Did you know?  Interesting and little-known facts about Turkey

Modern Turkey

Turkey is the only secular Muslim country among all the Muslim countries in the world.

In 1923 the democratic Republic of Turkey was established under the leadership of Kemal Atatürk.

Turkey is a young country in more ways than one: over two-thirds of the Turkish population is under age thirty.

Turkey is physically one of the highest countries in the world, the average height is 6,000 feet.

Turkey is one of the few agriculturally self-sufficient countries in the world.

More than two-thirds of Turkey’s borders are coastline, these stretch for fully 6,000 km (3,730 miles) along the Aegean, eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea.

Turkey is one of the riches countries in species of flowers due to its varied landscape and climate.  There are approximately 9,000 species of which 3,000 are native.  In Europe there are only 11,500 species.

Turkish History

The Turkish people trace their ethnic origins to a group of Ural-Altaic tribes who were located in the 2nd c. BC in what is today Mongolia.

Esperanto is based on the structure of the Turkish language.

The majority of Turks were converted to Islam in the 9th c. AD.

The Ottoman Navy brought the Jewish people who were expelled from Spain to safety in the Ottoman lands in 1492.

Tulips are not native to Holland.  They were actually introduced from Anatolia in the 16th c.

Christian History in Turkey

St. Paul was born in Tarsus (located in southern Turkey).  His missionary journeys signalled the arrival of Christianity in Asia Minor from 47 AD.

Christianity first bloomed in Anatolia with the first church of Christianity dedicated to St. Peter in Antioch.

Early Christians fleeing from Roman persecution found refuge in Cappadocia’s underground cities.

Anatolia became the heartland of the eastern realm of the Roman (Byzantine) Empire.

The Greek Orthodox church is still located in Istanbul.

The Garden of Eden was said to be watered by a river which separated into four streams as it left the garden.   Two of them, the Tigris and the Euphrates, are found in the mountains of eastern Turkey.

Mount Ararat, the highest mountain in Turkey, is believed to be the place where Noah’s Ark landed.

The Seven Churches of the Apocalypse were all located in Anatolia –  Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

St. Nicholas – today’s Santa Claus, was born in Patara (next to Kalkan) and lived as the bishop of Myra in Demre (also near Kalkan).

Followers of Jesus were first called “Christians” in today’s Antakya.

All Ecumenical Councils were held in western Anatolia.

Over one hundred Christian churches of many different sects are found in the city of Istanbul.

Ancient History in Turkey

“Anatolia” means “east” in Greek.  In the Turkish language it means “the land full of mothers”.

The oldest known shipwreck was excavated near Kaş (a coastal town next to Kalkan).

King Midas, son of Gordius, the last and the most famous of the Phrygian kings, ruled over the whole of Asia Minor in the 6th century BC.

Many city names originated in Anatolia such as Philadelphia, Paris, Antioch, Troy and the continental name “Europe”.

Alexander the Great embarked on a campaign against the Persians in 334 BC crossing the Dardanelles, occupying Gordium (this is where the fabled cutting of the Gordian knot took place) and defeating Darius the Third.

Two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World stood in Anatolia –  the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.

The words “Veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered)” were said by Julius Caesar when he went to Anatolia in 47 BC.

The Lycian federal system of government with proportional representation was used as a model by the authors of the United States constitution.