The Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, services more than 68 million people every year. The airport is vying to be one of the largest and is used as a major connecting hub for worldwide flights. Photographer Mustafa Çankaya works at the Atatürk Airport and has the pleasure of watching thousands of faces pass by him every day.
He began a photo project titled “100 Faces 100 Countries” to show off the joy and diversity he witnesses every day. He hopes the project will connect the world in one place.
Ibrahim From Rwanda Is A Dance Instructor
This is the kind of photograph you get when you meet a dancer at the airport. Ibrahim is both a dancer from Rwanda and a dance teacher. He heads a dance program where he gives youth the chance to “learn and express themselves through dance.”
Music and dance have always been an integral part of Rwandan culture. The use of drums and the choreographed Indore dance is traditional in the nation. Ibrahim looks to be trying to make breakdance a new tradition.
Anja From Slovenia Is Wearing Some Beautiful Colors
Ana met photographer Mustafa during her return trip from Ghana to her native country Slovenia. Located in central Europe, Slovenia is home to only 2 million people. The nation might be one of the few who can rival the colorful vibrancy of Ghana.
Slovenia is also home to some pretty interesting industries. In Slovenia, one in twenty people are beekeepers, and there is a vineyard for every seventy people. Who doesn’t love honey and wine?
Daria From Ukraine Is An Aspiring Model
If it seems like Daria from Ukraine was posing, that’s because she is a model who was headed to China for her next modeling shoot. Like many other aspiring models in Ukraine, Daria has found it to be more fruitful traveling elsewhere to book modeling gigs.
After the financial crisis in Ukraine and the relatively unstable economy thanks to Russia’s invasion in the east, modeling jobs can sometimes make out at around $50 a show.
Freya From Scotland Is Studying Abroad
Born in Scotland, Freya is a student of Human Sciences from the University of Oxford. She was on her way to Kenya to study a semester abroad. Oxford is the oldest English-speaking university in the world after its founding in 1096.
While Oxford is one of the most established universities in the world, Kenya has been working since the 1980s to create more universities. According to a 2004 report, the growth in Kenyan universities came from the youth demand for higher education.
Idris From Nigeria Is A Fashion Designer
Mustafa met Idris moments before he caught his flight to New York City. Idris is a fashion designer born in Nigeria, but for hire in both Nigeria and Kenya. Fashion in Nigeria has always been a large part of the culture. It can reflect the many different ethnic groups, religions, and cultures that call the African country home.
The fashion industry in Nigeria has been steadily growing and you can now find magazines, city streets, and different boroughs all devoted to fashion.
Indré From Lithuania Is Preparing For A Long Flight
Mustafa met Indré from Lithuania when she was traveling to California for the summer. The flight time between the two can take more than 12 hours on a direct flight, so most travelers end up transferring flights.
Lithuania is one of the smaller countries in the Baltic States with a population of only 2.8 million. In comparison, California boasts a population of more than 39 million. California is also six times the size of Lithuania.
Ilya From Russia Is A Famous Reporter
If Ilya looks familiar to you that’s because he’s one of the most famous reporters in Russia. Ilya Varlamov works on his own passion project of traveling, reporting, and photographing.
Mustafa encountered him in the airport when Mustafa encountered him. He was only in the airport for a brief time before catching his flight to Mali.
Bash From Lebanon Is On His Way Home From Burning Man
If you couldn’t tell from the clothes Bash wears, he lives by the beat of his own drum. This percussionist from Lebanon was on his way home from the Burning Man festival in Nevada. The annual events brings in 70,000 travelers annually from around the world.
Unlike other strictly music-based festivals, Burning Man is described as an “experiment of community and art.” The festival embraces ten major principles including decommodification, civic responsibility, leave no trace, and radical self-expression.
Nicole From Ukraine Is On A Tattooing Tour
Another traveler from Ukraine, Nicole’s face seems to show a very different side of the country. Unlike the model Daria, Nicole is a tattoo artist from Odessa that thrives in her local community. When she encountered Mustafa, she was on a tattooing tour that had started in Belgium.
Her home city Odessa is one of the major port cities of Ukraine and was one of the largest cities in Imperial Russia. The city is known for its darker, underground culture.
Frédéric From France Is Taking A Break From Teaching
Try saying that five times fast! Mustafa encountered Frédéric while he was traveling from France to return to his job as a teacher in Nigeria. Frédéric will return to France for two months out of every year after the semester ends then head back to teach.
While French is a popular language in many African countries due to France’s colonial past, Nigeria was once ruled by the United Kingdom, so English is the official language of the nation.
