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About Turkey

Location: Turkey is located in southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia (that portion of Turkey west of the Bosporus is geographically part of Europe), bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Georgia, and bordering the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, between Greece and Syria

  • Capital: Ankara
  • Climate: temperate: hot, dry summers with mild, wet winters
  • Population: 74.724.269 (2011 est.)
  • Ethnic Make-up: Turkish 80%, Kurdish 20% (estimated)
  • Religions: Muslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), other 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews)
  • Government: republican parliamentary democracy

The Turkish Language

The official language, Turkish, is the first language spoken by 90% of the 63m population. Minority languages include Kurdish, spoken by 6% of the population. Arabic is spoken by 1.2% of the Turkish population; most of those speakers are bilingual Arabic and Turkish speakers. Other minority languages include Circassian, spoken by more than 0.09% throughout the country, Greek, Armenian and Judezmo, a Romance language spoken by Jews.

Currency – the currency of Turkey is known as the Lira.

Dialling Code – the international dialling code is +90


2. Turkey Overview

Turkey is a historical rich country that is bounded by 4 seas on 3 sides, occupies a relatively large region in Asia and Europe. Four regions were named after the seas bordering them – the Aegean Region, the Mediterranean Region, the Black Sea Region and the Marmara Region. The other three regions were named in accordance with their location in the whole of Anatolia – Central, Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia Regions. The Mediterrenean coastline is the most popular touristic attraction. İt has unique landscapes, Blue Flag beaches and great history all around. More than 20 million tourists visit this beautiful and interesting country every year.

İn Turkey there are many interesting places of interest and many activities. You can enjoy the sandy beaches and the clear seas, visit interesting landscapes, have a look on the historical Ottoman mosques and travel back in time in the world of ancient civilizations.

Why should you visit Turkey?

Turkey is a land of myth, various civilizations, the country that was influenced of varied streams of culture. Owing to its favorable position, Turkey happens to be the bridge between two most important continents on the world:  the East and the West (Europe and Asia) and the point where the three continents of the old world (Europe, Asia and Africa) meet.

This is a place where every visitor can find something for himself. The world-class cuisine, warm hospitality of Turkish people, entertaining facilities, architectural magnificence of the mosques and castles and natural beauty make Turkey an unconquerable touristic attraction.

So if you going to take a splendid holiday – visit Turkey. This Mediterranean country has an ancient charm nestled in a gorgeous natural surrounding, which unites the extremely courteous and warm welcome from the locals.

History of Turkey

Turks began their migration into the area what now is called Turkey in the 11th century. The process was greatly accelerated by the Seljuk victory over the Byzantine Empire at the The Battle of Manzikert. The Seljuk Sultanate ruled Anatolia until the Mongol Empire’s invasion. Starting from the 13th century, the Ottoman Empire united Anatolia and created an empire encompassing much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. After the Ottoman Empire had collapsed following its defeat in World War I, parts of it were occupied by the victorious Allies. A cadre of young military officers, led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk,organized a successful resistance to the Allies and in 1923 they established the modern Republic of Turkeywith Atatürk as its first president.

Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic, with an ancient cultural heritage. Turkey has become increasingly integrated with the West through membership in organizations such as the Council of Europe, NATO, OECD, OSCE and the G-20 major economies. Turkey began full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005, having been an associate member of the European Economic Community since 1963 and having reached a customs union agreement in 1995. Turkey has also fostered close cultural, political, economic and industrial relations with the Middle East, the Turkic states of Central Asia and the African countries through membership in organizations such as the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the Economic Cooperation Organization. Given its strategic location, large as well as powerful economy and army, Turkey is classified as a major regional power.

Climate of Turkey

The climate is mild in the coastal regions owing to the sea influence. The central regions are sealed from the sea by the Northern Anatolian Mountains and the Taurus Mountain Range and display characteristics of a continental climate.

The Mediterranean and Aegean coastal regions up to an altitude of 800 m inland refer to the Mediterranean climate. In this climate summers are hot and droughty, while winters are mild and rainy. Annual rainfall is about 1000 mm in some regions but meaningfully less in others. Snowfall and frost are rare, except for high mountain regions.

Turkish cuisine

Turkey has a rich variety of food that makes it worthwhile just to take a culinary tour. You cannot identify one prevailing Turkish food like pasta in İtaly or wine in France, but the Turks have perfected their cuisine to the excellence that reflects the preciosity of culture.

Turkey has a long repertory of ancient recipes that were perfected by the chefcooks eager to please the Sultans. Turkish food is simple in presentation, its natural flavor is not mixed with different sauces; since the Ottomans made laws to regulate freshness of food, leftovers are rarely found in Turkish homes.

It is said that travelers in Turkey”come for the history but stay for the food”. Make sure you take home a turkish food like Turkish Delight as a souvenir from Turkey.

