Geography of Turkey

Learn about the European and Asian Nation of Turkey

Europe, Turkey, Istanbul, View of financial district at Levent
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Population: 77,804,122 (July 2010 estimate)
Capital: Ankara
Bordering Countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Iraq and Syria
Land Area: 302,535 square miles (783,562 sq km)
Coastline: 4,474 miles (7,200 km)
Highest Point: Mount Ararat at 16,949 feet (5,166 m)

Turkey, officially called the Republic of Turkey, is located in Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia along the Black, Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.

It is bordered by eight countries and also has a large economy and army. As such, Turkey is considered a rising regional and world power and negotiations for it to join the European Union began in 2005.

History of Turkey

Turkey is known as having a long history with ancient cultural practices. In fact, the Anatolian peninsula (on which most of modern Turkey sits), is considered one of the oldest inhabited areas in the world. Around 1200 B.C.E, the Anatolian coast was settled by various Greek peoples and the important cities of Miletus, Ephesus, Smyrna and Byzantium (which later became Istanbul) were founded. Byzantium later became the capital of the Roman and Byzantine Empires.

The modern history of Turkey began in the early 20th century after Mustafa Kemal (later known as Ataturk) pushed for the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and a war for independence.

According to the U.S. Department of State, the Ottoman Empire lasted for 600 years but collapsed during World War I after it participated in the war as an ally of Germany and it became fragmented after the formation of nationalist groups.

After it became a republic, Turkish leaders began working to modernize the area and bring together the various fragments that had formed during the war.

Ataturk pushed for various, political, social and economic reforms from 1924 to 1934. In 1960 a military coup took place and many of these reforms ended, which still cause debates in Turkey today.

On February 23, 1945, Turkey joined World War II as a member of the Allies and shortly thereafter became a charter member of the United Nations. In 1947 the United States declared the Truman Doctrine after the Soviet Union demanded that they be able to set up military bases in the Turkish Straits after communist rebellions began in Greece. The Truman Doctrine began a period of U.S. military and economic aid for both Turkey and Greece.

In 1952, Turkey joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and in 1974 it invaded the Republic of Cyprus which led to the formation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Only Turkey recognizes this republic.

In 1984, after the beginning of governmental transitions, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), considered a terrorist group in Turkey by several international organizations, began acting against Turkey's government and led to the deaths of thousands of people. The group continues to act in Turkey today.

Since the late 1980s however, Turkey has seen an improvement in its economy and political stability.

It is also on track to joining the European Union and it is growing as a powerful country.

Government of Turkey

Today the government of Turkey is considered a republican parliamentary democracy. It has an executive branch that is made up a chief of state and a head of government (these positions are filled by the president and prime minister, respectively) and a legislative branch that consists of the unicameral Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Turkey also has a judicial branch which is comprised of the Constitutional Court, High Court of Appeals, Council of State, Court of Accounts, Military High Court of Appeals and the Military High Administrative Court. Turkey is divided into 81 provinces.

Economics and Land Use in Turkey

Turkey's economy is currently growing and it is a large mix of modern industry and traditional agriculture.

According to the CIA World Factbook, agriculture consists of about 30% of the country's employment. The main agricultural products from Turkey are tobacco, cotton, grain, olives, sugar beets, hazelnuts, pulse, citrus and livestock. Turkey's main industries are textiles, food processing, autos, electronics, mining, steel, petroleum, construction, lumber and paper. Mining in Turkey consists mainly of coal, chromate, copper and boron.

Geography and Climate of Turkey

Turkey is located on the Black, Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. The Turkish Straits (which are made up of the Sea of Marmara, the Strait of Bosphorus and the Dardanelles) form the boundary between Europe and Asia. As a result, Turkey is considered to be in both Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia. The country has a varied topography that is made up of a high central plateau, a narrow coastal plain and several large mountain ranges. The highest point in Turkey is Mount Ararat which is a dormant volcano located on its eastern border. The elevation of Mount Ararat is 16,949 feet (5,166 m).

The climate of Turkey is temperate and it has high, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The more inland one gets however, the harsher the climate becomes. Turkey's capital, Ankara, is located inland and has an average August high temperature of 83˚F (28˚C) and January average low of 20˚F (-6˚C).

To learn more about Turkey, visit the Geography and Maps section on Turkey on this website.


Central Intelligence Agency. (27 October 2010).

CIA - The World Factbook - Turkey. Retrieved from: (n.d.). Turkey: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Retrieved from:

United States Department of State. (10 March 2010). Turkey. Retrieved from: (31 October 2010). Turkey - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: