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The mountain range which runs parallel to the coast in the north of Turkey has erected a veritable wall between the Black Sea and the plateaux of Anatolia. The geographical formation of this past of Turkey is quite different from that of western Anatolia, where mountain ridges radiate from the central plateau like the fingers of a hand. Here, a single range virtually hugs the coast, with often no more than 50 kilometers between the two. Rivers have conformed in configuration and flow parallel to the coast, until rifts in the range open a way of escape to the sea.

On crossing the Black Sea Mountains, one suddenly descends into a world of dense forest vegetation and flowers, into rich foliage from alder, lime, walnut, elm, beech and chestnut trees. The cities, towns and villages are squeezed along the narrow coastal strip. It is perhaps for this reason that the inhabitants of the region are known for their temper, obstinacy, fighting spirit and a self-deprecating sense of humor.

Nevertheless, these coastal lands are productive. The region's hazelnut production is the main source of supply to the European market and practically all the tea consumed in Turkey is grown here. Because of its geographical peculiarities and turbulent history, a somewhat different and interesting culture has emerged in the Black Sea region. The animated energy of the Black Sea inhabitant is reflected in the rhythm of the music and the playful movements of their dances.

The local cuisine is mainly composed of a variety of corn-based meals and hamsi, a kind of local anchovy; salmon farming has also developed considerably over recent years. The bread here is made of corn and an important ingredient of the local cuisine is black cabbage.

An Impotant Crossroads

Human settlements in the Black Sea region started as early as the 12th century BC. Situated on the transit routes between Europe and Asia, this region has always been a highly coveted land. It has changed hands frequently, with the Romans, the Greeks of Pontus, the Romans, the Turkish tribes and the Mongols all competing to take control of the area and actually ruling it for some time in turn. After the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, the region was gradually absorbed by the Ottomans.

All these cultures have left their mark on the shores of the Black Sea, cultures which are reflected in the lifestyle and traditions of the inhabitants.

Click for photos from Black Sea Region 


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