In 330 AD, Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) which lies on the Bosporus between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean became the capital of the Byzantine Empire, the eastern half of the Roman Empire.
Turkey’s architectural gems include the Selimiye and Suleymaniye mosques and the world-famous church of St Sophia, which became a mosque under the Ottomans and is now a museum. The country’s vast archaeological heritage is a major tourist attraction. At its height, the Ottoman Empire was the dominant power in the eastern and southern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
The Turkish cuisine is based on lamb, while goat’s milk yoghurt is also popular, especially when mixed with cucumber, garlic or mint. There is a long tradition of coffee drinking and coffee houses are a favourite meeting place. Among the most famous Turks is the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk received the Nobel Prize in literature in 2006.
As a candidate country, Turkey receives EU financial assistance and during the period 2007-2012 it will benefit from 3037.9 million euros.