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Marmara Region

Sea of Marmara ( above )

The Sea of Marmara (Turkish: Marmara Denizi, also known as the Sea of Marmora or the Marmara Sea) is an inland sea that connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, thus separating the Asian part of Turkey from its European part. The Bosporus connects it to the Black Sea and the Dardanelles to the Aegean. The former also separates Istanbul into its Asian side and European side. It has area of 11,350 km².


There are two major island groups known as the Prince's and Marmara islands. The latter group is rich in sources of marble and gives the sea its name (Greek marmaros, marble).


The North Anatolian fault, which has triggered many major earthquakes in recent years, such as the Izmit Earthquake of 1999, runs under the sea.


The Bosporus is a strait that separates the European part (Rumeli) of Turkey from its Asian part (Anadolu), connecting the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea. It is 30 km long, with a maximum width of 3,700 metres at the northern entrance, and a minimum width of 750 metres between Anadoluhisarı and Rumelihisarı. The depth varies from 36 to 124 metres in midstream.


Two bridges cross the Bosporus Strait. The first, Bogazici (Bosporus I) bridge, is 1074 meters long and was completed in 1973. The second, Fatih Sultan Mehmed (Bosporus II) bridge, is 1090 meters long, and was completed in 1988 about five kilometers north of the first bridge.


Marmaray, a 13.7 kilometer-long rail tunnel is under construction and expected to be completed in 2008. Approximately 1,400 metres of the tunnel will run under the strait, at a depth of about 55 meters. More about this region

Black Sea Region

map of black sea

Black Sea (known as the Euxine Sea in antiquity) is an inland sea between southeastern Europe and Asia Minor. It is connected to the Mediterranean Sea by the Bosporus and the Sea of Marmara, and to the Sea of Azov by the Strait of Kerch.


There is a net inflow of seawater through the Bosporus, 200 km³ per year. There is an inflow of freshwater from the surrounding areas, especially central and middle-eastern Europe, totalling 320 km³ per year. The most important river entering the Black Sea is the Danube. The Black Sea has an area of 422,000 km² and a maximum depth of 2210 m.


The Black Sea is the largest anoxic, or oxygen-free, marine system. This is a result of the great depth of the sea and the relatively high salinity (and therefore density) of the water at depth; freshwater and seawater mixing is limited to the uppermost 100 to 150 m, with the water below this interface (called the pycnocline) being exchanged only once every thousand years. There is therefore no significant gas exchange with the surface, and as a result decaying organic matter in the sediment consumes any available oxygen. In these anoxic conditions some extremophile microorganisms are able to use sulfate (SO42−) for oxidation of organic material, producing hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and carbon dioxide. This mix is extremely toxic (a lungful would be fatal to a human), resulting in a sea that has almost all of its ecology living in that top layer down to a depth of approximately 180 m (600 ft). The relative lack of micro-organisms and oxygen has allowed deep-sea expeditions to recover ancient (on the order of thousands of years) human artifacts, such as boat hulls and the remains of settlements.


The name 'Black Sea' (initially Pontos Axeinos, "inhospitable sea", later renamed Pontos Euxeinos, "hospitable sea" to gain the sea's good favor) was coined by the Ancient Greek navigators, because of the unusual dark color, compared with the Mediterranean Sea. Visibility in the Black Sea is on average approximately 5 metres (15 feet), as compared to up to 35 metres (100 feet) in the Mediterranean. The water however is as blue as any other sea on bright, clear days. The land at the eastern end of the Black Sea, Colchis (now Georgia), marked for the Greeks an edge of the known world. More about this region



The Dardanelles, Turkish: Çanakkale Boğazı, formerly known as the Hellespont, is a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea with the Sea of Marmara. It is located at approximately 40°13′ N 26°26′ E. The strait is 61 km (38 miles) long but only 1.2 to 6 km (0.75 to 4 miles) wide, averaging 55 m (180 ft) deep with a maximum depth of 81 m (300 ft). Water flows in both directions along the strait, from the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean via a surface current and in the opposite direction via an undercurrent.


Just like the Bosphorus strait, it separates Europe (in this case the Gallipoli peninsula) and the mainland of Asia. The major city adjoining the strait is Çanakkale (which takes its name from its famous castles; kale means "castle"). The name Dardanelles derives from Dardanus, an ancient Greek city on the Asian shore of the strait.


The strait has long had a strategic role in history. The ancient city of Troy was located near the western entrance of the strait and the strait's Asiatic shore was the focus of the Trojan War. It was also the scene of the legendary Greek story of Hero and Leander. The Persian army of Xerxes I and later the Macedonian army of Alexander the Great crossed the Dardanelles in opposite directions to invade each other's lands, in 480 BC and 334 BC respectively. The Dardanelles were vital to the defence of Constantinople during the Byzantine period, and since the 14th century they have almost continuously been controlled by the Turks.


