East Thrace or Eastern Thrace (Turkish: Doğu Trakya or simply Trakya; Greek: Ανατολική Θράκη, Anatoliki Thraki; Bulgarian: Източна Тракия, Iztochna Trakiya), also known as Turkish Thrace or European Turkey, is the part of Turkey that is geographically a part of Southeast Europe. It accounts for 3.4% of Turkey's land area but comprises 20% of its total population. The largest city of the region is Istanbul, which straddles the Bosporus between Europe and Asia.
East Thrace is of historic importance as it is next to a major sea trade corridor and constitutes what remains of the once-vast Ottoman region of Rumelia. It is currently also of specific geostrategic importance because the sea corridor, which includes two narrow straits, provides access to the Mediterranean Sea from the Black Sea for the navies of five countries: Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, and Georgia. The region also serves as a future connector of existing Turkish, Bulgarian, and Greek high-speed rail networks.
East Thrace includes all in the eastern part of the historical region of Thrace. The area includes all the territories of the Turkish provinces of Edirne, Tekirdağ and Kırklareli, as well as those territories on the European continent of the provinces of Çanakkale and Istanbul. The land borders of East Thrace were defined by the Treaty of Constantinople (1913) and the Bulgarian-Ottoman convention (1915), and were reaffirmed by the Treaty of Lausanne.
East Thrace has a hybrid mediterranean climate/humid subtropical climate on the Aegean Sea coast and the Marmara Sea coast, an oceanic climate on the Black Sea coast and a humid continental climate in the interior. Summers are warm to hot, humid and moderately dry whereas winters are cold and wet and sometimes snowy. The coastal climate keeps the temperatures relatively mild.
East Thrace has an area of 23,764 km2 (3 percent of Turkey's land area), slightly smaller than Sardinia, and a population of about 16-17 million people or about 20 percent of the total Turkish population (in 2021); the population density is around 430 people/km2, compared to about 80 people/km2 for Asiatic Turkey, which is also called Anatolia or Asia Minor. However, densities are skewed by the metropolis of Istanbul. The two continents are separated by the Dardanelles, the Bosphorus (collectively known as the Turkish Straits) and the Sea of Marmara, a route of about 361 km. The southernmost part of Eastern Thrace is called the Gallipoli peninsula. European Turkey is bordered on the west by Greece for 212 km and on the north by Bulgaria for 269 km, with the Aegean Sea to the south-west and the Black Sea to the north-east.
|Istanbul Province (European)||3,421||8,963,431||2620.1||10,067,617**|
|East Thrace (sum)||23,764||10,620,739||446.9||11,961,338**|
|% of national||3.09%||14.2%||461%||14.4%**|
East Thrace was the setting for several important events in history and legend, including:
The mass killings and displacement of Thracian Bulgarians in 1913 and the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey ethnically cleansed the Orthodox populations. Jews were ethnically cleansed as a result of 1934 Thrace pogroms.
During the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), the Balkan Wars (1912–1913), and the population exchange of 1923, Muslim Muhacir of various ethnic groups from the former Ottoman territories in the Balkans, resettled in Eastern Thrace.
Prior to that the distribution of ethnoreligious groups in the local sanjaks was as follows:
|Ottoman Official Statistics, 1910|
|Ecumenical Patriarchate Statistics, 1912|
In the past century, modern East Thrace was the main component of the territory of the Adrianople Vilayet, which excluded the Constantinople Vilayet, but included West Thrace and parts of the Rhodopes and Sakar. A publication from December 21, 1912 in the Belgian magazine Ons Volk Ontwaakt (‘Our Nation Awakes’) estimated 1,006,500 inhabitants in the vilayet:
21st century East Thrace constitutes what remains of Turkish Rumelia, which once stretched as far north as Hungary and as far west as Bosnia. Rumelia was lost piecemeal from 1699 onwards, until in 1912 the bulk of it was lost in the First Balkan War. Some small regains were made during the Second Balkan War. The current borders were set forth in the Treaty of Constantinople (1913) and the Bulgarian-Ottoman convention (1915), and were reaffirmed in the Treaty of Lausanne.
Some tourist attractions are the Edirne Museum, Complex of Sultan Bayezid II Health Museum, Treaty of Lausanne Monument and Museum, Kırklareli Museum, and the Edirne Palace. There are several historical religious buildings, such as the Selimiye Mosque, Üç Şerefeli Mosque, Old Mosque, Muradiye Mosque, and the Grand Synagogue of Edirne. There are also historical bridges, such as the Fatih Bridge, Meriç Bridge, and Uzunköprü Bridge.
Coin of Lysimachus