Geography of Turkey
Turkey is a unique country offering the present
together with the past. An introduction to the country's location will help you
understand its treasures much better. Greece and Bulgaria border on the European
side; Georgia, Armenia, Nakhitchevan, Azerbalijan, Iran, Iraq and Syria border
on the Asian. There rest the seas surround Turkey on three sides: The Black Sea,
the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea. You may start to see these beauties from
one of the 7 geographical regions.
The Marmara Region divides the country into
two parts; Europe and Asia. The land of "Anatolia" on the Asian side, the land
in "Thrace" on the European. The Marmara Sea and Black Sea meet by The Bosphorus.
Istanbul, that is set on two continents is here. In the west,
the Aegean Region
which offers lovely beaches. Black Sea Region forms a green world.
Mediterranean Region, on the other hand, provides a classical summer holiday:
sun, sea, and sand, at the same time it offers skiing at Saklikent. Another
region with different natural characteristics is Eastern Anatolia. Mount Ararat,
Lake Van, rivers Euphrates and Tigris, some inactive volcanoes exist here. The
smallest region Southeastern Anatolia offers different leisure activities. In
the middle, Central Anatolia exists. Central Anatolia, with its world famous
Cappadocia, is a strategically important center, with Ankara, the capital of
Turkey. It is also a historical center dating back to times Palaeolithic and
Location of Turkey
Thrace, the westernmost, European segment of
Turkey, forms the south-easternmost extremity of Europe, east of Bulgaria and
Greece. Some 8 percent of Turkey’s territory is in Thrace. Anatolia, which
comprises the bulk of Turkish territory, is a peninsula in western Asia situated
between the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.
Thrace and Anatolia are separated by the Sea of Marmara and the strategic
Dardanelles and Bosporus straits.
Size of Turkey
The total area of Turkey is 780,580 square
kilometers, including 9,820 square kilometers of water.
The land boundaries of Turkey are as follows:
with Syria, 822 kilometers; with Iran, 499 kilometers; with Iraq, 352 kilometers;
with Armenia, 268 kilometers; with Georgia, 252 kilometers; with Bulgaria, 240
kilometers; with Greece, 206 kilometers; and with Azerbaijan, 9 kilometers.
Turkey has ongoing airspace disputes with
Greece in the Aegean Sea region that lies between the two countries, and the
division of Cyprus remains an unresolved issue between the two countries. Syria
and Iraq have protested Turkey’s confiscation of the headwaters of the Euphrates
River, which flow from Turkey into those two countries. Turkey closed its border
with Armenia in 1993 in support of Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict;
the border has remained closed since that time, but in 2005 talks between
Armenia and Turkey aimed at restoring normal traffic.
Length of Coastline
Turkey has 7,200 kilometers of coastline on the
Mediterranean Sea, Aegean Sea, Black Sea, and Sea of Marmara.
Turkey claims coastline sovereignty extending
six nautical miles in the Aegean Sea and 12 nautical miles in the Black and
Mediterranean seas. Turkey has a complex set of maritime disputes with Greece in
the Aegean Sea.
Topography of Turkey
Turkey’s extremities are divided into the Black
Sea coastline region, the Aegean coastline region, the Mediterranean coastline
region, and the Arabian Platform along the Syrian border in the south. The
interior is divided into the North Anatolian (Pontus) mountain range, which lines most of the
Black Sea coastline; the Taurus mountain range, which extends from the
Mediterranean coast north of Cyprus to east-central Anatolia; the Anatolian
Plateau, which dominates the interior of western Anatolia; and the eastern
highlands, which dominate far eastern Anatolia, east of the North Anatolian and Taurus
The Black Sea region features rocky coastlines
cut by rivers flowing from gorges in the North Anatolian Mountains. The European and
Asian parts of the Aegean region are mainly rolling terrain favorable for
agriculture. The narrow Mediterranean coastal region is flat farmland, separated
from Anatolia by the Taurus Mountains and opening into wide plains at some
points. The Arabian Platform is a region of rolling hills along the Syrian
The North Anatolian Mountains are
lower in the west but rise to more than 3,000 meters in their eastern reaches.
The Taurus Mountains are more rugged than the North Anatolian, but they have fewer rivers
and thus form a more complete barrier between the sea and the interior. The
Anatolian Plateau extends from the Aegean coastal region between the two major
mountain ranges to form the semiarid heartland of Turkey. Elevation is between
600 and 1,200 meters, with several major basins. The eastern highlands are
formed by the convergence of the Taurus and North Anatolian ranges. Mountains here are
more rugged than elsewhere in Turkey; the highest mountain, Mt. Ararat, is 5,166
meters high. Turkey’s largest lake, Lake Van, is in the eastern highlands.
Principal Rivers in Turkey
Turkey's longest rivers, the Kızılırmak,
Sakarya, and Yeşilırmak, flow northward from the interior of the country into
the Black Sea. The Dicle (Tigris) and Firat (Euphrates) originate in the eastern
mountains and flow southward across the Arabian Platform into Syria and Iraq.
The Büyük Menderes and Gediz are the major rivers flowing from the Anatolian
Plateau westward into the Aegean Sea. The Meric (known in Greece as the Evros
and in Bulgaria as the Maritsa) forms the border between Greece and Turkish
Thrace before flowing into the northern Aegean. The Seyhan flows south from the
Eastern Highlands into the Mediterranean Sea.
Principal Lakes in Turkey
Leke Van, Salt Lake, Seydisehir, Beysehir,
Climate of Turkey
The Aegean and Mediterranean coastal regions
have cool, rainy winters and hot, moderately dry summers, with annual
precipitation ranging from 580 to 1,300 mm. The Black Sea coastal region, whose
temperature range is cooler than the other coastal regions, has the heaviest
rainfall in Turkey, averaging 1,400 mm. per year. Because it is blocked from the
sea by Turkey’s mountain ranges, the Anatolian Plateau has a severely
continental climate, with extreme cold in the winter (reaching –40º C) and
extreme heat in summer. Rainfall there is very sparse in summer, but snowfall in
winter is heavy. Annual precipitation averages 400 millimeters. The eastern
highlands have hot, dry summers and very cold winters with heavy snowfall.
Natural Resources of Turkey
Turkey has abundant arable land; its water
resources are greater than those elsewhere in the Middle East but generally less
than those in European countries. Rivers offer hydroelectric power generation
and irrigation. Known oil and natural gas deposits are small, but relatively
large amounts of coal are present. Other significant mineral resources are boron
and chromium. Long coastlines with a temperate climate support commerce,
tourism, and fishing.
Some 31 percent of Turkey’s land is rated as
arable, and another 11.5 percent is used as pasture. About 11 percent of the
arable land (3.3 percent of the total) is planted to permanent crops, and 18
percent of the arable land is irrigated.
Turkey’s main environmental problems are water
pollution from the dumping of chemicals and detergents; air pollution,
particularly in urban areas; deforestation; and the potential for spills from
the 5,000 oil- and gas-carrying ships that pass through the Bosporus annually.
The most pressing needs are for water treatment plants, wastewater treatment
facilities, solid waste management, and the conservation of biodiversity. The
release of pollutants by neighboring countries has critically contaminated the
Black Sea, and multinational cooperation has not adequately addressed the
problem. Air pollution has accelerated since rapid economic growth began in the
mid-1990s. The problem is especially acute in Istanbul, Ankara, Erzurum, and
Bursa, where the combustion of heating fuels increases particulate density in
winter. Especially in Istanbul, increased car ownership and the slow development
of public transportation cause frequent urban smog conditions. Mandatory use of
unleaded gas was scheduled to begin only in January 2006. Industrial air
pollution comes mainly from power plants and the metallurgy, cement, sugar, and
fertilizer industries, a large percentage of which lack filtration equipment.
Land degradation is a critical agricultural problem, caused by inappropriate use
of agricultural land, overgrazing, over-fertilization, and deforestation.
Serious soil erosion has occurred in more than half of Turkey’s land surface.
According to one estimate, Turkey loses 1 billion tons of topsoil annually.
Large areas of Turkey are prone to major earthquakes.
The establishment of the Ministry of
Environment in 1991 accelerated progress on some environmental problems such as
urban air pollution. In the early 2000s, prospective membership in the European
Union (EU) spurred the updating of some environmental legislation. However, in
2003 the merger of the Ministry of Environment with the Ministry of Forestry
reduced the influence of environmental officials in policy making, and
enforcement procedures (such as those regulating traffic through the Bosporus)
are considered weak. In general, private firms have responded more fully to
environmental regulation than state-owned enterprises, which still constitute a
large percentage of Turkey’s economy.
Time Zone of Turkey
Turkey’s time zone is two hours ahead of
Greenwich Mean Time.