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10 Things You May Not Have Known About Turkey

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Turkey is one of the most beautiful and exotic locations on earth. However, many people don't know just how amazing this land is, or they just have misconceptions about it. What many people do not realize is that Turkey is unlike any other country in the region. Here are 10 things about the country of Turkey that you might not have known.

10. Turkey has some of the earliest advanced civilizations known to man. At least two cities have been uncovered that date back to the Neolithic Age, which most scientists agree happened between 9,000-5,000 B.C. The settlements of Hacilar and Catalhoyuk show that inhabitants had well-built homes, farmed and maintained domesticated farm animals such as goats and sheep and are some of the earliest examples of advanced humanity. The cities date to between 7,000-6,000 B.C.

9. Turkey has had equality for women going back many millennia. One of the most powerful of the early groups to rule Turkey were the Hittites, who were in control from about 1750-1190 B.C. They were an advanced culture and their historical documents show that they did not practice capital or corporal punishment to nearly the extent as some other cultures at that time, and they also had institutional equality among the sexes. That continues to this day, as Turkey has a constitution that mandates equality for women. In fact, Turkey gave women the right to vote before most European countries and the United States.

8. The legendary city of Troy is located there. If you are a fan of ancient history, or just of Hollywood, then you might be interested in learning that the fabled city of Troy is believed to have existed, in real life, in Turkey. In fact, it looks as if Troy was built, destroyed and rebuilt many times. The Troy from the tales of Homer involving the giant walls and the Trojan Horse may have been sometime around what archeologists call Troy V or Troy VI. There are even remnants of the fabled walls that surrounded the city in existence today and that you can visit.

7. Turkey was once the center of the Roman Empire. When Rome began to fall, the Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the empire to Turkey. For a very long time the city was also named after him and known as Constantinople before it became modern day Istanbul. Constantine was famous for converting to Christianity and Turkey, to this day, is a major center for Orthodox Christians.

6. Turkey is important for Eastern Orthodox Christians. Centuries ago a divide among Christians resulted in the Great Schism and the Roman Catholics moved to Rome. In the East, however, they remained in what was then known as Constantinople. Also, Turkey is the country where the Apostle Paul was born and did his missionary work. This makes Turkey of vital importance to Christians of all denominations from around the world.

5. Turkey spans two continents. One segment extends into Europe and the other segment is in Asia. The part that is in Europe is known as Thrace. The part that extends into Asia is known as Anatolia, and sometimes referred to as Asia Minor.

4. Turkey is a democracy. Ever since Turkey became the Republic of Turkey after World War One, the country has been a parliamentary democracy. There is a president of the republic, but he is largely a figurehead and symbolic in nature. True executive power lies within the prime minister who is elected when his party holds the majority in Parliament, much like Great Britain. Voting rights begin for both sexes at the age of 18, and every citizen is free to vote.

3. If you've heard the term "Whirling Dervishes," then you were talking about Turkey. Whirling dervishes are dancers who originated there. These dancers spin in a dance known as Sema, which represents man's spiritual ascent. Turning on an axis, the dervish will raise the right hand toward heaven to receive God's grace, which then passes through the heart and down into the earth itself from the down-turned left hand.

2. Turkey uses a Latin-based alphabet and not an Arabic one. This means that the signs, menus and other printed materials will contain letters that you would be familiar with. For those of you who assumed that traveling to a Muslim country meant that the language would look completely foreign and strange, this is not the case.

1. Turkey has a national program of peace. The country actively seeks to find peace with other nations, a lesson learned after the Ottoman Empire sided against the Allied powers in World War One. Turkey maintained a neutral stance during World War Two, siding with the Allies as a symbolic gesture near the end of the conflict. From that point forward, the country has actively sought to be a peace-keeping force in the region. Thanks to this, Turkey has one of the most stable governments and societies in all of the Mediterranean.

For all of these reasons, Turkey is one of the most beautiful, exotic, historic and holy places on the planet. Whether you are a vacationer looking to relax on a beach, one searching out ancient cultures or a religious pilgrim, Turkey has something to see.