Etiquette & Customs in Turkey

Meeting and Greeting Etiquette

. When meeting shake hands firmly. When departing it is not always customary to shake hands although it is practised occasionally.
. Friends and relations greet each other with two kisses on cheeks.

Gift Giving Etiquette

. Gift giving has no real place in business relationships or etiquette. Relationship building usually take the form of dining or sight seeing trips.
. However, if a gift is given it will be accepted well. It is always a good idea to bring gifts from your own country such as national food or craft items.
. Turkey is a Muslim country so be sure before giving alcohol as a present that they drink.
. The only time you really need to give gifts is if you are invited to a Turk’s home for dinner. The most usual gifts to take are pastries, (especially ‘baklava’) and decorative items for the home such as ornaments or vases.

Dining Etiquette

Most business entertaining will take place in restaurants. Turks enjoy food, so that the meal is a time for relaxing and having some good conversation.
The protocol of Turkish hospitality dictates that the host always pays for the meal. The principle of sharing a bill is absolutely unfamiliar. You may try and offer to pay, which may be seen as polite, but you would never be allowed to do so.
Evening meals may be accompanied by some alcohol, usually the local tipple called Raký (pronounced rak-uh). It will comprise of a few courses with the main course always meat or fish based, accompanied by bread and a salad.
Tea or Turkish coffee is served at the end of meal. Turkish coffee is a national drink and is really worth tasting. It can be prepared either without sugar, a little sugar or sweet. Don’t drink till the bottom of the cup as it will be full of ground coffee and awful taste.

Business Etiquette

Relationships & Communication

. Turks prefer to do business with those they know and respect, therefore spend time establishing a personal relationship.
. Relationships are fostered in the office, over extended lunches, dinners, and social outings.
. Courtesy is crucial in all business dealings.
. Turks do not require as much personal space as many other cultures and will stand close to you while conversing.
. Do not back away, as this can be construed as unfriendly.
. Discussions may start slowly, with many questions that may seem inappropriate to the purpose of your visit. It is extremely rude to insist that your colleagues get to the point.
. Once a relationship has been established, communication is direct.
. It is vital that you maintain eye contact while speaking since Turks take this as a sign of sincerity.

Business Meeting Etiquette

Appointments are necessary and should be made 1 week before, preferably by telephone.
It is also not a good idea to schedule meetings during Ramazan (Ramadan).

Small talk helps establish a rapport. Do not immediately begin discussing business.

Business Negotiation Etiquette

Always come to Turkey knowing two things. Your success is defined by your ability to build effective personal relationships combined with a clearly outlined and well presented proposal.
Business is personal. Although this is changing with the influx of big multi-nationals and a more corporate culture in some of the larger companies, many businesses are still family owned and run.. Building a relationship with your Turkish counterpart(s) is therefore critical. The first meeting at least should be solely focused on getting to know each other. Once a relationship has been established you can safely move on to business matters.
As well as looking to the person, Turks are also astute business people. Ensure your proposal clearly demonstrates the mutual benefit and profitability of any agreement or partnership.

Naming Conventions

When addressing a Turk the most common method is to call a man by his first name followed by ‘bey’ (pronounced bay). So, Ertan Gonca, would be Ertan Bey. Similarly a woman’s first name would be followed by ‘hanim’ (pronounced ha-num).

A common phrase you will hear Turks using is ‘efendim’ (literally ‘my master’). You may hear this from a waiter, a secretary, taxi driver, doorman, shop staff and many others. It is simply a polite way of addressing people you are not familiar with.

Business Card Etiquette

Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual.
Use both hands to exchange cards.


3. Tips for travelers

Getting a visa

The visa system for Turkey can be both relatively simple. There is no ´one size fits all´ approach, with the availability of visas, type of visas, the cost and duration of stay depend on your nationality.

We should point out that not all nationalities need a tourist or entry visa to enter Turkey. Passport holders of Greece, France, Germany, New Zealand, Japan and Singapore, as well as numerous other nationalities, are entitled to a 90 day stay in Turkey without having to get any visa at all.

Others – including visitors from the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia and Spain – can arrive at the border, pay for a tourist permit or visa and just walk into the country. However, it is better to ask your travel agent about the visa requirement each time you visit Turkey, as there can be changes to the fees or to the rules between visits.

Currency Regulations

Limits: There is no limit on the amount of foreign currency that may be brought into Turkey, but not more than 5 5,000 worth of Turkish currency may be brought into or taken out of the country.

Exchange slips: The exchange slips for the conversion of foreign currency into Turkish lira should be kept, since you may be required to show these when reconverting your Turkish lira back into foreign currency, and when taking souvenirs out of the country (to prove that they have been purchased with legally exchanged foreign currency).

