According to Ehealthfacts, the hydrographic network in Turkey is relatively poor; there is a lack of rivers of a certain importance in terms of length and width of the basin, if one thinks of the extension of the country. This depends both on the poverty of rainfall and on the presence of the numerous basins of tectonic origin – very important elements of Turkish geography – to which we owe the closed hydrography, of an endorheic character, of Anatolia. The endorheic areas cover approx. a fifth of the plateau and extend mainly in the central-southern part, where the compact chain of the Taurus opposes the free drainage of the waters towards the Mediterranean Sea. There are also quite large lake basins, such as Lake Tuz (Tuz Golü), with 1642 km², and, all close to each other, those of Beysehir, Eğridir and Aksehir; others once occupied large areas of the now reclaimed Konya plain. The largest, however, Lake Van (3738 km²), corresponds, as mentioned, to a depression of the Armenian highlands. Many lake basins are salty; in particular, Lake Tuz, just a few meters deep, reaches one of the highest saline concentrations in the world. Of the Anatolian plateau, only the north-central section communicates fairly easily with the sea, despite the presence of the Pontic Mountains: the major tributaries of the Black Sea are the Kızılırmak, the most important watercourse that flows entirely in Turkish territory (1182 km), and the Sakarya (824 km). On the southern side, Tauric, only the basins of the Ceyhan and the parallel Seyhan have a considerable extension, which penetrate quite deeply into the plateau. The waters of the Armenian Acrocoro and the Eastern Taurus are collected by the Euphrates which, through difficult passages and a sinuous path, descends to the Syromesopotamian plains, from the Tigris (which flows for a short distance in Turkey before entering Iraq) and from the Aras, which flows in the opposite direction to the Euphrates and flows into the Caspian Sea. The other rivers are rather short and their course takes place along the external escarpments of the reliefs that close the plateau: the Aegean ones have a moderate development given the extended conformation of the western side of the plateau, furrowed by long valleys: the main ones are those already mentioned, namely the Meander, the Gediz and the Bakır.
TERRITORY: HUMAN GEOGRAPHY
Man has populated Asia Minor in ancient times but it is in the so-called Chalcolithic (or Eneolithic) that he found his ideal home in this land. Many of the cultural inventions that laid the foundations of urbanism took place in fact in Turkish territory; the proximity to Mesopotamia revived the Neolithic civilization and the discovery of copper in the plateau was the basis of the pre-Indo-European cultures that flourished in Asia Minor and are documented in numerous archaeological areas. Of fundamental importance was the advent of the Hittites, whose world, with its typically Asian features, inevitably clashed with the expansion of the Aegean populations towards E.
This expansion, which began with the Achaeans which destroyed the famous Homeric Troy, progressively invested Anatolia which then let itself be permeated by the Mediterranean world, starting a “westernization” continued under the Greeks and during the Roman domination. The subsequent Byzantine Empire, the West’s last defense against the invasion of Asian cultures, however, heralded a new phase, a break with the past because through the ancient caravan routes between East and West, the influences of the complex world of Central Asia they reached the Mediterranean shores. This happened in the century. XI with the arrival of the Seljuk Turks and with the successive waves of populations of Central Asia that determined new cultural landscapes, and introduced new political and social realities in the country. Turkish culture, however, did not remain closed in its values, but was open and sensitive, as well as to Islam, to the Greek and Western heritage. All these influences have been reworked into original forms that can be seen not only in the wonderful İstanbul but also in smaller cities such as Bursa or Konya, enriched by a multiform culture in all fields, in art, literature, economics. The Ottoman Empire lived for a long time on the conquests of the sec. XVI and XVII when, under the Islamic universalist push, it expanded in numerous directions. However, the reasons for Ottoman weakness also lie in the expansionist aims of those centuries. The decline manifested itself openly during the industrial revolutions which went to Europe and which did not involve the Ottoman Empire. In this way, the Balkan areas under Ottoman rule and Turkey itself remained more backward. The country thus entered the century. XX with all the negative weight of its archaic productive structures. In reality, some Ottoman reforms tried, already in the century. XVIII, to stabilize the nomads by assigning them lands obtained from the estates of the State, the manomorta and the beys locals. Thus, numerous villages have sprung up, in poorer areas, where only subsistence cereals are possible. A poverty of development in the countryside is matched by that of the cities, with the only exception of İstanbul, whose importance has never diminished over time. The country was also weak demographically: in the Ottoman age infant mortality was 80%, population growth was slow and still in 1927 there were only 13.6 million Turks. The economic impulses resulting from Atatürk’s “revolution” had their effects in a short time, even if there was an exodus of the Greeks (over 1.2 million) to the Aegean and Macedonia due to the policy of ethnic cleansing pursued by fledgling turkish republic. Already in 1915, during the First World War, the Ottoman Empire had initiated forms of ethnic cleansing with the repression of the Armenian minority which condemned ca. 1.3 million individuals. In those years there was also the return of approx. 600,000 Turks in turn ousted from Greece. This was followed, in 1950, by that of another 250,000 Turks expelled from Bulgaria (the so-called Pomachi), who settled largely in the Konya plain. The Kurdish minority, settled in the territories bordering Iraq and Iran, has resorted to increasing emigration to escape the strong and constant repression implemented by the regular army. The only right recognized to the Kurds is the possibility of speaking their language privately among themselves (1991). Ethnically divided between Turks 65.1%, Kurds 18.9%, Arabs 1.8%, Azerbaijanis (Azeris) 1%, Yoruk 1%, others 12.2%, Germany, and the Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Libya).