Ancient tribe Turkic peoples
Turkic peoples is a group of about 40 ethnic groups in Central and Western Asia as well as in Siberia and Eastern Europe, whose languages belong to the language family of the Turkic languages. This family includes the Turkish language and about 40 relatively closely related languages with a total of about 180 to 200 million speakers. The Turkic peoples are sometimes also wrongly called "Türkic peoples", "Turkish peoples" or "Turks".
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The original home of the ancestors of the Turks, called Kök Turks, was in Central Asia as well as Western China and was called the Chaganat of the Kök Turks from the 6th to the 8th century.
The term "Turk" first appeared in 552 A.D., when the tribe of the "Türük" founded its tribal federation, which is now known as the "Empire of the Kök Turks". The empire of the Kök-Turks existed from 552 to 744 as a union of nomadic tribes. The settlement area of the oldest people known as Turks was in eastern Central Asia, in an area that stretched from the Altai Mountains to Tianshan in the west and from Lake Baikal in the north to Altun in the south. After the fall of the Kök-Turkish Empire (745), various Turkic successor empires were founded on its territory. In the course of the dissolution of the empire, various tribes migrated westwards - among the most important are the Khazars, who established a state on the Sea of Azov. The migrations from the empire of the Kök Turks led to the foundation of various empires such as those of the Qarakhanids, Seljuks or Ottomans. They also led Turkic-speaking groups to the Middle East and Anatolia.
With the rise of the "Turk", the name was transferred as a political term to a whole series of other nomads and peoples, and finally, through a process that is still not fully understood today, it was adopted as a general term for an entire family of languages and peoples - first by Muslim scholars, later also in Europe. This is also the origin of the name for the Turkish population of Anatolia.
The oldest historical evidence of a Turkic people is contained in Chinese sources of the 3rd century BC, in which the Huns are mentioned. The original settlement area of the Turkic peoples was in southern Siberia. It was from this region that the migrations started, which brought Turkish populations via Central Asia to Western Asia and Eastern Europe during the Middle Ages. Through cultural, historical and geopolitical contacts with the Islamic world, the Islamic tradition was consolidated among most of the Turkic peoples. Exceptions are, among others, the Yakuts (followers of a natural religion) and the Christian Orthodox Chuvashs.
The Turks in Europe
The real history of the Turks begins with the arrival of Turkish tribal groups in Western Asia. Since the 5th century AD, Turkish tribes had migrated from Southern Siberia to Central Asia and from there to Eastern Europe (Northern Caucasus foothills, Volga region). The Huns advanced furthest and established themselves in southern Hungary.
Early empire formations occurred on European soil (Empire of the Proto-Bulgarians in the 5th and 6th centuries AD, Khanate of the Khazars in the 7th century AD, etc.).
The Turkic peoples of the Huns, Khazars, Onogurs, Protobulgarians, Volga Bulgarians, Pechenegen and Kumans have assimilated. Thus the Proto-Bulgarians in Bulgaria ruled as an elite over South Slavic tribal groups. The Turkish domination in Bulgaria lasted about 150 years. The Slavs ruled by them called themselves Bulgarians after the name of their elite. Since the 9th century, the Danube Bulgarians, who in the meantime had become Christian, increasingly assimilated Slavic customs and South Slavic (Bulgarian).
The Turks in Anatolia
It was only later, in the 11th century, that Turkish population groups also reached the Middle East and Anatolia. The Seljuk clan settled in what is now Iran and Anatolia. The Seljuk Empire lasted in Iran between 1040 and 1157, in Anatolia until 1308, and in 1071 the Seljuks won a decisive victory over the Eastern Roman army at Malazgirt and founded the Sultanate of Konya and Kayseri. The Turkish settlements in Anatolia experienced a constant influx of migrants from Central Asia. Turkish quickly became the language of communication between the various parts of the population.
The Anatolian Seljuks were followed by the Turkish Ottomans, who soon afterwards brought large parts of Anatolia under their rule and conquered Constantinople in 1453. The Ottomans conquered an empire that stretched from Armenia to Hungary, from the South Russian steppes to North Africa with enormous war campaigns. Large parts of the Arabian Peninsula and the Mediterranean region also belonged to the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottoman Empire was a multi-ethnic state. At the time of its greatest expansion in the 17th century, it stretched from its heartlands of Asia Minor and Rumelia northwards to the area around the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, westwards far into the Balkans. For centuries, the Ottoman Empire claimed a European great power role politically, militarily and economically alongside the Holy Roman Empire, France and England.
In the course of the 18th and above all in the 19th century, the empire suffered considerable territorial losses in its core Romanian lands in conflicts with the European powers and as a result of national striving for independence.
Turkey was founded in 1923 as the successor state of the Ottoman Empire.
Some 65 million people worldwide are considered to be Turks in the ethnic sense. About 58 million Turks live mainly in the Republic of Turkey named after them. The national and official language of today's Turkey is Turkish, which is spoken by over 80% of the population as their mother tongue and by a further 10-15% as a second language.
The Turkish population group is defined differently. Since 1965, the Turkish government has included population groups that are sometimes considered by other sources to be members of other Turkic peoples. This includes about 600,000 Azerbaijanis, up to 200,000 Meskhetians and Turkmen, about 15,000 Gagauz, about 1,000 Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Kumyks, Uzbeks and 500 Uighurs.
