• Vatican City!

    Vatican City: Vatican Museums. Go Now!

    Vatican City
    The smallest country in the world offers the heart of Catholicism and among the world's finest art collections, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms (ceiling pictured). Go to Vatican City!

  • Macedonia!

    Macedonia: Traditional architecture. Go Now!

    Macedonia
    Macedonia is a country still finding its unique identity, but its architecture is already one of a kind. Explore Macedonia!

  • Netherlands!

    Netherlands: Wooden shoes. Go Now!

    Netherlands
    This low country might be small, but it maintains a unique place in history and culture. Explore the Netherlands!

  • Austria!

    Austria: Belvedere Palace. Go Now!

    Austria
    Belvedere Palace (pictured) is just one of many palaces found in Vienna. The capital is a good start to Austria, which also features the Alps, the Lakes District, and incredible history & food. Go Now!

  • Ukraine!

    Ukraine: Traditional Village. Go Now!

    Ukraine
    Ukrainian culture is based on village life, particularly that found in the Carpathian Mountains (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Latvia!

    Latvia: Art Nouveau in Riga. Go Now!

    Latvia
    Latvia is small, but has a diverse history, foods, and architecture (shown), which includes aspects from both Eastern and Western Europe. Begin Your Journey!

History of Turkey

The beginning of the rebirth of the world began in modern-day Turkey according to the Bible when Noah's ark took shore on Mt. Ararat. However, their more "modern" history begins with Greek settlement and the epic battle of Troy, whose ruins lie on Turkey's Aegean Coast. From this moment on, modern-day Turkey played host to multiple cultures, empires, and power battles.

As the bridge between Europe and Asia, modern-day Turkey (for much of history known as Anatolia) has been occupied by Greeks, Persians, Greeks again, then the Romans around the year 100 BC. Under Roman, and later Byzantium rule, the land grew with great cities and a thriving civilization. The cities of Constantinople (Istanbul) and Ephesus turned into powerful trading and political centers on the world stage as Christianity spread throughout Anatolia (to learn more about the history of the Byzantium Empire, read the History of Greece).

Turkey's Islamic influence began with the Arab invasion in the 600s as the Byzantium influence and power declined in about 1000 when the empire had all but fallen. Through 1300, the land was again a passage between east and west as the Crusades marched through the land and in the 1200s Genghis Khan of Mongolia also took much of the area. In 1300 the Ottoman Turks were establishing power and a new era was beginning, but they didn't take Constantinople until 1453. This reign peaked in the mid-1500s with the rule of Suleyman, who expanded the empire and implemented a new legal system.

The beginning of the end for the Ottomans was in 1683 when they failed to take Vienna and by 1800 the Russians, Austria-Hungarians, and Napoleon's French were at the country's borders. Soon, the people under Ottoman rule began gaining independence from the ethnic Greeks to the ethnic Serbians as the Ottomans failed to take what the industrial revolution offered and fell behind Europe socially, economically, and infrastructurally.

In 1908 the Ottoman Sultan was forced to abdicate by the "Young Turks," which was a group of western-looking liberals, later led by Mustafa Kemel Ataturk, who sought a secular country. This movement was the most significant recent shift in making Turkey what it is today. After WWI, in which Turkey sided with the losing side, Turkey was born out of the chaos of encroaching nations and the leadership and unity of the people under Ataturk's rule.

Ataturk was a strong leader who gave the country modern industry and a quickly advancing economy, however he also sought a nation built on ethnic Turks so the Armenians, Kurds, and Greeks were treated as second rate citizens and have described his rule as everything from cruel to genocide, yet most Turks see his rule as the golden age of modern Turkey.

After WWII, which Turkey almost wholly avoided, the country found a close ally in the United States, who wanted to secure the Turkish border with the USSR. In the rest of the 20th century, Turkey was faced with an instable government and other political issues, but never so far as to threaten the nation's growth or stability. Perhaps the largest economic problem facing Turkey during this period was their out of control inflation, forcing the country to adopt a re-valued Lira in 2005.

This page was last updated: March, 2013