Turkey is truly a country where East meets West. The European side of Turkey is mostly rolling hills, while across the Bosphorus Strait into central Turkey, the land rises up to the Anatolian plateau, surrounded by high, rugged mountains, including the Taurus, Koroğlu and Pontic ranges. Many mountains in Turkey exceed 3000m. The tallest peak is Mt Ararat (4200m) in the far eastern part of the country close to the border of Iran and Armenia. Along the Black Sea and Mediterranean coastlines the land is lower and quite fertile. The Tigras, Kizilirmak, Sakarya and Euphrates are the most significant rivers, and Lake Van is the largest lake.
Turkey is a large country and home to a diverse range of wildlife, including deer, wild sheep, wolf, lynx, bear, leopard and many species of birds and reptiles. One the coast one finds endangered monk seals and a number of marine turtle species.
While many of these species are protected, they are threatened by water and air pollution, particularly in Istanbul, and by deforestation and potential oil spills from the thousands of ships passing through the Bosphorus Strait.
Most tap water in the larger towns and cities is treated but bottled water is still recommended for drinking.
Although mainly dependant on oil and natural gas, Turkey has abundant reserves of renewable energy, such as solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal. Turkey has about 1% of the total world hydroelectric potential and its significant potential for geothermal power production is ranked 7th in the world.
Buses and minibuses (dolmus) are the most common and cheapest way to get around Turkey’s cities; for long distance journeys most people usually take overnight buses.
The Turkish rail network system covers limited numbers of cities and tourist spots and is slower travel compared with the bus.
Istanbul has a tram, metro and light rail system.
Ferries and taxi boats across the Bosphorus are a great way to see the city. There is also extensive ferry service from Istanbul to the Aegean Islands and other destinations in the Mediterranean and Black seas.
With over 11 million residents and millions of cars on the road, biking in Istanbul is like an extreme sport. There are some bike lanes in the city but many pedestrians and aggressive drivers don’t respect them. The best bet is to ride in a park or outside the city.
Kuscenneti National Park: Kuscenneti, located in the southern part of Marmara, is Turkey’s first national park. Known for its wetlands, the park is home to over 230 bird species, including pelicans, geese, swans, ducks, nightingales, black storks and herons.
Yedigöller National Park: Located half way between Istanbul and Ankara in Bolu Province, Yedigöller – also known as Seven Lakes National Park – is known for its lakes and dense forests. Here, one finds deer, wild pigs, foxes and wolves.
Yildiz Park: This is one of the biggest and most popular parks in Istanbul. There are many flowering shrubs and trees including yew, cypress, oak, pine, cedar and ash. Inside the outer garden, there are two artificial lakes. Yildiz is the perfect place for a weekend picnic and to seek relief from the noisy city.
Kas-Kekova: This marine protected area, covering 30,000 hectares off of Turkey’s southwestern Lycian coast, is known for its rich marine life and underwater archaeological sites.
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