Before going deeper into the Turkish culture, I want to give you a brief introduction on Turkey by telling you a few interesting facts that you may or may not know about this wonderful country.
First of all, let’s talk about this country’s name: Turkey.
What does the country have in common with the animal? Apparently not much, but to find out why English speakers call the animal with this name, we have to go back to the times when the Ottoman Empire ruled over the Mediterranean Sea.
During those times, the Ottomans introduced in Europe the Guinea fowl, a bird which is similar to the turkey in the appearance and in the taste but that, unlike turkey which is originally from the Americas, comes from Africa. The Guinea fowl was often called the turkey-cock or the turkey-hen, so when the Europeans arrived in the Americas and found the turkeys, they mistakenly called them turkeys. Even more interesting is the fact that Turks call the turkey “hindi”, which literally means “Indian”. The reason of it is that in the past people believed that India and the New World were the same place.
Although Istanbul is the most famous and the larger city in Turkey, Ankara has been the capital of this country since the founding of the Republic in 1923. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul has been taken under control by Western countries and, consequently, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, established the headquarters of his resistance movement in this city. Because of that, after the Turkish war of Independence, Ankara became officially Turkey’s new capital. The choice of not establishing the capital city back to Istanbul can also be seen as a cut to the past Ottoman Empire and a new beginning for the country.
If you are a girl or woman and you are moving to Turkey, probably relatives and friends have told you that living in Turkey is going to be dangerous for you and that you will be strongly discriminating by society or even subdued to men. This is quite inaccurate because gender discrimination in Turkey is not worse than in any other developed country. For example and, as surprising as that may sound, Turkey established universal suffrage in 1934, 11 years before Italy (my home country).
I hope I haven’t been too annoying with all of this history and I promise I will give you more concrete advice in my next posts.