Asia Minor (Asia the Less) is the name usually given to the western peninsular projection of Asia, forming part of Turkey in Asia. The late Greek name for Asia Minor is Anatolia - Anatole, ' the East,' whence is formed the Turkish Anadoli. Asia Minor includes the whole peninsula, with an area of 220,000 sq. m. It constitutes the western prolongation of the high tableland of Armenia, with its border mountain-ranges. The interior consists of a great plateau, or rather series of plateaus, rising in gradation from 3500 to 4000 feet, with bare steppes, salt plains, marshes and lakes; the structure is volcanic, and there are several conical mountains, one of which, the Ergish-dagh (Argaeus), with two craters, attains a height of 11,830 feet. The plateau is bordered on the north by a long train of parallel mountains, 4000 to 6000 feet high. These mountains sink abruptly down on the north side to a narrow strip of coast. Similar is the character of the border ranges on the south, the ancient Taurus, only that they are more continuous and higher, being, to the north of the Bay of Skanderoon, 10,000 to 12,000 feet. Between the highlands and the sea lie the fertile coast-lands. Of the rivers the largest is the Kizil Irmak (Halys), which, like the Yeshil Irmak (Iris), and the Sakaria (Sangarius), flows into the Black Sea; the Sarabat (Hermus) and Meinder (Marauder) flow into the Aegean. Here the forest-trees and cultivated plants of Europe are seen mingled with the forms characteristic of Persia and Syria. The central plateau, which is barren, has the character of an Asiatic steppe, more adapted for the flocks and herds of nomadic tribes than for agriculture; while the coasts, rich in all European products, fine fruits, olives, wine, and silk, have quite the character of the south of Europe, which on the warmer and drier south coast shades into that of Africa.
The inhabitants, some 7,000,000 in number, comprise the dominant race, the Osmanli Turks,. who number about 1,200,000; allied to these are the Turkomans and Yuruks. There are also hordes of nomadic Kurds, with the robber tribes of the Lazes in the north-east. The Greeks and Armenians are the most progressive elements in the population, and have most of the trade; while the Greeks monopolise the professions, the ownership of the land is largely passing into the hands of Greeks, Armenians, and Jews.
Here, especially in Ionia, was the early seat of Greek civilisation, and here Alexander the Great and the Romans successively contended for the mastery of the civilised world. Since the conquest by the Turks (about 1300 a.d.), the ancient civilisation of the country and its prosperity have been sadly brought to ruin. After the Russo-Turkish war of 1877 Great Britain made a secret engagement to guarantee the Asiatic dominions of the Porte, and to assume an indefinite protectorate over Asia Minor.