Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye, pronounced [ˈtyɾcije]), officially the Republic of Türkiye (Turkish: Türkiye Cumhuriyeti [ˈtyɾcije dʒumˈhuːɾijeti], is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolian Peninsula in West Asia, with a small portion on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. It borders the Black Sea to the north; Georgia to the northeast; Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran to the east; Iraq to the southeast; Syria and the Mediterranean Sea to the south; the Aegean Sea to the west; and Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest. Cyprus is off the south coast. Most of the country’s citizens are ethnic Turks, while Kurds are the largest ethnic minority. Ankara is Turkey’s capital and second-largest city; Istanbul is its largest city and main financial centre.
The name Turkey appeared in Western sources after the Crusades began in the late 11th century, referring to the Seljuk-controlled lands in Anatolia and the Near East. The English name Turkey (from Medieval Latin Turchia/Turquia) means “land of the Turks”.
Middle English usage of Turkye is evidenced in an early work by Geoffrey Chaucer called The Book of the Duchess (c. 1369). The phrase land of Torke is used in the 15th-century Digby Mysteries. Later usages can be found in the William Dunbar poems, the 16th century Manipulus Vocabulorum (Turkie) and Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum (Turky).
The modern spelling Turkey dates back to at least 1719. The name Turkey has been used in the texts of numerous international treaties to define the Ottoman Empire, such as in the texts of the Treaty of Paris (1856) and the Treaty of Berlin (1878).
In Byzantine sources, such as in the book De Administrando Imperio written by the Byzantine emperor and scholar Constantine VII (r. 913–959), the name Tourkia (Greek: Τουρκία) was originally used for defining two medieval states: Hungary, also referred to as Western Tourkia; and Khazaria, also referred to as Eastern Tourkia. The Eurasian Steppe was largely controlled by the Turkic Khaganates in this period.
In the 14th-century Arabic sources, Turkiyya is usually contrasted with Turkmaniyya (Turkomania), probably to be understood as the realm of the Oghuz Turks around the Caspian Sea basin in Western Asia, a term which subsequently referred to the initial heartlands of the Seljuk, Kara Koyunlu and Ak Koyunlu states which were established by them. In the 1330s, Ibn Battuta defined the parts of Anatolia controlled by the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum as Barr al-Turkiyya al-ma’ruf bi-bilad al-Rûm (“the Turkish land known as the lands of Rûm”).
The disintegration of the Ottoman Empire after World War I strengthened Turkish nationalism, and the Türkler için Türkiye (“Turkey for the Turks”) sentiment rose up. With the Treaty of Alexandropol signed by the Government of the Grand National Assembly with Armenia, the name Türkiye entered international documents for the first time. In the treaty signed with Afghanistan in 1921, the expression Devlet-i Âliyye-i Türkiyye (“Sublime Turkish State”) was used, likened to the Ottoman Empire’s name.
One of the world’s earliest permanently settled regions, present-day Turkey was home to important Neolithic sites like Göbekli Tepe, and was inhabited by ancient civilizations including the Hattians, Hittites, Anatolian peoples, Greeks, Assyrians, Persians, and others.
Following the conquests of Alexander the Great which started the Hellenistic period, most of the ancient Anatolian regions were culturally Hellenized, and this continued during the Byzantine era. The Seljuk Turks began migrating to Anatolia in the 11th century, which started the Turkification process. The Seljuk Sultanate of Rum ruled Anatolia until the Mongol invasion in 1243, when it disintegrated into small Turkish principalities. Beginning in the late 13th century, the Ottomans united the principalities and conquered the Balkans, while the Turkification of Anatolia further progressed during the Ottoman period. After Mehmed II conquered Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1453, Ottoman expansion continued under Selim I. During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire became a global power.
From the late 18th century onwards, the empire’s power declined with a gradual loss of territories. Mahmud II started a period of modernization in the early 19th century. The Young Turk Revolution of 1908 restricted the authority of the Sultan and restored the Ottoman Parliament after a 30-year suspension, ushering the empire into a multi-party period. The Three Pashas took control with the 1913 coup d’état, and the Ottoman Empire entered World War I as one of the Central Powers in 1914. During the war, the Ottoman government committed genocides against its Armenian, Greek and Assyrian subjects. After its defeat in the war, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned.
The Turkish War of Independence against the occupying Allied Powers resulted in the abolition of the Sultanate on 1 November 1922, the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne (which superseded the Treaty of Sèvres) on 24 July 1923 and the proclamation of the Republic on 29 October 1923. With the reforms initiated by the country’s first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey became a secular, unitary and parliamentary republic. Turkey remained neutral during most of World War II, but entered the closing stages of the war on the side of the Allies.
