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Geography of Turkey


Description of Seven Geographical Regions of Turkey

Turkey is a unique country offering the present together with the past. An introduction to the country's location will help you understand its treasures much better. Greece and Bulgaria border on the European side; Georgia, Armenia, Nakhitchevan, Azerbalijan, Iran, Iraq and Syria border on the Asian. There rest the seas surround Turkey on three sides: The Black Sea, the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea. You may start to see these beauties from one of the 7 geographical regions. The Marmara Region divides the country into two parts; Europe and Asia. The land of "Anatolia" on the Asian side, the land in "Thrace" on the European. The Marmara Sea and Black Sea meet by The Bosphorus. Istanbul, that is set on two continents is here. In the west, the Aegean Region which offers lovely beaches. Black Sea Region forms a green world. The Mediterranean Region, on the other hand, provides a classical summer holiday: sun, sea, and sand, at the same time it offers skiing at Saklikent. Another region with different natural characteristics is Eastern Anatolia. Mount Ararat, Lake Van, rivers Euphrates and Tigris, some inactive volcanoes exist here. The smallest region Southeastern Anatolia offers different leisure activities. In the middle, Central Anatolia exists. Central Anatolia, with its world famous Cappadocia, is a strategically important center, with Ankara, the capital of Turkey. It is also a historical center dating back to times Palaeolithic and Neolithic ages.

Agri Afyonkarahisar Ankara Aksaray Amasya Antalya Artvin Aydin Kars Adana Balikesir Batman Bilecik Bingol Bitlis Bolu Burdur Bursa Adiyaman Canakkale Cankiri Corum Diyarbakir Denizli Edirne Istanbul Izmir Nevsehir Konya Karaman Sivas Urfa Kirsehir Erzurum Trabzon Van Mardin Sinop Kastamonu Kayseri Manisa Kutahya Ordu Nigde Mugla Mersin Antakya Erzincan Hakkari Maras Elazig Malatya Gaziantep Rize Kirikkale Giresun Mus Zonguldak Yozgat Tokat

Location of Turkey

Thrace, the westernmost, European segment of Turkey, forms the south-easternmost extremity of Europe, east of Bulgaria and Greece. Some 8 percent of Turkey’s territory is in Thrace. Anatolia, which comprises the bulk of Turkish territory, is a peninsula in western Asia situated between the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Thrace and Anatolia are separated by the Sea of Marmara and the strategic Dardanelles and Bosporus straits.

Size of Turkey

The total area of Turkey is 780,580 square kilometers, including 9,820 square kilometers of water.

Land Boundaries

The land boundaries of Turkey are as follows: with Syria, 822 kilometers; with Iran, 499 kilometers; with Iraq, 352 kilometers; with Armenia, 268 kilometers; with Georgia, 252 kilometers; with Bulgaria, 240 kilometers; with Greece, 206 kilometers; and with Azerbaijan, 9 kilometers.

Disputed Territory

Turkey has ongoing airspace disputes with Greece in the Aegean Sea region that lies between the two countries, and the division of Cyprus remains an unresolved issue between the two countries. Syria and Iraq have protested Turkey’s confiscation of the headwaters of the Euphrates River, which flow from Turkey into those two countries. Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in support of Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; the border has remained closed since that time, but in 2005 talks between Armenia and Turkey aimed at restoring normal traffic.

Length of Coastline

Turkey has 7,200 kilometers of coastline on the Mediterranean Sea, Aegean Sea, Black Sea, and Sea of Marmara.

Maritime Claims

Turkey claims coastline sovereignty extending six nautical miles in the Aegean Sea and 12 nautical miles in the Black and Mediterranean seas. Turkey has a complex set of maritime disputes with Greece in the Aegean Sea.

Topography of Turkey

Turkey’s extremities are divided into the Black Sea coastline region, the Aegean coastline region, the Mediterranean coastline region, and the Arabian Platform along the Syrian border in the south. The interior is divided into the North Anatolian (Pontus) mountain range, which lines most of the Black Sea coastline; the Taurus mountain range, which extends from the Mediterranean coast north of Cyprus to east-central Anatolia; the Anatolian Plateau, which dominates the interior of western Anatolia; and the eastern highlands, which dominate far eastern Anatolia, east of the North Anatolian and Taurus chains.

The Black Sea region features rocky coastlines cut by rivers flowing from gorges in the North Anatolian Mountains. The European and Asian parts of the Aegean region are mainly rolling terrain favorable for agriculture. The narrow Mediterranean coastal region is flat farmland, separated from Anatolia by the Taurus Mountains and opening into wide plains at some points. The Arabian Platform is a region of rolling hills along the Syrian border.

