- Historical event:
- 13 October 1923
- When it was declared the new capital of Turkey, Ankara had only around 35,000 inhabitants.
On this day in 1923, Ankara was declared the capital of Turkey, in place of Istanbul.
This was a massive change, since Istanbul was one of the largest cities in Europe, while Ankara was but a small town – in that time, it had only 35,000 inhabitants.
Why was such a small town selected for the new capital of Turkey? After the First World War, a large part of the huge Ottoman Empire was occupied by the Entente powers (the Ottomans had lost the war).
The Entente forces even occupied Istanbul, which was located at a position of extreme strategic importance – it linked the Black Sea with the Mediterranean, and Europe with Asia.
Turkish politicians, including the famed Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, decided to move their seat of government to the town of Ankara, in the heart of Anatolia. Later the Entente powers withdrew their occupation troops, but Ankara remained the capital of the new Republic of Turkey.
Ankara has since grown to become the second-largest city in Turkey. Ankara’s metropolitan area is today home to almost five million people. It is interesting that Ankara lies a full 938 meters above sea level, and is home to many Turkish government buildings, ministries, and foreign embassies.
Ankara used to be called Angora in Europe, and many animal breeds were named after it, including Angora cats, Angora rabbits, and Angora goats (source of mohair wool).