Phillip From South Korea Is Meeting A Friend
Phillip arrived in at Atatürk airport to meet up with his friend before they both headed back to Seoul, South Korea. He had been traveling in Sweden before returning home. South Korean travel has increased annually since 2010. Many favorite destinations for South Koreans include Japan, China, and the United States.
On the flip side, Seoul has increased its own tourism. In 2017 alone, 13 million people took the trip to South Korea and 12 million of that was to Seoul.
Pärl From Estonia Is A Heptathlete
Pärl is a heptathlete from Estonia. A woman’s heptathlon includes 100-meter hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot put, javelin throw, the 800-meter run, and the 200-meter sprint. Estonia only has a population of 1.3 million but the country does surprisingly well in sports.
Even with their small population, Estonia ranked 12th at the 2006 Winter Olympics for total medals. Most of Estonia’s Olympic medals have come from cross-country skiing, weight lifting, wrestling, and athletics.
Gorana From Serbia Is Grabbing A Drink Before Heading Home
Gorana caught up with Mustafa while she had a quick drink before boarding her flight back home to Belgrade, Serbia. Serbia is one of the top alcohol consumers in the world, reaching the seventh spot. Just above Serbia on the list were the nearby countries of Romania, Czech Republic, and Moldova.
Alcohol isn’t all Serbia is known for though. Its capital, Belgrade, is one of the oldest and largest cities in Southeastern Europe, after being founded in 279 B.C.
Takeshi From Japan Is Wearing An Arabic Dress Called A Thawb
Takeshi is an architect and fashion designer from Japan. He met Mustafa while traveling through Istanbul back home. Mustafa encountered him wearing a uniquely designed dress that was inspired by the Arabic dress called a thawb.
Takeshi combined his Japanese penchant for bright colors and patterns by adding it to the ankle-length garment that is traditionally a plain color. In fact, Takeshi’s dress was more similar in style to the Arabic female version of the garment, which usually features detailed embroidering.
May From Lebanon Was Just Volunteering In A Refugee Camp
Born in Lebanon, May has spent much of her adult life traveling to other countries. When she encountered Mustafa in the airport, she was headed to Egypt for work and had just returned from volunteering in a refugee camp in Athens, Greece.
Even though Lebanon is the smallest recognized state in mainland Asia, it has one of the richest histories. The earliest evidence of civilization in Lebanon goes back more than 7,000 years and predates recorded history.
Paris From United States Is A World Traveler
With the full name Paris London, Paris from the U.S. seems to have been born a world traveler. When she met Mustafa at the airport, she was returning home from a holiday in Greece. Greece has long been a travel destination for Americans. As of 2018, Greece attracted 33 million tourists of which 800,000 were Americans.
The capital city, Athens, as well as the islands Crete, Santorini, and Mykonos, are all top destinations. Just ask Lindsay Lohan and her Mykonos Beach Club.
Lubna From Egypt Is A Traveling Psytrance DJ
Caught before her flight to her hometown of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, Mustafa met Lubna. She is a traveling DJ who focuses on Psytrance music. Psytrance, which is a short form of psychedelic trance music, is a sub-genre of trance house music which layers different beats.
Psytrance music has been steadily growing in popularity in Europe, America, and Australia, but is yet to become a hit in Egypt. For now, Lubna plays most of her music outside her native country.
Boubaker From Niger Was Returning Home From A Pilgrimage
Mustafa met Boubaker on his return flight home from the hajj pilgrimage. Boubaker is the leader of his Niger pilgrimage group. After the 2010 military coup, Niger became officially marked as a secular society. That being said, 99.3% of the Niger population practices Islam.
Most of the Islamic population in Niger is Sunni while only 7% is Shi’a. The Islamic tradition in the region dates all the way back to the 15th century.
Gerd From Denmark Originally Passed On The Picture
Mustafa first met Gerd when she was on her way to Niger. At the time, he asked her to be part of the project but she denied him. The two met again by chance in the airport on her return flight. Gerd said she had time to think about the project while in Niger and liked the idea of how the project connects people around the world.
On her way back to Denmark, she decided to let Mustafa finally take her photo and share her story.
Frankie J From England Is A Famous House Dancer
If you recognize Frankie J—also knows as the Red Dread House Head—that’s because he’s one of the most famous house dancers out there. With an impressive 32,000 followers on Instagram, this dancer from England travels the world as a dancer and as a judge for other competitions.
Frankie and Mustafa had actually met beforehand at the Istanbul Street Dance Carnival. Frankie was in the city to judge the House Dance contest while Mustafa was there to photograph it.
