Asia Minor, a peninsula at the western extremity of Asia, forming a large part of Asiatic Turkey, between lat. 36° and 42° N. and lon. 26° and 41° E., and bounded N. W. by the Dardanelles (the Hellespont of the ancients), N. by the sea of Marmora (Propontis), the Bosporus, and the Black sea (Pontus Euxinus), E. by the Armenian mountains and their S. W. prolongations to the gulf of Iskanderun (of Issus), S. by the Mediterranean, and W. by the Archipelago (AEgean sea); area, about 212,000 sq. m. The eastern portion of the district consists of an elevated plateau from which rise mountain ranges of considerable height, among them the Taurus and Antitaurus (see Taurus), culminating in the extinct volcano of Arjish Dagh (Argaous), about 13,000 ft. above the sea, and more than 9,000 above the plain. Between the abrupt edges of the high table land and the sea N. and S. of the peninsula intervenes only a narrow strip of low, level coast land. But on the west this strip is wider, forming an extensive and very fertile plain - that portion of the country to which the name of the Levant was several centuries ago first and properly applied, though the term has since been indefinitely used, often of the whole peninsula.
The rivers are small; the chief are the Sakaria (Sangarius), Kizil Irmak (Halys), and Yeshil Irmak (Iris), which flow into the Black sea, and the Sarabat (Hennas) and Meinder (Mseander), which empty into the Archipelago. On the barren plateau the climate is dry and very hot in summer, but in winter cold; the N. and S. coasts are less subject to extremes of temperature; while the coast plain has one of the pleasantest climates in the world. The fruits of the fertile strip of land along the coast were celebrated in ancient times, and are still the most important productions of the country. - During the earliest period of its history Asia Minor appears to have been inhabited by a number of different tribes, and even by entirely different races. The names of these tribes gave rise to most of the designations afterward given to the divisions of the peninsula. The boundaries of these were not well defined until, under the successors of Alexander, they became separate states, generally under the rule of Macedonians and Greeks. The divisions on the N. coast were as follows: Bithynia, with the towns of Prusa (now Brusa), Nico-media (Ismid), and Nicaaa (Isnik), a country first inhabited by the Bebryces, a Mysian or Phrygian tribe, and afterward conquered by the Bithyni, who, according to Herodotus, came from Thrace; Paphlagonia, with its chief city Sinope (founded by a Greek colony), named from the Paphlagonians, from whom it was conquered by the Lydians, after which it was ruled successively by Persians, Macedonians, and Greeks; and finally Pontus, with Trapezus (Trebizond), first occupied by savage tribes of which little is known, then colonized by the Greeks, and afterward the kingdom of the famous Mithridates. On the W. coast were three other divisions: Mysia, including the plain of Troy and the royal city of Per-gamus, in the district of Teuthrania; Lydia (capital, Sardis), whose founders, the Lydi-ans, were probably a Semitic people, who established the first enduring empire of which we have authentic record in Asia Minor; and Caria, settled, according to Herodotus, by colonists from the islands of the AEgean. On the W. coast also, and within the boundaries of the three divisions just named, were the famous Greek colonies of AEolis, lying principally in S. W. Mysia, Doris in southern Caria, and between the two Ionia, with its confederation of twelve cities (Phocsea, Smyrna, Ephesus, Miletus, &c), peopled by Greek colonists, according to tradition emigrants from Attica in the obscure time of Codrus, who here maintained the reputation of their race for progress and civilization.
On the S. coast were Lycia; Pamphylia, so called from the number of tribes composing its inhabitants ( , people of all races); Pisidia, parallel with and just N. of the narrow coast strip of Pamphylia; and Cili-cia, with the city of Tarsus, in ancient times peopled by the most formidable pirates of the East. The inland districts were Phrygia, whose inhabitants claimed to be autochthonous; Galatia, named after the Gauls who deserted the army of the later Brennus to settle here; Oappadocia (capital, Mazaca, now Kai-sariyeh), first ruled by the Medes, afterward by the Persians; Isauria, peopled by a tribe of mountaineers dreaded as daring robbers; and Lycaonia, first mentioned by Xenophon, and inhabited by an ancient tribe from whom it took its name. - In reviewing its history Asia Minor cannot be treated as a united whole; for details concerning its different divisions the titles just given are referred to. The following outline, however, may serve to show how inextricably its fortunes are complicated with those of the great nations which for 3,000 years contended for its dominion. Though the traditions regarding its first settlement are obscure, it appears that the Lydians, coming from the east, were among the first inhabitants of the country. Their government is at all events the first of which we have any detailed record.
It flourished until King Croesus was defeated by Cyrus, and the Persian empire gained the dominion of the peninsula, holding it from about 554 to 333 B. C. The campaign which in the last-mentioned year ended with the battle of Issus now added the country to the conquests of Alexander. It remained under his various successors until the victories of L. Scipio (190) and Manlius (189), followed by the treaty with Antiochus in 188, the bequest of the kingdom of Pergamus to Rome by Attalus III. (133), and the overthrow of Mithridates (65 B. C.) gave the territory to the Romans, in whose hands, and those of their followers of the Byzantine empire, it continued till its conquest by the Turks in the 13th century. - Asia Minor now forms a part of Turkey in Asia; its larger portion constitutes the district called Anatolia, or Natolia, from the old Greek name given to Asia Minor - '. the east or land of the rising sun. Officially, it includes several eya-lets, but the name Anatolia is generally applied to the whole region. For details as to its present condition, see Turkey.