783,562 sq km (302,535 sq miles).
81.6 million (2014).
104.2 per sq km.
Head of state:
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since 2014.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu since 2014.
230 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are used.
For sheer diversity, Turkey is hard to beat. The country is best measured in multitudes – of people, natural landscapes and cultures. It is a land of vast open spaces and massive mountain ranges, fertile valleys and rugged coastline, fast-growing cities and sleepy villages, seaside resorts and remote beaches.
Countless waves of invasion, rebellion and immigration have forged a country whose cultural depth and breadth may surprise visitors as they venture not just through major cities, but across the country.
Turkey overflows with historic sites and archaeological wonders, all set in a varied and beautiful landscape. The Mediterranean coastline is punctuated with well-preserved Greco-Roman cities like Pergamom and Ephesus, while the otherworldly landscapes of the Cappadocia region harbour cave churches and underground cities.
Though capital status eludes it, Istanbul is very much the beating heart of the nation. The city is an archive of cultural influences throughout the centuries, playing host to Roman aqueducts, Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques and palaces. Yet it’s no relic. Cafes, bustling bazaars, hammams (public baths), and nightclubs all buzz with activity.
Still, Istanbul is just one piece of the vast Turkish puzzle. Beach-lovers can while away lazy sunny days at the ever-popular Bodrum, Marmaris and Izmir resorts along Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coasts.
The unlikely capital city, Ankara, may be less frequented, but its location in central Anatolia makes it worthy of a few days’ visit, if only to witness the contrast between the city’s modernity and the surviving citadel. Away from the more European sensibilities of Istanbul, Ankara also presents an opportunity to gain insight into other facets of Turkish culture.
However deep its roots are, Turkey is today a thrusting and dynamic society, navigating cultural, economic and political change while seeking to retain the best of its multicultural heritage and time-honoured traditions. And that’s arguably what makes it so rewarding.
Last updated: 19 October 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect places visited by foreigners.
Extremist groups based in Syria including ANF (Al Nusra Front) and ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) have the capacity to carry out attacks in neighbouring countries, including Turkey. Media reports suggest that terrorists could target areas throughout Turkey, including Ankara, Istanbul and areas close to the Syrian border.
Turkey shares a long border with Syria. Thousands of foreign nationals, including some British nationals, have used Turkey as a transit route for joining terrorist groups including ANF and ISIL in Syria.
ISIL has, in the past, targeted border crossings and nearby locations on the Syrian side of the border. On 20 July, a suicide bomber killed 33 people and injured over 100 others in Suruc, Sanlurfa province near the Syrian border. This attack is believed to have been carried out by individuals associated with ISIL.
There’s a domestic terrorist presence in the south east of the country including in Van, Bitlis, Bingol, Elazig, Mus, Batman, Erzincan, Diyarbakir and Agri provinces. In December 2012 talks began between the Turkish Government and the Kurdish aligned PKK (proscribed as a terrorist group in the UK), during which the PKK observed a ceasefire. However, following the Suruc bombing on 20 July, the ceasefire ended when the PKK killed 2 Turkish police officers.
15 August is the anniversary of the first PKK attack against Turkish government installations. Historically, this anniversary date has prompted an escalation of violence by the PKK and other splinter groups. Since the end of July there has been an intensive period of violent incidents in Turkey’s south-east and eastern provinces. The vast majority of these incidents have been PKK attacks on Turkish security forces, their premises and vehicles, in which many members of the armed forces and police have been killed and injured. There have also been attacks on infrastructure (eg oil pipelines, dams) and incidents in which civilians have been affected. The government has responded with arrests of PKK suspects in Turkey and air-strikes on PKK positions in northern Iraq.
The anti-western, proscribed terrorist group, THKP/C-Acilciler (Turkish People’s Liberation Party/Front) and the linked DHKP/C (Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front) remain active.
Between approximately 30 March and 20 April, there are several dates significant to the DHKP/C, starting with the 30 March anniversary of their founding which may have been linked to previous attacks. 19 December is also recognised as an important date around which the DHKP/C may be active.
In 2013, a DHKP/C suicide bomber targeted the US Embassy in Ankara killing himself and a Turkish security guard. On 31 March, 2 DHKP-C terrorists and a hostage were killed following an exchange of fire with police at an Istanbul court. On 1 April, members of the terrorist DHKP-C organisation opened fire on a police station in central Istanbul. One terrorist was killed. On 10 August, 2 DHKP-C assailants opened fire outside the US Consulate-General in Istanbul.
Methods of attack have included armed assaults, suicide bombings, car bombings and rocket attacks and improvised explosive devices left in refuse bins, crowded areas and on public transport.
Be vigilant, monitor media reports and keep up to date with the travel advice.
There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
There is a threat of kidnapping near the Syrian border in Turkey.
Terrorist groups operating in Syria, including those like ISIL who routinely use kidnapping as a tactic, are present in the Syrian border areas and are capable of conducting kidnappings from across the border. ISIL and other terrorist groups view those engaged in humanitarian aid work or journalism as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as protection or secure your safe release.
The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.