Brief History

Earliest records of the Turkish people show that their ancestors in Central Asia date back to some time before 2000 B.C. Roaming widely throughout Asia and Europe, the Turks establishied vast empires throughout these continents.

By the 10th century, most Turks adopted the religion of lslam. Following this substantial change, the Karahanid Empire of central Asia (10th and 11th centuries) and the Ghaznavid Empire (10th and 12th centuries) developed in areas known today as Iran, Afghanistan, and Northern India.

Some Turks traveled south-west to Anatolia (Asia Minor) considered to be the cradle of civilization because it has embraced more than 20 cultures and civilizations. These civilizations included: the Hitites, Assyrians, Lydians,Greeks, Persians, Macedonians, lonians, Romans, Byzantines and Turks.

In A.D. 1071, the Turks fought a crucial war with the Byzantine Empire. Settling in Anatolia (which today covers most of Turkey), the Turks established many small feudal states and some empires.

The Seljuck Empire was the first Turkish empire in Anatolia. After the Seljucks’ influence declined, Anatolia fragmented into a number of small states. The Ottoman Turks unified these separate units, which eventually became the largest empire in recent history, the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottomans ruled for more than six centuries (1281 – 1922), in part because their system of government allowed flexibility in the practice of diverse religions, languages and cultures.

Suleyman the Magnificent

The magnificent reign of Sultan Suleyman I (1520 -1566) is known as the golden age of the Ottoman Empire.

Born during a turbulent age of continual political and military conflict, Suleyman became a dynamic leader at a very early age. To prepare for his reign that would begin after the death of his father (in 1520), Suleyman became governor of a province in Northwest Anatolia at the age of 15.

The Ottoman Empire more than doubled the boundaries of its realm under Suleyman the Magnificent’s direction and was transformed into a full-fledged Muslim world empire. By his death in 1566, the empire included most of Eastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa.

But land and power were only part of what made the empire years golden. As a principal patron of the arts, and as a poet himself, Suleyman supported societies of painters, architects, metal workers, weavers and ceramists who produced works of extraordinary quality. Suleyman was a catalyst in the cultural legacy that has lasted for centuries.

Ottoman Decline

The 18th century marked the beginning of the decline in Ottoman power. Weakening continued until World War I (1914-1918), when Ottoman armies fought and lost on several fronts throughout the empire. Eventually, Anatolia was divided and occupied by allied forces. Although the Ottoman Empire was dissolved, the fight had just begun for the Turkish people.


The Republic

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a highly respected army general from World War I, led the Turkish people in their War of independence (1919-1922) against the allied occupiers. It was the first successful war of national liberation in this century.


After many miraculous victories, the occupying forces were pushed back. And in 1923, a national Turkish state, the Republic of Turkey, was established. As the leader of the new nation, Ataturk created the foundations for a modern, secular state based on human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Recent Turkish Foreign Policy

After World War II, developments on the international scene inspired Turkey to bolster its relations with the Western world. Determined to secure its position within the Western alliance, Turkey became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Council of Europe and other major Western organizations.

Historical events of recent years including the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Gulf War, the end of the Cold War, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union (which gave independence to Turkish republics in Central Asia) have increased Turkey’s importance as a power for peace and stability in the region.

Turkey is an element of stability in an otherwise turbulent part of the world. As a modern, secular democracy with a free market economy, Turkey will continue to expand its role as a commercial, political and cultural link between the Middle East, the Caucasus, the Balkans and the West.


Turkey Facts

 OFFICIAL NAME:    Republic of Turkey

Turkey is a large, roughly rectangular peninsula situated bridge-like between southeastern Europe and Asia. Indeed, the country has functioned as a bridge for human movement throughout history. Turkey extends more than 1,600 kilometers from west to east but generally less than 800 kilometers from north to south. Total land area is about 779,452 square kilometers, of which 755,688 square kilometers are in Asia and 23,764 square kilometers in Europe.

The European portion of Turkey, known as Thrace (Trakya), encompasses 3 percent of the total area but is home to more than 10 percent of the total population. Thrace is separated from the Asian portion of Turkey by the Bosphorus Strait (Istanbul Bogazi or Karadeniz Bogazi), the Sea of Marmara (Marmara Denizi), and the Dardanelles Strait (Çanakkale Bogazi). The Asian part of the country is known by a variety of names–Asia Minor, Asiatic Turkey, the Anatolian Plateau, and Anatolia (Anadolu). The term Anatolia is most frequently used in specific reference to the large, semiarid central plateau, which is rimmed by hills and mountains that in many places limit access to the fertile, densely settled coastal regions. Astride the straits separating the two continents, Istanbul is the country’s primary industrial, commercial, and intellectual center. However, the Anatolian city of Ankara, which Atatürk and his associates picked as the capital of the new republic, is the political center of the country and has emerged as an important industrial and cultural center in its own right.


