Facts About Turkey Country | Turkey Country Facts (2023)

You probably didn't know Turkey's real name, you might have been confused about which city is the capital, and you may have thought tulips came from the Netherlands. It turns out, you were quite possibly wrong.

There is a lot more to Turkey Dropdown content than meets the eye — between the beaches and bustling markets lies a wealth of interesting history filled with religious and literary figures, civil war and a multitude of languages. After reading these 15 fun facts about Turkey you probably never knew, discover things not to miss in Turkey Dropdown content.

Interesting history facts about Turkey

1. The first ever Christian church was located in Antioch, Turkey

The Grotto of St Peter outside Antioch (now known as Antakya) is believed to have been created by Jesus' disciple Simon Peter. This makes it the oldest place of Christian worship in the world. You can still visit the church and see the traces of ancient decoration today.

If you're looking for more churches in Turkey, head to the southeast of the country. Diyarbakır Dropdown content and its surrounding area are peppered with fine religious monuments, such as St. Mary Church.

Facts About Turkey Country | Turkey Country Facts (1)

St Peter's Church in Antakya, Turkey © Etka/Shutterstock

2. Santa Claus was born in Patara, Turkey

St Nicholas – the historical figure behind the man we know as Santa Claus – was born in Patara Dropdown content, Turkey in around 300 AD. A holy man, people believe he performed many miracles in his lifetime, including saving sailors from sinking ships.

Not only did tales of his generosity become the basis for Santa Claus, but St Nicholas also became one of the patron saints of sailors. The name Santa Claus comes from the dutch 'Sinter Klaas', a shortened version of Sint Nikolaas.

Think about taking a local guide with you to learn more about the history of the ruins here. Funnily enough, even though Santa Claus isn't linked to beaches, Patara is a coastal beach town with 16 kilometres of sand. You can visit Patara Beach from Antalya Dropdown content. Oh, and if it's beaches you're after, be inspired by the best beaches in Turkey Dropdown content.

Even with Santa Claus's origins in Turkey, the country doesn't traditionally celebrate Christmas as it's a predominantly Muslim country. Turkey enjoys a wealth of its own religious festivals Dropdown content, the most important one being Ramadan.

(Video) 101 Facts About Turkey

Facts About Turkey Country | Turkey Country Facts (2)

Ruins of the ancient Lycian city in Patara © Fotopanorama360/Shutterstock

3. The country's official name is actually the Republic of Turkey.

The country now known as the Republic of Turkey was part of the Ottoman Empire until the empire broke up in the aftermath of the First World War. The Turkish War of Independence followed, and then in 1923 came the Republic with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as the first President.

If you want to learn more about Turkey's fascinating history, head to the Topkapi Palace Dropdown content in Istanbul Dropdown content. It stands as a great symbol of the Ottoman Empire. The palace complex is open everyday apart from Tuesday.

4. Leonardo da Vinci once designed a bridge across the Golden Horn

In 1503, Leonardo da Vinci submitted plans for a bridge across the Golden Horn – the inlet of the Bosphorus that divides the city of Istanbul Dropdown content(then known as Constantinople). The bridge was never built, although Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced several years ago that a volunteer project was underway to finally realise Da Vinci's plans.

Learn more about Istanbul with the Pocket Rough Guide Istanbul Dropdown content.

5. Turkey is the birthplace of important historical figures including Aesop, Herodotus and St. Paul the Apostle

Paul the Apostle (originally known as Saul) was born in Tarsus in southern Turkey. Many people believe Aesop, the famed Greek storyteller grew up in Thrace Dropdown content along the Black Sea Dropdown content (now Nesebar). The Greek historian Herodotus was born in what is now Bodrum, a city on the coast.

Facts About Turkey Country | Turkey Country Facts (3)

(Video) 10+ Incredible Facts About Turkey

Aerial view of Bodrum on the Turkish Riviera © Monticello/Shutterstock

Interesting culture facts about Turkey

6. Holland has Turkey to thank for Tulipomania

Tulips were first cultivated in the Ottoman Empire. The seeds of Holland's love for tulips were sown when the Dutch ambassador to the 16th-century court of Süleyman the Magnificent of Turkey returned to Amsterdam Dropdown content with a clutch of tulip bulbs.

