Devastating earthquakes have plagued the nation and over 50,000 people have been killed since 1939 [Reuters]

Turkey lies in one of the world's most active seismic zones and is crossed by numerous fault lines. Its unique geographic position causes small earthquakes to occur almost daily.

Devastating earthquakes have also plagued the nation - causing over 50,000 deaths since 1939.

December 26, 1939 - 7.9-magnitude earthquake kills 30,000 people in Erzincan

November 24, 1976 - 7.5-magnitude earthquake kills over 5,000 people in Van province

August 17, 1999 - 7.6-magnitude earthquake kills 18,000 people in Izmit

November 12, 1999 - 7.2-magnitude earthquake kills 900 people in Duzce

May 1, 2003 - 6.4-magnitude earthquake kills 177 people in Bingol

March 8, 2010 - 6.1-magnitude earthquake kills 51 people in Elazig

Experts are particularly concerned about Istanbul, the country's largest city with more than 12 million people. Many have warned that overcrowding and shoddy construction in the city could kill tens of thousands if a major earthquake struck.

John Vindale, seismologist at University of Washington, told Al Jazeera that "there's a good chance" Istanbul will experience a large earthquake in the next 20 to 30 years.

"The earthquake people are most concerned about is the one that will happen on the fault running through Istanbul. That earthquake can easily kill many tens of thousands of people," Vindale said.

"The expectation is that it will happen in the next 50 or 100 years, and there's a good chance it'll happen in the next 20 or 30 years. We know the faults there. We know it hasn't broken in a while and it's well stressed. And the patch of fault right next to it broke just 10 or 20 years ago."

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies