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    The smallest country in the world offers the heart of Catholicism and among the world's finest art collections, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms (ceiling pictured). Go to Vatican City!

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    This country includes England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland with four distinct cultures to match. Explore the United Kingdom!

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Social Life in Turkey

Behavior

In Turkey, the most important behavioral factors to be aware of are in respect to dining. According to Islamic dietary restrictions pork should not be consumed and alcohol is forbidden. In Turkey the restriction on pork is generally adhered to. For the locals, alcohol is now a part of life and today it forms a part of the culture for some people. However, most Turks do abstain from alcohol, especially those living in more rural areas.

In addition to following the dress restrictions mentioned below and following the local dining etiquette (see our Turkey Dining & Food Page), the most important behavioral restrictions tend to be common sense. Avoid sensitive conversation topics, such as politics, finances, religion, and business unless initiated by your local counterpart. Also try to avoid being loud, rude, showing off wealth, or getting noticeably drunk in public.

Dress

The traditional dress in Turkey is diverse and was ever-changing. The land is quite diverse today and in the past, which means there were a number of traditional dresses that existed. Plus, as the lands changed hands from Christians to Muslims, then back and forth for some time, the dress restrictions and traditions have varied by region and time. Into the late 1800s and early 1900s the dress changed to conform to Islamic laws, which required conservative dress. Men tended to wear loose-fitting clothes that were somewhat modeled after European styles, with distinct pants and shirts as well as a hat. Women also wore loose-fitting clothes, generally in a more western-styled loose-fitting dress and a covering for their hair. However, most conservative Muslims tended to wear even more conservative clothes as clothing more traditionally found in Arabia became commonplace among many people.

With the separation of mosque and state in the early 1900s the dress changed and the new government actually outlawed veils (or niqab) on women (although this law is rarely enforced). Since this time the clothing of the Turks has become significantly European, especially in the larger cities and in the western parts of the country. However, many more conservative Muslims still wear tradition dress, or more commonly wear full-length, loose-fitting clothing that is more common in Arabia.

As a visitor to Turkey the dress restrictions vary based upon where you are. In Istanbul there seems to be no requirements, but mosques (including the Blue Mosque) require long-sleeved shirts and pants so the elbows and knees are covered; women are also expected to cover their hair when visiting mosques. This dress code is no different further east and in smaller communities in Turkey as restrictions are absent, but modesty is appreciated. However, if sun bathing on the eastern and southern beaches is on the agenda, swimsuits are common and acceptable so long as they stay on the beach. However, sunbathing naked or women sunbathing topless is not permitted in most places so always be sure to know where this is allowed before doing so.

This page was last updated: November, 2013