The oldest archaeological remains in Turkey date from about 7000 B.C. In about 2000 B.C. the Hittite civilization flourished in Anatolia. Other peoples and civilizations succeeded them, including the Phrygians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Byzantines. 

The ethnic group known as the Turks, together with the Mongols, Manchus, Bulgars and others, was one of the Altaic peoples who lived in Mongolia in the 2nd millennium B.C. and later migrated into Central Asia. During the Arab conquest of Central Asia in the 7th century A.D., the Turks came into contact with Islam. By the 10th century, most Turks were Muslims. 

The first Turkish state in Anatolia was the Seljuk Empire, established when the Seljuk Turks defeated the Byzantines in the 11th century. This empire fell apart in the 12th century, but in the 13th century, another group of Turks invaded from the east and established the Ottoman Empire.

 The Ottoman Empire expanded over the next few centuries. At its peak in the 17th century, the Ottoman Empire dominated the Balkans, present-day Hungary and Romania, most of the area around the Black Sea, the Middle East and parts of the Arabian Peninsula, and North Africa as far west as present-day Algeria. Power was highly centralized under rulers called Sultans.

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Among the reforms carried out by Mustafa Kemal was a law in 1935 that required all Turks to register an official surname. Before that time, most Turks were known by their given name and their father's name (for example, Mehmet, son of Ahmed). Mustafa Kemal himself chose the surname Atatürk, which means "Father of the Turks."
In the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire declined. Many of the Ottoman territories gained their independence and a political group known as the Young Turks demanded political reform in Turkey. The Ottomans fought on the side of Germany in the First World War and shared Germany's defeat in 1918. In 1919 the Greeks invaded Turkey.

 The Turks fought back successfully under a leader called Mustafa Kemal. After the war, the sultanate was abolished and Turkey became a republic. Mustafa Kemal established a new constitution and carried out many reforms to modernize the country.

The last 70 years of Turkish history has seen the separation of religion and state, the establishment of civil rights for women and the growth of different political parties. Because of political tensions between different groups, the army took control of the government for short periods in 1960, 1970 and 1980. Also, a guerilla group within the Kurdish population, most of whom live in southeastern Turkey, has repeatedly come into conflict with central government forces in its fight for a separate homeland.