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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 Mesopotamia.
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 Thirsty

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 the region.

Harmony Between Climate and Architecture

Assyrians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Seljuks, Mongols, Memluks, Karakoyunlus, Aztukluks, Akkoyunlus, Safevids and Ottomans… all these 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.

Click for photos from Southeast Anatolia  

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