Customs Regulations

On Entry

The following items may be brought into the country duty free:

▪ personal effects of the tourist.
▪ one TV, one colour pocket TV (maximum 16 cm screen), one TV-tape-radio combination, one video recording camera and 5 video cassettes (blank); 5 records, 5 tape cassettes or compact discs.
▪ one video player, cine-projector (8 mm) and 10 rolls of film (blank), one slide projector.
▪ one pocket computer (maximum main memory capacity Ram 128k. Byte), electronic playing devices (without cassette – keyboard).
▪ one transistor radio and portable radio – tape player (its specification to be determined by the Ministry of Finance and Customs), one Walkman or pocket tape recorder, one portable compact disc player.
▪ binoculars (one pair, except night binoculars)
▪ harmonica, mandolin, flageolet, flute, guitar, and accordion (only one of each type, maximum 3 musical instruments).
▪ personal sports equipment.
▪ necessary medical items.
▪ bicycle, baby buggy, toys.
▪ 200 cigarettes and 50 cigars.
▪ 200 grams of tobacco and 200 cigarette papers, or 50 grams of chewing tobacco or 200 grams of pipe tobacco, or 200 grams of snuff.
▪ (In addition to the above allowances, it is possible to purchase 400 cigarettes, 100 cigars, and 500 grams of pipe tobacco from the Turkish Duty Free Shops upon entering the country).
▪ 1.5kg. coffee, 1.5kg. instant coffee, 500 grams of tea.
▪ 1 kilo chocolate and 1 kilo sweets.
▪ 5 (100 cc) or 7 (70 cc) bottles of wines and/or spirits.
▪ five bottles of perfume (120 ml max. each).
▪ one portable typewriter.
▪ one camera with 5 rolls of film.
▪ First aid, and spare parts for the car.
▪ Other items necessary during the journey.

Valuable items and all items with a value of over $ 15,000 must be registered in the owner’s passport upon entering Turkey, for control upon exit.

Antiques brought into the country must be registered in the owner’s passport to avoid difficulties on exit.

Sharp instruments (including camping knives) and weapons may not be brought into the country without special permission.

The bringing into the country, trade, and consumption of marijuana and all other narcotics is strictly forbidden and subject to heavy punishment.

Gifts, not exceeding 500 DM in value and not for trading purposes, may be brought into the country duty free. In addition, gifts not exceeding 500 OM in value may be posted to Turkey duty free, if the date stamped by the sending post office falls one month before, or one month after the following holidays: Seker Bayrami, Kurban Bayrami, Christmas, and New Year’s.

Note: Cellular Telephones entering the country must be accompanied by a certification form showing ownership. Ownership must be documented in the passport of the owner and will be checked on entry and exit. For more information contact the Ministry of Transportation, General Directorate at Tel: (312) 2123572-2126010 (10 lines), Fax: (312) 2213226 or write to Ulastirma Bakanligi Telsiz Gn. Md. Emek – Ankara.

On exit

Gifts and souvenirs: for a new carpet, a proof of purchase.

Exporting antiques from Turkey is forbidden.

Valuable personal items can only be taken out of the country providing they have been registered in the owner’s passport upon entry, or providing they can show they have been purchased with legally exchanged currency.

Minerals may only be exported from the country with a special document obtained from the MTA (General Directorate of Mining Exploration and Research). Etüdler Dairesi 06520, Ankara. Tel: (312) 2873430/1622, Fax: (312) 2854271

Tax Refund

You Can Receive a Tax Refund for the Goods You Purchased In Turkey!

Refunds will be made to travellers who do not reside in Turkey.

All goods (including food and drinks) are included in the refunds with the exclusion of services rendered.

The minimum amount of purchase that qualifies for refund is 5.000.000 TL.

Retailers that qualify for tax refunds must be “authorised for refund.” These retailers must display a permit received from their respective tax office.

The retailer will make four copies of the receipt for your refund, three of which will be received by the purchaser. If photocopies of the receipt are received the retailer must sign and stamp the copies to validate them. If you prefer the refund to be made by check, a Tax-free Shopping Check for the amount to be refunded to the customer must be given along with the receipt.

For the purchaser to benefit from this exemption he must leave the country within three months with the goods purchased showing them to Turkish customs officials along with the appropriate receipts and/or check.

Additional information: Ministry of Finance and Tax Dept. General Directorate, (Maliye Bakanligi, Gelirler Genel Müdürlügü) KDV Subesi 06100, Ulus – Ankara. Tel: (312) 3103880/725-728-735, Fax: (312) 3114510.

Health Regulations for Pets

For those who wish to bring domestic animals into the country the following are required:

▪ Pets have to be 3 months and older

▪ An International Certificate of Health issued within 15 days before the travel

▪ The Identification Card

▪ Vaccination Card

Note: If you have an official certificate, you may bring one cat, one bird, one dog and 10 aquarium fish into the country.

