Turkey has a wealth of flora and fauna that has occupied this land since before history began. Varied climates across the Anatolian, Mediterranean, and Black Sea zones have given Turkey high biodiversity—while the whole European continent has 12,500 plant species, Turkey alone has 11,000. It was also the place where humans first domesticated many species that later spread across the world. Sadly, many of Turkey’s indigenous plants and animals are now at risk of disappearing.
The Turkish Angora cat is an ancient breed that likely developed its long, silky fur as protection against the cold in the Anatolian mountains. Though usually white, Angoras also come in colors such as tortoiseshell, black, and cream.
Bred to guard herds of sheep or goats, the Anatolian shepherd dog has a distinctive curled tail and athletic body. The typical Anatolian Shepherd has a tan coat and intelligent brown eyes, sometimes with a black muzzle and ears.
The Istanbul crocus, known in Latin as Crocus olivieri Istanbulensis, is a bright yellow flower that is endemic to Çekmeköy on the Asian side of Istanbul. Around 30 of the crocus varieties found in Turkey are unique to the country.
If you’ve touched an Angora jumper, then you know the soft fur of the Angora rabbit, indigenous to Anatolia. In fact, an Angora rabbit called Franchesca won the 2015 Guinness World Record for “Longest Fur On A Rabbit” – her fur measured 36 centimeters.
The name of the yanardöner translates as “iridescent,” which describes the way this crimson or purple flower sparkles in the sun. Endemic around the Mogan and Eymir lakes near Ankara, this species is critically endangered due to habitat loss.
Around 100 Mediterranean monk seals shelter on the Aegean coast of Turkey, out of a population of between 350 and 450 worldwide. The seals’ name comes from their dark brown coats, which resemble the robe of a Franciscan monk.
İztuzu beach in Muğla is a major breeding ground for the loggerhead sea turtle. Environmentalist June Haimoff led a successful campaign to have the beach declared a Special Environmental Protection Area.