Turkey the Country That Stretches Across Two Continents Overview
Asia Minor or the Anatolian peninsula is one of the oldest inhabited regions in the world. Turkey’s history stretches over 30 centuries and there’s evidence that people inhabited Turkey for thousands of years before that. The west coast of the Anatolian peninsula was settled by the Ionian and Aeolian Greeks in 1200 BC. The entire area was conquered by the Persian Empire 600 years later. In 324 CE Byzantium, which is now known as Istanbul, was the capital of the Roman Empire. The Byzantine Empire ruled the country after the fall of the Roman Empire, but in 1453 the Ottoman Empire took control of the country. Eastern and Western cultures began to develop over the next 500 years. The Ottoman dynasty came to an end in 1914.
Turkey endured political instability, military coups and difficult economic times until the 1980s; that's when Turkey began to experience economic growth and world-wide recognition. Turkey is divided into 81 providences and each province is divided in what’s known as districts. There are 923 districts in Turkey today. Ankara is the capital and has a population of 4.4 million people. Istanbul has over 12 million and Izmir has a population of 3.7 million. Bursa has 2.4 million people, Adana has 2 million and Konya has 1.9 million. The economic, financial and cultural center of Turkey is Istanbul, but Turkey is filled with important cities like Kayseri, Mersin, Antalya, Trabzon, Erzurum and Samsun. Seventy percent of Turkey’s population lives in urban areas.
Turkey in a Few Words
Modern Turkey is a country that has reinvented itself in a healthy mixture of ancient traditions, with a contemporary mindset. Turkey is bordered by eight countries and each one of them adds another dimension to the diversity that exists in the area. Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, Syria or Armenia, add a special flavor to Turkey’s worldwide appeal.
Rumi, the great Sufi mystic poet, who lived in Konya in the 13th century, describes a Turkish experience this way:
Come again, please come again.
Whoever you are.
Religious, infidel, heretic or pagan.
Even if you promised a hundred times
And a hundred times you broke your promise,
This door is not the door
Of hopelessness and frustration
This door is open for everybody.
Come, come as you are.
That innate attitude is part of Turkey’s ancestry. It offers hope for the hopeless and love to the loveless. Turkey is not only filled with treasures, it is a treasure to be shared in the spirit of unity, peace, compassion and love.