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Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye), known officially as the Republic of Turkey ( Türkiye Cumhuriyeti (help·info)), is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia (mostly in the Anatolian peninsula) and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe. Turkey is bordered by eight countries: Bulgaria to the northwest; Greece to the west; Georgia to the northeast; Armenia, Azerbaijan (the exclave of Nakhchivan) and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the southeast. The Mediterranean Sea and Cyprus are to the south; the Aegean Sea to the west; and the Black Sea is to the north. The Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles (which together form the Turkish Straits) demarcate the boundary between East Thrace and Anatolia; they also separate Europe and Asia.
Turkey is one of the six independent Turkic states. The vast majority of the population are Muslims. The country's official language is Turkish, whereas Kurdish and Zazaki languages are spoken by Kurds and Zazas, who constitute 18% of the population.
Oghuz Turks began migrating into the area now called Turkey (derived from the Medieval Latin Turchia, i.e. "Land of the Turks") in the 11th century. The process was greatly accelerated by the Seljuk victory over the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert. Several small beyliks and the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm ruled Anatolia until the Mongol invasion. Starting from the 13th century, the Ottoman beylik united Anatolia and created an empire encompassing much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. After the Ottoman Empire collapsed following its defeat in World War I, parts of it were occupied by the victorious Allies. A cadre of young military officers, led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his colleagues, organized a successful resistance to the Allies; in 1923, they would establish the modern Republic of Turkey with Atatürk as its first president.
Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic with an ancient cultural heritage. Turkey has become increasingly integrated with the West through membership in organizations such as the Council of Europe, NATO, OECD, OSCE and the G-20 major economies. Turkey began full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005, having been an associate member of the European Economic Community since 1963 and having reached a customs union agreement in 1995. Turkey has also fostered close cultural, political, economic and industrial relations with the Middle East, the Turkic states of Central Asia and the African countries through membership in organizations such as the Turkic Council, Joint Administration of Turkic Arts and Culture, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Economic Cooperation Organization.
Turkey's location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia makes it a country of significant geostrategic importance. Given its strategic location, large economy and military strength, Turkey is a major regional power.
The Anatolian peninsula, comprising most of modern Turkey, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited regions in the world. The earliest Neolithic settlements such as Çatalhöyük (Pottery Neolithic), Çayönü (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A to Pottery Neolithic), Nevalı Çori (Pre-Pottery Neolithic B), Hacılar (Pottery Neolithic), Göbekli Tepe (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A) and Mersin (Yumuktepe) are considered to be among the earliest human settlements in the world.
The settlement of Troy started in the Neolithic and continued into the Iron Age. Through recorded history, Anatolians have spoken Indo-European, Semitic and Kartvelian languages, as well as many languages of uncertain affiliation. In fact, given the antiquity of the Indo-European Hittite and Luwian languages, some scholars have proposed Anatolia as the hypothetical center from which the Indo-European languages radiated. The Hattians were an ancient people who inhabited the Central Anatolia, noted at least as early as ca. 2300. Indo-European Hittites came to Anatolia and gradually absorbed Hattians ca. 2000–1700 BC. The first major empire in the area was founded by the Hittites, from the eighteenth through the 13th century BC. The Assyrians colonized parts of southeastern Turkey as far back as 1950 BC until the year 612 BC, when the Assyrian Empire was conquered by the Chaldean dynasty in Babylon. Following the Hittite collapse, the Phrygians, an Indo-European people, achieved ascendancy until their kingdom was destroyed by the Cimmerians in the 7th century BC. The most powerful of Phrygia's successor states were Lydia, Caria and Lycia. The Lydians and Lycians spoke languages that were fundamentally Indo-European, but both languages had acquired non-Indo-European elements prior to the Hittite and Hellenistic periods.
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 (modern İzmir), and Byzantium (later Constantinople and Istanbul). The first state established in Anatolia that was called Armenia by neighboring peoples (Hecataeus of Miletus and Behistun Inscription) was the state of the Armenian Orontid dynasty. Anatolia was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire during the 6th and 5th centuries BC and later fell to Alexander the Great in 334 BC. Anatolia was subsequently divided into a number of small Hellenistic kingdoms (including Bithynia, Cappadocia, Pergamum, and Pontus), all of which had succumbed to the Roman Republic by the mid-1st century BC.
