We have put together a list of interesting and occasionally strange facts about Turkey and Istanbul. Some might seem a little over the top, but we have done our homework and they are all correct, arright?! These facts might actually come in very handy as conversation starters if you ever want to chat up some Turkish people 🙂 So here is our Turkey Trivia post.
- Turkey is the largest producer and exporter of Hazelnuts in the world. It is estimated by the United Nations that Turkey is responsible for over 74% of the world consumption of hazelnuts. Next time you are eating a chocolate bar with hazelnuts, consider the very possible fact that the nuts may have come from the lush and fertile lands of Turkey.
- Here’s a good one to remember next time you sip a mocha, Turks introduced coffee to Europe! It was first given to the Italians by the ruling Ottoman Empire in the 1500s. From there it saw a rise in popularity and coffee houses became a familiar site in many European countries.
- The seven churches of revelation mentioned in the bible can all be found in Turkey. It is said that the seven revelations are related to cities as opposed to churches and it is still possible to walk around the historic ruins of many of these cities. Most of them are located on the Aegean coast of Turkey.
- Turkey is not the only secular and democratic Muslim country in the world, but it is one of the few countries that has both characteristics.
There are several other Muslim-majority countries that have democratic political systems, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Senegal. However, these countries may not have the same level of separation between religion and state as Turkey does.
There are also other Muslim-majority countries that have secular political systems, such as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. However, these countries may not have the same level of democratic freedoms and human rights protections as Turkey does.
When the Republic of Turkey was formed in 1923, it marked the beginning of a massive shift in policies and ideologies.
- Turkey is classed as agriculturally self-sufficient. This means that it does not rely on other countries for food imports. Turkey is known throughout the world for producing a number of different items including figs, barley, tomatoes, egg plants, green peppers and lentils. Next time you are in your local supermarket, keep an eye for the delicious Turkish exports that line the shelves.
- Istanbul is one of the oldest settlements in the world. The Neolithic settlement in Istanbul’s peninsula dates back to the 7th millennium BC. The first known name of Istanbul was Byzantion, which was given by the Dorians, who established a colony in Istanbul in 667 B.C. The name was later changed to Constantinople following the death of Emperor Constantine in 337 A.D. Constantinople became the centre of the magnificent Roman Empire and, in its prime, it was classed as the wealthiest city in Europe. After 1453 Constantinople became the centre of The Ottoman Empire, which ruled many countries for over 600 years. Istanbul also happens to be the only city in the world that is on two continents. Istanbul (the city’s new name since 1930) is now a very modern city and is the center of trade and culture in Turkey (though not the capital – that title belongs to Ankara).
- The famous Trojan Wars took place in Western Turkey, around the site where the Trojan horse rests today.
- The oldest known human settlement is in Catalhoyuk, Turkey (7th Millenium B.C.)
- The first church built by man (St. Peter’s Church) is in Antioch (Antakya), Turkey
- Tradition in Turkey says that a stranger at one’s doorstep is considered “God’s guest” for at least three days
- Turkey is noted for having one of the top three most famous and distinctive traditional cuisines in the world.
- Julius Caesar proclaimed his celebrated words, “Veni, Vid, Vici” (“I came, I saw, I conquered”) in Turkey when he defeated the Pontus, a formidable kingdom in the Black Sea region of Turkey
- One related (!) thing: There are currently 82 shopping malls only in Istanbul!
- The number of species of flowers in Turkey is approximately 9,000, of which 3,000 are endemic. In all of Europe, for instance, there are 11,500 species. This shows the richness of flora and fauna in Anatolia.
- The most popular sport in Turkey is soccer (football). The Turkish Football team placed third in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Basketball and volleyball are also popular sports.
- Turkey is the place where the most expensive gas in the world is available. Almost $10 a gallon right now…
- Every fit Turkish male is required to serve in the military for some time. This can range from 6 to 15 months, depending on the education of the person. (In some rare cases, for only 3 weeks)
- The average life expectancy is just over 73 years
- Over 30 million tourists visited Turkey in 2011. (these numbers has made Turkey the 6th most visited country in the world.
- Sultan Beyazit II dispatched the Ottoman Navy to bring the Jewish people who were expelled from Spain in 1492 safely to Ottoman lands
- Turkey is the 6th biggest grape producers in the world
- Jelly beans got started as an American form of Turkish Delight
- Turkish people are also very inquisitive: A typical conversation with a Turkish person you’ve just met might go something like this: “What country are you from?… How old are you?… Are you married?… Is your husband / wife Turkish?… Do you have children?… What is your star sign?” (they particularly love that last one). If you come from a different culture, these might seem like very personal questions. Compared to people in U.K., the Turkish people I know are much more comfortable talking freely about personal details, even with someone they don’t know well.
- Don’t mention midnight express: This is possibly the one thing that makes Turkish people cringe the most and therefore, one the weirdest facts we will list on this Turkey Trivia. The screenwriter of Midnight Express has apologized for the film’s negative portrayal of the Turkish people, but Turks feel they have to explain to the world that you shouldn’t believe everything you see at the movies.
- According to a German rental car company’s survey, Italians are the worst drivers in Europe. And Turkish people are a close 2nd! Of course, don’t mention this to them either…
- When a turkey gets mad, excited, or defensive, his/her head and neck changes color, and the more excited a turkey becomes the whiter the head and neck will also become.
Ooops sorry! That last one was about turkeys, not Turkey. Copy-pasting mistake I guess. 🙂