AoW Answers the Webs Most Searched Questions About Turkey

/ By Josh

Without further ado, here are the internets most searched questions concerning Turkey!



Is Turkey in Europe?

This depends on what you mean by Europe of course. If you mean the continent, then yes.


Is Turkey in the EU?

This is the other thing that people often mean by Europe.

No, Turkey is not in the European Union. Over the last few years Turks seem to have totally given up on that hope though it wasn’t that long ago that Turkey’s admittance to the EU looked like a real possibility.


Why is Turkey in Europe?

Well, because that’s how geography works. The land west of the Bosphorus Strait is in Europe and is part of Turkey, so Turkey is partially in Europe.

Now, if this is more of a historical question then we can go way back to Ottoman times when the Turks were conquering their way westward into the Balkans, Greece, and as far as Budapest. The Turkish Ottomans actually gained their first foothold in Europe at Gallipoli in 1352.

As the Ottoman Empire went into decline much of the European territory was lost to European independence movements and the Turkish settlers that had moved into these regions had to choose to remain under new rulers or return to Ottoman controlled lands. When the empire collapsed and the Turkish Republic was founded in 1923, Greece agreed to cede Karaağaç and its surrounding territory to the newly formed Republic of Turkey as a part of the Lausanne Treaty. Karaağaç (a suburb of Edirne) would mark the furthest extent of Turkish territory. And that’s why Turkey is in Europe today.

2. Beyazit Bridge Edirne
One of Edirne’s many bridges with the city’s minaret dominated skyline in the distance.

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What Language Do They Speak in Turkey?

Turks speak Turkish.

It’s not Arabic or Farsi (the language of Iran), in fact its not even related. Turkish is a part of a wider Turkic language family spoken from China, through Central Asia on into Turkey, and in the Balkans where its spoken by minority Turks left after the Ottoman era. Turkish is completely different than Arabic and Farsi and has more in common with Korean, Japanese, and Mongolian than other Middle Eastern languages.


Why is Turkey Called Turkey?

Great question. First of all, it has nothing to do with the bird. In Turkish Turkey is called Türkiye. This name is made up of two parts, the first being Türk which in English is Turk, an ethnically Turkish person. The -iye ending means ‘the land/place of’. So Turkey, coming from Türkiye, means ‘the land of the Turks’.

So then why is the bird called a turkey? In the 14th century ‘turkey’ was a term that referred to the much smaller Guinea Foul that Ottoman Turkish merchants introduced to Europe, thus the name connection between an African bird and the Turks. When European explorers and settlers arrived in North America they came across a much larger, ugly faced bird that they decided to also call Turkeys even though these birds had nothing to do with the Turks. The French called them Dinde, which comes from the French name for India because the Americas were at that time called “The West Indies”. And so in French the bird is also named for a country that it has nothing to do with. To make it even better, the Arabic word for turkeys translates to “Greek Chicken”, in Greek it’s “French Chicken”, and in Malay it’s “Dutch Chicken”. If the world had just agreed on “American Chicken” from the beginning things may have been much simpler.

Village Tea House Blog

What is Turkish Tea?

First off, it is NOT apple tea. Apple tea is what Turks in places like the Grand Bazaar think foreigners want, and foreigners think Turks drink apple tea because that’s what they were given. How this bizarre situation arose I have no idea but here we are.

Actual Turkish tea is a black tea grown in the Eastern Black Sea region of Turkey, especially Trabzon and Rize. There, low hedges of the tea shrub are grown on the steep sides of the deep mountain valleys, producing around 260,000 tons of tea leaves annually (based on 2018 numbers).


Is Turkey Good for Gaining Muscle?

Absolutely. In Turkey there is a special muscle called ‘The Turkish Muscle’, in English we would refer to it as a ‘gut’ or ‘beer belly’. With foods like Iskender, Kebap, Beyti, Baklava, and Künefe on the menu it is very easy to develop this muscle.


Is Turkey Safe?

The quick answer is yes. Quite safe.

But safe can only be a relative term. Gravity still works here and falling, drowning, or car accidents still yield the same results as anywhere else.

What most people are probably wondering is, is Turkey safe for foreigners in regards to terrorism attacks, robbing etc.? For the past few years Turkey has been very peaceful. Even in the South-east, which tends to be the more troubled region, incidents have been really quite rare. Cities like Istanbul, and Ankara, or tourist hotspots like Cappadocia, Izmir, and Antalya have been incident-free.

Turkey is involved in an operation in northern Syria and security in that border region has become somewhat intense. Traveling to Turkey at this time is safe, just don’t try to get into the areas bordering Syria.

Big cities in Turkey are like big cities all over the world and you’ll find bad neighbourhoods and good neighbourhoods. I’ve spent time in many of Istanbul’s bad neighbourhoods and have never had a problem in all my years here so far.

This really is a big question that I’m hoping to address soon in a proper full-length article.


Is Turkey in the Middle East?

