Turkey Travel Guide: Travel tips for foreigners & backpackers, Ankara tourist information, Turkey food average prices, eating on a budget, accommodation in Ankara Find discount hotels, cheap accommodation, vacation deals, holiday packages.
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Turkey Travel Guide

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Full country name: Republic of Turkey
Area: 783,562 sq km
Population: 76,8 (July 2010 est.)
Capital City: Ankara
Languages: Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian, some Greek, French, English
Religion: Islam (mostly Sunni) 99.8%, other 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews)
Government: Republican Parliamentary Democracy, EU Member
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +2
Dialling Code: 90
Electricity: 230V, 50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric

Money & Costs:
Currency: Turkey New Lira (TRY or YTL) - The new lira (yeni türk lirası) is the new currency of Turkey. 1 Euro = 1.75 TRY  (in Sept. 2007), 1 USD = 1.24 TRY  (in Sept. 2007)
Average Yearly Salary: USD 11,400

Budget: €2-7
Mid-range: €7-15
High: €15-25
Top: €25+
Budget: €10-20
Mid-range: €20-50
High: €50-75
Top: €75+

You can travel on around €25 a day using buses and trains, staying in budget accommodation, and eating one restaurant meal. For €35-45 you can travel on more comfortable buses & trains, stay in one and two-star hotels and eat all meals in restaurants. For €45-80 a day you can enjoy 3 and 4-star hotels, perhaps take a national airline flight, and eat in more expensive restaurants.

In cheaper restaurants it's not necessary to leave more than a few coins. In more expensive restaurants, tipping is customary. Even if a 10-15% service charge is added to your bill, you're expected to give around 5% to the waiter directly and perhaps the same amount to the maitre d'. Porters expect a dollar or so. In taxis you might like to round up the bill; in other situations, for example, helpful guardians at archaeological sites, tact is required. Although a tip may be initially refused through politeness, you should offer the money a second and third time. After three refusals, you can safely assume they really don't wish to be compensated.

Geography: Turkey is situated in southeast Europe and southwest Asia (that portion of Turkey west of the Bosporus is geographically part of Europe), bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Georgia, and bordering the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, between Greece and Syria. Turkey in Europe comprises an area about equal to the state of Massachusetts. Turkey in Asia is about the size of Texas. To the north is the Black Sea and to the west is the Aegean Sea. Its neighbors are Greece and Bulgaria to the west, Russia and Ukraine to the north (through the Black Sea), Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran to the east, and Syria and Iraq to the south. The Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, and the Bosporus divide the country. Its center is a treeless plateau rimmed by mountains.

Turkey's land mass is 814,578 sq.km. The European and Asian sides are divided by the Istanbul Bogazi (Bosphorus), the Sea of Marmara, and the Canakkale Bogazi (Dardanelles). Anatolia is a high plateau region rising progressively towards the east, broken by the valleys of about 15 rivers, including the Dicle (Tigres) and the Firat (Euphrates). There are numerous lakes and some, such as Lake Van, are as large as inland seas. In the north, the Eastern Black Sea Mountain chain runs parallel to the Black Sea; in the south, the Taurus mountains sweep down almost to the narrow, fertile coastal plain along the coast. The coastline of Turkey's four seas is more then 8,333 km long.

The largest cities and their populations include Istanbul, 10,050,000 (metro. area), 9,420,000 (city proper); Ankara, 3,600,000 (metro. area), 3,500,000 (city proper); Izmir, 2,400,000; Bursa, 1,300,000; Adana, 1,220,000; Gaziantep, 1,000,000

Climate: Although Turkey is situated in large Mediterranean geographical location where climatic conditions are quite temperate, diverse nature of the landscape, and the existence in particular of the mountains that run parallel to the coasts, result in significant differences in climatic conditions from one region to the other. While the coastal areas enjoy milder climates, the inland Anatolian plateau experiences extremes of hot summers and cold winters with limited rainfall.

The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts have cool, rainy winters and hot, moderately dry summers. Annual precipitation in those areas varies from 580 to 1,300 millimeters, depending on location. The Black Sea coast receives the greatest amount of rainfall. The eastern part of that receives 2,200 millimeters annually and is the only region of Turkey that receives rainfall throughout the year.

Turkey's diverse regions have different climates because of irregular topography. The Taurus Mountains are close to the coast and rain clouds cannot penetrate to the interior part of the country. Rain clouds drops most of their water on the coastal area. As rain clouds pass over the mountains and reach central Anatolia they have no significant capability to produce of rain. In the Eastern region of Anatolia, the elevation of mountains exceeds 2500-3000 m. Northern Black Sea Mountains and Caucasian Mountain hold the rain clouds, and therefor the area is affected by the continental climate with long and very cold winter. Minimum temperatures of -30°C to -38°C are observed in the mountainous areas in the east, and snow may lie on the ground 120 days of the year. Winters are bitterly cold with frequent, heavy snowfall. Villages in thee region remain isolated for several days during winter storms.

Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures above 30°C. Spring and autumn are generally mild, but during both seasons sudden hot and cold spells frequently occur in the region Annual precipitation averages about 500-800 millimeters with actual amounts determined by elevation.

In Istanbul and around the Sea of Marmara the climate is moderate (winter 4°C and summer 27°C); In winter however the temperatures can drop below zero. In Western Anatolia, there is a mild Mediterranean climate with average temperatures of 9°C in winter and 29°C in summer. On the southern coast of Anatolia the similar climatic condition are observed. The climate of the Anatolian Plateau is a steppe climate. There is a great temperature difference between day and night. Rainfall is low but it usually in form of snow. The average temperature is 23°C in summer and -2°C in winter. The climate in the Black Sea area is wet, and humid (summer 23°C, winter 7°C). In Eastern Anatolia and South-Eastern Anatolia there is a long winter, and snow remains on the ground from November until the end of April (the average temperature in winter is -13°C and in summer 17°C).

The driest regions are the Karaman, Igdir and Sanliurfa, where annual rainfall frequently is less than 300 millimeters. The wettest regions are the Black Sea coastal region where annual rainfall can reach 2,200 millimeters annually, and the region receives rainfall throughout the year.

Recommended clothing: On the street, wear very modest clothing. Turkey is predominantly Muslim, so cover up. Even in warm weather when you're wearing sleeveless tops, carry a lightweight shawl or scarf or sweater to put over your bare shoulders in those places where you'll suddenly feel all eyes are upon you. In the evenings, Turkish women really dress up, but again bare arms and plunging necklines are seldom seen as they're covered in public (even in the dining rooms of the grandest 5-star hotels) with lightweight evening scarves or shawls. Istanbul is a wonderful city to wear all those gorgeous silk shawls and pashminas you've collected in your other travels (or buy them there).

Social conventions: Turkish people are very hospitable, but you should respect their Islamic customs. Informal, casual wear is acceptable, but beachwear should be only worn in beaches or by the pool. Smoking is prohibited in cinemas, theaters, public buses and taxis.

Health: Turkey has only public hospitals, therefore travel health insurance is essential. Consult your doctor for the necessary immunizations and vaccinations before traveling to Turkey.

Food & Drink: Turkish cuisine is well-known all over the world. It combines culinary traditions from the people's nomadic past in Central Asia with influences of the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Generally, Turkish cuisine is not homogeneous. Aside from common Turkish specialties, there are also many region-specific dishes. For example, the Black Sea region's cuisine is based on corn and anchovies. The southeast region is famous for its mezes, kebabs, and dough-based desserts (baklava, kadayıf and künefe) Olive oil is the main type of oil used for cooking, especially in the western part of the country, where olive trees are plentiful. Basic characteristics of Mediterranean cuisine are visible in the Aegean, Marmara and Mediterranean regions. The later regions are rich in herbs, vegetables, and fish. Central Anatolia is well-known for its pasta specialties (keşkek, mantı, and gözleme). Although the majority of Turks profess the Islamic religion, alcoholic beverages are widely available. Some of the most popular locally produced lagers are: Tekel Birasi, Marmara34 and Efes Pilsen. There is a variety of local wines produced by Turkish: Kavaklıdere, Corvus, Doluca, Kayra, Diren, and Pamukkale. Rakı, a traditional alcoholic beverage flavoured with anise, is usualy drunk with meze, fish or kebabs. Black tea is drunk everyday and is very popular between the locals.

Public Holidays:
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Apr 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day
May 19 Commemoration of Atatürk and Youth and Sports Day
Aug 30 Victory Day
Oct 29 Republic Day

Note: Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of various phases of the moon and the dates given above are approximations. During the lunar month of Ramadan that precedes Ramazan Bayrami, Muslims fast during the day and feast at night and normal business patterns may be interrupted. Some restaurants are closed during the day and there may be restrictions on smoking and drinking. Generally, centres of tourism are unaffected. Some disruption may continue into Ramazan Bayrami itself. Ramazan Bayrami and Kurban Bayrami may last anything from 2 to 10 days, depending on the region.

Disclaimer: The above information is for reference purposes only. The content of this page is not intended to substitute for advice given by the user's own government travel departments or a licensed travel health advisor. The viewer/user of this web page should always contact the user's own government representatives in that area for the most up-to-date information at that time, before making a final decision to travel to that country or destination.

Schools & colleges listing on Learn4Good:Location
Keystone International Schools, IstanbulIstanbul, Turkey
Kilittaşı Schools - Bilingual Turkish / English EducationIstanbul, Turkey
Keystone International Schools, IstanbulIstanbul, Turkey
Keystone International Schools, IstanbulIstanbul, Turkey
ATÖLYE5 / KIDS UNITEDIstanbul, Turkey
International Training Institute, IstanbulIstanbul, Turkey
Tarabya British Schools | TBSIstanbul, Turkey
Internatıonal Center IstanbulIstanbul, Turkey
International Studies Teacher Training CentreIstanbul, Turkey
Abdullah Gül University- AGU InternationalKayseri, Turkey

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