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General Information about Turkey

Bridging the East and the West, Turkey is the crossroads where Asia meets Europe.

The country is surrounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Aegean to the west and the Mediterranean to the south. Two straits (the Bosphorus and the Dardanelle) form gates to the inner Marmara Sea, dividing Thrace - the European part, and Anatolia - the Asian part of the country.

The landscape presents an astonishing variety, from large plains to high mountains stretching east to west. Nature mingles with history at every step, bearing the heritage of several civilizations. Since the first settlements of 6500 B.C. on this land, legend has always embellished reality, leading us, from the path to Noah's Ark on Mountain Ararat in Eastern Turkey or the dramatically beautiful rock churches of the first Christians hiding in Cappadocia, to Ephesus or Aspendos, miraculously preserved monuments to the Hellenistic-Roman civilizations.

In 1923, Turkey became a republic under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Today the Turkish State is a parliamentary democratic country employing a self-governing system. The capital is Ankara, in the heart of the country. The legislative power is vested in the TBMM (Turkish Grand National Assembly) and the executive power is used by the President as the Head of the State, together with the Council of Ministers and the Prime Minister.

The visitor today will discover every amenity of a modern western country, from efficient taxis to an extensive internal flight system. Today's Turkey, open to the world, follows a liberal policy in economy just as in its political structure.

Agriculture plays an important role in the economy of Turkey, which has signed a Customs Union Agreement with the European Union. Turkey is self-sufficient in food production and produces enough surplus for export as well. Leading industries include the processing of agricultural products, metallurgy, textiles and the manufacturing of automobiles and agricultural machinery. With the increased development of summer and winter resorts, Turkey is becoming a major European tourist destination. The tourism industry earns an average annual income of more than $7 billion U.S. for the Turkish economy, and this amount is increasing yearly.

The population is 99% Moslem. Turkey is a secular state and recognizes freedom of worship. It is the only country in the world in which mosques, churches and synagogues have coexisted peacefully for centuries.

Turkey, known as " the cradle of civilization,'' hosted the first human settlement on its soil, which has been dated as 12,000 years old. Turkey is also the home of ancient cultures, including the Hattis, Hittites, Phrygians, Urartians, Lycians, lydians, Ionians, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantine's, Seljuks and Ottomans. Following the decline of Ottoman Empire, the modern Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal, known as Ataturk, an army general and World War I hero. Ataturk is revered in Turkey and is cited as one if the world's greatest statesmen.

Soccer, basketball and wrestling are Turkey's most popular spectator sports. A water sports haven, yachting, snorkeling, diving, fishing and windsurfing are also extremely popular. Turkey also offers downhill skiing, trekking and mountain biking.