Read the first chapter first: Life and Time in Turkey
FLORA & FAUNA
Along the Mediterranean and Aegean shores, scattered forests alternate with low herbaceous growth. Once covered in dense forest, Central Anatolia has been logged for centuries and now has abundant grasslands and grain fields. The Black
Seashore has thick humid deciduous forests and dense brush. Northeastern Anatolia also has significant forest cover.
Wild boars, rarely hunted by Muslims, remain plentiful throughout Turkey’s forests. Bears, deer, hyenas, wolves, foxes, and mountain goats may be found in more remote areas. In addition to the usual stable of domesticated animals, Turkish ranchers have a domesticated camel, water buffalo, and the Angora goat.
Birdlife is plentiful, with wild geese, quail, kestrels, falcons, hawks, and other species. Trout are common in mountain streams. Turkey’s coastal waters hold a wide variety of fish, including bonito and mackerel.
Environmental issues have only recently begun to enter the Turkish consciousness. Two hot-button issues of late have been the construction of dams along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and the transport of oil through the Bosphorus near Istanbul. International pressure seems to have sidelined plans for a particularly controversial dam, the Ilisu in southeastern Turkey, which would have destroyed the beautiful village of Hasankeyf. Nevertheless, construction continues on a number of other dam projects.
Meanwhile, the opening of a new pipeline in Russia is expected to increase oil tanker traffic through the Bosphorus. The Treaty of Montreux (signed post-World War I) limits Turkey’s control over the tankers, but concern remains high that a spill could threaten the ecology and safety of Istanbul.
Since the first human settlements in Anatolia, Turkey has hosted some of the world’s greatest civilizations, each waxing with exuberance and then fading with despair. A journey through Turkey is a chance to retrace the steps of armies, to relive the magnificence of great courts, and to pause for a moment where tragedy has unfolded. Timeless religious, ethnic, and cultural tensions live on here, as they have in every Asia Minor empire before it. The pride and confident nationalism of Turkey today cost the blood and torture of thousands. Despite being the custodian of Hellenic and Roman heritage as well as of the roots of Christianity, it has forever represented foreign intrigue for Europe. Neither a comfortable neighbor nor a suppressible for, it is a regional power that walks unhumbled in the Arab world yet demands accord from the west.