Çukurova, ancient Cilicia, the most fertile land in Anatolia

This article is also available in: Italiano

Having read Kemal’s “The Wind from the Plain”, I wanted more than ever to delve into the book’s Çukurova, the mythical “promised land”; the findings were astounding

History of Çukurova

Çukurova has always been one of the most fertile plains of Anatolia, so much so that the first finds date back to 6,000 BC. . Formerly known with the name of Cilicia Pedias, or Cilicia flat, it was able to attract the attention of every empire that stood before it, also providing a very precious cradle for Christianity; it is no coincidence that the ancient capital of the region is Tarsus, a place associated more than ever with Saint Paul, originating from this place. With the arrival of the Middle Ages it was transformed into one of the battlefields of choice between Arab and Byzantine forces, then forming, from 1080 to 1375, the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia.


Although not originally from the area, the Armenians had started to inhabit these areas since the 1st century BC, also managing to create an autonomous domain thanks to the arrival of Tigranes the Great. The new kingdom, however, managed to block the Arabs but not the Turks who, arrived with the Seljuks, during the 14th century managed to settle more and more in the region, assisting everything with military conquests. Under the Ottomans, the Yörük will live in these lands for a long time, Turkish nomadic people towards whom the Sublime Porte adopted a strong policy of sedentarization, so much so that today there are less than 1 million in all of Turkey. The turning point in the local economy, however, was given by the Ottoman-Egyptian wars.

Turkey granary

With the Kütahya Convention, these lands remained under Egyptian control and Ibrahim Paşa was able to put into practice the new discoveries made in agriculture. From that moment, in fact, the industrial production of cotton was introduced which, also because of its incredible value, became the economic center of the region. It is no coincidence that even in Yaşar Kemal’s “The Wind from the Plain” we see thousands of peasants from the Taurus mountains gather here, who used to go here to collect the precious fiber.


However, cotton is not the only good that is produced in Çukurova, on the contrary, this plain is considered among the most fertile in the world, so much so that it can produce 3 crops a year and varying on many plants and vegetables. It alone produces half of all Turkish citrus fruits and a large part of soy, peanuts and corn; suffice it to say, however, that the only Turkish products that just don’t grow there are: hazelnuts, tobacco and tea. The area around Anamur is also the most particular of the area, as there is a tropical climate and also bananas, kiwis, mangoes and other similar fruits are grown there.

Not only green

The extraordinary nature of the place lies in being able to diversify its production more than ever and in fact agriculture is not the only wealth of Çukurova. In fact, it is the second region for honey production after Muğla and among the most renowned and richest for fishing, practiced both in aquaculture and in the sea.


Furthermore, as if that were not enough, Çukurova enjoys some of the most precious and interesting quarries in Anatolia, including some of: zinc, lead, limestone and pumice; the latter, in particular, alone accounts for 14% of all Turkish production.

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