Who were the Ottomans?

The Ottoman Empire lasted from 1299 to 1923 as one of the largest and longest-lasting empires in history. Its capital city was Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey). The empire was at the center of interactions between Eastern and Western civilization for six centuries.

The Ottoman Empire contained all or parts of Turkey, Russia, The Ukraine, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Libya, Morocco, Romania, Jordan, and many more. At its height, during the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottoman Empire encompassed 43 present-day countries in southeastern Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa.

The Ottomans were overwhelmingly Islamic. The Sultan was considered to be the supreme ruler, but he often delegated much of his power to lower officials. Although the Sultan was the only ruler, his leadership was not a monarchy; the Ottomans believed that wealth, prestige, and power could be earned rather than inherited.

During World War I, the Ottoman Empire joined forces with the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the country of Bulgaria to form the Central Powers. The Allied Forces (the United Kingdom, France, and Russia, along with "associate Allies" like the United States, Italy, Greece, and many other countries) defeated the Central Powers, which led to the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The allies partitioned the Ottomans' lands, after which the Turkish War of Independence led to the formation of the modern country of Turkey.