Introducing this year’s feature country TURKEY!
Turkey is a nation straddling eastern Europe and western Asia with cultural connections to ancient Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Turkey is bordered by eight countries: Bulgaria to the northwest; Greece to the west; Georgia to the northeast; Armenia, Iran and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the south. The Mediterranean Sea is to the south; the Aegean Sea to the west; and the Black Sea to the north. The Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles (which together form the Turkish Straits) demarcate the boundary between Thrace and Anatolia; they also separate Europe and Asia. Turkey’s location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia makes it a country of significant importance.
Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the country’s second largest city (Istanbul being the largest). The city has a population of 14.5 million. The entire country counts 74 million people.
In Turkey you can find sheer diversity between its Aegean beaches and eastern mountains: In Cappadocia and the southwestern coasts you can enjoy mix trekking, horse-riding and water sports. Turkey’s beaches are one of the most popular vacation destinations in Eastern Europe!
Cosmopolitan Istanbul, on the Bosphorus Strait, is home to the iconic Hagia Sophia, with its soaring dome and Christian mosaics, the massive 17th-century Blue Mosque and the circa-1460 Topkapı Palace, former home of sultans. It is the largest city in Turkey, constituting the country’s economic, cultural, and historical heart.
The city is also known for an endless supply of hospitality, good-humour and insightful conversations with their locals, who have an infectious love of life and generosity of spirit. The vibrant, inclusive and expanding community is full of people who work and party hard, treasure family and friendships, and have no problem melding tradition and modernity in their everyday lives. If you ever get the chance to be part of their everyday life, join them in their favourite haunts: çay bahcesis (tea gardens), kahvehanı (coffeehouses), meyhanes (Turkish taverns) and kebapçıs (kebap restaurants)!
Turkey’s delicious specialties will take you right to the heart of Turkish culture: For the sociable and family-orientated Turks, getting together and eating well is a time-honoured ritual. Enjoy olive oil–lathered Aegean vegetables, spicy Anatolian kebaps and dishes from Turkey’s many other corners. Enjoy a glass of çay and some baklava for dessert – and always remember that eating in Turkey is said to deepen your understanding of the country.