So, you are moving to Turkey! To help you best prepare, here is a cheat sheet outlining some of the most noteworthy features of your new country.
Geography and climate in Turkey
A sizeable country of 783,560 square kilometres (about the combined size of the United Kingdom and France), Turkey shares borders with Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Iraq and Syria, and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean Sea.
A vast majority of the Turkish territory lays in Anatolia, in Asia, although 3% of the country is located in the European Balkans.
Climate varies significantly according to regional conditions. Central and eastern Anatolia are marked by a continental climate, with hot summers and cold, snowy winters from November to February, while the western coast has a Mediterranean climate with lukewarm winters and rainier summers. In the northern seaside regions (Istanbul included), a high humidity rate further aggravates extreme hot and cold temperatures.
Good to know:
A common complaint among Istanbul-dwellers crushed by the August heat is "esmiyor"! (which could be translated as “the wind won’t blow!”), and it has become a widespread internet meme.
Turkey's economy and politics
As of 2016 the country’s population amounted to some 79 million inhabitants. With a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of USD 721 billion, Turkey is the 18th economic power worldwide. The country’s economic mainstays include textile, agriculture, automotive and electrical appliances manufacture.
Turkey has achieved outstanding economic performance over the past years. Macroeconomic and fiscal stability have contributed to boost export, employment and purchasing power have significantly progressed, and poverty incidence halved between 2002 and 2012. More recently, the economy has registered a slowdown, contributing to a devaluation of the national currency, the Turkish lira.
Turkey is a parliamentary representative democracy, currently ruled by the AKP (Justice and Development Party) under the stewardship of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The country is also a member state of the European Council, of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Heir to the Ottoman empire, which used to rule over a huge territory encompassing large swathes of the Middle-East, Eastern Europe and North Africa, Turkey stands at the crossroads between civilisations and its culture bears the mark of a broad range of influences. For more information about Turkish culture please consult our article about the Turkish lifestyle.
The country’s cultural profile keeps increasing, notably boosted by the TV entertainment industry: the second-largest soap opera exporter after the US, Turkey exports TV series to more than 90 countries in Eastern Europe, the Arab world or Latin America.
Expats in Turkey
A gateway between Europe and Asia, Turkey acts as a magnet for expats regardless of their home country. Turkey’s major cities — Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir — are home to large communities of American, European, Iranian but also increasingly Asian and Arabic expats. Many work in the service industry, often at positions enabling them to make the most of their language skills (such as teacher or tourism manager positions).
Expats frequently come together, so look out, there are probably expat-oriented grassroots events and activities staged in the vicinity of your new home in Turkey!