East Thrace or Eastern Thrace (Turkish: Doğu Trakya or simply Trakya; Bulgarian: Източна Тракия, Iztochna Trakiya; Greek: Ανατολική Θράκη, Anatoliki Thraki), also known as Turkish Thrace or European Turkey, is the part of the modern Republic of Turkey that is geographically part of Southeast Europe, all in the eastern part of the historical region of Thrace. The area includes all the territories of the Turkish provinces Edirne, Tekirdağ and Kırklareli as well as those territories on the European continent of the provinces of Çanakkale and Istanbul. Contrary to popular belief, Karaağaç, which lies across the Maritsa River, is in West Thrace, although it is still part of Turkey.
East Thrace, which is also known as European Turkey, has an area of 23,764 km2 (3 percent of the country) and a population of about 10 million people (about 12 percent of the total); 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. The two 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.
East Thrace was the setting for several important historical events.
- The Greek myth of Hero and Leander takes place in the ancient city of Sestus.
- Aeneas founded the city of Aenus while trying to find new lands during his mythological conquests.
- After the death of Alexander the Great, in the period called the Diadochi, Alexander's general Lysimachus (360-281 BC) became king of Thrace and established his capital in Lysimachia.
- Çimpe Castle was the first European territory held by the Ottoman Empire.
- Edirne was the second capital of the Ottoman Empire after Bursa.
- The Gallipoli Campaign, one of the most important of the First World War, was fought near the city of Gelibolu.
Prior to the population exchange between Greece and Turkey, the distribution of nationalities in the local Sanjacks was as follows:
|Ottoman Official Statistics, 1910|
|Ecumenical Patriarchate Statistics, 1912|
|Provinces formerly in the Vilayet of Edirne:|
|İstanbul (European part)||3,421||8,963,431||2620.1|
|Çanakkale (European part)||1,296||64,061||49.4|
- Geography of Turkey
- Pentzopoulos, Dimitri (2002). The Balkan exchange of minorities and its impact on Greece. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-1-85065-702-6.
- [url= http://tuikapp.tuik.gov.tr/adnksdagitapp/adnks.zul?dil=2 "Turkish Statistical Institute. Registered population as of 2012"].