History of TurkeyTurkey



The legendary Mustafa Kemal, a Turkish World War I hero later known as "Ataturk" or "father of the Turks," founded the Republic of Turkey in 1923 after the collapse of the 600-year-old Ottoman Empire. The empire, which at its peak controlled vast stretches of northern Africa, southeastern Europe, and western Asia, had failed to keep pace with European social and technological developments. The rise of nationalism impelled several ethnic groups to seek independence, leading to the empire's fragmentation. This process culminated in the disastrous Ottoman participation in World War I as a German ally. Defeated, shorn of much of its former territory, and partly occupied by forces of the victorious European states, the Ottoman structure was repudiated by Turkish nationalists who rallied under Ataturk's leadership.

The nationalists expelled invading Greek forces from Anatolia after a bitter war. The temporal and religious ruling institutions of the old empire (the sultanate and caliphate) were abolished. The new republic concentrated on Westernizing the empire's Turkish core--Anatolia and a small part of Thrace. Social, political, linguistic, and economic reforms and attitudes introduced by Ataturk before his death in 1938 continue to form the ideological base of modern Turkey.

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