The area occupies the whole of Asia Minor and extends eastwards to Transcaucasia and Iran. It includes also a number of islands off the coast and a small district of Europe, in which the City of Istanbul is situated. The region is also known as Anatolia.
The area consists of 296,000 Square miles, including 9257 square miles in Europe. It consists mainly of a plateau which, except in the mountainous eastern region, sinks on all sides to wooded foothills cut by valleys leading to the sea. The northern coast district is most heavily wooded; the chief region of cultivation is on the west. The interior, particularly the eastern part, is hot and dry.
The principal occupation of the Turks is agriculture. Tobacco, cereals, cotton, figs, grapes, olives, and sugar beets are the chef products of the soil. Mineral wealth is considerable but is underdeveloped. Meerschaum is a distinctive product. Manufacturing is confined mostly to handmade articles, including rugs and copper utentsils, although lumber mills, cement works, and an automobile assembly plant have been opened in recent years.
Among the empires that have controlled the region are the Persian, the Roman, the Byzantine, and the Seljuk. In about 1308, the Turk Osman I, the first sultan of the Osmanli dynasty, crushed the remnants of the sultanate. The Ottoman Empire became the greatest of the Islamic states in the region.
After consolidating their power, the Ottoman Turks moved westward towards the Byzantine Empire, which was in decline. In 1389 the Turks had broken the Serbian power at the battle of Kosovo and had then made conquest of Bulgaria. They were now the first military power in Europe; their disciplined Janizaries, inspired by fanatical zeal, were irrestible. Macedonia, Hungary, and Greece were rapidly conquered, and in 1453 the city of Constantantinople fell.
The Turks moved their capital from Adrianople to Constantinople and proceeded to consolidate their European dominion. The Tartar khan of Crimea became a vassal of the sultan. Albania, which had long held out, was at last subdued, and before the close of the 15th century the conquest of Otranto gave the Ottomans a foothold in Italy.
In 1683 the Polish Monarch John Sobieski defeated the Turks and turned them back from Vienna which resulted in many other events that began the decline of the Ottoman Empire. This decline continued all the way to World War I when Western powers realized that the country was allied with Germany which then resulted in the Turks being defeated in Palestine and Mesopotamia and as such their hold on their empire faded rather quickly.
The Republic was established in 1924. The country is what remained of the former Turkish Empire with its capital at Istanbul then known as Constantinople. After World War I the sultan was deposed by a leader Kemal Pasha, and a constitution was adopted in 1921 which vested both legislative and executive power in a Grand Assembly. Three years later the country was declared a republic.
OFFICIAL NAME(S) Turkiye Cumhuriyeti CAPITAL: Ankara FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Republican parliamentary democracy HEAD OF STATE: President Abdullah GUL HEAD OF GOVERNMENT: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ERDOGAN; Deputy Prime Minister Cemil CICEK; Deputy Prime Minister Hayati YAZICI; Deputy Prime Minister Nazim EKREN MONETARY UNIT: Turkish lira (TRY); old Turkish lira (TRL) OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Turkish (official), Kurdish, Dimli (or Zaza), Azeri, Kabardian note: there is also a substantial Gagauz population in the European part of the country POPULATION: 71,892,807 RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: Muslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), other 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews) ETHNIC COMPOSITION: Turkish 80%, Kurdish 20% (estimated) LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH : total population: 72.88 yrs male: 70.43 female: 75.46
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