Turkey extends for 1,600 km/1,000 mi from west to east. A small part of the country, Turkish Thrace, west of the Bosporus, is geographically in Europe; it borders Greece and Bulgaria on the west and has a similar climate (see the table for Istanbul). The rest of the country, Anatolia or Asia Minor, is strictly in Asia.
Anatolia consists of a high plateau which becomes more mountainous towards the east where the country borders Georgia, Armenia, and Iran. It is enclosed by the Pontic ranges in the north and the Taurus and Anti-Taurus in the south. These mountains and isolated volcanic peaks such as Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey rise to well over 4,000 m/13,000 ft and may carry snow throughout the year.
There are thus considerable differences of climate within Turkey. The narrow coastlands and mountain slopes facing the Black Sea on the north, the Aegean on the west, and the Mediterranean on the south have wetter and milder winters than the interior.
The interior plateau has low rainfall and cold or very cold winters. Towards the east the winter cold is similar to that found in parts of Russia. Except at higher levels, summers in the interior are warm or even hot with occasional thunderstorms. Winter precipitation here falls mostly as snow and towards the east this may lie on the ground for between three and four months (compare winter temperatures for Ankara and Kars).
The coastal regions have much milder winters and here snow is rare. Turkish Thrace, around Istanbul and the Black Sea coast, is a little colder in winter than the west and south coasts (see the table for Samsun).
The Black Sea coast has some rain all the year round and east of Samsun this becomes heavy in the summer and autumn. Summers here are warm and humid and the weather is often changeable and cloudy. South of Istanbul the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts have a typical Mediterranean climate with increasingly dry, hot summers (see the table for Izmir). Here midwinter is the rainy season when most of the disturbed weather occurs.
The hottest and driest area of Turkey in summer is the low-lying plain at the foot of the Taurus Mountains along the border with Syria. Here conditions become typical of the Middle East. The region is a semi-arid steppe with only winter rain.
Except for the eastern part of the Black Sea coastlands, most of Turkey has a very sunny climate even in winter. Average daily sunshine amounts range from three to four hours in midwinter to as much as twelve to thirteen hours in summer.
Although summer temperatures are rather high, the heat is tempered by the low humidity inland and the sea breezes along the coast. Occasionally the nights may be sticky and humid on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. The worst feature of the climate is the severe cold experienced in the interior in winter, and occasionally in early spring.
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