History of Turkey - Alexander the Great, Anatolia

Turkey is bathed in a long and chequered history that dates back to 7500BC, with the earliest known city of Catalhuyuk in Central Anatolia, however the first important empire was that of the Hitite. During the Bronze Age the Hitites underwent a number of wars, capturing Syria and fighting with Egypt. The fall of Troy around 1180BC and the migration of Greeks signalled the end of the empire.

Come 547BC and the Cyrus of Persia took over the area, but that wasn’t to last as Alexander the Great stormed the land, taking over Anatolia, driving out the Persians and eventually controlling the whole of the Middle East.

The death of Alexander the Great in 323BC saw his empire breaking down into smaller states, followed by the great days of the Kingdom of Pergamum, which had close ties to the Romans. This eventually meant that the state was left to Rome.

The Romans proceeded to turn Anatolia into part of Asia in 129BC, with it being controlled from the great city of Ephesus. As the Roman Empire increasingly adopted Christianity in 313, Constantine made his new capital Constantinople.

It was the invasion of Arabs between 630 and 718 that saw the Islam religion being introduced to the region – a religion still widely practiced in this day and age.

Between 1071 and 1243 the Seljuk Turks rose to power and made the first true Turkish state in Anatolia, and following straight on from that was the start of the Ottoman Empire.

The establishment of Istanbul came with the fall of Constantinople in 1453, and Ottoman became supreme in the country, with Suleyman the Magnificent taking to the throne from 1520-66. In 1876 Abdul Hamit II took to the throne and set about modernising the country, but the empire was steadily in decline at the time, and he was removed from power in 1909.

In 1914, Turkey entered World War 1 as German allies, but in 1919 Mustafa Kemel Ataturk led troops to stop the attempt to carve up the country, leading to the Turkish Republic being formed in 1923.

The year 1938 saw the death of the country’s great leader Ataturk in Istanbul, but he left behind a legacy of a newly reformed country and bright future for his people.

When World War II broke out in the late 1930s, Turkey stayed neutral, and following the war joined the United Nations and then NATO and the European Union as an associate member.

Three military coups took place in the two decades between 1960 and 1980, with Turgut Ozal finally being elected prime minister in 1983.

1999 and 2001 were troublesome times, with two earthquakes destroying parts of northeast Turkey, and then in the latter year the economy collapsed with the Lira being devalued by half.

For years Turkey has been trying to become a full member of the European Union, with meetings scheduled for late 2005 for more talks to try and ratify conditions for entry. The outcome of these talks will be closely watched by the rest of the world as this will be an important factor in the future makeup of the EU.

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