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About Turkey

Turkey, officially known as the Republic of Turkey, is located in the northern hemisphere where the two continents, Europe and Asia meet. The majority of its territory extends over the Anatolian peninsula, whereas the rest lies on the Thrace, the edge of the Balkan peninsula. Three sides of the country is surrounded by seas; the Mediterranean Sea is to the south; the Aegean Sea and Archipelago are to the west; and the Black Sea is to the north. It also has an inner see called Marmara which connects Black Sea and Aegean Sea through Bosporus and Hellespont. Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Syria are its neighbours.

Etiquette in Turkey

The Importance of Religion in Turkey

Turkey’s population is mostly Muslim and many Islamic customs are integrated into society.. The rituals and prayers of the religion  practiced on a day-to-day basis. First and foremost, dressing and behaving modestly is a sign of respect in modern Turkey as well. Outside of a tourist resort, if women in particular are not dressed according to the country’s general dress-codes , they might attract negative  reactions from the community occasionally. The local communities will be more tolerant towards  tourists than the country’s own citizens about these dress codes usually but too much exposure according to the culture’s values might still catch a bit of negative attention. It is best if women try not to expose too much  cleavage, wear too short skirts or hot pants and such when in general public of out of touristic  areas. It is advisable for  men to wear T-Shirts or at last sleeveless T-Shirts out in public, and it is best to opt for not so short trouser types in the less tourist-driven areas. If visiting a mosque, the dress code demands that women should cover their head, shoulders, arms and legs, taking care not to show ankles or feet. Shorts and exposed tops are not considered appropriate attire for men or women during  the mosque visits.  You should be aware that during the month of Ramadan, most of the Muslim population of the country  will be fasting  from dawn until dusk. Some Muslims don’t mind having  alcohol, but devout Muslims will not. Therefore it is also strongly advisable that avoiding excessive drinking and associated loutish or overzealous behavior will be best thing to do as it will be perceived as disrespectful by the local communities specially  in the month of Ramadan.

Body Language and Gesticulating

Turkish people have some decidedly different gesticulations, so it is wise to learn what these are to avoid any confusion or embarrassment. Firstly, be aware that some rural areas, where religion has more of an influence over everyday customs and behaviour, women and men are expected to keep some distance apart in public. Therefore hand holding, hugging and kissing are not undertaken. Even handshakes and eye contact between the sexes may be avoided. However in more urban locations, this is much more relaxed and there is a lot of integration between men and women. Handshakes and a kiss on each cheek between men and women are common forms of meeting and greeting.

Personal space between the same sexes is much smaller than in many Western countries, so you can expect to be bustled or shunted when queuing or in a crowded place. The way in which a Turkish person will indicate ‘Yes’ is similar to the Western practice, in that it is just a small nod of the head downwards. However, ‘No’ is indicated by a nod of the head upwards, often with raised eyebrows or a sharp intake of air through the front teeth.  With sitting, the proper etiquette is that the soles of your feet, even when wearing sandals or shoes, should also stay flat to the floor, and should never be pointed directly at anybody. This would be seen as ignorant and disrespectful.

You might also find that you innocently make a vulgar gesture to a Turkish person, be aware that the ‘OK’ sign is actually a very rude and provocative signal, as is placing your thumb between your index and middle finger. Avoid these gestures at all costs!

Dining Etiquette in Turkey

If invited into a Turkish person’s home, the proper etiquette is to bring a gift with you to show your humbleness and gratitude. Small decorative pieces, sweets and pastries are the most common gifts, and you should remember to include children when offering gifts. Families are integral to Turkish society, so including the children will be seen as a very thoughtful and kind gesture. Alcohol may be given as a gift, but remember that not all Turkish people actually drink it. (Travel Etiquette)

Tipping in Turkey

It is customary to leave a tip in Turkish restaurants, bars, hotels but varies according to the type of establishment. In a basic lokanta, or cafeteria, you need leave nothing in addition to the bill. In a restaurant, if the service was acceptable, you would leave 10%, in a classier establishment 15%. Tips are rarely included in the bill. Taxi drivers do not normally except a tip, but they do appreciate it.