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Anatolia ( , from Greek ; also Asia Minor, from , ) is a geographic region of Western Asia, comprising most of the modern Republic of Turkeymarker. The region is bounded by the Black Seamarker to the north, the Caucasus to the northeast, the Armenian highlandmarker to the east, the Mediterranean Seamarker to the south and the Aegean Seamarker to the west. Anatolia has been home to many civilizations throughout history, such as the Hittites, Phrygians, and Lydians, and Achaemenid, Greek, Armenian, Roman, Byzantine, Anatolian Seljuk and Ottoman states.

Geographically, three sides of the peninsula are bordered by the Black Seamarker to the north, the Aegean Seamarker to the west, and the Mediterranean Seamarker to the south. Anatolia becomes increasingly mountainous as one moves east. The Sea of Marmaramarker forms a connection between Blackmarker and Aegeanmarker seas through the Bosporusmarker and Dardanellesmarker straits, and sepates Anatolia from Thrace on the European mainland.

The vast majority of the people residing in Anatolia are Turks. Kurds, who constitute a major community in southeastern Anatolia, are the largest ethnic minority. Albanians, Arabs, Armenians, Bosnians, Circassians, Georgians, Greeks, Jews, Lazs and a number of other ethnic groups also live in Anatolia in smaller numbers.


The name Anatolia comes from the Greek ( ) meaning the "East" or more literally "sunrise." The precise reference of this term has varied over time, perhaps originally referring only to the Ionian colonies on the Asia Minor coast. In the Byzantine Empire, Anatolikon was a theme covering the western and central parts of Turkey's present-day Central Anatolian Region.

Physical geography

The Anatolian peninsula is bounded by the Black Seamarker to the north, the Mediterranean Seamarker to the south, the Aegean Seamarker (itself an arm of the Mediterranean) to the west, and the bulk of the Asian mainland to the east.

Anatolia's terrain is structurally complex. A central massif composed of uplifted blocks and downfolded troughs, covered by recent deposits and giving the appearance of a plateau with rough terrain, is wedged between two folded mountain ranges that converge in the east. True lowland is confined to a few narrow coastal strips along the Aegean, Mediterranean, and Black Sea coasts. Flat or gently sloping land is rare and largely confined to the deltas of the Kızıl Rivermarker, the coastal plains of Çukurovamarker and the valley floors of the Gediz Rivermarker and the Büyük Menderes River as well as some interior high plains in Anatolia, mainly around Tuz Gölümarker (Salt Lake) and the Konyamarker Basin (Konya Ovasi).


Black Sea Region

The seven census-defined regions of Turkey

The Black Sea is characterized by a range of steep mountains that extend along the entire length of the Black Sea coast, separating it from the inland Anatolian plateau. In the west, the mountains tend to be low, with elevations from 1,525 to 1,800 meters, but they rise in the easterly direction to heights greater than 3,000 meters south of Rize, reaching 3,937 m at Mount Kaçkar in the Pontic Alpsmarker. Lengthy, troughlike valleys and basins characterize the mountains. The southern slopes, facing the Anatolian Plateau, are mostly unwooded, but the northern slopes contain dense growths of both deciduous and evergreen trees. The higher slopes facing northwest tend to be densely forested.

The coast is rugged and rocky, with rivers that cascade through the gorges of the coastal ranges. A few larger rivers, those cutting back through the Pontic Alpsmarker, have tributaries that flow in broad, elevated basins. Access inland from the coast is limited to a few narrow valleys because mountain ridges. Because of these natural conditions, the Black Sea coast historically has been isolated from Anatolia.

Running from Zonguldakmarker in the west to Rizemarker in the east, the narrow coastal strip widens at several places into fertile, intensely cultivated deltas. The Samsunmarker area, close to the midpoint, is a major tobacco-growing region; east of it are numerous citrus groves. East of Samsun, the area around Trabzonmarker is world-renowned for the production of hazelnuts, and farther east the Rize region has numerous tea plantations. All cultivable areas, including mountain slopes wherever they are not too steep, are sown or used as pasture. The mild, damp climate of the Black Sea coast makes commercial farming profitable. The western part of the Black Sea region, especially the Zonguldak area, is a center of coal mining and heavy industry.

Marmara Region

The coast of Anatolia that borders the Sea of Marmaramarker consists mainly of rolling plateau country well suited to agriculture. It receives about 520 millimeters of rainfall annually.

Densely populated, this area includes the cities of Istanbulmarker and Bursa, Turkey's fourth largest city. The Bosphorusmarker, which links the Sea of Marmaramarker and the Black Sea, is about twenty-five kilometers long and averages 1.5 kilometers in width but narrows in places to less than 1000 meters. There are two suspension bridges over the Bosphorus, both its Asian and European banks rise steeply from the water and form a succession of cliffs, coves, and nearly landlocked bays. Most of the shores are densely wooded and are marked by numerous small towns and villages. The Dardanellesmarker Strait, which links the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean Sea, is approximately forty kilometers long and increases in width toward the south. Unlike the Bosphorus, the Dardanelles has fewer settlements along its shores.

The most important valleys are the Kocaeli Valley, the Bursamarker Ovasi (Bursa Basin), and the Plains of Troymarker (historically known as the Troad.) The valley lowlands around Bursa are densely populated.

Aegean Region

Located on the west coast of Anatolia, the Aegean region has a fertile soil and a typically Mediterranean climate; with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. The broad, cultivated lowland valleys contain about half of the country's richest farmlands.

The largest city in the Aegean Region of Turkey is İzmirmarker, which is also the country's third largest city and a major manufacturing center, as well as its second largest port after Istanbul.

Olive and olive oil production is particularly important for the economy of the region. The seaside town of Ayvalıkmarker and numerous towns in the provinces of Balıkesirmarker, İzmirmarker and Aydınmarker are particularly famous for their olive oil and related products; such as soap and cosmetics.

The region also has many important centers of tourism which are known both for their historic monuments and for the beauty of their beaches; such as Assosmarker, Ayvalıkmarker, Bergamamarker, Foçamarker, İzmirmarker, Çeşmemarker, Sardismarker, Ephesusmarker, Kuşadasımarker, Didimmarker, Miletusmarker, Bodrummarker, Marmarismarker, Datçamarker and Fethiyemarker.

Mediterranean Region

Beginning in the west of Antalya provincemarker, the south-facing mediterranean coast of Turkey is separated from the interior by steep ranges, known as the Taurus mountains, that run along the entire length of the coast. The Taurus Mountainsmarker (Toros Dağları) are Anatolia's second chain of folded mountains. The south facing slopes rise steeply from the mediterranean coastal plain, but slope very gently on the north side towards the Anatolian plateau. In the east, the Taurus mountains arc around the northern side of the Arabian Platform, before turning south and continuing as the ranges that define the Great Rift Valley. Between Adana and Antalyamarker, the Taurus Mountainsmarker rise sharply from the coast to high elevations, reaching altitudes of over 3,700 meters north of Adana. The Taurus Mountains are more rugged and less dissected by rivers than the Pontus Mountains and historically have served as a barrier to human movement inland from the Mediterranean coast except where there are mountain passes such as the historic Cilician Gatesmarker (Gülek Pass), northwest of Adana.

Toward the east, the extensive plains around Adanamarker, Turkey's fourth largest city, consist largely of reclaimed flood lands. In general, rivers have not cut valleys to the sea in the western part of the region. East of Adana, much of the coastal plain has limestone features such as collapsed caverns and sinkholes. Other than Adana, Antalya, and Mersinmarker, the Mediterranean coast has few major cities, although it has numerous farming villages.

Central Anatolia Region

Stretching inland from the Aegean coastal plain, the Central Anatolia occupies the area between the two zones of the folded coastal ranges in the north and south, extending east to the point where the two ranges converge. The plateau-like, semiarid highlands of Anatolia are considered the heartland of the country. The region varies in elevation from 600 to 1,200 meters from west to east. The Anatolian plateau is interspersed with extinct volcanoes, the tallest of which is Mt. Erciyesmarker, rising to 3917 m near Kayserimarker.

Frequently interspersed throughout the folded mountains, and also situated on the Anatolian Plateau, are well-defined basins, which the Turks call "ova". Some are no more than a widening of a stream valley; others, such as the Konya Ovasi, are large basins of inland drainage or are the result of limestone erosion. Most of the basins take their names from cities or towns located at their rims. Where a lake has formed within the basin, the water body is usually saline as a result of the internal drainage — the water has no outlet to the sea. The two largest basins on the plateau are the Konyamarker Ovasi and the basin occupied by the large salt lake, Tuz Gölümarker.

Forested areas are confined to the northwest and northeast of the plateau. Rain-fed cultivation is widespread, with wheat being the principal crop. Irrigated agriculture is restricted to the areas surrounding rivers and wherever sufficient underground water is available. Important irrigated crops include barley, corn, cotton, various fruits, grapes, opium poppies, sugar beets, roses, and tobacco. There also is extensive grazing throughout the plateau.

