history of turkey

A Fascinating Discovery

The history of Turkey, understood as the history of the region now forming the territory of the Republic of Turkey, includes the history of both Anatolia (the Asian part of Turkey) and Eastern Thrace (the European part of Turkey). Located at the crossroads of multiple civilizations, Turkey has many stories to tell. Almost every street, every building has a tale to share. If you are looking for a trip back in time, then the ticket you’ve been looking for is right here in Turkey.

From the time when parts of what is now Turkey was conquered by Turks, the history of Turkey spans the medieval history of the Seljuk Empire, the medieval to modern history of the Ottoman Empire, and the history of the Republic of Turkey since the 1920s.

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Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was a Turkish field marshal, revolutionary statesman, author, and founder of the Republic of Turkey, serving as its first President from 1923 until his death in 1938. His leadership undertook sweeping progressive reforms, which modernized Turkey into a secular, industrial nation.

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Amazing Country is Turkey!

Starting in the 16th century, however, the Ottoman Empire incrementally lost its economic and military superiority in comparison to Europe, which had developed rapidly with the Renaissance, with its conquest of new territories and its access to raw materials, and with the Industrial Revolution. The Ottoman Empire failed to adapt to these new developments. Thus, the balance of power shifted in favor of the European States. The nationalist movements that started in the nineteenth century and the self-determination movements and rebellions of the Balkan nations, supported by the European powers and Russia, slowly brought the Ottoman Empire to a decline.

WORLD WAR I 1914 –1918: The weakening of the Empire continued until World War I. The Ottoman Empire entered the First World War in 1914 on the side of the allied powers and emerged defeated from the war in 1918, compelled to sign the Mondros Armistice on October 30, 1918. Under the terms of this Armistice, the territories of the Ottoman Empire were occupied by Britain, France, Russia, and Greece. This was the actual end of the Ottoman Empire.

A national resistance and liberation movement emerged as a reaction to this occupation under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal, an Ottoman military commander who mobilized Anatolia in a quest for Turkish self-determination and national independence. He united sporadic and disorganized resistance groups in Anatolia and organized them into a structured army. Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal—later given the last name Ataturk or “Father of Turks”—the resistance became cohesive, and the Turks were capable of fighting the war for national liberation.

The Turkish National Liberation War was an effort to create a new state from the ruins of an Empire, which had completed its life. It lasted four years (1919-1922) wherein a small army of volunteers fought and won a war against the leading powers of this time. Ataturk’s victory was not only military, but it was also diplomatic. The Turkish military victory was sealed with a diplomatic success with the signing of the Lausanne Peace Treaty on July 24, 1923. Signed with Great Britain, France, Greece, Italy and others, the Treaty recognized the creation and international borders of a Turkish State and guaranteed its complete independence.

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REPUBLIC OF TURKEY: The Republic was proclaimed on October 29, 1923. For the first time in centuries, the Turkish people enjoyed self-rule. Mustafa Kemal was elected as the first president of the Republic of Turkey.

As president for 15 years, until his death in 1938, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk introduced a broad range of reforms in the political, social, legal, economic, and cultural spheres that were virtually unparalleled in any other country.

The first Grand National Assembly under the leadership of Ataturk created a new political and legal system based on the principles of parliamentary democracy, human rights, national sovereignty and division of powers, private ownership and secularism, and the separation of religion and state affairs. A new, secular education system was established, the Arabic alphabet was changed into the Latin alphabet, and new civil and criminal codes were adapted from European models. Turkish women received equal rights under the law such as the right to vote and be elected to public office, which put Turkey ahead of many Western nations in terms of women’s rights. It was a revolution, unparalleled at its time and even today, to bring a predominantly Muslim nation in line with Western civilization and universal values.