The History of Anatolia encompasses the region known as Anatolia (Turkish: Anadolu), known by the Latin name of Asia Minor, considered to be the westernmost extent of Western Asia. Geographically it encompasses what is most of modern Turkey, from the Aegean Sea to the mountains on the Armenian border to east and by the Black Sea and the Taurus mountains from north to south.

The earliest representations of culture in Anatolia can be found in several archaeological sites located in the central and eastern part of the region. Although the origins of some of the earliest peoples are shrouded in mystery, the remnants of Hattian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Hittite culture provides us with many examples of the daily lives of its citizens and their trade. After the fall of the Hittites, the new states of Phrygia and Lydia stood strong on the western coast as Greek civilization began to flourish. Only the threat from a distant Persian kingdom prevented them from advancing past their peak of success.

As Persia grew, their system of local control in Anatolia allowed many port cities to grow and to become very wealthy. Their governors did revolt from time to time, but it did not really pose a serious threat. Alexander the Great (356 - 323 B.C.E.) finally wrested control of the whole region from Persia in successive battles and achieved marked victories over his Persian foe Darius III (c. 380-330 B.C.E.) After his death, his conquests were split amongst several of his trusted generals and survived under constant threat of invasion from both the Gauls and other powerful rulers in Pergamon, Pontus, and Egypt. The Seleucid Empire, largest of the divided territories of Alexander, eventually was bled off by Roman interest in Anatolia and conquered or given away piecemeal.

Roman control of Anatolia was strengthened by a 'hands off' approach by Rome, allowing local control to govern effectively and providing military protection. During the reign of Constantine the Great (272 - 337 C.E.), a new eastern empire was established at Constantinople, known as the Byzantine Empire. It succeeded initially due to its vast wealth and judicious rulers, but soon suffered from widespread neglect and a new empire borne from the earlier Mongol advance, the Turks. Seljuk and Ilkhanate armies soon whittled down the wide scope of Byzantine influence and trade by the gradual overrun of vital trading centers. The most powerful Turkish empire, that of the Ottomans, finally dealt the Byzantine Empire its death blow when Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople in 1453.

The Ottoman Empire in Anatolia allowed other religions to maintain themselves long after 1453, and built upon their success by enlarging their territories, from North Africa to Europe beyond Thrace. Wars with Russia and other peoples in revolt prevented the Ottomans from taking advantage of their powerful position, and declined under ineffective leadership. Even their highly skilled army, the janissaries, were eventually disbanded after an attempted revolt. Reforms designed to improve the economy backfired as burdensome taxes and levies turned away profitable trade, and desperation allowed the Empire to be sucked into World War I on the side of Germany and Austria. Following their defeat in the war, the Ottoman Empire was carved up and was now limited to Anatolia.

Anatolia remained multi-ethnic until the early twentieth century. During World War I, the Armenian Genocide, the Greek genocide (especially in Pontus), and the Assyrian Genocide almost entirely removed the ancient communities of Armenian and Assyrian populations in Anatolia, as well as a large part of its ethnic Greek population. Following the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, all remaining ethnic Anatolian Greeks were forced out during the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey. It was this war that allowed Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to make Anatolia into the new Republic of Turkey by defeating the Greeks and abolishing the Ottoman government for good in 1922.

The official starting point for the Republic of Turkey was on October 29, 1923, founded and first led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Westernization was a primary goal of Atatürk, as the government was completely reformed under a secular structure, the Ottoman fez was abolished, full rights for women politically were established, and importantly the creation of a new language based upon the Latin alphabet.10 Since that time, Turkey has grown into a modern state that has enjoyed relative peace in Anatolia.


  1. World Wildlife Fund. Euxine-Colchic broadleaf forests Retrieved January 12, 2009.
  2. World Wildlife Fund. Northern Anatolian conifer and deciduous forests Retrieved January 12, 2009.
  3. National Geographic Society. Central Anatolian deciduous forests Retrieved January 12, 2009.
  4. World Wildlife Fund. Central Anatolian steppe Retrieved January 12, 2009.
  5. World Wildlife Fund. Eastern Anatolian deciduous forests Retrieved January 12, 2009.
  6. World Wildlife Fund. Anatolian conifer and deciduous mixed forests Retrieved January 12, 2009.
  7. World Wildlife Fund. Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests Retrieved January 12, 2009.
  8. World Wildlife Fund. Southern Anatolian montane conifer and deciduous forests Retrieved January 12, 2009.
  9. World Wildlife Fund. Eastern Mediterranean conifer-sclerophyllous-broadleaf forests Retrieved January 12, 2009.
  10. ↑ Patrick Kinross. 2001. Ataturk: The Rebirth of a Nation. (London: Phoenix Press. ISBN 1842125990)


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