In Mesopotamia, "the land between two rivers",
civilizations flourished which were to have the
greatest impact on the history of humankind. The
mouth of the basin, into which the Euphrates and
Tigris rivers inject life, was once known as northern
This region in southeastern Turkey, bending like
a bow along the slopes of the Taurus mountains
and extending to the Syrian and Iraqi borders,
has always been a crossroads of peoples and cultures.
Invading armies have crossed it for centuries,
as did caravans on the famous Silk Road, and many
migrant peoples have camped out there.
Agriculture has long been the predominant economic
activity here. Some 10,000 years ago, many wild
animals and plants were domesticated on these
plains, but the climate is harsh, the winters
rainy and cold and the summers long, hot and dry.
For centuries, aridity has constrained agriculture
in these vast lands, otherwise extremely favorable
to mechanized farming. The Southeastern Anatolia
Project (GAP) will radically transform the conditions
in this region by setting up a vast irrigation
system which will in turn result in a dramatic
increase in agricultural production.
The Land Will No Longer Be
The Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) is a
dream which became a plan and then became reality.
It is an investment package which will contribute
not only to the development of agriculture and
energy resources, but also to industry and infrastructure.
It is perhaps the largest project in Europe and
one of the most important in the world. GAP cover
13 separate projects including 22 dams, 19 hydroelectric
power plants and a 630-km long irrigation canal.
When completed in 2005, it will promote a dizzying
development in the economic and social life of
Harmony Between Climate and
Assyrians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs,
Seljuks, Mongols, Memluks, Karakoyunlus, Aztukluks,
Akkoyunlus, Safevids and Ottomans
peoples, states and empires have left their marks
on Mardin, the city of rocks. The stone houses,
masterfully and elegantly built on the steep slopes,
achieve an extraordinary harmony between climate,
geography and architecture. The civilizations
and culture of thousands of years are reflected
in the staircased streets, small squares and the
traditional dwellings of the city.
The Eighth Wonder of The World
On the peak of Nemrut Mountain near Adiyaman,
colossal statues of divinities salute the sunrise
each and every morning. This open-air temple,
considered the eighth wonder of the world, is
dotted with ten-meter high statues of deities
made of cut stone, and pyramid shaped tombs. How
these stones were carried to an altitude of 2000
meters remains an unanswered question.
From Handlooms to Factories
In Southeastern Turkey, the modest cities of
old times are about to achieve an industrial miracle.
Weaving in Gaziantep started in the twenties.
At that time, women used to work at the looms
in cool caves to escape the summer heat. Now Gaziantep
has a highly advanced textile industry with 10,000
enterprises and can compete in terms of production
and number of hours with the textile production
centers of Italy.
Another textile manufacturing center in Southeastern
Anatolia is Kahramanmaras. It ranks among the
five top centers in Turkey and exports a large
share of its production, employing thousands of
people in over one hundred firms. Kahramanmaras
is also known for its red pepper, which meets
80% of Turkish demand.
for photos from Southeast Anatolia