The overwhelming majority of religious Turks are Sunnis. The second largest religious group are the Alevis. At least 8 million Turks live in the Balkans, Western Europe, Cyprus, the Middle East and overseas. Between 1950 and 2008 about 3-5 million Turks had emigrated to Europe. In 2015 there were 1.5 million Turkish citizens, in 2013 almost three million "Turks" (including Kurds) lived in Germany alone.
The Balkan Turks have settled in Rumelia, the European part of the Ottoman Empire, since the 14th century. Although many Turks emigrated or were driven out to Asia Minor and Eastern Thrace during the repulsion of Ottoman rule from Southeastern Europe in the course of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century, some remained in their settlement areas in the Balkans. In some Southeast European states they still form larger national minorities.
The Balkan Turks settle mainly in the following countries:
- Bulgaria: 588,000 (2011 census)
- Greece: 80.000-120.000
- Macedonia: 77,959 (according to 2002 census in Macedonia)
- Romania: 35.000
- Kosovo: 18,738 (2011 census, but higher estimates)
Turkish people in Russia
Turkic peoples settle both in the European part of Russia and in Siberia. In total there are about 10 million non-Russians of Turkish descent in Russia today. Many Turkic peoples, whose settlement area belonged to the territory of the Soviet Union until 1991, now live in their national states (as in Azerbaijan and the republics of Central Asia) or as minorities in the neighbouring states of Russia (as the Crimean Tatars, Gagauzians and Karaimans in Ukraine, the Gagauzians in Moldova).
In contrast to the Siberian Tatars in West Siberia, the Turkic peoples settling further east are not Muslims but Christians, Buddhists and members of other religions.
Turkestan ("Land of the Turks") was the Persian name for an undefined Central Asian region that stretched from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Gobi Desert in the east. The area covered about 2,500,000 km² and today belongs mainly to seven states. West Turkestan also includes the present-day states of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Today, various ethnic groups live in the area of Turkestan, of which the Turkic-speaking ones are now the majority.
After the Russian Revolution (1917), the Soviet People's Republics of Bukhara and Khorezmia and the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Turkestan were formed in Western Turkestan. From this new republics were then formed between 1924 and 1936.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were proclaimed in western Turkestan.
The Turkmen are a Turkic people and are closely related to the other Turkic peoples of Central Asia.
They form the titular nation of the independent Republic of Turkmenistan, where they now make up about 80 percent of the population. The Turkmen are still strongly divided into numerous tribes. In the steppes they mostly live nomadically and in the cities they are sedentary. Since 1940 Turkmen is written in Cyrillic script.
The Turkmen or Turkoman people in Iraq, Syria and Jordan are to be distinguished from the Turkmen of Central Asia. It is assumed that some of these ethnic groups immigrated to Mesopotamia under the Seljuk rule, but they were also shaped by the centuries of Ottoman rule and the Turkic administrative apparatus in these countries.
Azerbaijanis are a Turkic-speaking ethnic group of Western Asia. Their settlement area stretches from northwest Iran to the Republic of Azerbaijan. There are currently about 25 million Azerbaijanis worldwide. About 9.5 million Azerbaijanis live in Azerbaijan and 12-15 million in neighbouring Iran (about 16% of the total population).
The Azerbaijanis occasionally refer to themselves as Azerbaijani Turks because of their close linguistic affinity to the Turks. Azerbaijani is closest related to Turkmen.
The majority of Azerbaijanis are Shiites, while around 35% are Sunnis. The religious schism prevented the emergence of a national consciousness for a long time.
The Azerbaijanis came to their present settlement areas as migrants in the early Middle Ages, in the course of the migration of Turkish tribes from southern Siberia via Central Asia to western Asia.
The Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (1918-1920) was the first democratic and secular republic in the Muslim world after the People's Republic of Crimea. The Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic was a constituent state of the Soviet Union. On 18 October 1991, the country finally became independent from the Soviet Union as Azerbaijan.
The Tartars on the middle Volga are a people of 7 million people, 5.5 million of whom are native to Russia.
The actual Tatars, i.e. the Turkotatars, are considered descendants of a mixture of Volga-Bulgarians and Kipchaks with "Tataro-Mongolians" (Turkomongols). Their real history begins with the Golden Horde in the 13th century. They were the core population of the Khanates (principalities) of Kazan, Astrakhan, Kasimov, Sibir (Siberia) and the Khanate of Crimea.
The Kazakhs are a Turkic people with about 13 million members, mainly in Kazakhstan, but also in Mongolia (where they are the largest Turkic-speaking minority), Russia (1,300,000) and in the People's Republic of China (2,200,000), Uzbekistan (800,000), Iran (15,000), Afghanistan (45,000) and Turkey (30,000). In physiognomy they show stronger mongoloid (Altaic) features than most other Turkic peoples of Central Asia. The findings of genetics have confirmed the anchoring of these striking external anthropological features in the gene pool.
The ethnogenesis of the Kazakhs has its origins in the 15th century, when certain Turkish tribal groups migrated from the newly founded Uzbek Empire to present-day Kazakhstan as a result of secession, and a local ethnic-cultural profile developed there.
Since the middle of the 18th century Kazakhstan was part of the Russian sphere of influence and later belonged to the Soviet Union until it gained independence on 16 December 1991. Kazakh, which has been used as a written language since the 19th century, has been the official language of Kazakhstan since 1991.
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