In 324, the Roman emperor Constantine I chose Byzantium to be the new capital of the Roman Empire, renaming it New Rome (later Constantinople and Istanbul). After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, it became the capital of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire).
Turks 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, north of the Caspian and Aral Seas in the Yabghu Khaganate of the Oğuz confederacy in the 10th century. In the 11th century, the Seljuks started migrating from their ancestral homelands towards the eastern regions of Anatolia, which eventually became the new homeland of Oghuz Turkic tribes following the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.
The victory of the Seljuks gave rise to the Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate; which developed as a separate branch of the larger Seljuk Empire that covered parts of Central Asia, Iran, Anatolia and Southwest Asia.
In 1243, the Seljuk armies were defeated by the Mongols, causing the Seljuk empire's power to slowly disintegrate. In its wake, one of the Turkish principalities governed by Osman I would, over the next 200 years, evolve into the Ottoman Empire, expanding throughout Anatolia, the Balkans and the Levant. In 1453, the Ottomans completed their conquest of the Byzantine Empire by capturing its capital, Constantinople.
The Ottoman Empire's power and prestige peaked in the 16th and 17th centuries, particularly during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. The empire was often at odds with the Holy Roman Empire in its steady advance towards Central Europe through the Balkans and the southern part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. At sea, the empire contended with the Holy Leagues, composed of Habsburg Spain, the Republic of Venice and the Knights of St. John, for control of the Mediterranean. In the Indian Ocean, the Ottoman navy frequently confronted Portuguese fleets in order to defend its traditional monopoly over the maritime trade routes between East Asia and Western Europe; these routes faced new competition with the Portuguese discovery of the Cape of Good Hope in 1488. In addition, the Ottomans were occasionally at war with Persia over territorial disputes or caused by religious differences between 16th and 18th centuries.
During nearly two centuries of decline, the Ottoman Empire gradually shrank in size, military power, and wealth. It entered World War I on the side of the Central Powers and was ultimately defeated. During the war, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were deported and exterminated in the Armenian Genocide. The Turkish government denies that there was an Armenian genocide and claims that Armenians were only relocated from the eastern war zone. Large scale massacres were also committed against the empire's other minority groups such as the Greeks and Assyrians. Following the Armistice of Mudros on October 30, 1918, the victorious Allied Powers sought to partition the Ottoman state through the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres.
The occupation of Constantinople and Smyrna 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 September 18, 1922, the occupying armies were expelled, and the new Turkish state was established. On November 1, the newly founded parliament formally abolished the Sultanate, thus ending 623 years of Ottoman rule. The Treaty of Lausanne of July 24, 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 October 29, 1923, in the new capital of Ankara.
Mustafa Kemal became the republic's first President and subsequently introduced many radical reforms with the aim of founding a new secular republic from the remnants of its Ottoman past. With the Surname Law of 1934, the Turkish Parliament bestowed upon Mustafa Kemal the honorific surname "Atatürk" (Father of the Turks.)
Turkey remained neutral during most of World War II but entered on the side of the Allies on February 23, 1945, as a ceremonial gesture and in 1945 became 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 U.S. military and economic support.
After participating with the United Nations forces in the Korean War, Turkey joined NATO in 1952, becoming a bulwark against Soviet expansion into the Mediterranean. Following a decade of Cypriot intercommunal violence and the Greek military coup of 15 July 1974, overthrowing President Makarios and installing Nikos Sampson as dictator, Turkey invaded the island Republic of Cyprus on 20 July. Nine years later the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which is only recognised by Turkey was established.
The single-party period ended in 1945. It was followed by a tumultuous transition to multiparty democracy over the next few decades, which was interrupted by military coups d'état in 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997. In 1984, the PKK began an insurgency against the Turkish government; the conflict, which has claimed over 40,000 lives, continues today. Since the liberalization of the Turkish economy during the 1980s, the country has enjoyed stronger economic growth and greater political stability.