Yes! Though I’m not sure many Turks would think of themselves that way. If you look at a map highlighting the Middle East, you’ll see that the Middle East stretches from Iran in the East, Yemen in the South, Egypt in the South-West, and Turkey in the North-West.


Is Turkey a Democracy?

Very much so. Turkey is such a democracy that in our first 4 years here there was a major election or referendum at least once per year! Coming from Canada where elections are a rather subdued affair, Turkish elections were a bit of a shock and I was sick of them by the end. Vans drive up and down streets blaring messages and rousing music from maxed out speakers ALL DAY! I decided that if I ever get to vote in Turkey, I’m voting for the party with the least obnoxious campaign music.


What is Turkish Kolonya?

I’m currently writing this post during the Corona Virus quarantine, a time that has seen Kolonya prices skyrocket. Despite the fact that kolonya takes it’s name from Cologne (as in perfume but manly), today’s Turkish kolonya is somewhat different. The difference is primarily in use. While kolonya is still used to smell good, its number one use is to clean and disinfect. While some restaurants have switched to the moist towelette, more traditional places will still have a bottle of lemon kolonya for customers to freshen their hands with.

While the most common scent for kolonya is lemon, there are a variety of fragrances to choose from. One of the oddest of which being tobacco actually smells better than you’d think.

Due to its high alcohol content it is good for disinfecting, so when coronavirus started to scare people here in Turkey the first thing to fly off the shelves were bottles of kolonya. Some opportunists even took the opportunity to start charging double the standard price.


Is Turkey a Yellow Fever Country?



Are Turkish White?

Turks are incredibly diverse. Some are a fairly dark brown, olive skin is very common, and some are VERY pale. Most have dark hair though you’ll find plenty of blondes (natural ones as well as fakes). You’ll even find a surprising number of redheads here. While green eyes are rare, you’ll find most people have shades of brown, with the odd blue eyed Turk thrown in the mix.

Children of Midyat

Do Turkish Drink Alcohol

Yes. Many do, though many don’t. Alcohol is readily available though you won’t be able to find it in the more conservative neighborhoods. While Turkey produces a number of different beers, wines, and other spirits, the traditional drink of choice is rakı, a strong clear liquor flavored with aniseed; when water and ice is added it turns white and is called “lions milk”. Rakı is best enjoyed with a few friends around a table set in a shallow river to keep you cool on a hot day.


Is Turk an Offensive Term?

This might explain why in the two previous questions they say ‘Turkish’ instead of ‘Turks’. A Turk is a person who is ethnically Turkish or a citizen of Turkey (though some citizens of Turkey who are from ethnic minority backgrounds may not want to be called Turk). In Turkey the word is not at all racist and is used ALL the time.

Outside of Turkey and in the West in particular where race conflict seems to be injected into every sphere, I’m sure someone could find offence, but if you’re speaking with a Turk living in Turkey they won’t.  “How happy is the one who says ‘I am a Turk’” is a famous saying by Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic, and can be found on banners and plaques all over the country.


Is Turkey a US Ally?

Yes, in fact Turkey is a NATO member and hosts around 5000 US Airmen at the Incirlik air force base in Adana.


What is a Turkish Bath?

Well, I am glad you asked this because I’ve already written ALL about it but I’ll give you the short answer here, and if you want to get the long answer check out the History of the Turkish Bath or How to Hamam for more details.

A Turkish Bath, or ‘hamam’ in Turkish, is really a continuation of the Roman public baths blended with Central Asian turkic culture. A Turkish Bath is a large, (usually domed) hot, stone room, where you sit and sweat and douse yourself with water to get clean. Unless there’s a geothermal pool you won’t see any large tubs or pools in a traditional Turkish Bath, though newer ones built in hotels or touristic areas will sometimes have them.

Turkish Bath Hamam

What is Turkish Delight?

Turkish Delight, known as lokum in Turkish, is a traditional gummy sweet from the 18th century. Its most basic form is made using gelatin, sugar, and starch, and is commonly flavored with nuts, fruits, or rosewater. The flavour options are basically endless with clotted cream, chocolate, and even peanut butter options to choose from. While the most common way of serving Turkish delight is to cut them into squares, some are served like short sticks, and others, usually stuffed, are cut in slices from a long roll. Turkish delight is always sweet.


What is Turkish Tea Made of?

Tea leaves, water (hot), and, depending on your preference, sugar. No milk.


What is Turkish Currency?

Turkey uses the Lira (TRY in bank terms) and for a fraction of a lira Turkey has kuruş. In some touristic cities you can get by with the Euro but you will get charged up to triple the normal cost in some cases if you don’t have Lira.


What are the Best Turkey Movies?

Turkish cinema is dominated by absurd comedy and soap opera styled dramas. But in this mix, there are some truly great movies and TV shows. My personal favorite is Mucize (The Miracle) though Kış Uykusu (Winter Sleep), is one of the most highly praised Turkish films.

Turkish TV is incredibly popular in the Balkans and Middle East with historic dramas like Muhteşem Yüzyıl (The Magnificent Century) and Diriliş (Resurrection) drawing in a massive international audience.


