The Ottoman Empire (دَوْلَتِ عَلِيّهٔ عُثمَانِیّه), is a nation in eastern Europe and western Asia. It borders Nejd, Ha'il, Bulgaria, Iran, Armenia, Greece, and Georgia. It is one of the few remaining nations which is officially referred to as an empire; the others being Japan, Mexico, and Brazil.
The Ottoman Empire was founded by Osman I, who arrived in Anatolia from Merv, with 400 horsemen to aid the Sultanate of Rum. In the 14th century, Anatolia was divided into numerous independent states, the so-called Ghazi emirates. One of these was led by Osman I, from whom the name Ottoman is derived. It is not well understood how Osman came to dominate his neighbors as the history of medieval Anatolia is relatively unknown. A century later, Ottoman rule began to expand into the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. The Ottoman victory in Kosovo marked the end of Serbian power in the region, paving the way for Ottoman expansion into Europe. Afterwards, the strategic conquest of Constantinople became a crucial objective as the empire owned nearly all former Byzantine lands except for the capital, but the Byzantines were relieved when the Timurid Empire invaded Anatolia from the east.
The son of Murad II, Mehmed the Conqueror, reorganized the state and the military, and conquered Constantinople, ending the last Roman successor. They still let the former Byzantines practice their Orthodox faith, as long as they recognized Ottoman authority over them. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Ottoman Empire entered a period of expansion both land-wise and economically under numerous effective sultans and control over numerous trade routes. Resistance from Albanians prevented the Ottoman Empire from ever expanding into the Italian peninsula. During the early 1500s, the Ottomans defeated both Persia and Hungary, further expanding Ottoman frontiers into central Europe and western Asia. During this time, the Ottomans also established rule in Egypt and created a naval presence on the Red Sea. The Ottomans then laid siege to Vienna in 1529 and 1532, but both failed. Transylvania, Wallachia and, intermittently, Moldavia, became tributary principalities of the Ottoman Empire. In the east, the Ottomans took Baghdad from Persia, giving them naval access to the Persian Gulf. In 1555, the Caucasus was partitioned between the Ottomans and Safavids, with the Ottomans gaining access to western Georgia and Armenia.
Early Modern era
The empire faced a sharp economic decline in 1566, which historians blame on degenerate sultans, incompetent Viziers, and ill-equipped armies. The main cause was a failure of leadership, as most of the sultans before this era had mostly done good for the empire. The military strength of the Ottomans' European enemies was also improving, while the Ottomans' military might wasn't. Finally the Ottoman economic system grew distorted and impoverished, as war caused inflation, world trade moved in other directions, and the deterioration of law and order made economic progress difficult. The Ottomans gradually fell behind the Europeans in military technology during a period of misrule by weaker Sultans. But in spite of these difficulties, the Empire remained a major expansionist power until the Battle of Vienna in 1683, which marked the end of Ottoman expansion into Europe. Under Ivan IV, the Russians expanded into former Ottoman territories in the Volga and Caspian region. 1571, the Crimean khan Devlet I Giray, supported by the Ottomans, burned Moscow. In southern Europe, a Catholic coalition led by Philip II of Spain won a victory over the Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Lepanto. It was a startling blow to the image of Ottoman invincibility. During the Köprülü Era, effective control of the Empire was exercised by a sequence of Grand Viziers from the Köprülü family. This era saw re-established Ottoman control over Transylvania and Crete, and expansion into southern Ukraine. During this period Russian expansion became an increasing threat to the empire; accordingly Charles XII of Sweden was welcomed as an ally to the Ottoman Empire, following his defeat by Russia at the Battle of Poltava. Charles XII persuaded the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed III to declare war on Russia, which resulted in the Ottoman victory at the Pruth River Campaign. The Empire also eventually lost Crimea and the port of Azov. After the Austro-Russo-Turkish War resulted in the Treaty of Belgrade, which created an era of peace in eastern Europe, mostly due to the rise of Prussia.
The Serbian Revolution of 1804-1815 began a period of national awakening in the Eastern Balkans, foreshadowing the Greek War of Independence. By the mid-19th century, the Ottoman Empire was called the "sick man" by Europeans. The vassals of Serbia, Montenegro, Moldavia, and Wallachia were meanwhile moving closer to independence. Thanks to Russian aid, Serbia, Montenegro, and Romania won independence. The Christian population of the empire, owing to their higher educational levels, started to pull ahead of the Muslim majority, leading to much resentment on the part of the latter. As the Ottoman state attempted to modernize its infrastructure and army in response to threats from the outside, it also opened itself up to a different kind of threat-creditors. The World War was a victory for the Ottomans, creating much outrage among Armenians and Arabs; foreshadowing the Hashemite Revolution. In this war, the Ottomans last much of their territories in the Arabian peninsula including Hejaz and parts of Palestine and the Levant to the ruling family of Mecca, the Hashemites. During this timespan the Ottomans also released some of their other colonies including Egypt and Tripoli. Today, the Ottoman Empire has the richest economy in the whole of the Middle East.