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Flag of TurkeyThe Republic of Turkey is located in South Eastern Europe (the area west of the Bosporus) and South Western Asia. Turkey is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, the Aegean Sea, Greece, Bulgaria, the Black Sea, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

Ankara is the capital city. Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city and largest port. Other cities include Adana, Bursa and Izmir.

Turkey can be divided into seven geographical regions: the Mediterranean Region, Aegean Region, Marmara Region, Black Sea Region, Central Anatolia Region, Eastern Anatolia Region and the South Eastern Anatolia Region.

The terrain is mountainous with a central plateau and a narrow coastal plain. Rivers include the Euphrates, Kizilirmak, Sakarya, Tigris and Yesilirmak.

Turkey’s weather varies according to region but is generally hot and dry in the summer and cold in the winters.

Turkey’s environment is very diverse consisting of mountains, valleys, plains, beaches, rivers and lakes; just over a quarter of the country is covered with forests and woodlands.

There are over twenty National Parks and a number of Nature Reserves. The Society for the Protection of Nature, an independent organisation, is concerned with conserving Turkey’s coasts and marine life, freshwater systems, wetlands and forests. Nine sites in Turkey are on the Ramsar list of Wetlands of International Importance.

Birds found in the conservation areas include cranes, ducks, geese, gulls, herons and flamingoes. Wild animals living in Turkey are boar, deer, wild goats, mouflon (wild sheep), wolves and wildcats.

Turkey has a very rich architectural heritage. Among its monuments are examples of Greek (333-30 BC), Roman (30 BC-395 AD), Byzantine (330-1453 AD) and Ottoman (1299-1923) architecture.

Ephesus is Turkey’s best preserved classical city. It is the site of the Ancient Greek Temple of Artemis, one of the Wonders of the Ancient World.

World Heritage sites include the archaeological site of Troy; Hattusha, the former capital of the Hittite Empire; Xanthos-Letoon, the capital of Lycia; Nemrut Dag, the mausoleum of Antiochus I (69-34 BC); the rock sanctuaries of Cappadocia; historic areas of Istanbul; the thirteenth century Great Mosque and the Hospital of Divrigi, and the City of Safranbolu.

With the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire made Constantinople (Istanbul) its capital (1453). The Ottomans converted many of the Christian churches into mosques, including the church of St Sophia (Hagia Sophia) built by the Emperor Constantine.

Chinli Kiosk in Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace, built in 1473, was a great influence on Ottoman architecture. Ottoman architects designed baths, libraries, mansions, mosques, palaces, schools, aqueducts and bridges. Mimar Sinan, the Chief Architect to the Sultans (1538-1588) designed over three hundred and thirty buildings. Sinan designed the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul.

The Ottomans were also responsible for many mosques and buildings throughout their Empire in Africa, Asia and Europe.

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