In April there is a week-long festival in Istanbul Dropdown content which honours the national flower. There are concerts, arts events and competitions at different spots around the city.

7. Turkey is responsible for 75% of the world’s hazelnut exports

Most of the world's hazelnuts grow in the Mediterranean basin, in Turkey Dropdown content, Greece Dropdown content, Italy Dropdown content and Spain Dropdown content. Italy is the next largest producer, accounting for almost 20% of the world's supply. Nuts are commonly used in many Turkish desserts such as baklava.

If you enjoy Turkish food (who doesn't?) whet your appetite with our A–Z of Turkish cuisine Dropdown content.

Turkish delight with hazelnut © Inna Reznik/Shutterstock

8. There are over 30 languages spoken in Turkey

One of the most interesting facts about Turkey is how many languages are spoken there. Although the official language in the country is Turkish, there are over 30 minority languages spoken across the country, including Kurmanji (Northern Kurdish), Mesopotamian Arabic and Zazaki.

9. "Muvaffakiyetsizleştiricileştiriveremeyebileceklerimizdenmişsinizcesine" is the longest word in Turkish

It roughly translates to As though you are from those whom we may not be able to easily make into a maker of unsuccessful ones and has 70 letters. It's not in common usage, though — the word was especially derived for a story.

10. It's officially illegal to wear a Fez in Turkey

The name of the iconic red felt hat with its black tassel comes from Fez Dropdown content in Morocco Dropdown content. That's where the red dye to colour the hat originated. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk banned the fez in the 1920s as it was seen to symbolise the Ottoman Empire. Though law was never overturned, you're unlikely to be arrested for wearing one!

(Video) Everything You Need to know about Turkey

Find out more about culture and etiquette in Turkey Dropdown content.

Interesting geography facts about Turkey

11. Istanbul spans two continents – Europe and Asia

One of the most interesting facts about Istanbul is that it is a city divided in two by the mighty Bosphorus River. Istanbul's west bank lies on the European continent while the east bank is in Asia. You can walk between the two across the Galata bridge. Only 3% of Turkey is in Europe, the vast majority of the country is on the Asian continent.

If you're looking to enjoy a break in the city, check out these places to stay in Istanbul, as well as a suggestion for how to spend a day in Istanbul Dropdown content.

Facts About Turkey Country | Turkey Country Facts (5)

Ortaköy Mosque and the Bosphorus bridge © Muratart/Shutterstock

12. Turkey’s Tünel funicular is the oldest operational underground railway in Continental Europe

Opened in 1875, the Tünel connects the districts of Karaköy and Beyoğlu Dropdown content and is beaten in age only by the London Underground which opened in 1863. The tunnel is 600 metres uphill between the riverside at Beyoğlu (once known as Galata) and the well-heeled hilltop area Karaköy (once Pera) where many of the city's banks and embassies were located.

13. Turkey’s Black Sea coastline stretches for 1,175 km

That’s the same as the driving distance between London and Venice. Head to the eastern side Dropdown content of the Black Sea and visit Trabzon. It's romantic settings and medieval landmarks make it a highlight in the area. While on the western side Dropdown content you can find Sinop which is one the most beautiful parts of the Black Sea coastline.

If you're planning a coastal holiday in Turkey, discover more about the Black Sea coast Dropdown content, and the Turquoise Coast Dropdown content.

Thinking of enjoying a beach break with kids? Check-out our guide to travelling with children in Turkey Dropdown content.

Amasra town on the Black Sea coast, Turkey © Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock

14. Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar has 64 streets and 4,000 shops

One of the oldest (and largest) markets in the world, the Grand Bazaar welcomes up to 400,000 visitors a day. It's often described as one of the oldest shopping malls in existence. Consider taking a local guide with you to learn the art of haggling and avoid getting lost. The market is open Monday to Saturday 9am to 7pm.

Find out more about shopping in Turkey Dropdown content.

