Facts About Turkey
1. Turkey sits in two continents, Europe and Asia, with 97% of its land on the Asian side. The Eurasia Tunnel in Istanbul connects both continents with a 5-minute ride.
2. The seeds of agriculture were first sown in Turkey. Historians believe it began some 11,000 years ago with crops like wheat and barley being among those first domesticated. Today, the country is the world’s 10 th -biggest grain producer.
3. In Turkey, a new type of plant is discovered on average every 10 days. The country’s 10,000 plant and 80,000 animal species help rank the country among the world’s 35 biodiversity hotspots. Nearly 1/3 of the plant species found in Turkey are endemic, meaning they grow only in that country and nowhere else. It is also home to 5 unique mammal species, 13 reptile species, and 52 freshwater fish species not found anywhere else on Earth.
4. Despite the association of tulips with The Netherlands, it is known that the Ottomans popularized the flower and helped introduce them to Europe. The word “tulip” comes from the Turkish word for turban, “tülbent.” Other commodities brought to Europe from Turkey include coffee and cherries.
5. Up to 98% of the population is Muslim. Followers of Islam pray 5 times a day while facing Mecca. The prayer ritual is performed on a rug or mat and traditional, hand-made rugs have intentional flaws woven into them. This is because the Muslim artists feel that only Allah (God) is perfect and has the right to create perfection.
6. The highest mountain peak in Turkey is Mount Ararat at 16,854 feet. To give that some perspective, the highest peak in Colorado is Mount Elbert at 14,439 feet.
7. Santa Claus, also known as St. Nicholas, was born in Patara, Turkey in the 3rd century A.D. Additional historical figures born in the country include Aesop, Homer, King Midas, and Herodotus, the father of history. Another Turk, Hezârfen Ahmet Çelebi, was the first man to fly a significant distance, using artificial wings to cross the Bosporous Straits in the 17th century – making the world’s first intercontinental flight 270 years before the Wright Brothers.
8. According to Turkish tradition, all major life events begin with eating sweets. A baby is welcomed at birth with halva (a dense, sweet confection), and it is also made again for a funeral. When a woman gives birth, she is given sweet fruit drinks.
9. The Turkish Mediterranean resort city of Antalya holds the world record for having the highest number of “Blue Flat” certified beaches in the world, awarded for highest water quality, beach cleanliness, and highest environmental standards. The word “turquoise” comes from turc, meaning “Turkish” and was derived from the beautiful color of the Mediterranean Sea on the southern coast.
10. 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 7lbs per person per year. 96% of the population drinks tea every day. The country ranks in the top 5 tea producers in the world. Tea in Turkey is called çay, which is pronounced “chai.”
11. Equality for women has been taken seriously in Turkey for almost 4,000 years with institutional equality among the sexes. It is also among the first countries in the world to give women the right to vote – even before the United States and the majority of European countries.