External Boundaries

Turkey Table of Contents

Turkey is bounded by eight countries and six bodies of water. Surrounded by water on three sides and protected by high mountains along its eastern border, the country generally has well-defined natural borders. Its demarcated land frontiers were settled by treaty early in the twentieth century and have since remained stable. The boundary with Greece--206 kilometers--was confirmed by the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, which resolved persistent boundary and territorial claims involving areas in Thrace and provided for a population exchange. Under the agreement, most members of the sizable Greek-speaking community of western Turkey were forced to resettle in Greece, and the majority of the Turkish-speaking residents of Greek Thrace were removed to Turkey. The 1923 treaty also confirmed Turkey's 240-kilometer boundary with Bulgaria.

Since 1991 the more than 500-kilometer boundary with the former Soviet Union, which was defined in the 1921 treaties of Moscow and Kars, has formed Turkey's borders with the independent countries of Armenia (268 kilometers), Azerbaijan (nine kilometers), and Georgia (252 kilometers). The 499-kilometer boundary with Iran was confirmed by treaty in 1937. Turkey's two southern neighbors, Iraq and Syria, had been part of the Ottoman Empire up to 1918. According to the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne, Turkey ceded all its claims to these two countries, which had been organized as League of Nations mandates under the governing responsibility of Britain and France, respectively. Turkey and Britain agreed on the 331-kilometer boundary between Turkish and Iraqi territory in the 1926 Treaty of Angora (Ankara). Turkey's boundary with Syria--822 kilometers long--has not been accepted by Syria. As a result of the Treaty of Lausanne, the former Ottoman Sanjak (province) of Alexandretta (present-day Hatay Province) was ceded to Syria. However, France agreed in June 1939 to transfer Hatay Province to Turkish sovereignty, despite the strong objections of Syria's political leaders. Since achieving independence in 1946, Syria has harbored a lingering resentment over the loss of the province and its principal towns of Antakya and Iskenderun (formerly Antioch and Alexandretta). This issue has continued to be an irritant in Syrian-Turkish relations.

Geography (Map)

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress