Every year when Thanksgiving rolls around, there’s one thing on people’s minds: turkey. Yes, that tasty bird — and all its trimmings — occupies our minds until it’s time to eat.

But what about that other Turkey? You know the one. The Turkey with a capital “T.” What are we talking about? The country Turkey, of course!

What better time to learn about Turkey than around Thanksgiving? Do you know much about Turkey? For starters, check out this map of the world with Turkey highlighted to get an idea of exactly where it’s located.

Known officially as the Republic of Turkey, Turkey is a very interesting place from a geographic standpoint. Located both in Western Asia and Southeastern Europe, it is bordered by eight countries: Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

By land area, it is the 37th largest country in the world. It is also surrounded by several prominent bodies of water, including the Mediterranean Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea. The Turkish Straits (made up of the Straits of Bosphorus and the Dardanelles) and the Sea of Marmara also mark the border between the continents of Europe and Asia. Most of Turkey (97%) is located in Asia.

Most of the people in Turkey are Muslims, and the country’s official language is Turkish. The Turks first migrated to the area in the 11th century. The name “Turkey” comes from the Medieval Latin word Turchia, which means “Land of the Turks.”

Beginning in the 13th century, the entire area was part of the vast Ottoman Empire, which finally collapsed after being defeated in World War I. Occupied for a while by the victorious Allies, the modern Republic of Turkey was established in 1923 under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who led a successful resistance to the Allies.

Today, Turkey is a popular tourist destination, given its location, natural beauty and historical and archeological sites. With access to seas and beaches and long summers, Turkey makes a great destination for those looking to relax.

Mountain climbers, hikers and skiers can also find plenty of places to enjoy amongst Turkey’s mountain ranges. Religious visitors often come to see sites connected to the many world religions that intersect in Turkey, particularly Islam and Christianity. For example, Turkey’s highest peak — Mount Ararat — is believed to have been the resting place of Noah’s Ark.

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    • Hey there, Wondergirl101! We hope you had a SUPER day with family and friends, celebrating Thanksgiving! We are just so happy to hear that you’ve learned something new with us! HOORAY, Wondergirl101! :)

  1. This place called Turkey reminds me this place called St. Augustine, it’s an historical place that Ponce De Leon discover St. Augustine in Florida. I once went there in a field trip for 2 days, I even saw the lighthouse, fort, and alligator farm. :)

    • What a great connection, Carlos! We remember when you told us about your awesome trip to St. Augustine– it’s a very cool, historic place to Wonder! Perhaps you’ll got to Turkey in the future! :)

  2. Hey, Wonderopolis! That is cool. I am sooooo hungry for turkey now! But, anyways I think tomorrow’s wonder will have something to do with the A-B-C’s!!!!

    :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

  3. Hey Wonderopolis, I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day will be about the 123’s. I think that because the 123 sounds like the abc’s.
    Mushkale

    • How cool, Minecrafter! We’re so excited that you’ve traveled to Turkey before! What an amazing adventure! Happy Thanksgiving! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Where in the world is Turkey?
  • What continent is Turkey part of?
  • Where did the name Turkey come from?

Wonder Gallery

TurkeyVimeo Video

Try It Out

If you had the chance to visit Turkey, where would you want to go? Given its history, Istanbul would be a natural choice. Of course, Turkey offers many other exciting areas.

Jump online to visit Go Turkey and click on the Destinations tab at the top right of the page. You’ll see a list of cities in the dropdown menu. Browse through the cities to learn more about them.

Check out the cities on a map of Turkey. Using the information you find, plan a trip to Turkey that you think would be fantastic. Feel free to print out the map of Turkey, as well as pictures of the sites in the cities you want to visit, to make a beautiful trip planner you can share with your friends and family!

Still Wondering

National Geographic Xpeditions’ Alike and Different: The Middle East and the United States lesson asks children to examine the similarities and differences between the Middle East and their own city, state and country.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day may sound a bit like the ABCs!

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.