Turkey is a vast peninsula, covering an area of 814,578 square kilometers or 314,510 square miles and linking Asia to Europe through the Sea of Marmara and the Straits of Istanbul and Çanakkale. Across the Sea of Marmara, the triangular shaped Trace is the continuation of Turkey on the European continent. Anatolia is rectangular in outline, 1500 kilometers long and 550 kilometers wide.
It is characterized by a central plateau surrounded by chains of mountains on the north, west and south and a rugged mountainous region in the east with an average elevation of 1050 meters. The well-known Mount Ararat is located in the east of Anatolia in the province of Iğdır, near to the border with Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is the highest mountain in Turkey and is significant in the Judeo-Christian tradition as the site where Noah‘s Ark landed.
Turkey has a quite large river system that allows for important hydroelectric power generation and irrigation. Turkey has also over 300 natural and 130 artificial lakes. The largest lake in Turkey, Lake Van, is located in the Van district in the far east of Turkey. It is a saline soda lake and is significant as one of the world’s largest endorheic lakes. Lake Tuz is the second largest located near to Aksaray in Central Anatolia. It is known as one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world.
Turkey is like a mosaic made up of many different reliefs and formations: parallel mountain ranges, extinct volcanoes, plateau fissured by valleys and plains. Surrounded on its three sides by warm seas, it falls in the temperate climate zone. The climate varies considerably however from region to region: a temperate climate in the Black Sea Region, a Mediterranean climate on the southern coast and the Aegean, a continental and arid climate on the central plateau and a harsh mountain climate in eastern Turkey. Because of these variations in climate, the fauna and flora are some of the richest in Europe and the Middle East.
Turkey has a great variety of wild animals, with over 114 species of mammals. The forest belt in the north is home to grey hears and in the south to wild goats. Sea turtles and seals play in the waters of the Mediterranean and the Aegean, just as in other parts of the world, some species have become extinct or on the verge of extinction such as the wild Asian donkeys, lions and tigers. Some 400 species of indigenous or migratory birds live in Turkey, some of which are extinct in Europe such as the black vulture.