South Turkey’s Mediterranean.

#43: The world’s oldest-known ceramics were originally from Catal Huyuk and Jordan Valley in Anatolia.

#44: The Istanbul tunnel is the world’s second-oldest underground railway system.

#45: The tulip flower, which is the symbol of The Netherlands, was originally discovered in Turkey.

Tulips in Gulhane Park, Istanbul
Interesting Facts About Turkey – Tulips in Gulhane Park, Istanbul. Image credit – Brooke T

10 facts about Turkey culture

#46: Religion

Even though the country is mostly secular, Islam remains as the major religion in Turkey. It is believed that the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) is God’s last emissary. It means he was the last person to follow in the footsteps of Abraham, Moses and Jesus Christ (P.B.U.T). His purpose was to bring revelation to the world. Specifically, he didn’t only preach to certain individuals or groups. Instead, Muhammad (S.A.W) brought God’s message to the entire world. Muslims pray five times a day. The specific time they are required to pray is written on their calendars. Muslims in Turkey also follow the practices of the holy month called Ramadan.

#47: Social Etiquette

Turkish people strictly follow a specific meeting hand shake. It needs to be done firmly. Friends and family usually greet each other by giving two kisses on the cheeks. For elders, it is customary to kiss their right hand and then place your forehead to their hand. Upon entering a room, it is required to greet the most senior person present. During social gatherings, they greet the person who’s closest to them and proceed greeting in an counterclockwise manner.

#48: Gift Giving

The giving of gifts doesn’t affect etiquette or business relationships. Instead of physical gifts, the Turkish prefer dining in restaurants or going on sightseeing trips. However, they still appreciate a gift from a business partner. The best gifts to give are those that originated from your country. Since the majority of the population is Muslim, be very careful when offering alcohol.

#49: Dining

Business entertainment in Turkey is usually done in restaurants. Turks really enjoy great food and having a satisfying meal. They consider it a time to relax and have good conversations. Turkish food is a delicacy featuring numerous tasty and delicious dishes. When they invite you over to dine with them, they will always insist on paying the bill; they are not used to sharing the payment. The best policy to follow is to accept their offer and don’t argue with them. Turks will always appreciate a ‘thank you’ for their gracious contributions.

#50: Clothing

Similar to other developed countries, modern Turks also wear casual clothes inspired by Western fashion. For traditional Turks, they wear dresses similar to those in Caucasia. They are made out of wool, cotton and silk. In Turkish history, they have lived close to the Silk Road which affected their choices of clothing. To this day, local costumes are still worn during celebrations such as the major festivals.

#51: Festivals & Holidays

Two major holidays are important in Turkish history. Milli Bayramlar are festivals that mark their victories in the war following World War I. Dini Bayramlar are celebrated as religious traditions. They are called Kurban Bayrami and Ramazan Bayrami. During the festival, animals are sacrificed. The meat that comes from the animals is distributed to the poor and the needy.

#52: Communication

In Turkey’s culture, they consider politeness a major essential in communication. The general rule is that you have to use a more polite language to your elders. This is especially practiced when you meet a senior for the first time. It’s also very important to address people with their correct honorifics. Doing so expresses that you recognize their social status. A common practice that they perform is communicating without using any words. They only use eye and hand gestures to get their message across.

#53: Values

The Turks give utmost importance to their families. They meet up together during every possible occasion. It’s customary for each member of the family to support everyone else’s careers without question. In general, they are very hospitable people. It’s not unusual for them to invite you into their home, even if they don’t exactly know you.

#54: Facebook

One of the fun facts that most people are not aware of is that Turkey loves Facebook. The country is considered the highest-rated Facebook user in the entire world. They love keeping in contact with family and friends, building very strong bonds and relationships with them. Also, they’re always interested to know what their loved ones are up to. Facebook allows them to do that.

#55: Literature

Folk tales, novels and epic poems are part of the Turkish culture. There are plenty of stories that have been passed on for generations. They value the lessons ingrained in their literature. This is why starting from when they are very young, parents will tell stories to their children. The most popular characters beloved by the entire country are Hacivat, Koroglu and Karagoz.

5 Turkey facts for kids

#56: Geography

Turkey is a peninsula that serves as a bridge between Asia and Europe. The country is surrounded by the Aegean Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea. Istanbul is its biggest city. Some parts of it are located in Asia, while others are in Europe. Earthquakes are also very common in Turkey.

#57: Nature

Birds make Turkey their resting destination during their migratory journeys. This happens between winter and summer. Birds flock in Bird Lake, which is a government-protected national forest. As of 2016, there are 39 parks that are home to rare species and their habitats.

#58: Culture

Different groups have conquered Turkey in the past. This means the Turks come from varied backgrounds. Most of the population lives in the cities. Islam is the number-one religion in Turkey, with Kurdish also being practiced. They are very hospitable and family oriented. They love eating all types of exotic food like wild turkey. Soccer is their favorite sport.

#59: Government

Their head of government is the Prime Minister. He is in charge of the well being of the entire country. The Turkish institution known as the Grand National Assembly is composed of 550 members elected by the Turkish population. It is this Assembly who elects the rightful president. Turkey is hugely involved in the United Nations. Because of their location, the country is a strategic place for world conferences.

#60: History

Turkey is considered to be home of the world’s earliest settlements. The country was built 8,800 years ago. The Hittites made an empire where they ruled for years. After the Trojan War, King Midas became ruler in 700 B.C. Constantine was elected the Roman Emperor and created Constantinople. Istanbul was formally established in 1923. Turkey is now a secular country, meaning that there is a separation between government and religion.

Quick facts about Turkey

Capital CityAnkara
(39°55′N 32°50′E)
Largest CityIstanbul
(41°1′N 28°57′E)
Total area783,562 sq km
Population80,274,604 (July 2016 est.)
Official LanguageTurkish
BordersSyria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bulgaria and Greece
CurrencyTurkish lira ₺ (TRY)
ReligionIslam and Christianity
Life expectancy74.86 Years (2012)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Climatetemperate; hot, dry summers with mild, wet winters; harsher in interior
Terrainhigh central plateau (Anatolia); narrow coastal plain; several mountain ranges
Natural resourcescoal, iron ore, copper, chromium, antimony, mercury, gold, barite, borate, celestite (strontium), emery, feldspar, limestone, magnesite, marble, perlite, pumice, pyrites (sulfur), clay, arable land, hydropower
Agricultural land49.7%
Birth rate16 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate5.9 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Sex ratio1.01 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Government typeparliamentary republic
Independence day29 October 1923
National symbolstar and crescent
National colorsred, white
National anthem"Istiklal Marsi" (Independence March)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$20,400 (2015 est.)
Industriestextiles, food processing, automobiles, electronics, mining (coal, chromate, copper, boron), steel, petroleum, construction, lumber, paper
Exports$152 billion (2015 est.)
apparel, foodstuffs, textiles, metal manufactures, transport equipment
Imports$200.1 billion (2015 est.)
machinery, chemicals, semi-finished goods, fuels, transport equipment
Time ZoneEET (UTC+2)
Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Internet country code.tr
Calling Code+90
Drives on theRight