Turkey is a beautiful and diverse country with a rich history. Learn more about it with these fun facts about Turkey.
Basic Facts About Turkey
The Republic of Turkey sits on the edge of Western Asia. It borders the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the Black Sea to the north.
Turkey’s 83 million people live in a country about the size of the state of Texas. The flag of Turkey is bright red with a white moon and star on it.
The capital of Turkey is Ankara. The national language is Turkish.
Let’s dig into some interesting and fun facts about Turkey the country!
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1. Turkish Meatballs Are Dipped in Yogurt
Kofte, or Turkish meatballs, are a popular street food you can purchase from restaurants or food vendors.
The meatballs (traditionally made with beef or lamb) are dipped in plain yogurt or served with a side of rice and vegetables.
2. You Can Dance to Spoons in Turkey
The traditional Turkish percussion instrument, the kasik, literally means “spoons.”
In the Mediterranean regions of Turkey, you strike the kasik together to make a clicking sound as you dance. This percussion accompanies the rhythm of the song.
3. You Can Thank a Turkish Inventor for the Flushing Toilet
Al-Jazari was an ingenious inventor who lived in Turkey during the 1100s.
Not only did he invent the first vacuum (it was a suction pump that did not require electricity), but he invented the forerunner of the flushing toilet (although it was more of a flushing sink).
4. Turkey Has Quirky Rocks and Fairy Chimneys
In the Cappadocia region, wind and water have eroded the cliffs leaving pale pinnacles of rocks. They look like mini mountains made of solid rock.
People love to take hot air balloon rides and soar above the quirky rocks.
There is also a section of Cappadocia with rock formations made from volcanoes. They look like chimneys built by fairies!
You can see the fairy chimneys in Goreme National Park (you can even stay in a hotel built inside them!).
5. Turkey Has a Famous City with Two Names
In 1453, the capital of the Byzantine Empire (Constantinople) fell to Turkish invaders.
The invaders promptly renamed the city Istanbul, and it is the most populated city in Turkey today.
6. There Are Many Eyes in Turkey
The Turkish have a blue good luck charm called the Nazar Boncuk, or Turkish evil eye. It is said to keep bad energy away.
You will see the Turkish eye everywhere you go in Turkey: dangling by doorways, hanging from the rear-view mirrors of cars, and attached to the necks of children and pets.
7. The Hagia Sophia Is the Top Tourist Attraction
The Hagia Sophia (whose name means “Divine Wisdom”) is an Eastern Orthodox church built by Emperor Justinian I in 360 AD/CE.
When the city fell to the Turks, they turned the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, and it still functions as one today.
The center of the building is a huge dome painted with Christian and Islamic frescoes. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
8. The Turkish Love Soccer (or “Futbol”)
Association football (which Americans call soccer and the Turkish call futbol) is the most popular sport in Turkey. Basketball and volleyball are also big in Turkey.
9. Turkey’s Founding Father is Named Mustafa
America has George Washington and Thomas Jefferson; Modern day Turkey has Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938).
He made primary school free for every child in Turkey, advocated for equal rights for women, and even introduced the modern Turkish alphabet.
10. In Turkey, You Can Find the Mouse Deer
The Chevrotain, or Mouse Deer, is the world’s smallest hoofed mammal, weighing as little as 2 pounds. It looks like an extremely tiny deer.
This little herbivore lives alone or with its mate. Hunting them is illegal in Turkey.
Read More About Turkey
If you want to learn more fun facts about Turkey, check out these books!
This introduction to Turkey has all the elements that make Turkey distinct: its food, landscape, and culture. This book for early elementary has facts kids can understand and enjoy.
This book explores Turkey through its geography. By highlighting various places in Turkey, you learn about the customs, people, and history of the country.
This book of photographs explores Turkey’s largest city. Istanbul is a bustling city center with a rich and storied past.