Area: 780,580 sq. km.
Cities: Capital–Ankara (pop. 4.4 million). Other cities–Istanbul (11.8 million), Izmir (3.7 million), Bursa (2.4 million), Adana (1.9 million).
Terrain: Narrow coastal plain surrounds Anatolia, an inland plateau becomes increasingly rugged as it progresses eastward. Turkey includes one of the more earthquake-prone areas of the world.
Climate: Moderate in coastal areas, harsher temperatures inland.

Nationality: Noun–Turk(s). Adjective–Turkish.
Population (2006): 72.9 million.
Annual population growth rate (2004 est.): 1.33%.
Ethnic groups: Turkish, Kurdish, other.
Religions: Muslim 99%, Christian, Bahai, and Jewish.
Languages: Turkish (official), Kurdish, Laz, Zaza, Arabic, Armenian, Greek.
Education: Years compulsory–8. Attendance–97.6%. Literacy–86.5%.
Health: Infant mortality rate–39.4/1,000. Life expectancy–68.5 yrs.
Work force (23 million): Agriculture–35.6%; industry–17.5%; services–47.2%.


Type: Republic.
Independence: October 29, 1923.
Constitution: November 7, 1982.
Branches: Executive–president (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers (cabinet–appointed by the president on the nomination of the prime minister). Legislative–Grand National Assembly (550 members) chosen by national elections at least every 5 years. Judicial–Constitutional Court, Court of Cassation, Council of State, and other courts.
Political parties in Parliament: Justice and Development Party (AK), Republican People’s Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Democratic Society Party (DTP), Democratic Left Party (DSP), Grand Unity Party (BBP), Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP)
Suffrage: Universal, 18 and older.
National holiday: Republic Day, October 29.


GDP: (2004) $300.6 billion; (2005) $361.5 billion; (2006) $390.4 billion.
Annual real GDP growth rate: (2004) (+) 8.9%; (2005) 7.4%; (2006) 6.0%.
GDP per capita: (2004) $4,187; (2005) $5,016; (2006) $5,349.
Annual inflation rate /CPI: (2003) 18.4%; (2004) 9.3%; (2005) 7.7%; (2006) 9.7%.
Natural resources: Coal, chromium, mercury, copper, boron, oil, gold.
Agriculture (10.8% of GNP): Major cash crops–cotton, sugar beets, hazelnuts, wheat, barley, and tobacco. Provides 26% of jobs and 4% of exports.
Industry (25.4% of GNP): Major growth sector, types–automotive, electronics, food processing, textiles, basic metals, chemicals, and petrochemicals. Provides 20% of jobs.
Trade: Exports (merchandise)–(2005) $73.1 billion; (2006) $83.5 billion: textiles and apparel, industrial machinery, iron and steel, electronics, petroleum products, and motor vehicles. Imports (merchandise)–(2005) $116 billion; (2006) 135.5 billion: petroleum, machinery, motor vehicles, electronics, iron and steel, plastics precious metals. Major partners–Germany, U.S., Italy, France, Russia, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, U.K.


US – Turkey Relations

Turkish-American relations evolved from US’ entrance into World War I on the Allied side shortly before the war ended and its becoming a charter member of the United Nations. Difficulties faced by Greece after the war in quelling a communist rebellion, along with demands by the Soviet Union for military bases in the Turkish Straits, prompted the United States to declare the Truman Doctrine in 1947. The doctrine enunciated American intentions to guarantee the security of Turkey and Greece, and resulted in large scale US military and economic support. After participating with United Nations forces in the Korean War, Turkey in 1952 joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).


Early relationship

Turkey’s most important international relationship has been with the United States since the end of the Second World War and the beginning of the Cold War. Turkey’s association with the United States began in 1947 when the United States Congress designated Turkey, under the provisions of the Truman Doctrine, as the recipient of special economic and military assistance intended to help it resist threats from the Soviet Union. A mutual interest in containing Soviet expansion provided the foundation of United States-Turkish relations for the next forty years. In support of overall United States Cold War strategy, Turkey contributed personnel to the UN forces in the Korean War (1950-53), joined NATO in 1952, became a founding member of the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) collective defense pact established in 1955, and endorsed the principles of the 1957 Eisenhower Doctrine. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Turkey generally cooperated with other United States allies in the Middle East (Iran, Israel, and Jordan) to contain the influence of those countries (Egypt, Iraq, and Syria) regarded as Soviet clients. Since 1954, Turkey hosts the Incirlik Air Base, an important operations base of the United States Air Force, which has played a critical role during the Cold War, the Gulf War, and the recent Iraq War.


The most difficult period in two countries’ relationship followed Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974 to protect the Island’s Turkish population from a genocide. In response to the military intervention, the United States halted arms supplies to Turkey. Ankara retaliated by suspending United States military operations at all Turkish installations that were not clearly connected with NATO missions. The Cyprus issue affected United States-Turkish relations for several years. Even after the United States Congress lifted the arms embargo in 1978, two years passed before bilateral defense cooperation and military assistance were restored to their 1974 level.