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Streets of Van, Turkey.
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Streets of Van, Turkey. Photo: onlinelli.

Streets of Van, Turkey.
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The 10th century church on Akdamar Island, Turkey. Photo: Bryce Edwards.

Streets of Van, Turkey.
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Van Castle, or Rock of Van. Photo: iris.

City in eastern Turkey with 280,000 inhabitants (2004 estimate), situated at an elevation of 1,750 metres above sea level, 4 km from the southeastern shore of Lake Van. Van lies in an oasis at the foot of a hill. It is the capital of Van Province, and lies only 80 km from the border to Iran. It is the capital of Van province with 880,000 inhabitants (2004 estimate).
The Van region has a hard climate for agriculture, especially because of the harsh winters. The main products of the Van region are skins, grains, fruits and vegetables. The region also specializes in the raising of stock, like horses. In recent times has the trade with Iran become very important for Van, which is the service and transport hub for a large region of eastern Turkey. Over recent decades has national tourism become more important, thanks to the mild summers and the scenery of Lake Van.
In addition to the railway to Iran, the main communication for Van is the ferry service to Tatvan on Lake Van's western shore. From Tatvan, the railway continues to all destinations in Turkey. The airport has services for Ankara and Istanbul.
The modern city of Van has fairly little to offer of architectural landmarks, much because of the destructions of the 1950's earthquake, wiping out its Ottoman architecture, and the destruction of old Van in 1915. The two main landmarks are the Rock of Van, a narrow outcrop 1.5 km long, over 100 m tall and about 300 m wide at the base, and the Akmadar Island with a 10th century church. The Rock of Van contains the rock-hewn tomb of the 8th century king Argishti. Nearby are also the rock tombs of the 8th century king Sarduri and the 9th century kings Ishpuini and Menua (810-786 BCE).
Today Van is a predominantly Kurdish city, since the Armenian section of the population were deported by government order in 1915 and 1916 and many of them were massacred mainly by Kurds.
The city's university, the Centennial University, was founded in 1982 as a commemoration of the centennial anniversary of the birth of Atatürk.

Old Van, 5 km west of modern Van, is one of the oldest known settlements of Turkey. Its first known name was Tushpa.
13th century: Tushpa becomes the capital of the kingdom of Van.
8th century: The kingdom of Van comes to an end following attacks from the Cimmerians, Scythians and Medes.
7th century: Is occupied by the Medes.
1st century: Becomes part of the kingdom of King Tigranes 1.
7th century: Becomes a tributary state of the Muslim Arabs.
8th century: Becomes part of the Armenian Bagratid dynasty.
1071: Comes under Seljuq control.
1543: The Ottomans take control over Van.
1915: Van is almost completely destroyed, and the remaining Armenian population is routed out by Kurds and Turks.
September: Russian troops take control over Van, destroying much of the property of the Kurdish and Turkish populations.
1917: Van region comes back under Turkish control. A new city is started to be built 5 km east of old Van.
1950's: An earthquake destroys important parts of Van.

By Tore Kjeilen