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The Geography of Turkey

Asia Minor is bordered on all sides by seas and mountain ranges. Most of the north coast looks out across the Black Sea, while the west coast is divided from Europe by the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, the Dardanelles and the Aegean. The south coast is bordered by the Mediterranean With the broad sweep of the Taurus Mountains only a few kilometres inland. The mountain ranges in the east bordering Iran and Armenia rise to heights of between 4000m (13,120ff) and 5,000m (16,400ff). The mighty Pontic Mountains run parallel to the north coast, reaching their highest point (3,937m (12,913ff)) in the Kaškar Daglari to the east.

If one looks at a physical map of the world, it is clear that the Turkish mountains are part of the Alpine told mountain range that runs through southern Europe and Turkey to the Caucasus and into central Asia. They form a girdle around the central plateau of Anatolia.

At one time Anatolia (Anadolu in Turkish) referred to the whole of Asia Minor, but the name is nowadays restricted to the central plateau. In the Quaternary Period (about 12,000 years ago), this plateau rose by an average of 1,100m (3,600ff). It is an inhospitable region of arid steppes, salt wastes and bare uncharted mountains. But in the. course of time the Turks have been able to reclaim some of the steppes for agricultural purposes. Thus the hot plains of Konya Ovasi are now covered in wheat, while rivers such as the Tigris and Euphrates are bordered by green fields and pastures. Even the area around Erzurum (1,95Cm (6,396ff) ) is planted with wheat and sugar beet.

The land area of Turkey is given as 767,000Sq km or 782,000sq kin, (about 300,000 sq miles) depending on whether or not the European portion is included. Its land borders amount to 2,631km altogether, including 590km with the Soviet Union, 451km with Iran, 380km with Iraq, and as many as 790km with Syria. The European borders with Greece and Bulgaria are each just over 200km long.The coastline reaches a total length of 6,600km.Asia Minor,which forms the majority of modern Turkey,is 1,6000km from east to west and 650km from north to south.

The earth's crust is relatively thin in this part of the world.The country suffers from frequent earthquakes, some of which have been known to destroy towns. But the most destructive earthquakes occur mainly in regions not frequented by tourists.The worst-affected area is that bordering Lake Van in the far east of the country.