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Geography & Topography

Capital: Ankara

Area: 779,452 km²

Population: 73 639 596

Language: Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian, Greek

Religion: Muslim (mostly Sunni)

Currency: Turkish lira


Turkey is a transcontinental Eurasian country. Asian Turkey, which is made up of 97% of the country is separated from European Turkey by Bosphorus, the Sea of Narnanra and the Dardanelles. Turkey is rich in cultural diversity, blending various elements of Greco-Roman, Islamic and Western cultures.

Turkish music and literature form great examples of such mix cultural influences. Turkish literature was heavily influenced by Persian and Arabic literature.

Performing Arts



The musical instruments used by Turkish people are of three main groups: stringed, wind and percussion instruments. Traditional Turkish music is monophonic. Even though many instruments are used, they all play the same melody. The music reflects different emotions. The main instruments used in Turkish music show a great diversity.

The most recognizable instruments in traditional Turkish music are:



Kanun: A stringed instrument that shares similar resemblance to a zither. It is played on the lap and the strings are stretched across the upper surface of a wooden box. The upper surface is made of sycamore wood, the lower surface of pinewood and the bridge of maple.  The design on the sides and the upper is cut out of rose wood and white pine. The soundboard is completed by using calf leather giving the kanun its rich resonance. The tuning peg locks are made of either rose or ebony. The small tuning keys are called ‘mandal’. It is played with the help of a plectrum, one fastened to each index finger by an adjustable metal ring.



Ud: A stringed instrument which shares some similarities with a European lute. It has a sound box terminating in the neck which serves both as a handle and a device for extending the strings beyond the sound box. Today, there are various trends in Turkish pop music and the ud is one of the main instruments accompanying the soloist both in classical and popular mainstream music.



Zurna: A traditional Turkish wind instrument. It is generally played on ceremonial events such as village weddings, sport encounters and folk dances. It is usually accompanied with a drum. Zurna has a sound range of nearly two octaves and has eight melody keys with seven of them on the front and one on the back. They are generally made from wood of trees such as plums, apricots, walnut and saber.


Examples of traditional Turkish dances are:



Halay: Danced by people gathered in either a circle or a line. All participants hold on to one another by the hand or dance shoulder to shoulder. The music for the dance is performed on drums as well as zurnas and often will include pipes, smaller reeds and the other native musical instruments.



Some interesting facts:

  • There are approximately 9,000 species of flowers in Turkey, out of which 3,000 are native.
  • Turkish people are the first to introduce coffee to Europe.
  • The word “turquoise” comes from Turkey and was derived from the beautiful colour of the Mediterranean Sea on the southern Turkish coast.
  • Istanbul is the only city in the world located on two continents, Europe and Asia. In its thousands of years of history, it has been the capital of three great empires – Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman.


Turkish Community in Australia:

More information on the Turkish community: