5 Gorgeous Countries on the Asia-Europe Border

Since we’ll be switching our focus from Europe to Asia in the coming month, we thought now would be the perfect time to take a look at the five countries—Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Georgia—which are technically part of both continents. These transcontinental countries are fascinating in that they take elements from both Europe and Asia to create their own, completely unique identity.

RUSSIA

Is Russia part of Europe or Asia? The decades-old question doesn’t exactly have a clearcut answer. While this colossal nation is technically three-quarters Asian and one-quarter European, the situation is reversed in terms of population, with only a quarter living in the Asian part, and the rest in the European portion. The largest country in the world, Russia is also one of the most diverse—ethnically, culturally, and in terms of language and religion.

Fun Facts About Russia

  • there are 9 million more women than men in Russia
  • Russia and the US are only 4km apart at the nearest part
  • Russia is bigger than Pluto, and spans 9 time zones
  • there are 15 “closed” cities in Russia—cities officially classified by the government as such, and whose names and locations do not appear on maps (needless to say, foreigners are strictly forbidden from visiting them)
  • in 2003, lawyers in Russia threatened to sue Warner Bros because of the seeming resemblance between Dobby the House-Elf and President Putin

Russia

By Ali O'Neill

  • St. Basil's Cathedral, Moscow, Russia

    By Ali O'Neill

  • Altai Mountains, Siberia, Russia

    By Ali O'Neill

  • Church of Peterhof Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

    By Ali O'Neill

    Add a description

KAZAKHSTAN

Famous for being the homeland of Borat, this former Soviet republic is so much more than the caricature of a country it was portrayed as in the movie. The world’s largest landlocked country, and its ninth largest country, Kazakhstan is the richest nation in Central Asia, thanks to its large oil and natural gas reserves. With its lack of significant historical sites, and a landscape characterized by endless steppes, it’s not necessarily a must-visit destination on most bucket lists, but it would be a fascinating trip for an adventurous traveler.

Fun Facts About Kazakhstan

  • the people living here represent more than 120 nationalities
  • the word Kazakh can be translated as “independent” or “wanderer”
  • legend has it that Kazakhstan is where horses were first tamed to ride thousands of years ago
  • it’s also believed that apples originated here
  • it has 3 time zones

Kazakhstan

By Ali O'Neill

  • Kazakhstan in Autumn

    By Ali O'Neill

  • Astana, Kazakhstan

    By Ali O'Neill

  • Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan

    By Ali O'Neill

AZERBAIJAN

A Soviet state until 1991, Azerbaijan is a land of contrasts: the shining skyscrapers of Baku, the capital city, seem a world apart from the rural countryside with its timeless villages set against the backdrop of the Caucasus Mountains. Lying on the oil-rich Caspian Sea, petroleum is the country’s main industry—and has been a booming one since the 2000s. It was the country’s win at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2011 (and the subsequent hosting of it the year after), that put Azerbaijan on the map for many Europeans, however.

Fun Facts About Azerbaijan

  • known as the “Land of Fire” (allegedly because of the large deposits of oil in the land that would occasionally ignite)
  • fittingly, Azerbaijan is said to be home to the first fireplace
  • 40% of the country is mountainous
  • home to the “Seven Beauties” contest in which seven young women compete to crochet the finest socks
  • the Swedish Nobel brothers, of Nobel Prize fame, made their fortune from Azerbaijan’s oil industry

Azerbaijan

By Ali O'Neill

  • Azneft Square, Baku, Azerbaijan

    By Ali O'Neill

  • Murov Mountain, Lesser Caucasus, Azerbaijan

    By Ali O'Neill

  • Baku, Azerbaijan

    By Ali O'Neill

TURKEY

Long viewed as the place where East meets West, Turkey has intrigued visitors with its romantic buildings and air of mystery for centuries. Invaded in every direction over the years, it bears a mix of cultures—from Mediterranean to Middle Eastern, Balkan to Central Asian. Its layers of history can be seen in its incredible architecture: from the churches cut into caves by Byzantine Christians in Capadoccia to the luxurious palaces of Ottoman sultans.

Fun Facts About Turkey

  • St. Nicholas (aka Santa Claus), Aesop, Homer, and St. Paul the Apostle were all born in Turkey
  • most Turks didn’t have surnames until 1934
  • more journalists are imprisoned in Turkey than in any other country
  • tulips were introduced to Europe by Turkish traders in the 16th century
  • the Western world has Turkey to thank for coffee: they introduced it to Europeans in the 17th century

Turkey

By Ali O'Neill

  • Göksu Park, Ankara, Turkey

    By Ali O'Neill

  • Yivli Minaret Mosque, Antalya, Turkey

    By Ali O'Neill

  • Istanbul, Turkey

    By Ali O'Neill

GEORGIA

Putting its Soviet past firmly behind it, Georgia is starting to develop its tourist potential—of which there is a great deal. With its stunning mountain scenery (dotted with quaint churches, castles, and watchtowers), up-and-coming capital city, Tbilisi (a blend of classic Eurasian-style buildings with modern architecture), and friendly people (who are renowned for their hospitality), Georgia’s status as a must-visit country is on the rise.

Fun Facts About Georgia

  • Georgians actually call their country “Saqartvelo;” the name “Georgia” was said to have been chosen by Crusaders passing through in the Middle Ages (allegedly because the people here were devotees of St. George)
  • the St. George connection is still strong today—the country’s flag incorporates St. George’s red cross on a white background
  • Josef Stalin, aka Josif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, is Georgia’s most famous (or infamous) native
  • the deepest cave in the world, Voronya, is in Georgia
  • it’s believed to be the birthplace of wine

Georgia

By Ali O'Neill

  • Batumi, Black Sea, Georgia

    By Ali O'Neill

  • Tbilisi, Georgia

    By Ali O'Neill

  • Svaneti, Georgia

    By Ali O'Neill

Hayo Magazine
Hayo Magazine

An indie coffee table–style magazine for travelers curious about arts and culture. To contribute, submit your article pitch to info@hayo.co

Post your Comments