Turkey Quick Facts
Capital City: Ankara
Largest City: Istanbul
Official Language: Turkish
Currency: Turkish Lira (TL)
Time Zone: GMT + 2
Electricity: 220 volts AC
Turkey straddles both Europe and Asia with the greatest proportion of its territory in Southwest Asia. The country is bounded to the east by Georgia, Armenia and Iran, and to the south by Iraq, Syria and the Mediterranean Sea, to the west by Greece, Bulgaria and the Aegean Sea, and to the north by the Black Sea.
Visitors with valid passports need to check with the nearest Turkish Embassy/Consular Missions for any visa requirements prior to arrival in Turkey. You can also visit the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs website online or click on the link below for the latest visa information. For those countries who can obtain sticker type visas, ODS may be able to pre-purchase these if complete name list is sent to us in advance.
Please visit the Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for the latest information on visa applications.
Visitors may bring an unlimited amount of Turkish or foreign currency with them into Turkey, but they may take out of the country only $ 5000 or other currencies in cash equal to this amount. There are no restrictions on the transfer of Turkish or foreign money to other countries through banks. Jewelry made of precious stones or metals that is not valued at more than $15000 and is not intended for commercial uses may be brought in and out of the country.
Duty-free allowance: 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 200 grams of tobacco; up to 7 bottles of spirit, 70cc. each, of which not more than three bottles can be of the same kind. Antiques and electronic equipment will be registered in the owner’s passport upon arrival and checked at exit. It is strictly forbidden to take antiques out of the country. For this is reason it is necessary to obtain a certificate for carpets or other valuables purchased in the country as proof that it is not an antique.
Turkey is 7 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, and 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
Turkish is a Ural-Altaic language related to the Finno-Ugric. Turkish is written with the Latin alphabet and is spoken by some 150-200 million people around the world. English, French and German are spoken in hotels, major restaurants and many shops.
The vast majority of the population is Muslim (%98). The remaining is composed of Orthodox Christians, Gregorian Christians, Catholic, Syrian and Protestant Christians, and Jews. Although most of the population is Moslem, Turkey is a secular country and everyone has freedom of religion and beliefs.
Visiting the Mosques
Most mosques in Istanbul are open to the public during the day. Prayer sessions, called namaz, last 30 to 40 minutes and are observed five times daily. Tourists should, however, avoid visiting mosques midday on Friday, when Muslims are required to worship.
For women, bare arms and legs are not acceptable inside a mosque. Men should avoid wearing shorts as well. Women should not enter a mosque without first covering their heads with a scarf. Before entering a mosque, shoes must be removed.
The dress is generally informal in Turkey. For the visitors, it is advisable to bring comfortable shoes and pant suits for daytime visits. The organizers can set the tone for the evenings; in any case it is recommended to bring a cocktail dress. In most restaurants, gentlemen will feel more comfortable with a jacket and tie in the evening and some require formal dress.
In southern Turkey where the summers are hot, shorts, T-shirts and summer hats are recommended.
They say all four seasons exist in Turkey, where seven distinct geographic regions, the sea stretching on three sides of the country and the location of the mountains affect the regional climate greatly. From the strictly geographical point of view, Turkey lies to the south of the temperate climate zone and within the sub-tropical Mediterranean climatic area.
The Mediterranean and Aegean coasts have mild winters and hot summers whereas the Black Sea coast has a wet and humid climate with rain all year round due to precipitation.
The continental climate is seen in regions distant from the sea and surrounded by mountains. Central Anatolia, Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia and the inland of Thrace are in this category. Rain is relatively infrequent in this region; winters are long and cold with heavy snowfall while summers are short but hot.
The region of Marmara where Istanbul is located, climate is a combination of both with pleasant spring and fall, hot and dry summers and cold winters.
Turkish Lira (TL) is available in notes and coins. The exchange rate is determined daily; several banks and exchange offices are available. Traveler’s checks can be cashed in most banks. Hotels and many shops and restaurants accept foreign currency. There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency that travelers can bring cash. Hotels, most restaurants and shops accept all major credit cards. (American Express, VISA, MasterCard /Euro card, Diners’ Club)
All goods and services in Turkey are subject to a Value Added Tax called KDV. Current VAT is 18%. Tax on basic food items, education and healthcare is 8%. Higher tax is levied on luxury goods.
Non-residents may reclaim the sales taxes they have paid on some goods and services, so you’re advised to keep your bills and receipts. You can get copies of the necessary forms at customs, tourist information centers, hotels and some department stores.
A tip of 10-15% is customarily left for waiters and waitresses at the table, calculated on the pre-tax total of your bill. It will not be calculated for you – the additional charges on a restaurant bill are taxes, not service charges, and are not voluntary. It is not required but customary to tip taxi drivers, rounding up to the nearest YTL. (maximum 10%)
Weight and measures
Turkey uses the metric system for weight and measures.
220 volt, 50 cycles. Most hotels have a receptacle with 110 volts. Socket type is European standards.
Offices and banks are generally open Monday to Friday between 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, with a break between 12:00 to 1:30 pm. Mosques are open to public everyday outside the prayer hours. Museums are generally open Tuesday to Sunday between 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Shops are closed on Sundays except in the large malls.
April 23rd National Sovereignty and Children’s Day
May 19th Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day
August 30th Victory Day (1922)
October 29th Republic Day
Offices, Banks, Shops and museums are closed on these days.
There are also two religious holidays whose dates change every year according to the lunar calendar taking place 10-11 days earlier each year. Offices, Banks and Shops remain closed throughout and Museums open on the second day of these holidays.