East Thrace

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Coordinates: 41°9′13″N 27°22′0″E / 41.15361°N 27.36667°E / 41.15361; 27.36667

"European Turkey" redirects here. For the Ottoman lands historically known as "Turkey in Europe", see Rumelia.
East Thrace (blue) within the Marmara Region of Turkey
East Thrace (blue) within Thrace
East Thrace landscape in Edirne Province, Turkey.

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 the modern Republic of Turkey that is geographically part of Southeast Europe. It accounts for 3% of Turkey's soil, while the other 97% of Turkey is located on the Anatolian peninsula, geographically in Western Asia.[1] The region is of historic importance as it is next to a major sea-based trade corridor. It is currently also of specific geostrategic importance because the sea corridor, that includes two narrow straits, provides access to the Mediterranean 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 and European 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.


Due to the moderating effect of the surrounding seas, the climate tends to be Mediterranean in character.


East Thrace has an area of 23,764 km2 (3 percent of the country) and a population of about 10 million people[when?] (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. However, densities are skewed by the metropolis of Istanbul. 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.[2][3]

River Maritsa (Turkish: Meriç), which forms the land border between Greece and Turkey, also forms the natural border between West Thrace and East Thrace.

Province (part) Area
Population (2009 Est) Population
(2012 census)[4]
Density (2012C pop/km2)
Population (2015 Est)
Istanbul Province (European) 3,421 8,375,000 8,963,431 2620.1 9,492,000**
Tekirdağ 6,218 783,310 852,321 137.1 937,910**
Kırklareli 6,550 333,179 341,218 52.1 346,973
Edirne 6,279 395,463 399,708 63.7 402,537
Çanakkale (European) 1,296 62,000 64,061 49.4 62,000
East Thrace (sum) 23,764 9,948,000 10,620,739 446.9 11,241,000**
% of national 3.09% 13.7% 14.2% 461% 14.3%**
  • ** Disclaimer: Sources may modify and/or release updated data, this will not be automatically reflected in these tables, additionally the refugee crisis' vast floating migrants have seriously complicated data collection, especially since 2013. Estimates and Census use different methodology and are not directly comparable. Source: Citypopulation.de mirroring data from: State Institute of Statistics, Republic of Turkey (web).


East Thrace was the setting for several important events in history and legend.

The destruction of the Thracian Bulgarians in 1913 and the population exchange between Greece and Turkey finally ethnically cleansed the Orthodox populations, although the Muslims were the dominant group at that moment.

Prior to that the distribution of ethnoreligious groups in the local sanjaks was as follows:

Ottoman Official Statistics, 1910[5]
Sanjak Turks Greeks Bulgarians Others Total
Edirne 128,000 113,500 31,500 14,700 287,700
Kırk Kilise 53,000 77,000 28,500 1,150 159,650
Tekirdağ 63,500 56,000 3,000 21,800 144,300
Gallipoli 31,500 70,500 2,000 3,200 107,200
Çatalca 18,000 48,500 N/A 2,340 68,840
Istanbul 450,000 260,000 6,000 130,000 846,000
Ecumenical Patriarchate Statistics, 1912

The Muslim millet was recorded as Turkish, while the church members of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as Greek.

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:[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Zdanowski, Jerzy (2014). Middle Eastern Societies in the 20th Century. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 11. ISBN 978-1443869591. 
  2. ^ Turkey
  3. ^ Geography of Turkey
  4. ^ "Turkish Statistical Institute. Registered population as of 2012". 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ Published on December 21, 1912 in the Belgian magazine Ons Volk Ontwaakt (Our Nation Awakes) - view the table of Vilajet Manastir: Skynet GodsdBalkan

External links[edit]