TURKEY TRAVEL GUIDE

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

Turkey extends for 1,600 km/1,000 mi from west to east. A small part of the country, Turkish Thrace, west of the Bosphorus, is geographically in Europe; it borders Greece & Bulgaria on the west & has a similar climate. The rest of the country, Anatolia or Asia Minor, is strictly in Asia.

Anatolia consists of a high plateau, which becomes more mountainous towards the east where the country borders Georgia, Armenia, & Iran. It is enclosed by the Pontic ranges in the north & the Taurus & Anti-Taurus in the south. These mountains & isolated volcanic peaks such as Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey rise to well over 3,000 m/10,000 ft & may carry snow throughout the year.

There are thus considerable differences of climate within Turkey. The narrow coastlands & mountain slopes facing the Black Sea on the north, the Aegean on the west & the Mediterranean on the south have wetter & milder winters than the interior.

The interior plateau has low rainfall & cold or very cold winters. Towards the east the winter cold is similar to that found in parts of the Russian Federation. Except at higher levels, summers in the interior are warm or even hot with occasional thunderstorms. Winter precipitation here falls mostly as snow & towards the east this may lie on the ground for between three & four months.

The coastal regions have much milder winters & here snow is rare. Turkish Thrace, around Istanbul & the Black Sea coast, is a little colder in winter than the west & south coasts. The Black Sea coast has some rain all the year round & east of Samsun this becomes heavy in the summer & autumn. Summers here are warm & humid & the weather is often changeable & cloudy.

South of Istanbul the Aegean & Mediterranean coasts have a typical Mediterranean climate with increasingly dry, hot summers. Here midwinter is the rainy season when most of the disturbed weather occurs.

The hottest & driest area of Turkey in summer is the low-lying plain at the foot of the Taurus Mountains along the border with Syria. Here conditions become typical of the Middle East. The region is a semi-arid steppe with only winter rain.

Except for the eastern part of the Black Sea coastlands, most of Turkey has a very sunny climate even in winter. Average daily sunshine amounts range from three to four hours in midwinter to as much as twelve to thirteen hours in summer.

Although summer temperatures are rather high, the heat is tempered by the low humidity inland & the sea breezes along the coast. Occasionally the nights may be sticky & humid on the Aegean & Mediterranean coasts. The worst feature of the climate is the severe cold experienced in the interior in winter & occasionally in early spring.

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