Anatolia (Turkish: Anadolu) is a peninsula of Western Asia which forms the greater part (96 %) of the Asian portion of Turkey, as opposed to the European portion (4 %) (Thrace, or traditionally Rumelia). It is also often called by the Latin name of Asia Minor, which comes from the Greek Mikra Asia.
The name comes from the Greek Αnatole or Anatolia, which means “east”. The Byzantine theme of “Anatolikon” (“eastern one”) signified the lands to the east of Europe and Constantinople. The Turkish form Anadolu derives from the Greek version; Turkish folk etymology breaks down the geographical term into two words, “mother” and “full” Thus, Ana, dolu ‘Mother, it is full’ or ‘Full of mothers’.
Because of its strategic location at the intersection of Asia and Europe, Anatolia has been a cradle for several civilizations since prehistoric ages, with Neolithic settlements such as Catalhoyuk (Pottery Neolithic), Cayonu (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A to pottery Neolithic), Nevali Cori (Pre-Pottery Neolithic B), Hacilar (Pottery Neolithic), Gobekli Tepe (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A) and Mersin. The settlement of Troy starts in the Neolithic and continues forward into the Iron Age.
Through its recorded history, Anatolians have spoken both Indo-European and Semitic languages, as well as many languages of uncertain affiliation. In fact, given the antiquity of the Indo-European Hittite and Luwian languages, some scholars have proposed Anatolia as the hypothetical center from which the Indo-European languages have radiated. Other authors have proposed an Anatolian origin for the Etruscans of ancient Italy and the Elymians of Sicily.
Historically known peoples that have settled in or conquered Anatolia include the Leleges, Colchians, Hattians, Luwians, Hittites, Phrygians, Cimmerians, Lydians, Lycians, Pisidians, Pamphylians, Persians, Celts, Tabals, Meshechs, Greeks, Pelasgians, Assyrians, Armenians, Romans, Goths, Arabs, Kurds, Byzantines, Seljuk Turks and Ottomans. These peoples belonged to many varied ethnic and linguistic traditions.
Today the inhabitants of Anatolia are mostly native speakers of the Turkish language, which was introduced with the conquest of Anatolia by Turkic peoples and the rise of the Seljuk Empire in the 11th century. However, Anatolia remained multi-ethnic until the early 20th century (see Rise of Nationalism under the Ottoman Empire).
The last population exchange, occurring as result of the Treaty of Lausanne between Turkey and Greece, eliminated most of the Turks in Greece and most of the Greeks in Turkey. A significant Kurdish ethnic and linguistic minority exists in the south eastern regions, while Armenians and Georgians (see Chveneburi) have a presence in the northeast.