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Turkey

From the ancient Hittites to the Ottomans, dozens of civilisations have made Turkey their home, leaving behind them a dazzling historical and archaeological heritage. But despite its ancient roots, Turkey is a rapidly developing modern state. Born from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, the country was transformed by its far-sighted and ambitious first leader Kemal Ataturk. Since his death, the republic has maintained its Western orientation and European aspirations, despite the often-strong counter-current of traditionalism and Islam.

Practical Information

Area: 779 452 km² (300 948 miles²)

Capital: Ankara. Population: 3.5 million

Population: 73.3 million

Currency: New Turkish Lira (TRY symbol YTL) = 100 New Kurus (Ykr)

Government: Republic since 1923.

Tipping: A service charge is included in hotel and restaurant bills. It is customary to leave a small tip (10 to 12%) for barbers, hairdressers and waiters.

Legal drinking age: 18

Time zone: GMT + 2 (GMT + 3 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)

Languages: Turkish

Additional descriptions

Turkey: Social customs

Shaking hands is the normal form of greeting. Hospitality is very important and visitors should respect Islamic customs. Informal wear is acceptable, but beachwear should be confined to the beach or poolside.Read more Smoking is widely acceptable but prohibited in cinemas, theatres, buses, coaches and dolmuses (collective taxis).

Turkey: Food and local specialties

Turkish food combines culinary traditions from the people’s nomadic past in Central Asia with influences of the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Guests are usually able to go into a kitchen andRead more choose from the pots if they cannot understand the names of the dishes. Things to know: Turkey is a secular state and alcohol is widely enjoyed, although during Ramadan it is considered polite for visitors to avoid drinking alcohol in public. The national specialties are: Meze (starters brought to your table on trays or chosen from glass-fronted refrigerators). Shish kebab (pieces of meat threaded on a skewer and grilled). Doner kebab (pieces of lamb packed tightly round a revolving spit). Dolma (vine leaves or vegetables stuffed with pine nuts and currants). Turkish Delight (originally made from dates, honey, roses and jasmine bound by Arabic gum and designed to sweeten the breath after coffee). Raki (anisette), known as ’lion’s milk’, which clouds when water is added. Drinking raki is a ritual and is traditionally accompanied by a variety of meze. Ayran (a refreshing yoghurt drink). Tea. Strong black Turkish coffee. Turkish beer, red and white wines.

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