The Importance of the Marmara Sea and Region for Turkey

The Marmara Sea and region is undoubtedly the most important destination in Turkey. The region can boast of a strong tourism industry, thriving agriculture sectors, and being home to Turkey's most prominent cities, including the famous Istanbul. Then there is the Marmara Sea, one of the world's most important bodies of water, for its strategic location and the marina wildlife within it.

The sea has a unique ecosystem, with several species of marine mammals, such as dolphins and seals, found in its waters, sea turtles and various species of birds. The Marmara Sea covers approximately 11,000 square kilometres, with an average depth of around 700 metres. Despite the small size, the Marmara Sea has played essential roles in the region's history. It continues to be a significant cultural, economic, and environmental part of Turkey. Let's find out more.

Marmara Sea Turkey

About the Marmara Sea and Region in Turkey

What does Marmara mean in Turkish?

The word "Marmara" derives from the Greek word "μάρμαρο" (marmaro), which means "marble." This is because the sea is surrounded by regions with large marble quarries. The water also appears marbled because of varied shades of blue and green.

What is the Marmara Region Famous for?

  • Istanbul: Marmara is home to Istanbul, Turkey's most famous and beautiful city, with rich history and stunning architecture that reflects the cultural heritage.
  • Gallipoli: Gallipoli is a peninsula in Marmara that was the site of a famous battle during World War I and is now a popular destination for history buffs and tourists.
  • Cuisine: Marmara is famous for its delicious cuisine, which includes seafood and appetisers.
  • Thermal baths: The Marmara region features several thermal baths famous for their healing properties and relaxing atmosphere.
  • Bursa: Bursa, a city in Marmara that was once the Ottoman Empire's capital, is now famous because of the UNESCO sites, beautiful mosques, and thermal baths.

Where is the Marmara Sea and Province?

The Marmara Sea is inland in north-western Turkey, between the western Aegean and northern Black Sea. The sea connects to the Aegean by the southwest Dardanelles strait and the Black Sea by the northeast Bosphorus strait. Therefore, the Marmara Sea is important for shipping and transportation.

Can you Swim in the Sea of Marmara?

You can swim in the Sea of Marmara, with many coastal areas, beaches and swimming areas. However, water quality varies depending on location and season. Sometimes, swimming is not recommended due to pollution or environmental factors. Always check local conditions and advisories before swimming in the sea. Additionally, the Marmara Sea has busy shipping lanes, so stay within designated swimming areas and be aware of boat traffic. Several beaches along the coastline include Sile, Thermal, Armutlu and Altinkum beaches in Yalova, Mudanya Beach in Bursa, and Saraylar in Tekirdag.

What is so Special about the Sea of Marmara?

  • Strategic location: The Sea of Marmara connects the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea, two crucial bodies of water for shipping and transportation. The sea also borders Istanbul, a significant cultural, economic, and transportation hub for the region.
  • Shipping and trade: The Sea of Marmara is a busy shipping lane, and it's a vital waterway for trade between Europe and Asia. Many ports and harbours are along the sea coastline.
  • Energy resources: The Sea of Marmara has significant energy resources, including oil and natural gas reserves.
  • Environmental significance: The Marmara Sea's ecosystem supports diverse marine life ranges, including fish, sea birds, and marine mammals.
  • Historical and cultural significance: The Sea of Marmara played significant roles in the region's history, dating back to ancient times, as seen in critical historical landmarks.

What Provinces are in the Marmara region?

The Marmara Region consists of 11 provinces.

Famous Istanbul: The history of Istanbul dates back over 2,500 years, and the city has been the capital of three empires: the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman. Istanbul reflects early imperial history, with countless landmarks and attractions that reflect its long and diverse history.


Majestic Bursa: Bursa, the fourth-largest city in Turkey, also features the ski resort of Mount Uludag. The rich cultural and historical heritage dates back over 2,000 years. The famous city of Bursa was the former Ottoman capital.

Kocaeli: This province is one of three that doesn't have the same name as its capital city. Sitting around the Gulf of Izmit, the province is known as Turkey's industrial capital. Along with the capital city of Izmit, the province divides into 12 districts.

Sakarya: Sitting on the black sea coast, Sakarya is famous for its scenic landscapes and traditional Ottoman villages. In recent years, cities in the province have also undergone much transformation and development to modern living.

Beautiful Yalova: The province features several thermal and hot springs and spa resorts, such as the famous Yalova Thermal Baths. Although the area keeps a low-key reputation, it has become known as the idyllic getaway destination in recent years.

Tekirdag: The province is famous for its cuisine, which includes traditional meatballs. The region's vineyards also produce high-quality grapes used to create Tekirdag Rakisi, a prominent Turkish alcoholic beverage.

Historical Edirne: Edirne is situated near the borders with Greece and Bulgaria. The province has approximately 400,000 people and covers 6,279 square kilometres. Edirne is famous for the 16th-century Selimiye mosque designed by Mimar Sinan, the Ottoman Empire's favourite architect.

Canakkale: On the Dardanelles Strait's southern coast, the famous Gallipoli Campaign took place during World War I, and many historic sites, like Gallipoli National Park and Canakkale Martyrs' Memorial, are here.

Balikesir: Bordered by the western Aegean, Northern Canakkale, Bursa and Kutahya to the east, and Manisa to the south, this is one of the lesser talked about provinces. However, it earns fame for its immaculate beaches, olives and thermal spas.

Bilecik: Bordered by the northern Sakarya, southern Kutahya, western Bursa, and eastern Eskisehir, the capital city of Bilecik province is also Bilecik. In 1299, the Ottoman Empire was founded in a small town called Sogut.

Kirklareli: Bordered by the provinces of Edirne to the west, Tekirdag to the south, and Istanbul to the east, this province is bordered by Bulgaria. Much of the north and east parts of the region are forested lands.

Is the Marmara region in Asia or Europe?

The Marmara Region is situated in European Turkey. The region is named after the Marmara Sea, which is also on the European side and separates the Asian and European parts sides of Istanbul. While Turkey is in Asia and Europe, the Marmara Region is entirely on the European continent, not Asian Turkey.

Islands in the Marmara Sea

Read all about islands in Turkey here, but there are several Marmara islands, including….

  • Marmara Island: This is the largest island off the coast of Balikesir province. Marmara Island, a popular tourist destination, is known for its mountainous land, scenic beaches, and picturesque villages.
  • Avsa Island: This island, off the coast of Balikesir province, is famous for beach vacations and water sports.
  • Princes Islands include Buyukada, the largest island with historical landmarks and traditional horse-drawn carriages, and the smaller islands of Burgazada and Heybeliada. In addition to this, there are five smaller islands.

Also About Turkey

Regions of TurkeyTurkey is divided into seven geographic regions based on topography, climate, and culture. The Marmara region is one, but there are also six others, including the Aegean, Mediterranean, black sea, east Anatolia, central Anatolia, and south-eastern Anatolian. This article talks more about those regions and how they collectively form the magnificent country of Turkey.

Istanbul in Turkey


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