Motorist Rules

Those who wish to enter the country with their vans, minibuses, automobiles, station wagons, bicycles, motorcycles, motorbikes, sidecars, buses, motor coaches, trailers, caravans or other transport vehicles, will have to provide the following documentations:

▪ Passport.

▪ International driving license.

▪ Car license (document where all details related to the car and the owner’s name are registered). If it is somebody else’s vehicle a power of attorney should be provided.

▪ International green card (Insurance card). The TR sign should be visible.

▪ Transit book “Carnet de passage” (for those who want to proceed to the Middle East).

Period: The vehicle can be brought into Turkey for up to 6 Months. The owner should declare on the opposite form, the date of departure at the border gate declared. If for any important reason the staying period has to be ended, it is necessary to apply to:

▪ The Turkish Touring and Automobile Club (Türkiye Turing ve Otomobil Kurumu) 1. Sanayi Sitesi Yani, 4.Levent, Istanbul, Tel: (212) 2828140, or to The General Directorate of Customs (Gümrükler Genel Müdürlügü), Ulus Ankara Tel: (312) 3103880, 3103818, Fax: (312) 3111346, before the end of the period declared.

In Case of Accident: The accident should be reported to the police. That report has to be certified by the nearest local authority. The owner should apply to the customs authority with his passport and report.

If the vehicle can be repaired, it is necessary to inform the customs authority first and take the vehicle to a garage. If the vehicle is not repairable and if the owner wishes to leave the country without his vehicle, he has to deliver it to the nearest customs office, and the registration of his vehicle on his passport will be cancelled. (Only after the cancellation can the owner of the vehicle leave the country.)

Following an accident, you can telephone:

▪ Trafik Polisi (Traffic Police) Tel :154

▪ Jandarma (Gendarme) Tel :156

For more information, contact the Touring and Automobile Association of Turkey.

Underwater Diving

Diving for purposes of sport, with proper equipment and in non-restricted areas, is permitted. Foreign divers should have official documentation of their specifics and training and must be accompanied, when diving, by a licensed Turkish guide.

The limit for diving with diving gear is 30 metres. For educational purposes, this limit is extended to 42 metres. Dives exceeding 30 metres must be carried out with proper diving and medical equipment.

Postal System

Turkish post-offices are easily recognized by their black PTT letters on a yellow background. Major post offices are open from 8:00 a.m. till 12:00 p.m., Monday/Saturday, and 9:00 a.m. till 7:00 p.m., Sunday.

All PTT branches have the facilities to exchange money at the current international exchange rates, as well as international postal orders and travellers’ cheques. To phone from PTT telephone booths, which are extensively found in all areas; telephone cards , and tokens (“;jetton”) in three sizes are used. Local, inter-city and international calls can be made from all PTT offices. Besides these main offices there are also mobile PTT services in the tourist areas. For the area codes of major cities and tourist areas in Turkey, please see the “Area Codes” list. Foreign countries area codes are indicated in the International Telephone Codes list.

Some important service numbers are:

▪ 155 Police

▪ 112 Emergency

▪ 110 Fire

▪ 118 Unknown Numbers

▪ 161 PTT Information.

Tourist Health

Turkish Tourist Health Society (Turizm Sagligi Dernegi-Hacettepe Üniversitesi Tip Fakültesi Plastik ve Rekonstrüktif Cerrahi Ana Bilim Dali, Sihhiye 06100 ANKARA Tel: (312) 311 93 93-310 98 08) performs the functions below, to provide the travellers in the entire country, mainly in the tourist regions, with proper health care:

▪ to secure food hygiene

▪ to prevent environmental pollution

▪ to ensure hygiene and healthy working-conditions in tourist establishments.

Working Hours

Government Offices:

▪ Monday-Friday (8:30-12:30), (13:30-17:30).
▪ Saturday-Sunday (closed)


▪ Monday-Friday (8:30-12-00), (13:30-17:00)
▪ Saturday-Sunday (closed)

Other Practical Information

Local time:

▪ GMT+3 hours (April-September) GMT+2 hours (October-March)

Time Differences:

▪ France: -1
▪ Netherlands: -1
▪ Australia: +8
▪ Germany: -1
▪ Austria: -1
▪ Greece: 0
▪ Sweden: -1
▪ Italy: -1
▪ Switzerland: -1
▪ England: -2
▪ USA: -7 (EST), -10 (WEST)

* These time differences are for the period October-March; however, they may show variances according to each country’s own time-saving adjustments.

Newspapers and Magazines:

Foreign newspapers and magazines are available in big cities and tourist areas. Also there is a Turkish daily newspaper, Daily News, published in English.


At various establishments like hotels, restaurants, Turkish baths, barbers and hairdressers, tipping at a rate of 5%-15% of the total is common. Taxi and “dolmus” drivers on the other hand, do not expect tips or even rounded fares.

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