Geography

Turkey

The Republic of Turkey, located in south-eastern Europe and south-western Asia, is bordered on the north-west by Bulgaria and Greece; on the north by the Black Sea; on the north-east by Georgia and Armenia; on the east by Iran and the Azerbaijani exclave of Naxçývan; on the south by Iraq, Syria, and the Mediterranean Sea; and on the west by the Aegean Sea. The main area of Turkey, Anatolia, is in Asia while about 3 percent of the country (Thrace) lies in Europe. The total area is 779 452 km2.

Gently rolling, fertile plains cover Thrace and extend along the Black Sea coast of Anatolia. Along the coast of the Aegean Sea are broad, fertile river valleys. A narrow strip of fertile land lies along the Mediterranean Sea.

Much of Anatolia is a high plateau surrounded by mountains. The Western Plateau is a region of irregular highlands and scattered river valleys while the Eastern Plateau is a rugged area of towering mountains and barren plains. It extends from the Western Plateau to Turkey's eastern border. Mount Ararat, the country's highest point, rises 5 137 meters above sea level near the Iranian border.

The Northern or Pontic Mountains largely isolate the Anatolian Plateau from the plains along the Black Sea. The Southern Mountains consist of the Taurus Mountains and several smaller ranges on the southern edge of the Anatolian Plateau, which similarly cuts off the plateau from the Mediterranean Sea. The Taurus and Pontic Mountains meet in the Eastern Plateau.

In the far south-east, the Mesopotamian Lowlands consist of fertile plains and river valleys.

With several active seismic zones within its boundaries, Turkey is subject to frequent earthquakes.

Turkey has several large saltwater lakes and numerous rivers, but many of the rivers in the dry areas are seasonal. The eastern highlands are the source for both the Tigris (Dicle) and Euphrates (Furât) rivers. The Kýzýlýrmak, 1 150 km long, empties into the Black Sea while the Büyükmenderes (ancient Meander) drains western Anatolia into the Aegean Sea. Van Gölü (Lake Van) and Tuz Gölü (Lake Tuz) are large salt lakes while freshwater lakes include Lakes Beysehir, Eðridir, and Burdur.

Thrace and the south and west coasts of Anatolia have a Mediterranean climate with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. Summer temperatures along the Aegean often rise above 32° C. Istanbul has an average temperature range in January of 3° to 8° C and 18° to 28° C in July, with about 800 mm of precipitation. The Black Sea coast has cooler summers, with an average temperature of about 22° C. Yearly rainfall in coastal areas averages from 500 to 770 mm along the Aegean and Mediterranean to more than 2 500 mm near the Black Sea.

North-eastern Turkey has mild summers but bitterly cold winters. Temperatures sometimes fall to -40° C. South-eastern Turkey and the interior of Anatolia have cold winters, often with heavy snows. Summers are hot, windy, and extremely dry. Ankara has an average temperature range of -4° to 4° C in January and 15° to 30° C in July with annual precipitation averaging about 350 mm.

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

last updated:  Monday, May 28, 2012