The North Anatolian Mountains are lower in the west but rise to more than 3,000 meters in their eastern reaches. The Taurus Mountains are more rugged than the North Anatolian, but they have fewer rivers and thus form a more complete barrier between the sea and the interior. The Anatolian Plateau extends from the Aegean coastal region between the two major mountain ranges to form the semiarid heartland of Turkey. Elevation is between 600 and 1,200 meters, with several major basins. The eastern highlands are formed by the convergence of the Taurus and North Anatolian ranges. Mountains here are more rugged than elsewhere in Turkey; the highest mountain, Mt. Ararat, is 5,166 meters high. Turkey’s largest lake, Lake Van, is in the eastern highlands.

Principal Rivers in Turkey

Turkey's longest rivers, the Kızılırmak, Sakarya, and Yeşilırmak, flow northward from the interior of the country into the Black Sea. The Dicle (Tigris) and Firat (Euphrates) originate in the eastern mountains and flow southward across the Arabian Platform into Syria and Iraq. The Büyük Menderes and Gediz are the major rivers flowing from the Anatolian Plateau westward into the Aegean Sea. The Meric (known in Greece as the Evros and in Bulgaria as the Maritsa) forms the border between Greece and Turkish Thrace before flowing into the northern Aegean. The Seyhan flows south from the Eastern Highlands into the Mediterranean Sea.

Principal Lakes in Turkey

Leke Van, Salt Lake, Seydisehir, Beysehir,

Climate of Turkey

The Aegean and Mediterranean coastal regions have cool, rainy winters and hot, moderately dry summers, with annual precipitation ranging from 580 to 1,300 mm. The Black Sea coastal region, whose temperature range is cooler than the other coastal regions, has the heaviest rainfall in Turkey, averaging 1,400 mm. per year. Because it is blocked from the sea by Turkey’s mountain ranges, the Anatolian Plateau has a severely continental climate, with extreme cold in the winter (reaching –40º C) and extreme heat in summer. Rainfall there is very sparse in summer, but snowfall in winter is heavy. Annual precipitation averages 400 millimeters. The eastern highlands have hot, dry summers and very cold winters with heavy snowfall.

Natural Resources of Turkey

Turkey has abundant arable land; its water resources are greater than those elsewhere in the Middle East but generally less than those in European countries. Rivers offer hydroelectric power generation and irrigation. Known oil and natural gas deposits are small, but relatively large amounts of coal are present. Other significant mineral resources are boron and chromium. Long coastlines with a temperate climate support commerce, tourism, and fishing.

Land Use

Some 31 percent of Turkey’s land is rated as arable, and another 11.5 percent is used as pasture. About 11 percent of the arable land (3.3 percent of the total) is planted to permanent crops, and 18 percent of the arable land is irrigated.

Environmental Factors

Turkey’s main environmental problems are water pollution from the dumping of chemicals and detergents; air pollution, particularly in urban areas; deforestation; and the potential for spills from the 5,000 oil- and gas-carrying ships that pass through the Bosporus annually. The most pressing needs are for water treatment plants, wastewater treatment facilities, solid waste management, and the conservation of biodiversity. The release of pollutants by neighboring countries has critically contaminated the Black Sea, and multinational cooperation has not adequately addressed the problem. Air pollution has accelerated since rapid economic growth began in the mid-1990s. The problem is especially acute in Istanbul, Ankara, Erzurum, and Bursa, where the combustion of heating fuels increases particulate density in winter. Especially in Istanbul, increased car ownership and the slow development of public transportation cause frequent urban smog conditions. Mandatory use of unleaded gas was scheduled to begin only in January 2006. Industrial air pollution comes mainly from power plants and the metallurgy, cement, sugar, and fertilizer industries, a large percentage of which lack filtration equipment. Land degradation is a critical agricultural problem, caused by inappropriate use of agricultural land, overgrazing, over-fertilization, and deforestation. Serious soil erosion has occurred in more than half of Turkey’s land surface. According to one estimate, Turkey loses 1 billion tons of topsoil annually. Large areas of Turkey are prone to major earthquakes.

The establishment of the Ministry of Environment in 1991 accelerated progress on some environmental problems such as urban air pollution. In the early 2000s, prospective membership in the European Union (EU) spurred the updating of some environmental legislation. However, in 2003 the merger of the Ministry of Environment with the Ministry of Forestry reduced the influence of environmental officials in policy making, and enforcement procedures (such as those regulating traffic through the Bosporus) are considered weak. In general, private firms have responded more fully to environmental regulation than state-owned enterprises, which still constitute a large percentage of Turkey’s economy.

Time Zone of Turkey

Turkey’s time zone is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.









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Last modified: 2023-10-28


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