Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country between West Asia and Southeast Europe. It borders Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest; the Black Sea in the north; Georgia in the northeast; Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran in the east; Iraq in the Southeast; Syria and the Mediterranean in the south; and the Aegean to the west. Turks make up the vast majority of the country’s population and Kurds are the largest minority. Its capital is Ankara while its largest city and financial center is Istanbul.
Here are some of the most interesting facts about Turkey:
The place known as Troy from the legendary Trojan Wars is located in Western Turkey.
Turkey has the third highest number of Facebook users in the world, with 14 million users, after the U.S. and U.K.
The oldest recognized human settlement is in Catalhoyuk, which is in Central Turkey.
Jelly beans began as an American version of the “Turkish Delight” (lokum) confection.
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.
While nearly all of the Turkish population is Muslim, Turkey is not officially a Muslim country. Turkey has officially been a secular nation since 1927.
Saint Nicholas, who is popularly known as Santa Claus, was born in Turkey.
Turkey is the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world and had 35 million foreign visitors in 2013 alone.
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.
There are at least 150 archaeological digs going on in Turkey each year.
The first Neolithic paintings found on man-made walls were discovered in Catalhoyuk.
Istanbul is the world’s only city spanning two continents. Three percent is in Europe and 97% in Asia. The part that lies in Asia is called Anatolia (Turkish: Anadolu).
he world’s oldest shipwreck was found in Kas. It is currently being displayed in the Submarine Archaeology Museum.
One way of protecting a newborn baby in Turkey is by “salting,” which is a custom where the baby’s body is rubbed all over with salt in the belief that will give the child strength to resist harmful influences.
The world’s most precious silk carpet is stored in the Mevlana Museum, which is located in Konya.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is the father of the modern Turkish nation.
The first ever coins known to man were discovered in Sfard during the seventh century, B.C.
The Turks invented parchment—paper made out of calfskin—when the Egyptians stopped exporting papyrus to Pergamum, Turkey, because they were afraid that Pergamum’s library would become larger than the library at Alexandria, the world’s largest at the time.
Istanbul was formerly known as Constantinople. It was the Roman Empire’s capital.
Tulips were introduced to Europe through Dutch traders by the Turks in the 17th century. The word “tulip” comes from the Turkish word for turban, tülbent.
The first ever university known to man is located in Harran.
The fez is a traditional, short, conical, red felt cap worn by Turkish men, but they are almost never worn today. They were banned by the government in 1925.
Istanbul was the capital of three empires for 2,000 years: the Roman, Ottoman and Byzantine Empires.
Turkey is the largest grower of hazelnuts in the world; it is responsible for 80% of the world’s hazelnut exports.
The first man-made Christian Church was discovered in Antioch.
The most common last names in Turkey are Yılmaz (never gives up, undaunted), Kaya (rock), Demir (iron), Şahin (falcon or hawk), and Çelik (steel).
Historical figures such as Homer, Aesop, and St. Paul the Apostle were all born in Turkey.
Most Turks did not have surnames until a law was passed requiring it in 1934.
Carpets are very important in Turkish culture. Seen as religious symbols, they are used in mosques.
More journalists are imprisoned in Turkey than any other country in the world.
Turkish food is deliciously scrumptious. They are most famous for their kebabs and seafood.
The Asklepion at Pergamum, Turkey, has been called one of the world’s first full-service health clinics.
In Turkey, you will find a dessert made out of chicken. It is called Tavukgogsu.
Turkey’s Istanbul Tünel is the world’s second oldest underground railway, after the London Underground, and the oldest on the European continent. It began operating in 1975.
The most famous coffee in Europe is made in Turkey.
One of the world’s earliest civilizations, the Hittites, flourished in Turkey around 1600 B.C. They were among the first people to work iron and use a system of writing.
There are more than ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites found in Turkey.
Turkey has 82,693 mosques, more than any other country per capita in the world.
Seven churches mentioned by John in his revelations are located in Turkey. These are Ephesus, Pergamum, Smyrna, Sardis, Thyatira, Laodicea and Philadelphia.
The cherry tree was first introduced to Rome, and then to Europe, from Giresun in northern Turkey in 69 B.C. It is thought to be one of the earliest domesticated plants, around 10,000 years ago.
It is common in Turkey to kiss an elderly individual’s hand as a sign of respect.
The oldest known shipwreck on earth was found and examined in Uluburun in the Mediterranean region of Turkey, about 6 miles SE of Kaş. It was dated to be at least 3,300 years old.
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.
Turkish Delight, or lokum, is one of the oldest sweets in world history, dating back 500 years.
They were one of the first countries that allowed women to vote.
The Turkish baths, or hammam, was an export of the Roman Empire to Turkey in the 7th century, derived in part from Greek, Roman, and Byzantine bathing, or purification, traditions. Turkish bath attendants are called tellaks, or scrubbers.
Julius Caesar’s famous saying, “I came, I saw, I conquered,” was spoken in the Black Sea in Turkey.
The Turkish Mediterranean resort city of Antalya holds the world record for having the highest number of “Blue Flag” certified beaches in the world, awarded for highest water quality, beach cleanliness, and highest environmental standards.
The first ever Church solely dedicated to Mother Mary is found in Ephesus.
Most Turks drink 10 or more cups of tea per day, and the country has the highest per-capita consumption of tea in the world at nearly 7 lbs. per person per year.
Istanbul is the last stop for the infamous Simplon Orient Express. It is called the “king of trains and train of kings.”