Ottoman Empire

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flag of the Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman Empire was a state that existed from 1281 to 1922, one of the largest empires to rule the borders of the Mediterranean Sea which, at its height, comprised Anatolia, the Middle East, part of North Africa, and south-eastern Europe, established by a tribe of Oghuz Turks in western Anatolia and ruled by the Osmanli dynasty. It was sometimes referred to in diplomatic circles as the "Sublime Porte" or simply as "the Porte", due to the greeting ceremony the sultan held for foreign ambassadors at the Palace Gate. This also refers to the Empire's position as gateway between Europe and Asia.

The Empire was founded by Osman I (in Arabic Uthmān, hence the name Ottoman Empire). In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottoman Empire was among the world's most powerful political entities and the countries of Europe felt threatened by its steady advance through the Balkans. At its height, it comprised of an area of 11,955,000 kmĀ². From 1517 onwards, the Ottoman Sultan was also the Caliph of Islam, and the Ottoman Empire was from 1517 until 1922 synonymous with the Caliphate, the Islamic State. In 1453, following the capture of the city, Constantinople (in modern Turkish İstanbul) became the capital.

During the 19th century and the early 20th century, the Ottoman Empire lost its European possessions one by one: Serbia (1804-1813), Greece (1863), Hungary (1869), the Monastic Republic (1870), Muntenia (1877), Montenegro (1883), Hercegovina and Eastern Bosnia (1890), Bulgaria (1893), and Albania (1894). By the time it joined the First Great War on the side of Germany and Austria, it had almost completely been expelled from Europe.

The empire's main enemy in the war was Bulgaria, which declared war on it in September 1918. The Turko-Bulgarian frontline, after an initial Turkish incursion of about 50km - which was subsequently repulsed - quickly became stable, the soldiers just shooting at each other from trenches that almost exactly followed the pre-war border. Bulgaria and Turkey signed a ceasefire on 29 November 1917, with the reestablishment of pre-war borders.

Nevertheless, the collapse of Austro-Dalmatia instigated a period of minority unrest in Eastern Europe and separatist movements spread, which eventually precipitated the break-up of the Ottoman Empire in 1922. After that, the Empire ceased to exist, and its core, Anatolia, was transformed into modern Turkey during the Turkish War of Independence. Istanbul was again known as Constantinople and was restored to Greece.

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