Turkey has a very diverse culture that is a blend of various elements of the Oğuz Turkic, Anatolian, Ottoman (which was itself a continuation of both Greco-Roman and Islamic cultures) and Western culture and traditions, which started with the Westernization of the Ottoman Empire and still continues today. This mix originally began as a result of the encounter of Turks and their culture with those of the peoples who were in their path during their migration from Central Asia to the West.
As Turkey successfully transformed from the religion-based former Ottoman Empire into a modern nation-state with a very strong separation of state and religion, an increase in the modes of artistic expression followed. During the first years of the republic, the government invested a large amount of resources into fine arts; such as museums, theatres, opera houses and architecture. Diverse historical factors play important roles in defining the modern Turkish identity. Turkish culture is a product of efforts to be a "modern" Western state, while maintaining traditional religious and historical values.
Turkish music and literature form great examples of such a mix of cultural influences, which were a result of the interaction between the Ottoman Empire and the Islamic world along with Europe, thus contributing 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, though towards the end of the Ottoman Empire, particularly after the Tanzimat period, the effect of both Turkish folk and European literary traditions became increasingly felt. The mix of cultural influences is dramatized, for example, in the form of the "new symbols [of] the clash and interlacing of cultures" enacted in the works of Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. According to Konda public opinion researchers, 70% of Turkish citizens never read books.
Architectural elements found in Turkey are also testaments to the unique mix of traditions that have influenced the region over the centuries. In addition to the traditional Byzantine elements present in numerous parts of Turkey, many artifacts of the later Ottoman architecture, with its exquisite blend of local and Islamic traditions, are to be found throughout the country, as well as in many former territories of the Ottoman Empire. Mimar Sinan is widely regarded as the greatest architect of the classical period in Ottoman architecture. Since the 18th century, Turkish architecture has been increasingly influenced by Western styles, and this can be particularly seen in Istanbul where buildings like Dolmabahçe and Çırağan Palaces are juxtaposed next to numerous modern skyscrapers, all of them representing different traditions.
The most popular sport in Turkey is Association football. Turkey's top teams include Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, Trabzonspor and Beşiktaş. In 2000, Galatasaray cemented its role as a major European club by winning the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup. Two years later the Turkish national team finished third in the 2002 World Cup Finals in Japan and South Korea, while in 2008 the national team reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Euro 2008 competition. The Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul hosted the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final, while the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium in Istanbul hosted the 2009 UEFA Cup Final.
Other mainstream sports such as basketball and volleyball are also popular. Turkey hosted the finals of EuroBasket 2001 and the finals of the 2010 FIBA World Championship, winning second place on both occasions; while Efes Pilsen S.K. won the Korać Cup in 1996, finished second in the Saporta Cup of 1993, and made it to the Final Four of Euroleague and Suproleague in 2000 and 2001. Turkish basketball players such as Mehmet Okur and Hedo Turkoglu have also been successful in the NBA. Women's volleyball teams, namely Eczacıbaşı, Vakıfbank Güneş Sigorta and Fenerbahçe Acıbadem, have won numerous European championship titles and medals.
The traditional Turkish national sport has been yağlı güreş (oiled wrestling) since Ottoman times. Edirne has hosted the annual Kırkpınar oiled wrestling tournament since 1361. International wrestling styles governed by FILA such as Freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling are also popular, with many European, World and Olympic championship titles won by Turkish wrestlers both individually and as a national team.
Weightlifting has been a successful Turkish sport. Turkish weightlifters, both male and female, have broken numerous world records and won several European, World and Olympic championship titles. Naim Süleymanoğlu and Halil Mutlu have achieved legendary status as one of the few weightlifters to have won three gold medals in three Olympics.
Motorsports are also popular in Turkey. The Rally of Turkey was included in the FIA World Rally Championship calendar in 2003, while Formula One race weekends held at the Istanbul Park racing circuit occurred annually between the 2005 and 2011 Formula One seasons. The Turkish Grand Prix was, however, not included in the 2012 Formula One season's calendar. Other important annual motorsports events which are held at the Istanbul Park racing circuit include the MotoGP Grand Prix of Turkey, the FIA World Touring Car Championship, the GP2 Series and the Le Mans Series. From time to time Istanbul and Antalya also host the Turkish leg of the F1 Powerboat Racing championship; while the Turkish leg of the Red Bull Air Race World Series, an air racing competition, takes place above the Golden Horn in Istanbul. Surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, paragliding and other extreme sports are becoming more popular every year.
