Turkish History - from past to present

Turkish History

The first settlement was established about 7000 B.C. Near the town of Konya historians found the first traces of houses, holy places and different sculptures.

Antiquity: 7000 B.C. to 130 B.C.

These traces date back to the oldest known settlement in world history. About 2250 B.C. hordes of so called Hattiten arrived from the east and destroyed most of the settlements on their way. After them the Phrygians, well known because of their leader Alexander the Great, arrived and a little later the Skythernen took over. Many other cultures came during the following centuries into the lands of what is now modern Turkey.

Roman Emperors: 130 B.C. to 323 A.D.

The Roman rule, which lasted for about 400 years, had its beginning near to Ephesus, where the first Roman province was settled and the apostle Paul built the first Christian church. Even so, Christianity was not allowed until the year 313 A. D. With the conquering and invasion of Armenia about 115 A.D., the Roman Empire reached its biggest extent.

The Byzantine Empire 323 till 1453

Shortly after the foundation of the Byzantine Empire, Byzantium became the capital and shortly after that its name changed into Constantinople. In 1071 the Byzantines were beaten by the hordes of the Seljuk, who then took control of Anatolia. Beginning with the first crusades in 1096, European knights started to conquer parts of Anatolia. This meant the end of the Byzantine Empire. In 1204 the Crusaders conquered and looted Constantinople. About 50 years later the Byzantines got it back and kept control of the town until 1453.

Ottoman Empire: 1303 - 1919

Sultan Ahmed conquered Constantinople and declared the town to be the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Around 1550, under the leadership of Sultan Süleyman the Great, the Ottoman Empire was at its height. He conquered Baghdad, Cairo and the southeast of Europe and with the help of his famous architect, Sinan, he built huge and famous buildings and monuments.
By the end of the 16th century the power of the Ottoman Empire had declined. Many parts of the country needed to be given away.

By the year 1878 Turkey was completely bankrupt and from that time on got the nickname: ?The sick man on the Bosphorus?, a nickname that still exists today when talking about Turkey. In 1914, with the beginning of World War One, Turkey was on the side of Germany. After capitulation in 1918 a new era began in Turkey. Soon after, a first National Assembly was founded.

1919 - Until Today

After Turkey had been on the losing side in World War I, the country was divided into sections by the victorious allies. General Mustafa Kemal decided not to accept this decision and began to start a rebellion against the division of Turkey.
The following War of Liberation was successful and soon the army of Turkey had won against the Greeks and their allies and, in 1922, the Republic of Turkey was founded. Mustafa Kemal became the first President of the country. This obviously was the beginning of a new and modern Turkey, which apart from other new ideas introduced a western-inspired legal system, new education laws and reforms in agriculture. This means that modern Turkey is only 80 years old.

The development was very quick (maybe too quick for a lot of the population). All this simply meant that large parts of the country have not been able to embrace all the reforms and have changed their traditions little so far. Especially in the small villages of the East, most of the reforms have still not been put into practise and still the differences between certain classes are noticeable. Now Turkey is planning to become more involved with Europe and hopes to become a member of the European Union. This means also that Turkish politicians now have to work really hard to keep a steadily growing economy on course and turn away from the old traditional bureaucracy to fulfil all the conditions of the EU.
First of all the living standards of the poor people have to be increased in a developing positive way, which can be the most difficult part of all.


The Republic of Turkey was established by Mustafa Kemal and he was elected the first President.

10th of November 1938

Death of Mustafa Kemal. The next President of Turkey after Mustafa Kemal was Ismet Inönü. He ruled until 1952.


A system of different political parties was introduced and it was a surprise when Adnan Menderes became the next president. Eight years later he was forced to leave his post after a military revolt. Later he was hanged as a traitor. Some years later this was regretted by the government and so today his name can now be seen on lots of roads and airports.

1960 - 1970

This period is well known because of its ever-changing presidents. In 1970 there was another military revolt in Turkey. The existing president, Suleyman Demirel, was dismissed from his post after several political crises involving the different factions in the parliament. However, he re-entered politics a few years later. During the 90?s he was elected Prime Minister and in 1993 at last he became President of Turkey. He was able to stay in power until 2000.


After ten horrible years in Turkey another military revolt took place, the reason again being too many problems between the different factions on the political scene. This revolt was a very bloody one and hundreds of people lost their lives. The military government ruled the country until 1983, when a new election took place.


This election was won by the conservative party, called ANAP, with their leader Turgut Özal. He was elected Prime Minister and after eight years of doing this job he was elected President. He died in 1993 from a heart attack. After long years of economical and social problems, Turgut Özal was able to get Turkey away from political isolation.


The latest election so far showed an unexpected winner in 2002: the moderate Muslim party with Recep Tayyip Erdogan leading. After Demirel the new President of Turkey was elected - Ahmet Necdet Sezer. To the surprise of many other political leaders, the party has done a good job so far and has gained a lot of respect and honour for their open and modern policies. Erdogan is trying to make Turkey acceptable to the EU by making lots of reforms and changes in the traditional system and so stopping the huge amount of bureaucracy.

Please read as well:

The Seljuk Caravanserai in Asia Minor

The last Ottoman - Ertugrul Osman


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