What Does a Turkish Barber Do?

What DON’T they do?

The answer really depends on the barber. Some barbers are pretty run of the mill, just a hair cut, shave, and a wash. Some get pretty creative. One of the most exciting Turkish Barber services is when they take a burning cotton ball on a stick and smack your ear to burn off the ear hair. Other services include scalp massages, face masks for men, face waxes, nose waxes, eyebrow trims. The list goes on. I even had a barber stop midway to pop a zit, though that’s pretty weird.


Why Hair Transplant in Turkey?

Probably because you’re balding. Otherwise why ask?

If you come to Turkey, and especially if you come to Istanbul you will quickly notice all the men with scab covered heads and bloody bandages. Often in large groups touring the city after their surgery. In 2018 there were around 200 hair implant operations performed PER DAY!

But why is Turkey so popular? There are a number of factors. First is location. Istanbul is an easy and attractive destination for people coming from the Middle East and Europe. It’s easy to get to and it’s a nice city to be a tourist in after the fact.

It’s a largely Muslim country. This is especially attractive to the thousands of Arabs that come but of course applies to Muslims in general that will have special dietary and sanitation needs. Also, Istanbul is one of the great cities of the Islamic world.

Thirdly, the price/quality payoff is good. Forums full of people discussing their experience and showing their results seem to have left a good impression so that Turkey becomes a popular destination for those from Europe where the procedure is far more expensive.


Is Turkey Good for Snorkeling?

Yes. Between the Mediterranean Aegean coastlines there are endless miles of shoreline, deep coves, underwater caves, sea turtles, and bright colourful fish to see and explore. What the Turkish diving experience lacks is bright colourful reefs. On the positive, there are no sharks, tides and currents are almost non-existent, and overall, it’s a very safe place to go for a dive and see Turkey’s underwater beauties.

Camel Wrestling Festival

What does the Turkish Flag Mean?

The symbols on the Turkish flag (crescent moon and star on a red background) come from the Ottoman period, though the symbol of a star nested in a crescent moon have been used by numerous cultures over the past 3000 years. The Ottoman Empire began using it as one of their banners in 1793 and the tradition was carried on when the Turkish Republic adopted it as their flag. Surprisingly there doesn’t seem to be any real tie between the symbol and Islam as it was used in various ways by pre-islamic Turks and other non-islamic civilizations. In modern usage the symbol has become synonymous with Islam and can be found on the flags of a number of Islamic nations.

While the story doesn’t appear to have much historic credibility, the commonly told legend surrounding the origin of the Turkish flag tells of a crescent moon and star reflected in a pool of blood after a battle.

Whatever the foggy history and mixed origin of these symbols, today they have come to represent Islam in a general sense and the Turks more specifically.


What is Turkish Salep?

Salep is a traditional winter drink served hot and topped with a dusting of cinnamon. The main ingredient is rather unusual. Salep is made with a flour like powder coming from dried orchid bulbs. The powder is mixed with sugar, milk or water then, heated and served. A great place for a cup of salep is Istanbul’s iconic ferries where you can take in the view on a cold day and warm up with a cup of this delicious drink.


When was Turkey Founded?

The Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923 following a war of independence led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk that began in 1919. The Ottoman Empire had been in decline for some time and, finding itself on the losing side of WWI, the final blow was struck by the Western Allies who began cutting up former Ottoman lands into new nations. Ataturk’s War of Independence gained back most of the territory that makes up Turkey today though much of it was going to belong to Greece, Italy, Armenia, and Georgia.


When Was Turkey Earthquake?

Turkey is basically a massive peninsula with fault lines on all four sides. This makes for fairly regular earthquakes, though the vast majority are minor. This question is probably about the earthquake that happened in 1999 a little way east of Istanbul in Izmit. Between collapsing buildings, fires, and a tsunami in the Marmara Sea, some 17,000 people lost their lives.


Is Turkey Good for IBS?

Not really, Turkish diet consists of a lot of bread and dairy products which, I’m told, is bad for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


When is Turkey Eid?

Eid, is the Arabic word for religious holidays, or ‘bayram’ in Turkish. This is really an impossible question to answer though. There is more than one Eid, and these Islamic religious holidays are set by the lunar calendar, meaning they’re different every year. This makes it a little harder to keep track of them so if you’re planning a trip to Turkey, it is worth checking to see if there’s any major holidays during your visit. For more on visiting during festivals check out our guides to Ramadan for visitors and Eid al-Adha in Turkey.


Is Turkey Good for Expats?

Yes. If you know English, Russian, or Farsi then you’ll find large expat communities in the bigger cities, especially Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and Antalya. Most westerners are well accepted by Turks who are incredibly hospitable (especially if they have kids that they want to learn English). Turks are often very excited to show off their culture and country, so you’ll likely find yourself with friends and guides.


Have any other burning questions about Turkey? Check out our UNDERSTANDING+ pages for more answers about visas, language, car rentals, guidebooks, and even trees!