About 9,000 square miles (23,000 square kilometers) of Turkey's total area lie in Europe. Asian Turkey and European Turkey are separated by the strait of Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles. These narrow strips of water link the Black Sea in the north to the Aegean Sea in the south. They form one of the world's most strategic waterways.
Asian Turkey, called Anatolia (Anadolu in Turkish), is often referred to as Asia Minor. It is a region of mountains and highlands. Two major mountain ranges cross it in an east-west direction. In the north the Northern Anatolian Mountains (the Pontic mountain system) follow the Black Sea coast. In the south the Taurus Mountains follow the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. These two mountain ranges meet in the eastern Anatolian highland. Earthquakes are frequent in this region. A severe one occurred in 1976. Mount Ararat, an extinct volcano that is the country's highest peak, is located there, near the border with Iran and Armenia. South of the eastern highland, low hills and plains join the plains of Syria and Iraq.
A large central plateau lies between the Northern Anatolian Mountains and the Taurus Mountains. Several salt lakes, the largest of which is Lake Van, are found in this region. The plateau, called the Anatolian plateau, is enclosed by mountains on the north, south, and east. In the west the plateau gives way to a low fertile plain, one of the best agricultural areas in the country.
Turkey has a long coastline. The western coast is indented and has many excellent natural harbors. The narrow northern coastal plain along the Black Sea has few such harbors.
European Turkey, or Thrace, is all that remains of what was once a vast Turkish empire in Europe. Thrace, an area of low plains and hills, has a rugged coastline. Low mountains extend from the Bulgarian border along the Black Sea coast.
Rivers and Lakes. The Kizil Irmak and the Sakarya rivers flow through Asian Turkey into the Black Sea. A shorter, curving river, flowing into the Aegean Sea, is called Menderes, from the ancient Greek word meaning "to meander." The Seyhan, Ceyhan, and Orontes rivers in the south are used for irrigation.
Lake Van and Lake Tuz in Asian Turkey are the largest lakes. Many smaller salt lakes lie west of Lake Tuz in the Taurus range.
Climate. The climate of European Turkey and coastal Asian Turkey is mild, with cool, rainy winters and warm, dry summers. Winter temperatures seldom fall below freezing, and frost and snow are rare. Summer temperatures average 75°F (24°C). The western coast gets about 25 inches (600 millimeters) of rain annually. In the east, rainfall is much greater.
The Anatolian plateau has cold winters, with more than 100 days of frost every year. Summer days are hot, but the nights are cool. Annual rainfall is between 10 and 17 inches (250 and 430 millimeters). April and May are usually the wettest months in this area.
The eastern part of Asian Turkey has one of the most extreme climates in the world. Winter temperatures of -40°F (-40°C) often have been recorded. Snowfall is very heavy. Summers are hot, with daytime temperatures rising to over 100°F (38°C).
Agriculture. About half of the work force is engaged in agriculture. Wheat, grown mainly on the Anatolian plateau, is the major crop. Other important cereals are corn, barley, and rice. The chief export crops are cotton, grown on the Mediterranean coast, and tobacco, grown on the coasts of the Aegean and Black seas. Other commercial crops include figs, raisins, olives, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts, and citrus fruits.
Large parts of the country, especially in the Anatolian plateau, are used only as grazing land. The raising of sheep and goats is an important part of the economy. Sheep are a major source of meat in Turkey. Goat's milk is used to make white, cured cheese. Sheep wool is used in the textile industry, and goat hair is made into mohair.
Manufacturing. Although it employs only about 12 percent of the labor force, Turkish industry, encouraged by government investment, has grown rapidly in recent years. Exports of industrial goods (including processed agricultural products) now exceed agricultural exports in value. Textiles and clothing are the most important manufactured products, followed by iron and steel and processed foods and other agricultural products.
Mining and Transportation. Copper and iron ore have been mined in Turkey since ancient times. Chromium and manganese (used for hardening steel), coal, sulphur, and some petroleum are also produced. Turkey's petroleum deposits supply only a fraction of its needs; the rest must be imported. One Turkish mineral specialty is meerschaum, used in making a kind of smoking pipe. Other mineral resources remain to be more fully developed.
Railroads are state-owned. There are connections with all parts of Europe and the Middle East. All of Turkey's importantcities are linked by rail. Many all-weather roads have been built in recent years. Because of Turkey's long coastline, travel along the coast by regular steamship is also very popular. Air transportation is growing in importance. A Turkish airline connects all large towns, and international flights stop at both Istanbul and Ankara.