Ahmoudou From Niger Is A Guitarist For A Band
Ahmoudou is a guitarist for the band Les Filled de Illighadad from Niger. The music in Niger has developed in a similar way as many other African countries. Different tribes and regions of the country developed their musical traditions. In fact, since the country’s independence from French rule in 1960, their music has flourished outside of the Western tradition.
Today, genres like blues and rap have become increasingly popular in Niger. Their music style Tuareg Blues has even been internationally recognized.
Ulya From Mongolia Is Studying In Hungary
Ulya was spotted in the Atatürk Airport while she was on route to Budapest, Hungary. There, she is studying Business Management while working as a model. Budapest has firmly established itself as a place to study abroad for interested international students.
One of the biggest draws in Budapest’s central placement between Western Europe and Asia. For a Mongolian student who might suffer from Mongolia’s relative cut-off from outside research and education, this can be a big deal.
Michele From Germany Is Traveling Home From Thailand
Michele encountered Mustafa during her return flight home from vacation in Phuket. Phuket is a small, mountainous island in Thailand. The island is home to some of Thailand’s most popular beaches, high-end resorts, and rainforests.
Germans are frequent travelers and are usually easy to spot. Most of their international trips are to sunny destinations with sandy beaches. Despite their love of the sun, Germans actually take twice as many domestic vacations as they do international ones.
Sebastian From Poland Just Climbed A Mountain For Eight Days
Mustafa encountered Sebastian, an alpinist who just arrived at the airport from Tajikistan. In Tajikistan, Sebastian climbed the Pamir Mountains and the Peak Korzhenevskaya. The Peak is a whopping 7105 meters high and takes eight days to climb.
The Peak is one of the five “Snow Leopard” peaks from the former Soviet Union. During the Soviet period, the Snow Leopard award was given to only the top mountaineers in the nation. The now-outdated award is a milestone for many climbers.
Martina From Austria Is Giving Out Free Hugs
If you don’t come up to Martina in the airport then you seriously missed out on some free love. Born in Austria, she was found by Mustafa during her summer travels. Martina has the luxury of being able to work throughout the winter in Austria and spend the summer traveling.
Even if you don’t take the entire summer off, working in Austria is great for those with a travel bug. They guarantee the most paid vacation of any country in the European Union.
Shayma From Kuwait Asked For Her Picture To Be Taken
Shayma had actually been following Mustafa’s photo project online for some time before this photo was taken. When it became clear that she would be boarding a connecting flight out of the Ata Turk airport, she wrote to Mustafa to meet with him. It was only a short meeting, but meeting a fan meant a lot to Mustafa.
Born in Kuwait, Shayma is studying medicine in Malta. As part of her schooling, she also volunteers, providing medical assistance in refugee camps in Athens, Greece.
Lluis From Spain Was Heading On Vacation
Mustafa had previously met Lluis and his family when they were headed on vacation to Indonesia. He and his family are from the Barcelona region of Spain. Barcelona is the largest city in the Catalonia region of Spain.
Even though Lluis was traveling out of Barcelona, his native city is one of the most toured cities in Europe. The beautiful romance of the city paired with its progressive branding as a “smart city” has made it so that nearly 2 million people visit annually.
Jussi From Finland Owns His Own Tattoo Studio
It’s hard not to spot Jussi in an airport crowd with his bold tattoos. Jussi owns his own tattoo studio in Helsinki but was on his was to Africa to journey through the jungle. Helsinki is the most populous city in Finland and is known internationally as being one of the best places to live.
Helsinki has one of the highest standards of living and in 2011 was voted by Monocle as the world’s most livable city.
Barkinado From Senegal Works Hard For His Passion
Barkinado Bocoum is a Senegalese painter who Mustafa met while he was traveling to France where he was opening an exhibition. Barkinado has always had a passion for art, but in Senegal, artists aren’t seen in a positive light. Many believe they lack work ethic and turn into drug addicts or alcoholics.
Barkinado was determined to prove his Senegalese parents and society wrong by being accepted in the art academy in Dakar and working day and night to afford his school tuition.
Kavinthida From Thailand Had A Long Layover
Kavinthida spent quite a long time at the airport during a long layover from Denmark to Thailand. She was spending her holidays in Denmark before returning home to Bangkok. Thailand is a group of 76 provinces in Southeast Asia. Tai people migrated south from China in the 11th century to populate the area.
Now, Thailand is the second largest economy in Southeast Asia and even though it has encountered sporadic changes in government, it is considered one of the major powers in the area.