29 interesting facts about Türkiye (Turkey)

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The most interesting facts about Türkiye, from the origins of Santa Claus to the final resting place of Noah’s Ark.

Interesting facts about Türkiye include its many ancient ruins
Interesting facts about Türkiye include its many ancient ruins (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Türkiye
Population: 83 million
Area: 783,562 sq km
Capital city: Ankara
Major languages: Turkish, Kurdish
Major religions: Islam
Time zone: UTC+3 (Time in Turkey)
– Source: CIA World Factbook

Interesting facts about Türkiye (Turkey)

1. Türkiye is a country in Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia, bordering Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
– Source: Britannica

2. Until recently, Türkiye was known as Turkey. However, in 2022, Turkey formally changed its name to Türkiye in a bid to dissociate the country from the bird of the same name and the negative connotations associated with it.
– Source: The Guardian

3. Türkiye is a transcontinental country as straddles the two continents of Europe and Asia.
– Source: BBC News

A map of Türkiye
A map of Türkiye (Shutterstock)

4. 97% of Türkiye is located in Asia and is referred to as Anatolia. The remaining 3% of the country lies in Europe and goes by the names of European Turkey, Eastern Thrace or Turkish Thrace.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

5. Türkiye used to be the centre of the Ottoman Empire, one of the longest-lasting dynasties in world history. The Ottoman Empire was founded in 1299 and lasted until 1922.
– Source: The History Channel

6. Türkiye was declared an independent republic on October 29 1923, when army officer Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded the independent Republic of Turkey. He served as Turkey’s first president from 1923 until his death in 1938.
– Source: The History Channel

Türkiye's flag flying against a dark blue sky
Türkiye’s flag (Shutterstock)

7. Türkiye’s flag is made up of a red background)with a central white star and crescent. The design is similar to the Ottoman Empire’s flag with the moon and star serving as the insignia for Turkic peoples. One explanation is that the design represents the reflection of the moon and a star in the blood of Turkish warriors.
– Source: Moira Butterfield (2019) The Flag Book. Lonely Planet Kids: London

8. Many Christians believe that Mount Ararat, located in Türkiye, is the final resting place of the legendary Noah’s ark. Several expeditions have claimed to have found the remains of the ark, but none are convincing.
– Source: National Geographic

9. Istanbul, Türkiye’s biggest city, is the only metropolis in the world located on two continents: Europe and Asia. It spans the Bosphorus Strait body of water.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

Istanbul with the Bosphorus Strait running through it
Istanbul spans the Bosphorus Strait (Shutterstock)

10. Türkiye has 19 properties inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and a further 84 properties on the Tentative List of sites to be submitted for nomination.
– Source: UNESCO

11. One of these is the Archaeological Site of Troy, one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world where the siege of warriors from Greece in the 13th or 12th century BC took place.
– Source: UNESCO

12. Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s oldest covered markets. Dating back to 1461, the market has over 250,000 visitors a day, more than 3,000 stalls and was listed as the world’s most visited tourist attraction in 2014.
– Source: Lonely Planet, The Guardian

market stalls inside Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar
Inside Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (Shutterstock)

13. Istanbul used to be known as Constantinople and was the capital of both the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Empire.
– Source: Britannica

14. The story of Santa Claus originates in Türkiye. The legend stems from around 280 AD when a monk named St. Nicholas was born in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Türkiye.
– Source: The History Channel

15. The UNESCO–listed travertines (or terraces) of Pamukkale are one of the most photogenic spots in Türkiye. Meaning “Cotton Palace”, the calcite-heavy waters were part of the ancient thermal spa of Hierapolis where Cleopatra supposedly bathed.
– Source: UNESCO, The Guardian

The terraces of Pamukkale
The terraces of Pamukkale (Shutterstock)

16. Türkiye is thought to be home to the world’s first temple, Gobekli Tepe, which is around 11,000 years old – Stonehenge by 6,000 years.
– Source: The Smithsonian

17. The historic Silk Road, the ancient trading route that connected China with Europe and the Middle East, ran through Türkiye.
– Source: UNESCO

18. A widespread gift and souvenir in Türkiye is the “evil eye”, eye-shaped blue amulets believed to date back to at least 3,300 BC. However, recently the state-run religious authority has proclaimed the use of the talismans is prohibited under Islam.
– Source: Al Jazeera

Evil eyes for sale in Türkiye
Evil eyes for sale in Türkiye (Shutterstock)

19. Türkiye means “Land of the Turks”.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

20. It’s officially illegal to wear a Fez in Türkiye. Kemal Atatürk introduced the “Hat Law” in 1925 and banned the fez as it was seen to symbolise the Ottoman Empire. The law has never been officially overturned.
– Source: The Independent

21. Another famous site in Türkiye is the UNESCO-listed Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia. The region is home to a surreal landscape sculpted by erosion as well as troglodyte villages and underground towns dating back to the 4th century.
– Source: UNESCO

Caves and surreal rock formations in Göreme National Park
Göreme National Park in Türkiye (Shutterstock)

21. Türkiye is the world’s largest exporter of hazelnuts, exporting over 70% of the world’s hazelnuts.
– Source: BBC News, Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC)

23. Türkiye has two Nobel Prize winners. Orhan Pamuk won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature 2006 and Aziz Sancar won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
– Source: Nobel Prize1, 2

24. Türkiye’s most popular tourist attraction is Aya Sofya (also known as Hagia Sophia). The building was originally built as a cathedral in 537 AD, it then became a mosque in 1453 until 1934 when it was declared a museum. In 2020, it was announced it would become a mosque again.
– Source: Lonely Planet, National Geographic

Aya Sofya in istanbul
Türkiye’s most popular tourist attraction is Aya Sofya (Shutterstock)

25. Istanbul was ranked the 34th most powerful city in the world.
– Source: Global Power City Index, Mori Memorial Foundation

26. Of all Türkiye’s ancient cities and classical ruins, Ephesus is considered the grandest and best preserved. The ancient Greek and Roman city is the site of the renowned Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
– Source: Lonely Planet, UNESCO

27. Türkiye was also home to another of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. The tomb of Mausolus was built between about 353 and 351 BC.
– Source: Britannica

Interesting facts about Türkiye include its many ancient ruins
Ephesus (Shutterstock)

28. Türkiye has the fourth-highest net migration in the world receiving a net total of 1,763,078 migrants during a five-year period.
– Source: World Bank

29. Türkiye is the sixth most visited country in the world, receiving 51.2 million visitors in 2019 according to the latest edition of the International Tourism Highlights report.
– Source: UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about Türkiye using primary sources. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.