Turkey was created in 1923 from the Turkish remnants of the Ottoman Empire. Soon thereafter the country instituted secular laws to replace traditional religious fiats. In 1945 Turkey joined the UN and in 1952 it became a member of NATO. Turkey occupied the northern portion of Cyprus in 1974 to prevent a Greek takeover of the island; relations between the two countries remain strained.
The historic palette of Turkey is traced to Stone Age settlements constructed in 7500 BC, and here, today, unforgettable names like Troy and the Trojan War, Homer, Cyrus the Great, Alexander the Great, the Holy Roman Empire and the Medieval Crusades leap from the pages of its ancient history, and many relics and ruins of same still stand for all to view.
Overrun, conquered, and eventually lost by a litany of forces over eons of time, the modern country of Turkey was founded in 1923 from the Anatolian remnants of the defeated Ottoman Empire by its national hero Mustafa KEMAL, later honored with the title Ataturk, or "Father of the Turks." Under his authoritarian (and rather effective) leadership, the country adopted wide-ranging social, legal, and political reforms. In 1950, an experiment with multi-party politics led to election victory of the opposition Democratic Party and the peaceful transfer of power.
Since then - as in many new democracies - there were periods of instability and intermittent military coups, which in each case resulted in the return of political power to civilians. Through it all the unflappable spirit of the Turkish people has prevailed, and in recent years the government has undertaken many reforms to strengthen its democracy and economy, so it can eventually join the European Union. Turkey is geographically, politically and officially part of two continents - Europe and Asia. The smaller northwestern portion (Thrace) is part of Europe, while the larger portion (Anatolia) is part of Asia.
From the historic cities of Troy and Ephesus, on through the many layers of its ancient archaeological past, Turkey is without-doubt, one of the world's most interesting and well-travelled destinations. Add to that history lesson some of the finest white sand beaches anywhere, fishing and scuba diving venues, beautiful national parks, skiing resorts, outstanding food, hilltop castles, golden mosques, exotic shopping bazaars, stunning mountain scenery that almost defies description, and now, a much-improved transportation system.
Major attractions for visitors include the caves and landscape at Cappadocia; the biblical and Islamic past of the eastern provinces; the sophistication and historic sites of Ankara, the capital city; the sunshine and therapeutic waters of the Mediterranean coastline and its Roman history and ruins; the major beach resorts of the southwestern and western coastlines, and then there's Istanbul, a mysterious and modern city that's divided by the Bosphorus, and stands on both the Asian and European continents.