Turkey is a country with a multiple identity, poised uneasily between East and West. The country is now keen to be accepted on equal terms by the West - it has aspirations to EU membership and is the only NATO ally in the Middle East region. But it is by no stretch of the imagination a Western nation, and the contradictions persist: mosques co-exist with churches and remnants of the Roman Empire crumble alongside ancient Hittite sites. Politically, modern Turkey was a bold experiment, founded on the remaining Anatolian kernel of the Ottoman Empire and almost entirely the creation of a single man, Kemal Atatürk. An explicitly secular republic, though one in which almost all of the inhabitants are at least nominally Muslim, it's a vast country and incorporates large disparities in levels of development. But it's an immensely rewarding place to travel, not least because of the people, whose reputation for friendliness and hospitality is richly deserved.