Turkey’s documented history begins with invasions by Egyptians, Greeks and Persians, with these civilizations vying for power, until Alexander the Great invaded in 330 BC. Following his rule, the Romans brought stability to the region and Emperor Constantine established Constantinople (Istanbul) by 324 AD.
The importance of the Eastern Roman empire increased as the Western empire declined, but Christianity never fully took hold in the region, and the prophet Muhammad, who set out to spread the word of Islam, increased the resistance to Christian rule.
In 669 AD, the armies of Islam, having conquered most of the Middle East and North Africa, began challenging Byzantine rule, and by the 11th century the Great Seljuk Turkish Empire had taken power from the Romans. However, they were defeated by the Ottomans who took over Constantinople in 1453. The sultans retained power for 500 years, but the empire gradually declined.
In 1920, General Mustafa Kemal, later referred to as Atatürk, initiated the War of Independence, which lasted until 1922. The sultans were overthrown and Kemal began implementing a series of drastic changes in order to modernize Turkey. These included introducing a constitution, making polygamy illegal and upgrading education, among others.
Atatürk’s successor was Ismet Inönü, and under his rule Turkey stayed neutral during WWII and made the transition to a true democracy. However, Inönü was defeated by the opposition Democratic Party in the elections of 1950.
In 1980, civil and political unrest caused mayhem in the country, and the military stepped in. The Centre-Right party took power in 1983, and their governance saw a business boom that characterized the rest of the decade. The 1990s, however, saw a re-emergence of instability and intermittent acts of religious fanaticism. The situation has been aggravated in recent years by a problematic economy, a reputation for questionable human rights and Kurdish separatism.