Gaining control or special access to the strait became a key foreign policy goal of the Russian Empire during the 19th century. In 1833, following the Ottoman Empire's defeat in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829, Russia forced the Ottomans to sign the Treaty of Hunkiar Iskelesi which required the Ottomans to close the straits to warships of non-Black Sea powers at Russia's request. This would have effectively given Russia a free hand in the Black Sea.


The treaty alarmed the Western powers, who feared the consequences of potential Russian expansionism in the Mediterranean. At the London Straits Convention in July 1841, Britain, France, Austria and Prussia forced Russia to agree that only Turkish warships could traverse the Dardanelles in peacetime. Britain and France subsequently sent their fleets through the straits to attack the Crimea during the Crimean War in 1853, though this was done as allies of the Ottoman Empire. This convention was formally reaffirmed by the Congress of Paris in 1856, following the Russian defeat in the Crimean War, and it remained theoretically in force into the 20th century.


As a result of the strait being vital for the Ottoman's domination over their eastern Mediterranean territories, the Allies made a failed attempt to seize the Dardanelles during World War I. The Battle of Gallipoli was officially declared lost on March 18, 1915; the high number of casualties (see ANZAC) from this battle almost ended the career of Winston Churchill. The straits were mined to prevent Allied ships from penetrating them, although a British submarine did succeed in evading the minefields and sank a Turkish battleship off the Golden Horn in Istanbul.


Following the war, the 1920 Treaty of Sévres demilitarized the strait and made it an international territory under the control of the League of Nations. This was amended under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne which restored the straits to Turkey but allowed all foreign warships to traverse the straits freely. Turkey rejected the terms of this treaty and subsequently remilitarized the area. The reversion to this old regime was formalised under the Montreux Convention of July 1936. The convention, which is still in force today, treats the straits as an international shipping lane but Turkey retains the right to restrict the naval traffic of non-Black Sea nations. During World War II, when Turkey was neutral for almost the entire length of the conflict, the Dardanelles were closed to the ships of the belligerent nations.

Aegean region

Aegean region

The Aegean Sea is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, located between the Greek peninsula and Anatolia (Asia Minor, now part of Turkey). It is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus.


In ancient times there were various explanations for the name "Aegean." It was said to have been named after the town of Aegae; Aegea, a queen of the Amazons who died in the sea; and Aegeus, the father of Theseus, who drowned himself in the sea when he thought his son had died. A possible etymology is from the root Αιγ- (Aeg-) meaning wave, hence wavy sea as per αιγιαλός (aighialos).


In ancient times the sea was the birthplace of two ancient civilizations - the Minoans of Crete, and the Mycenean Civilization of the Peloponnese. Later arose the city-states of Athens and Sparta among many others that constituted the Hellenic Civilization. The Aegean Sea was later inhabited by Persians, Romans, the Byzantine Empire, the Venetians, the Seljuk Turks, and the Ottoman Empire. The Aegean was the site of the original democracies, and it allowed for contact between several diverse civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean.


The Aegean islands can be simply divided into seven groups: the Thracian Sea group, the East Aegean group, the Northern Sporades, the Cyclades, the Saronic Islands (or Argo-Saronic Islands), the Dodecanese and Crete. The word archipelago was originally applied specifically to these islands. Many of the Aegean islands, or chains of islands, are actually extensions of the mountains on the mainland. One chain extends across the sea to Chios, another extends across Euboea to Samos, and a third extends across the Peloponnese and Crete to Rhodes, dividing the Aegean from the Mediterranean. Many of the islands have safe harbours and bays, but navigation through the sea is generally difficult. Many of the islands are volcanic, and marble and iron are mined on other islands. The larger islands have some fertile valleys and plains. There are two islands of considerable size belonging to Turkey on the Aegean Sea: Bozcaada and Gökçeada (Greek: Tenedos). More about this region



Mediterranean Region

Turkey's southern shore is hemmed in by high mountain ranges. There's little beach from Fethiye to Antalya, but east of Antalya the littoral broadens into the fertile Pamphylian plain fringed with white sand beach.


Not far east of Alanya the mountains come down to the sea again, all the way east to Antakya, keeping this coast very hot and humid in summer: maximum 45C/113F, minimum -5C/23F; rainfall is 777 mm/31 inches.


Turkey's Mediterranean shore, called the Turquoise Coast, is nearly 1600 km (994 miles) long, scattered with fine-sand beaches and sprinkled abundantly with classical cities turned to picturesque ruins.


