Turkey’s Natural Landscape

Turkey’s Natural Landscape

November 2008

The landscape of Turkey is a magnificent, well­used Turkish carpet, hundreds of years old, displaying patterns which have evolved over the centuries.

The Turkish landscape encompasses a vast variety of geographical zones. If you take a cross-section along the east-west axis, you will encounter the rugged, snow-capped mountains where winters are long and cold; the highlands where the spring season with its rich wildflowers and rushing creeks extends into long, cool summers; the dry steppe with rolling hills, endless stretches of wheat fields and barren bedrock that take on the most incredible shades of gold, violet and cool and warm greys as the sun traverses the sky; the magical land of fairy chimneys and cavernous hillsides; and eventually the warm, fertile valleys between cultivated mountainsides, of the lace-like shores of the Aegean where nature is friendly and life has always been easy.

A north-south cross-section begins with the lush, temperate zone of the Black Sea coast, well protected by a chain of high mountain ranges, cultivated in hazelnuts, corn and tender tea leaves (which will soon become a part of the daily ritual during your stay here). High passes and winding roads offer breathtaking views of the Black Sea, leading to highlands and steppe, with orchards tucked into the foothills of lower mountains; then on to the vast Konya plain, and up the Toros (Taurus) Mountains into coniferous forests, which eventually descend to a scrubby maquis fragrant with bay leaves and oregano as the Mediterranean coast approaches.  Then, if you turn east, passing banana plantations and cotton fields, you will come to the desert-like part of Turkey. Just north of Syria, the earth displays all the textures and shades of brown imaginable. In short, for every two to four hours of driving, you find yourself in a different geographical zone with all the attendant changes in scenery, temperature, altitude, humidity, vegetation and weather.

This landscape has the combined characteristics of the three oldest continents of the world: Europe, Africa, and Asia. It has an ecological diversity surpassing any other place along the 40th north latitude. This diversity is reflected in the intermingling of all varieties of animals just as they were found before the geological separation of the land masses occurred, but whose habitats are now dispersed among these continents. Now it is possible to observe the yearly ebb and flow of nature as the birds continue on their migratory routes twice a year. The flocks of storks and birds of prey convey a magnificent spectacle that you can watch from the hills of Camlica in Istanbul every fall. The flamingos nest in the river valleys of the Aegean and the Mediterranean and spend the winter in the salt water lakes of the inlands. If you happen to be visiting Dalyan (or any one of the 17 beaches along the Mediterranean) on a warm spring night in May you will be sharing the sand dunes with one of the most delightfully shy creatures of the world, the sea turtle, which lays its eggs in the sand at this time of year.

In addition to the richness of the fauna, Turkey is the home of a number of ornamental flowers, the most notable being the tulip. Bulbs were brought to Vienna from Istanbul in the 1500s and started the craze for tulips in England and the Netherlands. By 1634 this interest in tulips had become so intense that in Holland it was called "tulipomania", with individuals investing money in tulips as they do now in high-tech stocks. This period of elegance and amusement in the 17th century Turkey was symbolized by this flower, giving the period the name "The Tulip Age".

Many familiar fruits, such as cherries, apricots, almonds and figs, also originate in Turkey. Our common ancestors are imagined to have evolved in different parts of the world. Nevertheless, the depiction of Adam and Eve wearing fig leaves confirms a long-standing view of Turkey, with its abundance of figs, as an unspoiled Eden.

Source: Embassy of Turkey Jakarta


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