NEED TO KNOW
Capital City: Ankara
Population: 69.7 million
Area: 301,000 square miles
Telephone Calling Code(s): 90
Electricity: 100V, 50/60 Hz
Currency: As of Dec 30, 2008:
1 Turkey New Lira = $0.66 US Calculate Other Amounts
Turkey requires visas for citizens of the United States. A valid passport and $100 in cash, presented upon entry, are required for individual or family visas.
GOOD TO KNOW
Turkish food is a mixture of the culinary traditions of Central Asia with a heavy Mediterranean influence and a hint of a once massive, now dead, Empire tossed in for good measure. Tender young lamb is a staple featured on all menus, often as shish kebab (pieces of meat threaded on a skewer and grilled) or doner kebab (pieces of lamb packed tightly around a revolving spit). Or try dolma, grape leaves stuffed with rice, nuts, and currants that are sweeter and more complex than the Greek variety. If you cannot understand the names of the dishes, you might just find yourself invited into the restaurant's kitchen to choose from the pots. Go. There are also a wide range of Turkish sweets and pastries, including the infamous Turkish delight, which is made from dates, honey, roses, and jasmine bound by Arabic gum and designed to sweeten the breath after coffee. And your breath will need it, because the Turkish coffee is no joke—especially the sludge in the bottom. Turkey is a secular state and alcohol is permitted, although during Ramadan it is considered polite for visitors to avoid drinking alcohol. The national drink is raki (anisette), known as "lion's milk," and should only be imbibed with the care its name implies.
If you know what you are looking for, the many bazaars throughout Turkey are rich with great bargains. Haggle mercilessly. The best deals can be had on jewelry, carpets, and antiques, but always bring an expert along if you plan to buy something very expensive. Turkish handicrafts include a rich variety of textiles and embroideries, articles of copper, onyx, and tile, mother-of-pearl, inlaid hardwoods, leather and suede products, jewelry and, above all, carpets and kilims.
Turkey's currency has been the Turkish New Lira (YTL) since January 2005, when the dizzying abundance of zeros were lopped off the end of the old lira notes. Although there was an interim period when both old and new bills were in use, it is now no longer possible to use the old ones. So if you are handed a note of a million lira or more, it may not be your lucky day after all!
A value-added tax (VAT) of 18 percent is added to every purchase in Turkey, but tourists can get a refund at the airport or by mail.
Turkish waiters, taxi drivers, and other service employees expect to be tipped between 10 percent and 15 percent.
January: 1, New Year's Day
April: 23, National Sovereignty and Children's Day
May: 19, Commemoration of Atatürk
August: 30, Victory Day
October: 29, Republic Day