Language: Turkish (official), as well as Kurdish and Arabic
Currency: Turkish Lira (Türk Lirasi)
Time Zone: GMT +2
International phone code: +90
Climate: The climate varies dramatically from region to region depending on topography and latitude.
The Aegean and Mediterranean coastal areas enjoy hot, dry, sunny summers (May to October) when the water temperature fluctuates between 23º–28ºC. The winters (November to April) are mild but rainy.
The region around the Sea of Marmara, including Istanbul, has a semi-Mediterranean climate. The summers are still very warm but see more rain, with frequent showers that last only 15–30 minutes.
The Black Sea coast is the only region that receives high precipitation throughout the year. The eastern part of that coast averages 2,500 mm annually — the highest in the country. Summers are warm and humid, while winters are cool and damp.
Interior areas like Ankara, generally have hot summers with nights cool enough to require at least an extra layer of clothing, and cold, snowy winters.
The southeastern region near the Syrian border has a desert-like climate, with summer temperatures frequently above 40°C, and little or no rain.
Transportation: A multi-entry, 90-day visa is required and available at all points of entry. Canadian citizens pay $60 (USD); American citizens pay $20 (USD).
Turkey's main international airport is Atatürk International (IST) in Istanbul. Ankara's Esenboga Airport (ESB) handles a comparatively limited selection of international flights, but there are direct charters to the country's Mediterranean resorts in the peak summer and winter seasons
Discretion is key.
While legal between consenting adults (over 18), homosexuality is strongly taboo in Turkish society. Sex between men is understood but not condoned, and the idea of sex between women simply hasn't entered the psyche.
The country's desire to join the European Union has been good for the LGBT community, and laws to extend constitutional protections have been drafted and await legislative approval. But their criminal code has vaguely worded prohibitions on "public exhibitionism" and "offences against public morality" that are used to harass gay and transgender people, as well as to defend the perpetrators of discriminatory practices or assault. Turkish men and women (especially women) who step outside the rigid traditions of sexual and moral behaviour face a culture where 'honour killings' are not unknown.
But the Turkish people are also known for their hospitality, and the proclivities of tourists are frequently ignored – primarily because it's good for business.
Istanbul became the first city in a Muslim-majority country to see a gay Pride march in 2003 with about 30 participants. By 2012 the crowds had grown to an estimated 15,000. In 2013, the huge crowds of liberal protestors in Taksim Square joined the festivities, ballooning estimated participation to nearly 100,000.
The only gay "scene" is in Istanbul, mostly near Taksim Square and off Istiklal Caddesi in Beyoglu, the business and entertainment district of the city. Venues are notorious for coming and going, so check websites before you head out for an evening on the town.
Also, the resorts on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, from Kusadasi in the west to Alanya in the south, are thick with tourist-friendly bars, clubs and restaurants.
A final word of warning: physical contact between men is common in Turkey. Men of all ages walk the streets arm-in-arm, hold hands in cafés, and greet each other with kisses. This is not an indication that you have stumbled onto National Coming Out Day. If you and your same-sex partner try to copy this behaviour, it may get you unwanted attention.