Turkey connects Europe and Asia and is balanced between the East and the West. The Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus Straits divide it into Asian and European parts. Eastern Thrace (European Turkey) is only 3% of the total land area of Turkey. The remaining 97% is Anatolia. A vast plateau rises eastwards towards the Caucasus Mountains. Turkey shares its boundaries with Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. It has a rich topography varying between rolling steppes, meandering rivers, rich agricultural valleys and a craggy-beach coastline. It has a 1700 km drive from Edirne on the Bulgarian border to Kars on the Armenian border and a 1000 km hiking distance from the Black Sea in the north to the Mediterranean in the south. Turkey’s coastline is over 6,000 km long and has several popular tourist resorts.
In spite of once being densely forested, Turkey has been shorn of its forests to a great extent. Though some areas still have considerable forested regions the government is encouraging conservation and reforestation. In spring the Steppes are covered with a multitude of flowers. Turkey’s temperate climate and the diverse topography favours the planting of a variety of crops, ranging from apples, apricots, bananas, cherries, citrus fruits, cotton, date palms, grapes, sugar beet to sunflowers and tobacco. Much of the world’s supply of hazel nuts (filberts), pistachios and walnuts are grown in Turkey. Among the cash crops, cotton, and wheat and barley are important.
The animal life in Turkey is quite similar to that in the Balkans, and most of European bears, deer, jackals, lynx, wild boars, wolves and rare leopards. The domestic animals include cattle, horses, donkeys, goats and several varieties of sheep, camels and water buffalo. Bird life is also very rich and varied with many eagles, vultures, storks as well as the rare bald ibis. Bird Sanctuaries have been established in several parts of Turkey.
The coastal waters of Turkey are rich with different kinds of fish, shellfish and other sea creatures, though over fishing and pollution are damaging the sea life of Turkey.