The Birthplace of Civilization
The Middle East—the western portion of Asia, connecting it to Africa and Europe—includes the area surrounding early Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, and includes the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt and Turkey.
Early farming practices that developed there due to the drastic climate and fertile soil lead to the first civilizations: the Sumerians and Ancient Egyptians. The region has long been a passage for trade routes between the continents.
The Abrahamic monotheistic religions of Judaism, then Christianity, and later Islam, all have their roots here. The spread of Islam is reflective in the culture: Muslim architecture, calls to prayer heard throughout the day, styles of design and dress, food and spices.
Bridge Between Continents
Turkey is unlike any other country. It is uniquely situated between the two continents of Europe and Asia, and is considered part of the Middle East. Originally part of the Roman Empire, then later taken over by the Ottoman Empire, the history of Turkey and its central position on the map lends a rich depth of culture, trade and architecture.
A melded culture is observed particularly in the city of Istanbul, which was once called Byzantium, then Constantinople. It is here that its European identity is most prevalent, while interwoven with its Middle Eastern culture. Muslim mosques stand prominently while commingling with Christian churches and Jewish Synagogues.