Turkey Human Geography
Internal migrations are also important, both seasonal and permanent migrations towards urban centers, which welcome 72.5% (2012) of the Turkish population. According to 800zipcodes, the population density (98 inhab./km²) conceals strong distributional inequalities between the large cities Ankara and İstanbul, certain areas of Pontus and other Aegean and Mediterranean areas (due to the presence of good agricultural areas and active sea ports). The village of small and simple buildings, gathered among the poplars, dominated by the minaret, enlivened in summer by the archaic work of threshing still carried out with the primordial döven (the tribulum of Roman age), is the most widespread form of settlement. In its formal and organizational characteristics it reveals a poor agricultural condition, traditionally lacking, based on secular life styles of self-consumption. The villages gravitate towards medium-sized cities, market centers, ancient residences of the Ottoman beys that have now become the headquarters of the small emerging provincial bourgeoisie. These towns, where there are also several mosques and minarets, are now equipped with modern facilities, but in turn depend on major centers, mostly of ancient origin. Within the framework of urban hierarchies, however, there are cities whose role largely exceeds the provincial limits, coordinating larger or more economically active spaces: they are first of all coastal and port centers, then cities of the plateau with nodal functions in the communications network.. Summit of the territorial organization and urban network of Turkey is İstanbul, whose history and whose unchanged importance over time are explained by its role of mediation between Asian Turkey and European Turkey, more globally between Asia and Europe.
The most European and dynamic part of the country finds its mirror in this city, which is not only historically prestigious – it was ancient Byzantium and then the famous Constantinople -, but also incomparable and unique for its monuments that are reflected on the soul Bosphorus and on the Golden Horn. İstanbul is a vibrant center for commerce and industry, with a capable and enterprising bourgeoisie, a Western brand activism. Most of the Turkish industries gather around it and its dynamism – also expressed by the port, the country’s largest maritime outlet – is transmitted to a whole vast city-region that far exceeds the Bosphorus. The city is also home to Turkey’s main stock exchange. Moving away from the metropolitan area of İstanbul many things change: the landscape becomes simpler, the human presence thins out, the pace of life slows down and takes on distinctly Asian connotations. The second largest center in the country is Ankara which has seen its importance and gravitational force grow progressively. The city has been the capital since 1923 and was chosen precisely for its central position, to support Anatolia and to symbolize a radical change in the life of the country. Ankara has only partially fulfilled these functions, and has shown a certain passivity, typical of artificially created capitals. However, it has become a new, fundamental pole of economic and demographic attraction, as a political center. There is no doubt that there is a certain rivalry between Ankara and İstanbul, an indirect reflection of that between the two Turks that still coexist, the Asian, rural and conservative, and the European, progressive, of the growing, disenchanted bourgeoisie.
The third most important pole is Smyrna (İzmir), a port city on which the entire Aegean section of the country converges. Nestled on the bottom of the gulf of the same name, with modern buildings extending along the seafront, the ancient, picturesque neighborhoods in a dominant position, Izmir is a city of lively commercial traditions and home to multiple industrial activities. Other port cities on the Mediterranean are Mersin (or Içel), the natural outlet of Cilicia and the central-eastern Taurus region, and İskenderun, at the bottom of the homonymous gulf, on the edge of a well-cultivated plain; İzmit, which is one of the most industrial cities in Turkey, overlooks the Sea of Marmara; on the Black Sea coast are Samsun, a very active port thanks to good road and rail links with the interior of the plateau, while today the most disadvantaged is Trebizond (Trabzon) which was also the most important Greek colony on the Pontian coast and even more flourishing in medieval times, when a caravan of intense traffic united it to Persia. Among the most populous cities is Adana, in the fertile plain of Seyhan, a short distance from the sea; it is a “new” city, developed with the enhancement of the region’s cotton: in 1955 it had 177,000 residents, in 2013 1,645,965 residents. Important cities of the interior, of ancient origin and of great artistic interest (today also tourist), are Bursa, located at the foot of Uludağ, for some time the capital of the Osmanli, and Konya, on the northern offshoots of the central Taurus, extremely suggestive for the splendid monuments that make it the most “eastern” city of Anatolia, of which it was in the past a great caravan hub. Other cities of primary role are the communication nodes of Kayseri, ancient Caesarea, Sivas, located on the railway that connects eastern Anatolia to Ankara, Erzurum, the highest center of eastern Turkey, located at 1950 m in the heart of Armenia Turkish, favored for trade with the countries of the Caucasus, Russia and Iran; finally on the Siromesopotamian façade, at the foot of the Outer Eastern Taurus, the main centers are Diyarbakır and Gaziantep, with a very flourishing agriculture. The country is an important transit point to Europe for Syrian and Iraqi refugees; in 2016 a controversial agreement was signed with the EU to block migratory flows.