Facts About Turkey Country | Turkey Country Facts (7)

Mosaic Ottoman lamps hanging at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul © Berke/Shutterstock

15. Despite the appearance of camels at holiday resorts, the animals are not native to the country

There's no desert in Turkey, which means no native camels. Despite this, camel trains once crossed the country on the way to trading posts in Africa and Asia. Camel wrestling is also a popular sport in the Aegean region of Turkey.

Still undecided about visiting Turkey? Discover a whole lot of reasons to visit Turkey Dropdown content. The Rough Guide to Turkey Dropdown content is also packed with information that'll inspire and inform every step of your journey.

Starting to plan your trip? There are lots of ways of getting to Turkey Dropdown content. You canfly directly from the UKto Istanbul, Ankara Dropdown content, Izmir Dropdown content, Bodrum, Dalaman and Antalya Dropdown content. Reaching other destinations requires a change in Istanbul.

(Video) 10 Surprising Facts About Turkey

Compare flights Dropdown content, Dropdown contentbook hotels Dropdown content for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance Dropdown content before you go.

This article contains affiliate links.

Top image: Turkey's Cappadocia - the sultan cave from the mountain © Free Soul Searcher/Shutterstock

FAQs

Is a Turkey a boy or girl? ›

Wild Turkey Sex Determination

The easiest way to determine the turkey's sex is by examining the feathers on the breast and sides of the turkey. On males, these feathers have black tips. The feather tips are brown on females.

Who named Turkey? ›

When British settlers got off the Mayflower in Massachusetts Bay Colony and saw their first American woodland fowl, even though it is larger than the African Guinea fowl, they decided to call it by the name they already used for the African bird. Wild forest birds like that were called "turkeys" at home.

What is the old name of Turkey? ›

The name for the country Turkey is derived (via Old French Turquie) from the Medieval Latin Turchia, Turquia. It is first recorded in Middle English (as Turkye, Torke, later Turkie, Turky), attested in Chaucer, c. 1369.

What is the full name of Turkey? ›

Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye [ˈtyɾcije]), officially the Republic of Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye Cumhuriyeti [ˈtyɾcije dʒumˈhuːɾijeti] ( listen)), is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolian Peninsula in Western Asia, with a small portion on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe.

What was Turkey called 5000 years ago? ›

Neolithic Age (Late Stone Age) 8,500 – 5,000 BCE

Historians call ancient Turkey Anatolia. Anatolia likely was exposed to a variety of different early cultures and ideas as a result of these mass migrations. During this period, several settlements began to develop and thrive.

What is turkey famous animal? ›

The Official National Animal of Turkey. The gray wolf is the national animal of Turkey. In Turkey, gray wolves live mostly in the forests and mountainous areas. Sometimes called timber wolves, gray wolves can weigh up to 98 pounds.

What are the 5 types of turkeys? ›

The North American Wild Turkey has five subspecies: the Rio Grande, the Merriam's, the Osceola, the Eastern, and the Gould's.

How old is the oldest turkey? ›

The average lifespan of a wild turkey is three to five years, and the oldest known wild turkey lived about 13 years old.

What is Turkey's main language? ›

Turkish is the mother tongue of 90 percent of the population of the country. Some 70 other languages and dialects are also spoken, including various dialects of Caucasian and Kurdish as well as Arabic, Greek, Ladino and Armenian.

Did you know facts about Turkey country? ›

20 Fascinating Facts about Incredible Turkey
  • Istanbul is on two continents. ...
  • Ankara, not Istanbul, is the capital of Turkey. ...
  • The original name of Istanbul is "Byzantium" ...
  • The story of Santa Claus originated in Turkey. ...
  • The Turks love tea. ...
  • Turkey has a young demographic. ...
  • Istanbul (Old Constantinople) was founded on seven hills.
27 Oct 2020

How old is the country of Turkey? ›

The Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, replacing the dynastic and theocratic Ottoman system with its Sultanates and Caliphates. The new republic was based on a secular democratic, pluralist, and parliamentary system. In 1945 Turkey joined the UN and became a member of NATO in 1952.

Do turkeys have sperm? ›

In turkeys, the seminal fluid volume averages ~0.35–0.5 mL, with a spermatozoon concentration of 6 to >8 billion/mL. In chickens, the volume is 1–2 times more than that of turkeys, but the concentration is about one-half as that from turkeys. Collected semen is usually pooled and diluted with an extender before use.