The Toros Mountains form a dramatic backdrop along much of the coast, often dropping steeply right into the sea, but in some places rivers have washed down enough sediment over the ages to form beaches backed by fertile alluvial plains good for growing cotton, vegetables, and even tropical fruits like bananas. More about this region

Central Anatolia

Ankara- Capital of Turkey

The center of Turkey is high plateau (elevation 900m/3000 feet at Ankara) of rolling steppe framed by mountain ranges, some of which boast snow-capped dormant volcanoes. (It was the volcanic Mt Erciyes near Kayseri that formed the Central Anatolian moonscape of Cappadocia.)


The land produces summer and winter wheat and other crops, and feeds millions of grazing sheep. Temperatures range from -25C/-13F to 40C/104F, with rainfall of only 382 mm/15 inches per year. The average humidity is 62%.


The vast plateau of Central Anatolia (Asia Minor), broken by mountains ranges, is the heartland of modern Turkey.


Bounded by Ankara, Konya, Karaman, Kahramanmaras, Sivas and Amasya, the Central Anatolian plateau (altitude 1000 to 2000 meters, 3300 to 6500 feet) holds the incredible "moonscape" terrain of Cappadocia, as well as cities founded by the Hittites 3000 years ago, and even older settlements dating back an incredible 7500 years.


The region boasts striking scenery, fine museums, hundreds of Roman archeological sites, and--my favorite--medieval Seljuk Turkish (ie, pre-Ottoman) mosques and caravanserais. More about this region

Southeastern Region


is the northern extension of the Syrian plain, which means unlike most of Eastern Turkey, the southeast is not mountainous, but rather an arid plateau at around 600 meters elevation. The region is more or less bounded by those great historic rivers, the Tigris (Dicle) to the east and the Euphrates (Firat) to the west and is under the influence of both the continental climate and the Mediterranean climate. The long summers are hot and dry. The winters are cold with rainfall or snowfall.


The Southeastern Anatolia Region resembles the Central Anatolia Region from the aspect of the agricultural economy. A great majority of the arable lands are allocated to the sowing of grains, with the exception of the Gaziantep region, where there is a diversification of vegetable products, due to the similarity of the area to that of the Mediterranean climate.


The land can be fertile if irrigated, which is why the Turkish government has invested decades of work and billions in the Southeast Anatolia Project. This mammoth public-works endeavor, known by its Turkish initials as GAP, has brought dozens of dams and hundreds of kilometers of aqueducts to the region, hugely increasing its capacity for raising crops and supplying electricity. This once poor region is beginning to show the results of huge long-term investment.


Tobacco, which has a significant place among the industrial plants, is sown in Adiyaman, Siirt and Diyarbakir and a valuable type of tobacco called "the Oriental Type" is grown in these provinces. In the Gaziantep region, olives and pistachio nuts are also among the most important products, along with grapes. Pistachio nuts are also grown in the Adiyaman and Siirt regions.The large pistachio nuts of Siirt are particularly delicious.


The most important underground resource in the region is petroleum. A portion of the crude oil produced in the environs of Raman, Garzan and Kahta, is refined at the Batman Refinery, which is one of the most important industrial establishments in the region.


The region was a crossroads of civilizations in Biblical times, and even earlier. The Patriarch Abraham lived for a time in Harran, south of Sanliurfa.


To the crusaders, Sanliurfa was the Latin County of Edessa. Mardin has Syriac monasteries where services are still chanted in Aramaic, the language of Jesus.


The best time to visit is winter (December-February), although spring (March-May) and autumn (October-November) are alright as well. In July and August, the sun blazes, and there's rarely a cloud. More about this region

Eastern Anatolia

Palandöken Erzurum

Mountainous, rugged and chilly, eastern Turkey is an elemental place where temperatures drop to -43C/-45F in deep winter, and rise to 38C/100F in summer, though the annual average is just 9C/48F.


June to September are the best months to visit unless you're going skiing at Palandöken just outside Erzurum.


Rainfall is 560 mm/22 inches. It's relatively poor country, with wheat fields, fruit and nut orchards, and lots of grazing sheep.


With its broad vistas and dramatic, spare scenery, Eastern Turkey is like one vast national park.


Summer is the best time to visit, as the region is high, mountainous, and given to late thaws and early snows. When the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya is engulfed in sticky summer heat, in Erzurum the air is dry and pleasant. (If you come in winter, do it for skiing.)


Come for the sweeping scenery, for the many striking archeological sites, for the architecture of the region's historic buildings, and for a look at life as it was lived in an earlier time. Eastern Turkey is less developed than West, and you may still see farmers in small villages winnow grain in the wind, the old-fashioned way.


Because of the distances in the East , and its distance from the cities of the West, allow at least a week to tour the East. More about this region

Mehmet Ünal