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from early times to today

Orkhon inscription

Turks and the First Turkish States. Turks, who first appeared in history in the 7th century B.C. at the foot of the Köğmen Mountains, are a society whose language belongs to the Altaic linguistic group. Throughout history, the Turks have established numerous states in various geographical regions on the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa. Turks brought their culture to the places to which they had migrated and were also affected by the cultures of these regions.

 

After the collapse of the Asian Hun State, a new state called the Göktürk Empire was founded at the foot of the Altay mountains. The Göktürks who were the first to employ the word "Turk" in their official state name, chose Ötüken, the former capital of the empire as a base and established khanates. Later they spread out and became an empire. They professed that a khanate could not be ruled by means of war and bravery alone and that wisdom was very important. Bilge Khan and Kül Tegin are noted as the wisest and most heroic figures among Turkish statesmen in history. It was because of this that both these khans and Tonyukuk, another Göktürk Khan, immortalized their accomplishments with inscriptions. These inscriptions are the first written texts of the Turkish language.

 

The Uygur (Uigur) Turks, who were the native tribes of the Orhun and Selenge valleys, established the third great Turkish State in 741. They later were dispersed by an attack of the Kirgiz (Kyrgyz) Turks.

 

Anatolia (Asia Minor), the landmass that is now Turkey, had been a cradle to a wide variety of civilizations and kingdoms in antiquity. The Seljuk Turks (Selcuk Turkleri) were the first Turkish power to arrive in the 11th century as conquerors, who proceeded to gradually conquer the existing Byzantine Empire.

 

Their Turkish successors, the Ottoman Empire (named after its first leader Osman Gazi), began as a small tribe of nomadic Turks who would come to dominate the region for 600 years. Its first capital was located in Bursa in 1326 and by 1453 under Sultan Mehmed II the Ottomans would conquer the last stronghold of the Byzantine Empire, Istanbul (once known as Constantinople) (see fall of Constantinople). The Empire reached its peak under Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent between 1520-1555, where territories stretched from Hungary to the Persian Gulf, from Crimea to Algeria. Following the death of Suleyman, the Empire's expansion pace slowed with succesive inept administrations and began a slow course of gradual decline in 18th century.

 

Throughout the 19th and early 20th century the Ottoman Empire began to lose a foothold on its territories, first with Algeria and Tunisia, then Greece, Egypt, Libya and the Balkans in the 1912-1913 Balkan Wars. Faced with territorial losses on all sides the Ottoman Empire forged an alliance with Germany who supported it with troops and equipment. In World War I the Ottoman Empire was forced into the War, after granting two German warships as refugees.

 

On October 30th, 1918, the Mondros Armistice was signed, followed by the imposition of Treaty of Sèvres on August 10th 1920 by Allied Powers, which was never ratified. These sought to break up the Ottoman Empire and force large concessions on territories of the Empire in favour of its rival Greece who had switched sides against the Germans. Greece and Italy were awarded parts of the coast of Asia Minor, while France were granted lands south of Taurus Mountains. The city of Izmir (Smyrna) was given to Greece. A nationalist movement led by Mustafa Kemal, rejected the Sèvres and organised an army which repelled Greece from Asia Minor and French forces from Southeast Anatolia. By September 18th, 1922 the country was liberated resulting in the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923, and after the subsequent evacuation of the British, French and Italian forces who left the shores of the modern day Turkey.

 

On October 29th 1923 The Republic of Turkey was proclaimed and Mustafa Kemal, (later granted the last name Atatürk (meaning father of Turks) by the National Assembly), was elected by the Parliament as the first president.

 

 
 
Mehmet Ünal