Central Anatolia receives little annual rainfall with an average precipitation of 400 milimeters per year. The driest part of the region is the semiarid center of the plateau which receives an average yearly precipitation of only 300 millimeters. However, actual rainfall from year to year is irregular and occasionally may be less than 200 millimeters, leading to severe reductions in crop yields for both rain-fed and irrigated agriculture. Overgrazing has contributed to soil erosion on some parts of the plateau. During the summers, frequent dust storms blow a fine yellow powder across the plateau. Locusts occasionally ravage the eastern area in April and May. In general, the plateau experiences high temperatures and almost no rainfall in summer and cold weather with heavy snow in winter.

Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia Regions

Eastern Anatolia, where the Pontus and Taurus mountain ranges converge, is rugged country with higher elevations, a more severe climate, and greater precipitation than are found on the Anatolian Plateau. Eastern Anatolia roughly coincides with the western half of the Armenian Highlandmarker. The region is known as the Anti-Taurus, and the average elevation of its peaks exceeds 3,000 meters. Mount Araratmarker, at 5,137 meters the highest point in Turkey, is located in the Anti-Taurus. Many of the Anti-Taurus peaks apparently are recently extinct volcanoes, to judge from extensive lava flows. Turkey's largest lake, Lake Vanmarker, is situated in the mountains at an elevation of 1,546 meters. The headwaters of three major rivers arise in the Anti-Taurus: the east-flowing Aras, which pours into the Caspian Seamarker; the south-flowing Euphrates; and the south-flowing Tigrismarker, which eventually joins the Euphrates in Iraqmarker before emptying into the Persian Gulfmarker. Several small streams that empty into the Black Sea or landlocked Lake Van also originate in these mountains.

In addition to its rugged mountains, the area is known for severe winters with heavy snowfalls. The few valleys and plains in these mountains tend to be fertile and to support diverse agriculture. The main basin is the Mus Valley, west of Lake Van. Narrow valleys also lie at the foot of the lofty peaks along river corridors.

Southeast Anatolia is south of the Anti-Taurus Mountains. It is a region of rolling hills and a broad plateau surface that extends into Syria. Elevations decrease gradually, from about 800 meters in the north to about 500 meters in the south. Traditionally, wheat and barley were the main crops of the region, but the inauguration of major new irrigation projects in the 1980s has led to greater agricultural diversity and development.


image:Klima_ankara.png|Ankaramarker (central Anatolia)image:Klima_antalya.png|Antalyamarker (southern Anatolia)image:Klima_van.png|Vanmarker (eastern Anatolia)

Anatolia has a varied range of climates. The central plateau is characterized by a continental climate, with hot summers and cold snowy winters. The south and west coasts enjoy a typical Mediterranean climate, with mild rainy winters, and warm dry summers. The Black sea and Marmara coasts have temperate oceanic climate, with cool foggy summers and much rainfall throughout the year.


Anatolia's diverse topography and climate has fostered a similar diversity of plant and animal communities.

The mountains and coastal plain of northern Anatolia, with its humid and mild climate, is home to temperate broadleaf, mixed and coniferous forests. The central and eastern plateau, with its drier continental climate, is home to deciduous forests and forest steppes. Western and southern Anatolia, which have a Mediterranean climate, are home to Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub ecoregions.



Eastern Anatolia contains the oldest monumental structures in the world. For example, the monumental structures at Göbekli Tepemarker were built by hunters and gatherers a thousand years before the development of agriculture. Eastern Anatolia is also a heart region for the Neolithic revolution, one of the earliest areas in which humans domesticated plants and animals. Neolithic sites such as Çatalhöyükmarker, Çayönü, Nevali Cori and Hacilarmarker represent the world's oldest known agricultural villages.

The earliest historical records of Anatolia are from the Akkadian Empiremarker under Sargon in the 24th century BC. The region was famous for exporting various raw materials.The Assyrian Empire claimed the resources, notably silver. One of the numerous Assyrian cuneiform records found in Anatolia at Kanesh uses an advanced system of trading computations and credit lines.

Unlike the Akkadians and the Assyrians, whose Anatolian possessions were peripheral to their core lands in Mesopotamia, the Hittites were centered at Hattusamarker in north-central Anatolia. They were speakers of an Indo-European language known as the "language of Nesa". Originating from Nesamarker, they conquered Hattusa in the 18th century BC, imposing themselves over a Hurrian speaking population. During the Late Bronze Age they created an empire, the Hittite New Kingdom, which reached its height in the 14th century BC. The empire included a large part of Anatolia, north-western Syriamarker and upper Mesopotamia. After 1180 BC, the empire disintegrated into several independent "Neo-Hittite" states. Ancient Anatolia is subdivided by mordern scholars into various regions named after the people that occupied them, such as Lydia, Lycia, Caria, Mysia, Bithynia, Phrygia, Galatia, Lycaonia, Pisidia, Paphlagonia, Cilicia, and Cappadociamarker.

