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    Bulgaria: An old Turkish bridge. Go Now!

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    The isolated mountains of Bulgaria hide cultural gems around every corner, including this old Turkish bridge in the Rhodopi Mountains. Explore Bulgaria!

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    Italy: Rome' historic buildings. Go Now!

    Italy
    Crumbling buildings in Rome (pictured) only add to the atmosphere in a country where old is redefined and western civilization begins. Explore Italy!

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    Portugal: Palace of Pena. Go Now!

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    Although next to the seas and made famous by trade, Portugal boasts dynamic landscapes and architecture, including the Palace of Pena (pictured) near the town of Sintra. Go to Portugal!

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    Denmark: Landscape. Go Now!

    Denmark
    From cities like Copenhagen to islands, beaches, and vast fields (pictured), Denmark offers incredible history, architecture, scenery, and more. Begin Your Journey!

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    Czech Republic: Astronomical Clock in Prague. Go Now!

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    The Astronomical Clock in Prague (pictured) makes every tourist list, but the towns, including Cesky Krumlov, and the mountains offer a change of pace. Go Now!

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    Armenia: Noravank Monastery. Go Now!

    Armenia
    With a unique language, foods, architecture, and identity, Armenia is a fascinating country and culture unlike no other in the world. Begin Your Journey!

Culture & Identity of Turkey

Introduction

The way of life in Turkey is incredibly diverse. For some Turks, their dress, religious beliefs, and dietary restrictions are quite liberal, but for others, their Islamic faith demands conservative dress, actions, and more. Although religion is the greatest contributing factor in an individual's way of life, there are other determining factors as well. The country is ethnically diverse; there are great differences from Istanbul and the western part of the country to the eastern part of the country, and more. However, despite the differences, there are also many similarities across the way of life from person to person.

The first significant similarity is that Turkey is heavily urbanized; over 70% of the people live in urban settings. Amongst those people living in more rural areas, many of those working have jobs in the agricultural sector as over a quarter of the Turks work in this sector. In the cities the working people have jobs in numerous fields, including both the industrial and services sectors. While the farmers schedule their day on the sun and weather, the urbanites generally have more regular schedules.

Most employees with a regular job work from about 8:00 am to about 5:00 pm, however entertainment positions, such as work in a restaurant, tend to work later and the many jobs in tourism (in some locations) vary based upon tourist demands, but again often times go into the evening and weekend (Saturday-Sunday) hours. Schools also run on a fairly regular schedule with schools in session from mid-September to mid-June. Many schools though have two "shifts" with some kids attending school in the morning and a second group of children attending in the afternoon to early evening.

Today the weekends in Turkey are Saturday and Sunday, but in Islam the holy day is Friday. Because of this, many places close early on Friday, especially in small towns and more conservative Islamic areas where Friday prayers are an important part of the week. Istanbul also has a huge number of people that attend weekly Friday prayers, but relative to the number of people in the city as a whole, it may not appear that many people actual prayer during this time. In Turkey prayer, both Friday prayer as well as the five daily prayers, are heavily personal as some people never miss a prayer, some only prayer on Fridays, while others simply never attend mosque or only pray from home. Depending on the individual, Islam can have a significant impact on an individual's daily way of life.

The Turks have strong family ties and are very outgoing. Evenings and weekends tend to be times for socialization, socialization with family, with friends, and with random strangers they meet in the streets. Again, every Turk spends his or her free time in differing ways, but it's rare to find a Turk who spends nights and weekends without company.

Identity

Turks identify as such and after listening to them tout their friend's carpet shop, they are eager to inform you that they are liberal Muslims who enjoy beer as much as the next European. This Turkish identity is linked to this culture, but also to the language, foods, and ethnicity of the people. Although the culture takes on a substantial part of the Turkish identity, the culture from region to region and from liberal Muslim to conservative Muslim includes huge variations. Due to this, the Turkish identity is first based on the people's similarities across the country, which includes ethnicity, language, food, and their country itself. The identity of being Turkish is then further defined by individuals, some including their liberal stances, others focused on Islam, etc. In this way, what it means to be Turkish is very personalized, but the unifying traits link the people as one before these differences separate them

For many of the ethnic minorities their primary means of identifying is based on their ethnicity, such as the ethnic Kurds. Among these ethnic minorities, many live in the eastern part of the country and are much more conservative Muslims; this strong affiliation to Islam is a very stong identifying feature for many of these people, if not their primary means of identity.

This page was last updated: November, 2013