Is Turkey in Europe?

Is Turkey in Europe?

Is Turkey in Europe?

Key Points

● Turkey has land in both Europe and Asia, while Asia accounts for the vast majority of its land.
● Turkish territory formerly extended all the way into Europe, all the way to the suburbs of Vienna, Austria’s capital.
● Turks were originated from East Asia.
● Istanbul, Turkey’s capital, is Europe’s most populated metropolis.
● The demographics of Europe were influenced by Turkey. Turkey, on the other hand, has embraced many aspects of European culture.


Turkey is a country with a unique geographical position, located halfway between Asia and Europe. It has served as both an impediment and a bridge connecting the two continents throughout its history.1

Is Turkey in Europe? Where is Turkey located?

Turkey lies at the crossroads of the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Middle East, and the eastern Mediterranean. In terms of geography and population, it is one of the region’s largest countries, with a land area larger than any European country.1

Approximately all of the country is in Asia, including the oblong peninsula of Asia Minor also referred to as Anatolia in the east, part of a mountainous region often known as the Armenian Highland. The rest of the Turkish lead lies in the intense southeastern part of Europe, a small remnant of an empire that once extended over much of the Balkans.1

Turkey is a country that is in the center of Europe and Asia. Turkey is home to pixie smokestack and hot air balloons, Roman history, and kebabs, a world wonder indeed. Empires after empires rose and fall on these lands, and to see Turkey as a whole, you will have to go further than just Istanbul.

The Black Sea, the Aegean, and the Mediterranean coasts, as well as the narrows that connect the Black and Aegean seas, make up roughly three-quarters of the entire border length of 6,440 km. The Turkish Straits, which comprise the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles, are known as the Turkish straits collectively; Turkey’s control of the straits, which are the sole exit from the Black Sea, has been a crucial role in its relations with other countries. Only the islands of Gokceada and Bozcaada remain in Turkish control, despite the fact that the majority of the islands along the Aegean coast are Greek.1

Turkey has traditionally been both, though it has a stronger Middle Eastern than European character to it. Europe is similar to Asia in terms of geography. Geographically; Asia, Antarctica, the Americas, and Oceania are all uncompromising. Whoever concocted the concept of Europe wished to distinguish Europe from the rest of Asia. However, distinguishing the Middle East, Central Asia, East Asia, and South Asia as distinct yet still portions of Asia is only fair.

Western Russia has a similar culture as Eastern Europe, so Western Russia should be deemed part of Europe. As for Turkey, it has historically been split between Europe and the Middle East. When Alexander conquered Iran, his Hellenistic impact resulted in Turkey and Iran being importantly more European in terms of culture. But some empires of Iran made an effort to revert from the Hellenistic influence back to native culture. Turkey was included in this, but Istanbul was a long part of Greek/Eastern European culture.

The best measure of culture is religion. After the foundation of Christianity, the Byzantine Empire dominated Turkey. The Byzantines were significantly Eastern European in culture. Their religion was Eastern Orthodox, which argues the difference between Catholic Western Europe and Zoroastrian Iran, while the remaining Middle East was combined. With the rise of Islam, Turkey became more united with the Middle East. Now, 99.8% of Turkey is Muslim,2 so it’s a significantly greater part of the Middle East than Eastern Europe. Although, it does have some Eastern European impact. It’s in the Balkans, Istanbul is “geographically” in Europe, and many European establishments involve Turkey in Europe.

As previously stated, Turkey’s overwhelming majority of the land is located in Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor, and is part of the Asian continent. Anatolia is home to the majority of Turkey’s 85 million people. Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan border the Anatolian section of Turkey on the northeast, Iran on the east, Iraq, Syria, and the Mediterranean Sea on the south, the Black Sea on the north, and the Aegean Sea and Greece on the west. Ankara, Turkey’s capital and a metropolis of more than 3.5 million inhabitants, is located in Anatolia’s west-central region. Except for a portion of Turkey’s largest metropolis, Istanbul, Anatolia contains all of Turkey’s cities with populations of more than 1 million people.3

Why is Turkey called European when most of Turkey is in Asia?

Ottoman Empire, of which Turkey is the inheritor state, has been economically, socially, and politically considered as a European state and was always in the middle of European concerns since its foundation. Pretty much right after its foundation at the end of the 13th century, it expanded to the west, and only towards the end of the 14th century, its frontier settlement had reached the Vardar and Kosovan plains, the heart of current-day Balkans.

A century before conquering Istanbul, its capital was at Adrianople even westwards. The very pillars of the state were built in the Balkans, ”Ottoman Europe” as some historians called it, was the passage that gave life to the Ottoman Statehood. Centuries later when Turks lost their final area of land in the Balkans during the 1912–13 Balkan wars, this disastrous loss caused the end of the state. It took only five more years for it to fall entirely.

How do you see Turkey? Is it a European country or a Middle Eastern country?

The fact is that Turkey is very worldly. The South-Eastern pieces of the country are closer to what one would define as Middle Eastern in both nature and culture. The Northern parts are European in terms of nature and Turkish in culture. Whereas the Western parts are European in complexion and culture.

Turks from Western Turkey love their wine and their beer. They love having an appropriate moment with their family and friends around a dinner table. They love talking loudly and using unreasonable body language. Turkish people love singing and dancing. Sure there are traditionalist, religious Turks too, but they are mostly in the middle and Eastern Turkey. Those religious people are too traditionalist even for Western Turks.

Western Turkey would be considered a European country because the main problem with sorting Turkey as European has always been the fact that they’re Muslims, but Western Turks don’t fit in with that stereotype. They fit in with the European one.

Why visit Turkey?

Turkey sits at the cross-road between Europe and Asia and has been occupied since the Paleolithic age, making Turkey one of the best locations to travel to for history devotees and adventurers who enjoy walking around historical locations.

Apart from that, the people are friendly especially in the east, the food is excessively delicious and the cost of traveling is very cheap. There is no better place than Turkey if you are looking to get yourself established in the Middle East territory.

Turkey’s European Ties Remain to This Day

Although Turkey no longer rules huge swaths of Europe, it has left an indelible mark on the continent. The Ottoman Empire, for example, introduced the Islamic faith to huge swaths of Europe’s people. As a result, certain individuals throughout Europe, most notably in Albania and a small portion of the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina, continue to practice Islam today.3

At the same time, European culture has infiltrated Turkey, particularly in the last century. Following the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Turkey’s new leader, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, wanted to westernize the country. The Ottoman Empire’s ancient Islamic Caliphate was deposed, and a new, secular republic was established. Turkey has even replaced the Arabic character for the Turkish language with a Latin script. Turkey would identify itself politically and economically with the West for the next century.3

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Turkey has practically as many claims to being European as any country in the Balkans. But there are also things in Turkey that you won’t find much of anywhere else in Europe, the universality of the Islamic call to prayer, for one. Some elements of Turkey, like being a founding member of the assembly of Europe, explicitly point to it being European, while others, such as being located almost entirely in Asia, point to the other guidance.

But the truth is there is never going to be a clear answer, and people having many individual thoughts on the matter is one of the things that makes Turkey worth having this discussion about in the first place.

  1. Yapp, M. Edward and Dewdney. John C. (2021, June 6). Turkey. Encyclopedia Britannica.
  2. Islam in Turkey. (2016, June 17). In Wikipedia.
  3. Shvili, J. (2021, March 31). Is Turkey In Europe Or Asia? WorldAtlas.