Beginning with the Bronze Age Collapse at the end of the 1st millennium BC, the west coast of Anatolia was settled by Ionian Greeks. Over several centuries numerous Ancient Greek city states were established on the coasts of Anatolia. In the 6th century BC most of Anatolia was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire. In the 4th century BC Alexander the Great conquered the peninsula. Following his death and the breakup of his empire, Anatolia was ruled by a series of Hellenistic kingdoms. Two hundred years later western and central Anatolia came under Roman control, but it continued to be strongly influenced by Hellenistic culture.[19] In the first century BC the Armenians established the Armenian kingdom under Tigran who reigned throughout much of eastern Anatolia between the Caspianmarker, Blackmarker and Mediterraneanmarker seas. Anatolia is known as the birthplace of coinage as a medium of exchange (some time in the 7th century BC), which flourished during the Greek and Roman eras.

Medieval Period

Beyliks and other states around Anatolia, c.
After the division of the Roman Empire, Anatolia became part of the East Roman, or Byzantine Empire. Byzantine control was challenged by Arab raids starting in the seventh century, but in the 9th and 10th century a resurgent Byzantine Empire regained its lost territories and even expanded beyond its traditional borders, into Armenia and Syria. Following the Battle of Manzikertmarker in 1071, the Seljuk Turks swept across Anatolia and conquered it in its entirety by 1080. The Turkish language and Islamic religion were gradually introduced as a result of the Seljuk conquest, and this period marks the start of Anatolia's slow transition from predominantly Christian and Greek-speaking, to predominantly Muslim and Turkish-speaking. In the following century, the Byzantines managed to reassert their control in Western and Northern Anatolia. Control of Anatolia was then split between the Byzantine Empire and the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm, with the Byzantine holdings gradually being reduced. The Ilkhanate garrison was stationed near Ankaramarker in mid 1250's. Tensions between local Turkic tribes and Mongols were high. The Karamanids encouraged Rumi Mongol governors to revolt against the Ilkhan and ally with the Mamluk Sultanate marker. In 1277 the Mamluk Sultan Baybars defeated the Mongol garrison at the battle of Elbistan and the Karaman rebellion broke out. Unable to solid his control over the area, Baybars soon withdrew and the rebellion was put down. Later several Mongol governors fled to Syriamarker from Anatolia, seeking assistance from the Mamluks, however, the Borjigin Ilkhans suppressed any rebellion in Anatolia with the assistance of the Seljuks. By the end of the 14th century, most of Anatolia was controlled by various Anatolian Turkish Beyliks. The Turkmen Beyliks were under the control of the Mongols, at least nominally, through declining Seljuk Sultans. The Beyliks did not mint coins in the names of their own leaders while they remained under the suzerainty of the Ilkhanids. The Osmanli ruler Osman I was the first Turkish ruler who minted coins in his own name in 1320's, for it bears the legend "Minted by Osman son of Ertugul". Since the minting of coins was a prerogative accorded in Islamic practice only to be a sovereign, it can be considered that Osmanli became independent of the Mongol Khans. After the decline of the Ilkhanate from 1335-1353, the Mongol Empire's legacy in the region was the Uyghur Eretna Dynasty that was overthrown by Kadi Burhan al-Din in 1381. Among the Turkmen leaders the Ottomans emerged as great power under Osman and his son Orhan I. Smyrnamarker was conquered in 1330, and the last Byzantine possession, Philadélphia (modern Alaşehirmarker), fell in 1323. The Anatolian Turkish beyliks were in turn absorbed into the rising Ottoman Empire during the 15th century. The Ottomans completed the conquest of the peninsula in 1517 with the taking of Halicarnassus (Bodrum) from the Knights of Saint John.

Modern times

Ethnographic map of Anatolia from 1911.
With the beginning of the slow decline of the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century, and as a result of the expansionist policies of Czarist Russiamarker in the Caucasus, many Muslim nations and groups in that region, mainly Circassians, Tatars, Azeris, Lezgis, Chechens, and several Turkic groups left their ancestral homelands and settled in Anatolia. As the Ottoman Empire further fragmented during the Balkan Wars, much of the non-Christian populations of its former possessions, mainly the Balkan Muslims, flocked to Anatolia and were resettled in various locations, mostly in formerly Christian villages throughout Anatolia.

Anatolia remained multi-ethnic until the early 20th century (see the rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire). During World War I, the Armenian Genocide, the Greek genocide (especially in Pontus), and the Assyrian Genocide almost entirely eliminated the Armenian and Assyrian populations of 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.

Since the foundation of the Republic of Turkeymarker in 1923, most of Anatolia has been part of Turkey, its inhabitants being mainly Turks and Kurds (see demographics of Turkey and history of Turkey).

See also


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