The name of Turkey is based on the ethnonym Türk. The first recorded use of the term “Türk” or “Türük” as an autonym is contained in the Old Turkicinscriptions of the Göktürks (Celestial Turks) of Central Asia (8th century).The English name Turkey first appeared in the late 14th century and is derived from Medieval Latin Turchia.The Greek cognate of this name, Tourkia was used by the Byzantine emperor and scholar Constantine VII Porphyrogenitu in his book De Administrando Imperio,though in his use, “Turks” always referred to Magyars. Similarly, the medieval Khazar Empire, a Turkic state on the northern shores of the Black and Caspian seas, was referred to as Tourkia (Land of the Turks) in Byzantine sources. The medieval Arabs referred to the Mamluk Sultanate as al-Dawla al Turkiyya (State of Turkey).The Ottoman Empire was sometimes referred to as Turkey or the Turkish Empire among its European contemporaries.
Antiquity and Byzantine period
Starting around 1200 BC, the coast of Anatolia was heavily settled by Aeolian and Ionian Greeks. Numerous important cities were founded by these colonists, such as Miletus, Ephesus, Smyrna (now İzmir) and Byzantium (now Istanbul), the latter founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 657 BC. The first state that was called Armenia by neighbouring peoples was the state of the Armenian Orontid dynasty which included parts of eastern Turkey beginning in the 6th century BC. In Northwest Turkey, the most significant tribal group in Thrace was the Odyrisians founded by Teres I.All of modern-day Turkey was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire during the 6th century BC. The Greco-Persian Wars started when the Greek city states on the coast of Anatolia rebelled against Persian rule in 499 BC. The territory of Turkey later fell to Alexander the Great in 334 BC, which led to increasing cultural homogeneity and Hellenization in the area. The frequent Byzantine-Sassanid Wars, as part of the centuries long-lasting Roman-Persian Wars, fought between the neighbouring rivalling Byzantines and Sasanians, took place in various parts of present-day Turkey and decided much of the latter’s history from the fourth century up to the first half of the seventh century.
Seljuks and the Ottoman Empire
The House of Seljuk was a branch of the Kınık Oğuz Turks who resided on the periphery of the Muslim world, in the Yabgu Khaganate of the Oğuz confederacy, to the north of the Caspian and Aral Seas, in the 9th century.
The Ottoman Empire also fought many wars with the Russian Tsardom and Empire. These were initially about Ottoman territorial expansion and consolidation in southeastern and eastern Europe; but starting from the latter half of the 18th century, they became more about the survival of the Ottoman Empire, which had begun to lose its strategic territories on the northern Black Sea coast to the advancing Russians. Between the 18th and the early 20th centuries, the Ottoman, Persian and Russian empires were neighbouring rivals of each other. From the second half of the 18th century onwards, the Ottoman Empire began to decline.
Republic of Turkey
The occupation of Istanbul and Izmir by the Allies in the aftermath of World War I prompted the establishment of the Turkish National Movement. Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha, a military commander who had distinguished himself during the Battle of Gallipoli, the Turkish War of Independence was waged with the aim of revoking the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres.
By 18 September 1922 the occupying armies were expelled, and the Ankara-based Turkish regime, which had declared itself the legitimate government of the country on 23 April 1920, started to formalise the legal transition from the old Ottoman into the new Republican political system. On 1 November 1922, the Turkish Parliament in Ankara formally abolished the Sultanate, thus ending 623 years of monarchical Ottoman rule. The Treaty of Lausanne of 24 July 1923 led to the international recognition of the sovereignty of the newly formed “Republic of Turkey” as the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, and the republic was officially proclaimed on 29 October 1923 in Ankara, the country’s new capital.The Lausanne Convention stipulated a population exchange between Greece and Turkey, whereby 1.1 million Greeks left Turkey for Greece in exchange for 380,000 Muslims transferred from Greece to Turkey.
Mustafa Kemal became the republic’s first President and subsequently introduced many radical reforms with the aim of transforming the old religion-based and multi-communal Ottoman state system (constitutional monarchy) into an essentially Turkish nation state (parliamentary republic) with a secular constitution. With the Surname Law of 1934, the Turkish Parliament bestowed upon Mustafa Kemal the honorific surname “Atatürk” (Father of the Turks).
