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GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE ;
Turkey is a transcontinental Eurasian country. Asian Turkey (made up largely of Anatolia), which includes 97% of the country, is separated from European Turkey by the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles (which together form a water link between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean). European Turkey (eastern Thrace or Rumelia in the Balkan peninsula) includes 3% of the country.
The territory of Turkey is more than 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) long and 800 km (500 mi) wide, with a roughly rectangular shape. Turkey's area, inclusive of lakes, occupies 783,562 square kilometres (300,948 sq mi), of which 755,688 square kilometres (291,773 sq mi) are in Southwest Asia and 23,764 square kilometres (9,174 sq mi) in Europe. Turkey's area makes it the world's 37th-largest country, and is about the size of Metropolitan France and the United Kingdom combined. Turkey is encircled by seas on three sides: the Aegean Sea to the west, the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Turkey also contains the Sea of Marmara in the northwest.
Ölüdeniz Beach near Fethiye on the Turkish RivieraThe European section of Turkey, in the northwest, is Eastern Thrace, and forms the borders of Turkey with Greece and Bulgaria. The Asian part of the country, Anatolia (also called Asia Minor), consists of a high central plateau with narrow coastal plains, between the Köroğlu and East-Black Sea mountain range to the north and the Taurus Mountains to the south. Eastern Turkey has a more mountainous landscape, and is home to the sources of rivers such as the Euphrates, Tigris and Aras, and contains Lake Van and Mount Ararat, Turkey's highest point at 5,165 metres (16,946 ft).
Turkey is geographically divided into seven regions: Marmara, Aegean, Black Sea, Central Anatolia, Eastern Anatolia, Southeastern Anatolia and the Mediterranean. The uneven north Anatolian terrain running along the Black Sea resembles a long, narrow belt. This region comprises approximately one-sixth of Turkey's total land area. As a general trend, the inland Anatolian plateau becomes increasingly rugged as it progresses eastward.
Mt. Ararat is the highest peak in Turkey at 5,165 m (16,946 ft)Turkey's varied landscapes are the product of complex earth movements that have shaped the region over thousands of years and still manifest themselves in fairly frequent earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions. The Bosporus and the Dardanelles owe their existence to the fault lines running through Turkey that led to the creation of the Black Sea. There is an earthquake fault line across the north of the country from west to east, which caused a major earthquake in 1999.
The coastal areas of Turkey bordering the Mediterranean Sea have a temperate Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet and cold winters. Conditions can be much harsher in the more arid interior. Mountains close to the coast prevent Mediterranean influences from extending inland, giving the central Anatolian plateau of the interior of Turkey a continental climate with sharply contrasting seasons. Winters on the plateau are especially severe. Temperatures of −30 °C to −40 °C (−22 °F to -40 °F) can occur in the mountainous areas in the east, and snow may lie on the ground 120 days of the year. In the west, winter temperatures average below 1 °C (34 °F). Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures generally above 30 °C (86 °F) in the day. Annual precipitation averages about 400 millimetres (15 in), with actual amounts determined by elevation. The driest regions are the Konya plain and the Malatya plain, where annual rainfall frequently is less than 300 millimetres (12 in). May is generally the wettest month, whereas July and August are the most dry.
The population of Turkey stood at 71.5 million with a growth rate of 1.31% per annum, based on the 2008 Census. It has an average population density of 92 persons per km². The proportion of the population residing in urban areas is 70.5%. People within the 15–64 age group constitute 66.5% of the total population, the 0–14 age group corresponds 26.4% of the population, while 65 years and higher of age correspond to 7.1% of the total population. According to the CIA Factbook, life expectancy stands at 70.67 years for men and 75.73 years for women, with an overall average of 73.14 years for the populace as a whole. Education is compulsory and free from ages 6 to 15. The literacy rate is 95.3% for men and 79.6% for women, with an overall average of 87.4%. The low figures for women are mainly due to the traditional customs of the Arabs and Kurds who live in the southeastern provinces of the country.
Article 66 of the Turkish Constitution defines a "Turk" as "anyone who is bound to the Turkish state through the bond of citizenship"; therefore, the legal use of the term "Turkish" as a citizen of Turkey is different from the ethnic definition. However, the majority of the Turkish population are of Turkish ethnicity. Other major ethnic groups (large portions of whom have been extensively Turkicized since the Seljuk and Ottoman periods) include the Abkhazians, Adjarians, Albanians, Arabs, Assyrians, Bosniaks, Circassians, Hamshenis, Kurds, Laz, Pomaks, Roma, Zazas and the three officially recognized minorities (per the Treaty of Lausanne), i.e. the Armenians, Greeks and Jews. There is also a population of Afro-Turks within Turkey who mostly live in the western coastal cities of the country and are largely mixed with the local population through intermarriage. Minorities of West European origin include the Levantines (Turkish: Levanten, English: Levanter, mostly of French, Genoese and Venetian descent) who have been present in the country (particularly in Istanbul and Izmir) since the medieval period; or the Bosporus Germans and Istanbul Poles who have lived in Turkey since the 19th century. The Kurds, a distinct ethnic group concentrated mainly in the southeastern provinces of the country, are the largest non-Turkic ethnicity. Minorities other than the three officially recognized ones do not have any special group privileges, while the term "minority" itself remains a sensitive issue in Turkey. Reliable data on the exact ethnic repartition of the population is not available since the Turkish census figures do not include racial figures. Turkish is the sole official language throughout Turkey. Reliable figures for the linguistic repartition of the populace are not available for reasons similar to those cited above. Nevertheless, the public broadcaster TRT broadcasts programmes in local languages and dialects of Arabic, Bosnian, Circassian and Kurdish a few hours a week. A fully fledged Kurdish language television channel, TRT 6, was opened in early 2009.
Turkey is officially a secular republic, with no official state religion; the Turkish Constitution provides the freedom of religion and conscience, but does not represent or promote a religion. The population of Turkey is predominantly Muslim (99%), the majority are Sunni (75%) and a large minority are Alevi (15-25%). The remainder of the population are mainly Christians (mostly Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic) and Jews (96% Sephardi and 4% Ashkenazi.) According to a nationwide survey in 2007, 96.8% of Turkish citizens have a religion, while 3.2% are irreligious and atheists. 56% of male Muslim citizens regularly attend Friday prayers. According to a Pew Research Center report in 2002, 65% of the people believe "religion is very important", while according to a Eurobarometer poll in 2005, 95% of citizens responded that they believe "there is a God".
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