The Republic of Turkey, most commonly known around the world as simply Turkey, is surrounded by water. The Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea all touch Turkey. Located partly in Europe and partly in Asia, Turkey shares international borders with eight different countries, most notably Greece and Syria.
Turkey has a total population of 71,158,647, four million of which live in Ankara, the capital. Istanbul, the best known city in Turkey, is also the largest with over 10 million. Turkish, the official language, is spoken by 97 percent of the population, with small groups using Arabic and Kurdish for their everyday communication. Turkey has a high literacy rate, averaging 90 percent of the population despite differences among regions.
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Turkey is a parliamentary republic, which means the president is chosen by the parliament rather than directly by the citizens. The Prime Minister, along with the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, are the ones in immediate charge of all the main political offices in the country. Despite being a nation divided between east and west, Turkey has always remain a westernized society, with most of their foreign relations looking to unite the country with Europe and the rest of the West.
Turkey was home to some of the world's oldest civilizations, such as the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, which date as far back as 334 BCE. This is clear today in the vast ruins that are left strung around the country, and which attract thousands of visitors every year. Troy, or Truva in Turkish, is one of the most notorious archeological sites in the world, along with the Celsus Library in Ephesus.
Not all historical treasures in Turkey are merely decorative. The Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque, for example, is an historical building that still attracts as many visitors as it does locals. Because of its age, Turkey has a rich cultural history which continues today, which is perfectly represented in the work of Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, who won the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature. Turkish music and literature has, in recent years, transcended frontiers and become well known in Eastern Europe and Russia.
Tourists also come to Turkey for its incredible nature and pristine beaches. Hot, dry summers make Turkey the ideal destination for those escaping continental winters, and the government has taken full advantage of this by sponsoring local tourism and helping develop a series of resort towns around the country.