The highlands of Turkey and the lifestyle of its people have an important place in the rich cultural landscape of Turkey. The tradition embodied in the lyrics of this ancient folk song, "The people of Avşar picked up and headed for new lands" (which is still being sung today), is what led to the settlement of hundreds of new areas in Turkey.
In the Chinese Chronicles, Turks are described as people that "lived by following the rains and the pastures with their horses and high-wheeled wagons." After they came to Anatolia and abandoned their nomadic wanderings for more settled ways, they embarked on a new journey continuing old traditions within the parameters of a new lifestyle.
In this new millennium of the "global village" where cultural differences seem to be disappearing, the highlands of Turkey offer a refreshing authenticity of ancient tradition which is noticed as soon as it is experienced. Compared with our modern way of life, it is a vivacious way of life in harmony with nature, at once both oriental and exotic.
The highlands have much to offer; the fresh clean air of an undefiled environment, crystal clear streams, a refreshing coolness that is a relief from the sweltering heat during the hottest summer days, views of enchanting beauty, fruit and vegetables grown without hormones and ripen on the vine slowly and naturally, milk and meat products of animals pastured in the most natural environments. The innumerable wild animal and plant species living in their natural habitat rescue us from the virtual world of TV documentaries and enable us to experience real life up close and personally.
The Taurus Highlands
Exposed to the gentle Mediterranean breezes, the snow-covered peaks of the Taurus Mountain Range intermingle with the foothills spread out like a colourful nomadic carpet of flowers dotted with fruit orchards, pine, fir, cedar and juniper trees.
When the crocuses blossom in the spring, the nomads (Yörükler) set off to find pasture for their animals among the highlands covered with the very hues of green. When the Mediterranean summer heat begins to make itself felt in the lowlands and coastal areas, the flight begins to cooler altitudes where the springwater is cold and crystal clear.
Plant Life: The Taurus Mountains have a wide assortment of plant cover and as one ascends and disappears from the coast areas, the diversity of the plant cover varies. Citrus orchards, different types of shrubs, sandalwood, a variety of oaks, sycamore tree, wild olive trees, blackberries, terebinth trees, heath, frankincense, mastic, redbud, strawberry and laurel trees, as well as different types of pine and juniper trees, beech, Taurus fir and cedar trees enhance the natural beauty of this mountain range. A wide variety of flowers during the spring months.Snowdrops, wild cyclamen, narcissus, hyacinth, poppies, oregano, lavender, mint, purslane, tulips and daisies are among the more common types of flora seen in this area.
Wildlife: The wildlife in these mountains presents the same diversity as that of the rich plant cover. Taurus Mountains are home for birds such as pigeons, blackbirds, francolins, partridges, quail, turtledoves, woodcock as well as for eagles, sturnidaes, falcons, chaffinches and orioles. Animals that can be observed here in their natural habitat are deer, fallow deer, bezoar goat, boar, lynx, roe deer, fox, wolf, jackals, martens, rabbits and hyena.
The Taurus highlands are found within the provinces of Gaziantep, Hatay (Antioch), Adana, Içel, Antalya and Muğla.
The Highlands of the Black Sea
With their mountain meadows adorned with colorful wildflowers, the highlands of the Black Sea are characterised by their spruce forests. The verdant appearance and lush green slopes of the Black Sea coasts are due not only to the abundant rainfall but also to the humid and foggy weather. The humidity and the foggy weather gives way to a brilliant sunshine and oxygen-rich fresh mountain air as one ascends from the coastal areas high up to the mountains.
Up here in the Black Sea highlands the mountains are covered with trees like fir, spruce, Scotch pine, cedar, beech, oak, linden, elm, hornbeam, alder and wild hazelnut as well as flowers like snowdrops, wild azalea, forest rose and countless other wildflowers.
The Black Sea highlands are found in the provinces of Sinop, Ordu, Giresun, Trabzon, Rize, Artvin, Gümüşhane and Bayburt.