There is evidence of hominin habitation in the region known as Anatolia, or Asian Turkey, that dates as far back as 500,000 years and ample evidence of numerous Neolithic settlements popping up between 8000 and 10,000 years ago.
Notable civilisations who occupied the prehistoric Anatolian region were the Hattians (circa 2500 BC to 2000 BC), the Hittites (circa 1700 BC to 1200 BC) and the Assyrians. From around 2000 BC, Greeks began settling in north-western Anatolia and the southern coasts, establishing individual city-states.
The majority of Anatolia was conquered by Alexander the Great in 334 BC. After his death, a succession of various Greek-Macedonian rulers controlled the area until 133 BC when the region was given to the Roman Republic.
Roman control had little impact on the dominant classical Greek culture, which continued to thrive in Anatolia until the region’s absorption into the Byzantine Empire.
Between the sixth and 11th centuries a massive wave of what is known as the ‘Turkic migration’ occurred, and millions travelled across Central Asia into Europe and the Middle East. Among this migratory wave were various Turkic tribes who brought the Islamic religion and Turkic languages that dominate modern Turkey.
The Byzantine Empire sustained a number of invasions and limped forward before finally collapsing in the 14th century, by which point much of Anatolia was already controlled by tribal micro-kingdoms. One of these Turkic tribal groups, the Ottomans, emerged as the dominant regional power during the 15th century and enjoyed a few hundred years of expansion and growth until territorial losses forced its eventual decline in the 19th century.
The final dissolution of the Ottoman Empire after defeat at the hands of the Allies in WWI was followed by a brief period of Allied occupation before the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk became the republic’s first president and introduced radical reforms to modernise Turkey and imbue it with a unique identity that was separate from that of the former empire. His ideas continue to be influential in contemporary politics today.
In the decades since the death of Ataturk in 1938, Turkey has seen a number of swings between democratic and autocratic governance, interrupted by brief periods of military governance and occasional political chaos.
Turkey today is a presidential republic where the ruling political parties have historically been nationalist and somewhat economically liberal, with a varying amount of Islamic influence.
Far-left political activist groups and minority rebel groups have waxed and waned in terms of public and political influence. The most notable is the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a militant political group originally formed with the intention of creating a Kurdish separatist state. The arrest of PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan in 1999 was a crushing blow to the once-powerful group, though they continue to operate with the stated aim of ensuring the rights and autonomy of the Kurdish people in Turkey and beyond.
More recently, Turkey has experienced relative prosperity and political stability, though the economy – based on mineral mining, agriculture, tourism and construction – continues to fluctuate between growth and stasis.