What is turkey male name? ›

147 Turkish Baby Boy Names With Meanings
NAMESMEANING
AhmetAhmet are the principal transliterations of an Arabic given name, AhmedTurkish
AyazCool night breeze; a royal breezeArabic,Turkish
EymenMore fortunate, Lucky, Auspicious, BlessedTurkish
MehmetPraiseworthy rulerArabic,Cyprus,Turkish
87 more rows

What is a turkey girl? ›

Adult female turkeys are called hens. Juvenile females are called jennies. Adult females average half the size of male turkeys.

Is Turkey a food? ›

It is a popular poultry dish, especially in North America, where it is traditionally consumed as part of culturally significant events such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as in standard cuisine.

What was Turkey called in 1914? ›

The Ottoman Empire came into World War I as one of the Central Powers. The Ottoman Empire entered the war by carrying out a surprise attack on Russia's Black Sea coast on 29 October 1914, with Russia responding by declaring war on 5 November 1914.

What is Turkey famous for? ›

Turkey is famous for a diverse set of both oriental and European elements — from the traditional Turkish tea to the majestic Hagia Sophia. It's also famous for its carpets, hammam and bazaars, destinations like Istanbul and Cappadocia, and sweet treats like Turkish delights and baklava.

Who found Turkey? ›

The history of modern Turkey begins with the foundation of the republic on 29 October 1923, with Atatürk as its first president. The government was formed from the Ankara-based revolutionary group, led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his colleagues.

What is Turkish culture? ›

Turkey has a collectivist culture whereby strong loyalty is shown to familial and social groups, as well as the broader nation. People's relationships with their neighbours and community are generally closer than what many from the English-speaking West experience.

Who ruled Turkey? ›

Mustafa Kemal became the republic's first President of Turkey and subsequently introduced many radical reforms with the aim of founding a new Secular Republic from the remnants of its Ottoman past.

Which bird name is Turkey? ›

The turkey is a large bird in the genus Meleagris, native to North America. There are two extant turkey species: the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) of eastern and central North America and the ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata) of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.

Does Turkey have snow? ›

Snow does occur on the coastal areas of the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea almost every winter, but it usually lies no more than a few days. On the other hand, it is rare in the coastal areas of the Aegean Sea and very rare in the coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea.

What meat is turkey? ›

Classified among white meats thanks to the low presence of myoglobin, turkey has a very low fat content and almost all are concentrated in the skin, as with all poultry meats.

What was the name of the first city? ›

Çatalhöyük is a city founded 9,000 years ago, and this UNESCO World Heritage Site is well-worth visiting to see the remains of an ancient (like, REALLY ancient) city. But what makes it so incredibly special?

How old is India? ›

You would be surprised to know that the Indian subcontinent has been flourishing for around 5,000-6,000 years and its peoples joined together to form a civilization in roughly 1500 BCE when they created the Vedic Civilization, which laid out the foundations of Hinduism.

Who first settled in Turkey? ›

Turks, originally a nomadic people from Central Asia, established several empires, including the Seljuk Empire and later the Ottoman Empire, which was founded in Anatolia by Turkish ruler Osman in 1299.

What is Turkey's Favourite sport? ›

Turkish people are devoted to sports in general and to soccer in particular. Though soccer is still the dominating sport in Turkey a number of other sports such as basketball, volleyball, handball and the ancestral game of oil-wrestling are important and has many followers.

What is Turkey's national food? ›

Manty is considered the national dish of Turkey. The dish usually prepared from lamb or beef meat and either cooked or fried. It is served with a spicy sauce based on natural yogurt.

What turkey is the biggest? ›

The Gould's turkey is a bird of the mountainous areas of this region. It is the largest of the five subspecies and resembles the Merriam's turkey. They have longer legs, larger feet, and larger center tail feathers than any of the other wild turkey subspecies in North America.

Are turkeys blind or deaf? ›

(photo by Tes Jolly) A wild turkey's hearing is remarkable. It is not so much their ability to hear, but how they use it. They have an uncanny ability not only to hear sounds from great distances, but to pinpoint the exact location of their source. Their eyesight is possibly even more acute.

