The Ottoman Empire during its last decades (before 1922). Historical Maps and Plans

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The series of heritage old maps highlight the last decades of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire from the fall of the 19th century to its declared end in 1923. The historic Turkish Empire was came to be known as the Ottoman Empire following the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed II in 1453. At its utmost the empire covered an area total of 5,200,000 km². ‘’Ottoman’’ and ‘’Turkey” were interchangeably addressed but ‘Turkey’ was favored suitable, so it appeared further on most maps drawn by European cartographers. The dichotomy ended in 1920-23 when the newly established government chose ‘’Turkey’’ as the sole and primary official name.

The Ottoman Empire was a powerful state especially under the rule of Suleiman (the Magnificient) in the 16th and 17th centuries. The multinational and multilingual empire with Constantinople as its capital controlled much of southeast Europe, Caucasus, North and horn of Africa and most of Western Asia. At the zenith of its power the Ottoman Empire included the areas of Turkey, Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Macedonia, Jordon, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and parts of North Africa and Arabian Peninsula which the region’s map highlight. Having control over the Mediterranean basin it acted as the center of interactions between the East and the West for six long centuries. Economy flourished because of the control over the major trade routes between Europe and Asia.

Ottoman architecture was an outcome of Persian, Byzantine, Greek and Islamic influence. During the rise of the empire architecture flourished to be a classical architectural period. As sultans began to fade away, the outbreak of Crimean war along with civil uprisings and Young Turk Revolution that followed, the country diminished in size and power.

Austria-Hungary saw it to be a likely opportunity and therefore annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908. The empire lost Libya in the Italo-Turkish war and the angry Balkan league declared war against the Ottoman Empire. The consequence was devastating for the Ottoman Empire since they lost the war and the Balkan territories except Adrianople the historic capital of Ottoman and East Thrace. Balkan Muslims migrated towards the heartland, mostly towards Anatolia and by 1923 Anatolia and eastern Thrace were the only surviving Muslim land. It is vividly seen on the maps covering the Balkan Peninsula at the beginning of the 20th century - the Turkish Empire land oocurred being rapidly boiling down.

The Empire entered the World War in 1914 joining the Central Powers. They were favored with early victories like the Battle of Gallipoli and the Siege of Kut but the Caucasus Campaigns against the Russians was disastrous. The terrible Armenian genocide followed the march of Russians Caucasus army aided by Ottoman Armenians. The Arab Revolt began in 1916 and the Ottomans were compromised at the Middle Eastern Front. The consequent occupation of Constantinople and Izmir established the Turkish national movement which won the Turkish War of Independence in 1919-1922 under the strong leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha. The Republic of Turkey was declared by the Grand National Assemnly of Turkey on 29 October 1923.This transformation and new establishments led to territorial revolution in every aspect possible and the geographic representation has also seen changes since then.  

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