Ankara, formerly Angora, capital of Turkey and the country’s second largest city after Istanbul. It is also the capital of Ankara Province, an arid steppe region at the heart of the Anatolian Plateau in west central Turkey. As the seat of government since the 1920s, Ankara has served as the chief residence for politicians, administrators, and civil servants. Branches of the Turkish military are also based in the city.
COMMERCE AND TRANSPORTATION
During the last decades of the 20th century Ankara grew from a largely residential city into an important industrial center. Some of Turkey’s largest construction companies are based in Ankara, as are important defense industries such as the joint Turkish-American venture TUSAS Aerospace Industries, Incorporated. Other industries in the city manufacture metals; defense equipment; tractors and agricultural machinery; lumber, furniture, and other forest products; food products such as pasta, flour, vegetable oil, dairy products, and sugar; beer and wine; cement and bricks; paint; and carpets and textiles. Agriculture and livestock breeding are also economically significant. Ankara is a market and processing center for mohair, a type of yarn, and for the fine fruits and wheat grown in the surrounding region. Tourism is increasingly important to the local economy, and the service sector is expanding.
Ankara is a major crossroads for trade and lies on the main east-west rail line across the Anatolian region in Turkey. Modern roads connect the capital with other Turkish cities and with urban centers in neighboring countries. The Trans-European Motorway (TEM), which links Europe with the Middle East, passes through the city. Nearby Esenboga International Airport is the second largest airport in Turkey.
In 2000 Ankara had a population of 3,023,000. Nearly all residents speak Turkish, the national language. The vast majority of residents identify themselves as followers of Sunni Islam.
Ankara is a city of contrasts. The old quarter, built around the ruins of an ancient citadel, has narrow, winding streets and crowded buildings. The new city, laid out in 1928, is European in appearance. It is spacious and well planned, with broad boulevards, a parliament and presidential residence, libraries, museums, embassies, and fashionable shops and hotels.
Major mosques in the city include the Yeni Mosque, built by the famous Ottoman architect Sinan in the 16th century, and the large Kocatepe Mosque, completed in 1987. Among important educational institutions are the University of Ankara, founded in 1946, and the Middle East Technical University, founded in 1956.
Ankara is home to many museums, including the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which contains a notable collection of Hittite artifacts, and the Ethnographical Museum. The Museum of the Liberation and the Museum of the Republic present the country's history after World War I (1914-1918) and the establishment of the Turkish republic. A leading monument in the city is the Anitkabir (Mausoleum of Atatürk), which honors the republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk; the monument is also the site of a museum. Some ruins from Ankara’s long history still remain intact, notably in the old quarter near the citadel.
Ankara has been a trading center since ancient times. Hittites occupied the site about 2000 BC. Phrygians succeeded the Hittites about 1000 BC. Alexander the Great subdued the city in 333 BC; after his death, conquering Gallic tribes (Galatians) made it their capital (see Galatia). Known as Ancyra, it came under Roman rule in 189 BC, and in 25 BC it became capital of the province of Galatia Prima. Later a major city of the Byzantine Empire, it was successively occupied by Persians, Arabs, Seljuk Turks, and Latin Crusaders. The city, renamed Angora by the Seljuks, fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1360. It was occupied briefly by Turkic conqueror Tamerlane in 1402, but reverted to the Ottoman Empire the following year.
In 1923, after the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, Atatürk moved the capital from Istanbul to Angora, a move intended to break with tradition and to establish a central location for the capital. A major effort to modernize the city began, and the city’s name was changed to Ankara in 1930. The city grew rapidly in the ensuing decades and soon became one of Turkey’s major urban centers. In recent years, the city has worked to incorporate its expanding outskirts and to deal with the ring of shantytowns that house tens of thousands of migrants who arrive each year from the country's less developed areas. Ankara has also pursued ambitious transportation projects to address the city's traffic congestion.
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