Turkey is a transcontinental Eurasian country. Asian Turkey (made up largely of Anatolia), which includes 97% of the country, is separated from European Turkey by the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles (which together form a water link between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean). European Turkey (eastern Thrace or Rumelia in the Balkan peninsula) comprises 3% of the country.
The territory of Turkey is more than 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) long and 800 km (500 mi) wide, with a roughly rectangular shape. It lies between latitudes 35° and 43° N, and longitudes 25° and 45° E. Turkey's area, including lakes, occupies 783,562 square kilometres (300,948 sq mi), of which 755,688 square kilometres (291,773 sq mi) are in Southwest Asia and 23,764 square kilometres (9,174 sq mi) in Europe. Turkey is the world's 37th-largest country in terms of area. The country is encircled by seas on three sides: 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 European section of Turkey, East Thrace, forms the borders of Turkey with Greece and Bulgaria. The Asian part of the country, Anatolia, consists of a high central plateau with narrow coastal plains, between the Köroğlu and Pontic mountain ranges to the north and the Taurus Mountains to the south. Eastern Turkey has a more mountainous landscape and is home to the sources of rivers such as the Euphrates, Tigris and Aras, and contains Lake Van and Mount Ararat, Turkey's highest point at 5,165 metres (16,946 ft). Lake Tuz, Turkey's third-largest lake, is a macroscopically visible feature in the middle of the country.
Turkey is divided into seven census regions: Marmara, Aegean, Black Sea, Central Anatolia, Eastern Anatolia, Southeastern Anatolia and the Mediterranean. The uneven north Anatolian terrain running along the Black Sea resembles a long, narrow belt. This region comprises approximately one-sixth of Turkey's total land area. As a general trend, the inland Anatolian plateau becomes increasingly rugged as it progresses eastward.
Turkey's varied landscapes are the product of complex earth movements that have shaped the region over thousands of years and still manifest themselves in fairly frequent earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions. The Bosporus and the Dardanelles owe their existence to the fault lines running through Turkey that led to the creation of the Black Sea. There is an earthquake fault line across the north of the country from west to east, which caused a major earthquake in 1999.
The coastal areas of Turkey bordering the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea have a temperate Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild to cool, wet winters. The coastal areas of Turkey bordering the Black Sea have a temperate Oceanic climate with warm, wet summers and cool to cold, wet winters. The Turkish Black Sea coast receives the greatest amount of precipitation and is the only region of Turkey that receives high precipitation throughout the year. The eastern part of that coast averages 2,500 millimeters annually which is the highest precipitation in the country.
The coastal areas of Turkey bordering the Sea of Marmara (including Istanbul), which connects the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea, have a transitional climate between a temperate Mediterranean climate and a temperate Oceanic climate with warm to hot, moderately dry summers and cool to cold, wet winters. Snow does occur on the coastal areas of the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea almost every winter, but it usually lies no more than a few days. Snow on the other hand is rare in the coastal areas of the Aegean Sea and very rare in the coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea.
Conditions can be much harsher in the more arid interior. Mountains close to the coast prevent Mediterranean influences from extending inland, giving the central Anatolian plateau of the interior of Turkey a continental climate with sharply contrasting seasons.
Winters on the plateau are especially severe. Temperatures of −30 °C to −40 °C (−22 °F to −40 °F) can occur in eastern Anatolia, and snow may lie on the ground at least 120 days of the year. In the west, winter temperatures average below 1 °C (34 °F). Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures generally above 30 °C (86 °F) in the day. Annual precipitation averages about 400 millimetres (15 in), with actual amounts determined by elevation. The driest regions are the Konya plain and the Malatya plain, where annual rainfall frequently is less than 300 millimetres (12 in). May is generally the wettest month, whereas July and August are the driest.