Is a turkey a dinosaur? ›

That's right. Birds, like the turkey gracing your Thanksgiving table, are dinosaurs. They are the only dinosaurs to survive the mass extinction that wiped out T. rex, triceratops and other behemoths 65 million years ago.

Are turkeys color blind? ›

Turkeys have a 270-degree field of vision, even 360 when they rotate their heads. Against the idea that birds are color blind, turkeys can see colors. Although turkeys can't see in 3D, they can see UVA light, which helps them better identify predators, prey, mates, and food.

Can a turkey fly? ›

The gobblers can fly, but only for short distances, and not very high. Turkeys have long been a mainstay of Thanksgiving dinner tables everywhere, but most people imagine these gobblers pecking on the ground, and never picture these funny-looking fowl taking flight.

Is turkey the oldest language? ›

Turkish is a very old language. Some resources date its origins as far as 8500 years ago . It is very rich in vocabulary and has its own phonetic, morphological and syntactic structure. It is part of the Ural-Altaic language family.

Can I speak English in Turkey? ›

Will it be hard to get by with only English? Turkish is the official language of Turkey and English is widely spoken in Istanbul; visitors are often surprised by the relatively high level of English spoken by most Turks. An attempt to use Turkish is very much appreciated and considered good manners, though.

How do Turkish people say hello? ›

People commonly greet each other by saying “Nasilsiniz” (How are you?) or “Merhaba” (Hello). The Islamic greeting is “Asalamu alaykum” (Peace be upon you).

Who speaks Turkish in world? ›

Approximately 78 million people in the world speak Turkish natively, and several million more speak it as a second language. The vast majority of Turkish speakers live in Turkey — more than 74 million of them. Due to a large immigrant population, Germany is home to about 1.5 million Turkish speakers.

What's a fun fact for the day? ›

Fun Facts and Trivia
  • It is impossible for most people to lick their own elbow. ...
  • A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out.
  • A shrimp's heart is in its head.
  • It is physically impossible for pigs to look up into the sky.

Is Turkey a beautiful country? ›

Turkey is a beautiful country surrounded by sea on 3 sides. The Mediterranean in the south, the Aegean Sea, the Black Sea to the north and northwest taking place in Turkey's overland waters including the Strait of Dardanelles and Bosporus involves the Marmara Sea.

What are 10 interesting facts about Iran? ›

14 Interesting facts about Iran
  • Iran is not an Arab country and Iranians are Persians. ...
  • In Iran has its own calendar. ...
  • Iran or Persia. ...
  • Iranian food is delicious. ...
  • The weekend in Iran is Friday. ...
  • A thumbs-up is bad, really bad, in Iran. ...
  • Iran is home to Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest religions in the world.
9 Feb 2021

Who ruled Turkey in 1919? ›

John de Robeck, August 1919–1922

In August 1919 John de Robeck replaced Somerset Arthur Gough-Calthorpe with the title of "Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean, and High Commissioner at Constantinople". He was responsible for activities regarding Russia and Turkey (Ottoman Empire-Turkish national movement).

How old is the oldest Turkey? ›

The average lifespan of a wild turkey is three to five years, and the oldest known wild turkey lived about 13 years old.

What is the oldest name of Turkey? ›

The name for the country Turkey is derived (via Old French Turquie) from the Medieval Latin Turchia, Turquia. It is first recorded in Middle English (as Turkye, Torke, later Turkie, Turky), attested in Chaucer, c. 1369.

Why Turkey is a great country? ›

Turkey scored highest in the “Living” category, ranking first for “cultural, open and welcoming communities” and “ease of settling in”. Expats also praised Turkey for its “sunny skies and low cost of living”.

What are the 4 types of turkeys? ›

The North American Wild Turkey has five subspecies: the Rio Grande, the Merriam's, the Osceola, the Eastern, and the Gould's.

What is a female Turkey called? ›

Adult female turkeys are called hens. Juvenile females are called jennies. Adult females average half the size of male turkeys. poults will not survive.

How old are the Turkish people? ›

Historically they were established after the 6th century BCE.

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