A guide to Turkey – etiquette, customs, culture, clothing and more…

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Welcome to our helpful guide for Turkey. Should you be looking to travel, live, relocate or do business here, we will give you a helpful head start on understanding the country and its cultures.

Facts & statistics

Turkey (officially the Republic of Turkey) is situated mainly on the Anatolian peninsula in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe.

  • The Capital: Ankara
  • Main Cities: Istanbul, Ankara, Izmire, Gaziantep, Adana
  • Population: 75 million
  • Size: 783,562 sq km (302,535 sq miles)
  • Major Religion: Islam
  • Main Language: Turkish
  • Climate: Various – Turkey has seven distinct geographic weather and climatic regions.
  • Life Expectancy: 75
  • Dialling Code: +90
  • Emergency Numbers: 112 (Ambulance), 110 (Fire), 155 (Police), 158 (Coastguard)

The Currency

  • Currency: Turkish Lira
  • Symbols: TL
  • ISO 4217 Code: TRY
  • Central Bank: Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey
  • Currency Sub-Units: Kuruş = 1/100 of a Lira
  • Denominations: Notes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 TL / Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 Kr. 1 TL

Local culture

Turkish culture has undergone a huge amount of change in the last century. It may be the only country that contains every extreme of Eastern and Western culture. Pre 1923, the Ottoman Empire was a multi ethnic state where people were not allowed to mix with each other, meaning that they would retain separate ethnic and religious identities within the empire. After the fall of the empire, the Turkish republic adopted an approach which forced all cultures within it’s boarders to mix with each other with the aim of producing one national and cultural identity. However instead, what resulted what a culture with many shades of grey as the traditional Muslim cultures of Anatolia clashed with the cosmopolitan modernity of Istanbul and the West.


Women’s attire consists of baggy trousers (Turkish şalvar), a long skirt, robe or dress, a shirt, a jacket, a wide belt, or piece of cloth worn as a belt, a scarf or other headdress, socks and shoes. As well as in other regions of Turkey, in Eastern Anatolia women wear many layers of clothes. Men in Turkey also wear Turkish şalvar and may add a traditional loose coat, called a jubba over the şalvar.

The Turkish Language

Turkish is the official language of Turkey, and it’s also an official language of Cyprus. It’s also spoken in small groups of ethnic Turks in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania and some other regions of Eastern Europe. Turkish is also spoken in Azerbaijan.

Other languages spoken in Turkey are Kurdish and Arabic, as well as some other minority languages.

Written Turkish

Until 1928 Turkish was written with a version of the Perso-Arabic script known as the Ottoman Turkish script. In 1928, as part of his efforts to modernise Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk issued a decree replacing the Arabic script with a version of the Latin alphabet using 29 letters, and this has been used ever since.

Etiquette & customs

The Turkish are renowned for being extremely friendly, polite and hospitable people. If you are invited into the home of a Turkish family, be sure to take them a gift (chocolates, flowers, or something from your home country). It’s wise to avoid alcohol as many Turks don’t drink alcohol due to religious reasons.

The elderly are greatly respected in Turkey and it’s usual for younger people to offer their seat on public transport.


Islam is the religion of approximately 98% of the population of Turkey, and the main division in Islam is between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
Among certain obligations for Muslims are to pray five times a day – at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and evening. The exact time is listed in the local newspaper each day. Friday is the Muslim holy day although this is not practised in Turkey. Most males will however attend the congregational afternoon prayer. During the holy month of Ramadan all Muslims must fast from dawn to dusk. Fasting includes no eating, drinking, cigarette smoking, or even chewing gum.

(To be continued)

Source: kwintessential.co.uk