Turkey is a vast peninsula, covering an area of
814,578 square kilometres or 314,510 square miles and linking Asia to Europe
through the Sea of Marmara and the Straits of Istanbul and Çanakkale. Across
the Sea of Marmara, the triangular shaped Trace is the continuation of Turkey
on the European continent. Anatolia is rectangular in outline, 1500 kilometres
long and 550
Turkey is like a mosaic made up of many different reliefs and formations: parallel mountain ranges, extinct volcanoes, plateaux fissured by valleys and plains. Surrounded on its three sides by warm seas, it falls in the temperate climate zone. The climate varies considerably however from region to region: a temperate climate in the Black Sea Region, a Mediterranean climate on the southern coast and the Aegean, a continental and arid climate on the central plateau and a harsh mountain climate in eastern Turkey. Because of these variations in climate, the fauna and flora are some of the richest in Europe and the Middle East.
Turkey is separated into seven geographical regions, which are, in order of size: East Anatolia (21 %), Central Anatolia (20%), Black Sea (18%), Mediterranean (15%), Aegean (10%), Marmara (8.5%) and Southeast Anatolia (7.5%).
There are more than 10,000 species of plants in Turkey, 20% of which are found only in these lands. The abundant rainfall in the Black Sea region allows the growth of rich forest vegetation. The Çanakkale Strait forms a transition between the Black Sea and the Aegean regions and therefore has a mixture of temperate and Mediterranean type of vegetation. Thrace has fine forests which are subject to the continental influence of the Balkans. The coasts of the Aegean and the Mediterranean, from the Çanakkale Strait to the Gulf of Iskenderun, have typically Mediterranean vegetation which extends to the plains and western slopes of mountains as high as 1000 metres. The southern coast has very hot and dry summers and the vegetation in some places is subtropical with banana trees and date palms. In the Taurus Mountains, the vegetation consists of pine and cedar forests, with even junipers at higher altitudes. Central and eastern Anatolia are isolated from all maritime influence by mountains. Rainfall is low, the summers hot and dry and the winters harsh. In certain areas, the vegetation is steppe-like but also with forests of pine, oak and beech. The region around the Salt Lake is almost entirely barren. The climate in eastern Turkey is even harsher, although the rainfall in the Southeast allows birches, walnuts and oaks to thrive.
Turkey has a great variety of wild animals, with over 114 species of mammals. The forest belt in the north is home to grey hears and in the south to wild goats. Sea turtles and seals play in the waters of the Mediterranean and the Aegean, just as in other parts of the world, some species have become extinct or on the verge of extinction such as the wild Asian donkeys, lions and tigers. Some 400 species of indigenous or migratory birds live in Turkey, some of which are extinct in Europe such as the black vulture.
Turkey is an important stopover for birds migrating between Africa, Asia and Europe, with the predatory birds stop in these places before continuing on Istanbul Strait and Artvin being the preferred sites. According to the International Office of Aquatic Birds and Areas, there are some 800 aquatic species in Turkey spanning sixty different areas. The shores of Lake Manyas near Balıkesir are home to over 200 species of indigenous or migratory aquatic birds. This lake is considered to be one of Europe s richest aquatic bird centres. Over 250 indigenous or migratory birds live in the Sultan Marshes (Sultan Sazlığı) near Kayseri; 20 of these are considered endangered species, although they come here to mate and breed. The Sultan marshes are thought to be the only place where flamingos, cranes, herons and pelicans breed together. The protected salt marshes near Izmir are like a natural museum, with some 190 species of birds living in its marshes, lakes and hills. The hills also shelter rabbits, foxes and even boars. The Iztuzu sand beaches near Dalyan are the main breeding area for sea turtles.
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