Türkiye Cumhuriyeti, is a transcontinental parliamentary republic in Eurasia, mainly on the Anatolian peninsula in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic with a diverse cultural heritage.
Turkey is bordered by eight countries: Greece to the west; Bulgaria to the northwest; Georgia to the northeast; Armenia, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the south. The Aegean Sea is to the west, the Black Sea to the north, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. The Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles, which together form the Turkish Straits, divide Thrace and Anatolia; they also separate Europe and Asia. Turkey’s location between Europe and Asia has retained its geopolitical and strategic importance throughout history. Turkey has been inhabited since the Paleolithic by various ancient Anatolian civilizations, as well as Assyrians, Greeks, Thracians, Phrygians, Urartians and Armenians. After Alexander the Great’s conquest, the area was Hellenized, a process which continued under the Roman Empire and its transition into the Byzantine Empire. The Seljuk Turks began migrating into the area in the 11th century, starting the process of Turkification, which was accelerated by the Seljuk victory over the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. The Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm ruled Anatolia until the Mongol invasion in 1243, when it disintegrated into small Turkish beyliks.
In the mid-14th century the Ottomans started uniting Anatolia and created an empire encompassing much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa, becoming a major power in Eurasia and Africa during the early modern period. The empire reached the peak of its power in the 16th century, especially during the reign (1520–1566) of Suleiman the Magnificent. The empire remained powerful and influential for two more centuries, until important setbacks such as the Great Turkish War (1683–99) and the Russo-Turkish War (1768–74) forced it to cede strategic territories in Europe, signalling the loss of its former military strength and wealth. The Tanzimat reforms of the 19th century, which aimed to modernize the Ottoman state, proved to be inadequate in most fields, and failed to stop the dissolution of the empire. Suspended by Sultan Abdülhamid II in 1878, the Ottoman constitution and parliament were restored with the Young Turk Revolution on 24 July 1908. Taking advantage of the chaos, Bulgariaformally declared its independence on 5 October 1908, and Austria-Hungary formally annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina on 6 October 1908.
The Turkish War of Independence (1919–1922), initiated by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his colleagues in Anatolia against the occupying Allies, resulted in the abolition of monarchy in 1922 and the establishment of the modern Republic of Turkey in 1923, with Atatürk as its first president.
Turkey’s official language is Turkish, a Turkic language spoken by 84.5% of the population. According to polls, between 78.1% and 81.3% of the country’s citizens identify themselves as ethnic Turks. Other ethnic groups include legally recognized (Armenians, Greeks, Jews) and unrecognized (Kurds, Circassians, Arabs, Albanians, Bosniaks, Georgians, etc.) minorities. Kurds are the largest ethnic minority group, making up approximately 13.4% to 18% or up to 25% of the population, based on polls and estimates. The vast majority of the population is nominally Sunni Muslim, with Alevis making up the largest religious minority. Turkey is a charter member of the UN, an early member of NATO, and a founding member of the OECD, OSCE, OIC and G-20. After becoming one of the first members of the Council of Europe in 1949, Turkey became an associate member of the EEC in 1963, applied for full EEC membership in 1987, joined the EU Customs Union in 1995 and started accession negotiations with the European Union in 2005. Turkey’s growing economy and diplomatic initiatives have led to its recognition as a regional power.