Turkey is a parliamentary representative democracy. Since its foundation as a republic in 1923, Turkey has developed a strong tradition of secularism.Turkey’s constitution governs the legal framework of the country. It sets out the main principles of government and establishes Turkey as a unitary centralised state. The President of the Republic is the head of state and has a largely ceremonial role. The president is elected for a five-year term by direct elections and Tayyip Erdoğan is the first president elected by direct voting. The prime minister is elected by the parliament through a vote of confidence in the government and is most often the head of the party having the most seats in parliament. The prime minister is Binali Yıldırım, who replaced Ahmet Davutoğlu on 24 May 2016. Turkey under Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP has been described as becoming increasingly authoritarian. Prior to the constitutional referendum in 2017 the Council of Europe saw Turkey drifting towards an autocracy, warning of a “dramatic regression of its democratic order”.
The constitutional referendum was held in April 2017 to change the parliamentary system to a presidential system. Many elements in this constitutional reform package have increased concerns in Europe regarding democracy and separation of powers.The referendum ended in favor of change.
Turkey’s current administration headed by president Tayyip Erdoğan has reversed many of the country’s earlier reforms which had been in place since the founding of the modern republic of Turkey, such as Freedom of the Press, a Legislative System of Checks and Balances, and a set of standards for secularism in government, as first enacted by Atatürk.
Turkey is a transcontinental Eurasian country. Asian Turkey, which includes 97 percent of the country, is separated from European Turkey by the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles. European Turkey comprises 3 percent of the country.[The territory of Turkey is more than 1,600 kilometres (990 miles) long and 800 kilometres (500 miles) wide, with a roughly rectangular shape. It lies between latitudes 35° and 43° N, and longitudes 25° and 45° E. Turkey’s land area, including lakes, occupies 783,562 square kilometres (302,535 square miles), of which 755,688 square kilometres (291,773 square miles) are in Southwest Asia and 23,764 square kilometres (9,175 square miles) in Europe.[Turkey is the world’s 37th-largest country in terms of area. the Aegean Sea to the west, the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean to the south. Turkey also contains the Sea of Marmara in the northwest.
The country’s official language is Turkish, which is spoken by 85.54 percent of the population a first language. 11.97 percent of the population speaks the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish as mother tongue.Arabic and Zaza are the mother tongues of 2.39 percent of the population, and several other languages are the mother tongues of smaller parts of the population. Endangered languages in Turkey include Abaza, Abkhaz, Adyghe, Cappadocian Greek, Gagauz, Hértevin, Homshetsma, Kabard-Cherkes, Ladino (Judesmo), Laz, Mlahso, Pontic Greek, Romani, Suret, Turoyo, Ubykh, and Western Armenian.
Religion in Turkey (2016)
Sunni Islam (65%)
Shia Islam (4%)
Unaffiliated Muslims (14%)
Spiritual but not religious (6%)
Other religions (2%)
Turkish cuisine is regarded as one of the most prominent in the world, its popularity is largely owed to the cultural influences of the Ottoman Empire and partly because of its major tourism industry. It is largely the heritage of Ottoman cuisine, which can be described as a fusion and refinement of Central Asian, Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Balkan cuisines.The country’s position between the East and the Mediterranean Sea helped the Turks gain complete control of major trade routes, and an ideal environment allowed plants and animals to flourish. Turkish cuisine was well established by the mid-1400s, the beginning of the Ottoman Empire’s six hundred-year reign. Yogurt salads, fish in olive oil, and stuffed and wrapped vegetables became Turkish staples.
Turkey has a very diverse culture that is a blend of various elements of the Turkic, Anatolian, Ottoman (which was itself a continuation of both Greco-Roman and Islamic cultures) and Western culture and traditions, which started withthe Westernisation of the Ottoman Empire and still continues today.
Literature and theatre
Turkish Literature,is a mix of cultural influences. Interaction between the Ottoman Empire and the Islamic world along with Europe contributed to a blend of Turkic, Islamic and European traditions in modern-day Turkish music and literary arts.[Turkish literature was heavily influenced by Persian and Arabic literature during most of the Ottoman era. Most of the roots of modern Turkish literature were formed between the years 1896 and 1923. Broadly, there were three primary literary movements during this period: the Edebiyat-ı Cedîde (New Literature) movement; the Fecr-i Âtî (Dawn of the Future) movement; and the Millî Edebiyat (National Literature) movement.
Music and dance
Music of Turkey includes mainly Turkic elements as well as partial influences ranging from Central Asian folk music, Arabic music, Greek music, Ottoman music, Persian music and Balkan music, as well as references to more modern European and American popular music.