|The national borders of many of the countries we've visited thus far—in West Africa and the Middle East—are arbitrary; a result of foreign powers carving up the land. Turkey, on the other hand, is geographically logical—bounded by the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Seas.
Perhaps the one anomaly to Turkey's borders is the panhandle of land that extends south along the Mediterranean's eastern shore jutting into Syria. The Hatay was annexed by Turkey in a land grab by Kemal Ataturk (modern Turkey's founding father) in 1938. In Hatay, Arabs and Armenians always outnumbered Turks, but the French, who held the mandate for Syria at the time didn't protest and the local Syrian population was in no position to do so either.
It was in the Hatay that we entered Turkey travelling by bus from Aleppo—Syria's northern city—to Antakya (old Antioch), a western terminus of the Silk Road.
Significantly, our first introduction to Turkey was not going to be Turkish, but rather Kurdish. One in six Turkish citizens are Kurdish. Several Turkish presidents and prime ministers have been Kurdish—but no one talks about it. In fact, as recently as ten years ago the Turkish government denied the existence of Kurds in Turkey.
Kurds have historically occupied a large swathe of land spreading over much of Eastern Turkey, Iran, the former Soviet Union, Syria, and Iraq. They number some 20 million—more than the populations of Iraq or Syriq—but are a people without a country. Kurdistan exists across national borders.
Kurds live throughout Turkey. There are, for instance, up to a million in Istanbul. But only in the southeast do Kurds come close to constituting a majority.