Turkey played a prominent role in the Korean War and joined NATO in 1952. During the Cold War years, the country endured two military coups in 1960 and 1980, and a period of economic and political turmoil in the 1970s. The economy was liberalized in the 1980s, leading to stronger economic growth and political stability. Since 2002, the country’s political system has been dominated by the AKP and its leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, under whom a decade of rapid growth in nominal GDP took place until 2013, which was followed by a period of recession and stagnation in terms of USD-based nominal GDP between 2013 and 2020, and high inflation as of 2023. The AKP government’s initial economic achievements, which were financed through privatization revenues and loans, were overshadowed by democratic backsliding and an erosion in the separation of powers and civil liberties, which gained momentum after the parliamentary republic was replaced by an executive presidential system with a referendum in 2017.
Turkey is a regional power with a geopolitically significant strategic location. The economy of Turkey, which is a founding member of the OECD and G20, is classified among the E7, EAGLEs and NICs, and currently ranks 19th-largest in the world by nominal GDP and 11th-largest by PPP. Turkey is a charter member of the United Nations, the IMF and the World Bank; a founding member of the OSCE, OIC, BSEC, ECO, MIKTA, TURKSOY and OTS; and an early member of NATO. After becoming one of the early members of the Council of Europe in 1950, Turkey became an associate member of the EEC in 1963, joined the EU Customs Union in 1995, and started accession negotiations with the European Union in 2005. Turkey has a rich cultural legacy shaped by centuries of history and the influence of the various peoples that have inhabited its territory over several millennia; it is home to 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the fourth most visited country in the world.
The Anatolian peninsula, comprising most of modern Turkey, is one of the oldest permanently settled regions in the world. Various ancient Anatolian populations have lived in Anatolia, from at least the Neolithic until the Hellenistic period. Many of these peoples spoke the Anatolian languages, a branch of the larger Indo-European language family. Given the antiquity of the Indo-European Hittite and Luwian languages, some scholars have proposed Anatolia as the hypothetical centre from which the Indo-European languages radiated. The European part of Turkey, called Eastern Thrace, has been inhabited since at least 40,000 years ago, and is known to have been in the Neolithic era by about 6000 BC. The spread of agriculture from the Middle East to Europe was strongly correlated with the migration of early farmers from Anatolia about 9,000 years ago, and was not just a cultural exchange. Anatolian Neolithic farmers derived a significant portion of their ancestry from the Anatolian hunter-gatherers.
Göbekli Tepe is the site of the oldest known man-made structure in the world, a temple dating to circa 9600 BC, while Çatalhöyük is a very large Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlement in Anatolia, which existed from approximately 7500 BC to 5700 BC. It is the largest and best-preserved Neolithic site found to date. Nevalı Çori was an early Neolithic settlement on the middle Euphrates, in Şanlıurfa. The Urfa Man statue is dated c. 9000 BC, to the period of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, and is defined as “the oldest known naturalistic life-sized sculpture of a human”. It is considered to be contemporaneous with Göbekli Tepe. Troy was first settled in the Neolithic Age, with inhabitation continuing into the Byzantine period. Troy’s Late Bronze Age layers are considered potential historical settings for the later legends of the Trojan War.
The earliest recorded inhabitants of Anatolia were the Hattians and Hurrians, non-Indo-European peoples who lived in Anatolia, respectively, as early as c. 2300 BC. Indo-European Hittites came to Anatolia and gradually absorbed the Hattians and Hurrians c. 2000–1700 BC. The first empire in the area was founded by the Hittites, from the 18th through the 13th centuries BC. The Assyrians conquered and settled parts of southeastern Turkey as early as 1950 BC although they have remained a minority in the region.
Following the collapse of the Hittite empire c. 1180 BC, the Phrygians, an Indo-European people, achieved ascendancy in Anatolia until their kingdom was destroyed by the Cimmerians in c. 695 BC. The most powerful of Phrygia’s successor states were Lydia, Caria and Lycia.
Assyrian king Shalmaneser I (1263–1234 BC) recorded a campaign in which he subdued the entire territory of “Uruatri”. Urartu re-emerged in Assyrian inscriptions in the 9th century BC. Starting from 714 BC, the Urartu state began to decline, and finally dissolved in 590 BC, when it was conquered by the Medes.
The city of Sardis served as the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia. As one of the seven churches of Asia, it was addressed in the Book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament. The Lydian Lion coins were made of electrum, a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. During the reign of King Croesus, the metallurgists of Sardis discovered the way of separating gold from silver, thereby producing both metals of a purity never known before.