East Thrace (blue) within Thrace (yellow)
East Thrace (blue) within the Marmara Region of Turkey
East Thrace landscape in Edirne Province, Turkey

East Thrace or Eastern Thrace (Turkish: Doğu Trakya or simply Trakya; Greek: Ανατολική Θράκη, romanizedAnatolikí Thráki; Bulgarian: Източна Тракия, romanizedIztochna Trakiya), also known as Turkish Thrace or European Turkey, is the part of Turkey that is geographically a part of Southeast Europe.[1] It accounts for 3.03% of Turkey's land area and 15% of its population. The largest city is Istanbul, which straddles the Bosporus between Europe and Asia. East Thrace is of historic importance as it is next to a major sea trade corridor and constitutes what remains of the once-vast Ottoman region of Rumelia. It is currently also of specific geostrategic importance because the sea corridor, which includes two narrow straits, provides access to the Mediterranean Sea 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, Bulgarian, and Greek high-speed rail networks.


East Thrace sometimes refers to the eastern part of the historical region of Thrace. It is also used for the part of Thrace that is inside Turkey. 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. The land borders of East Thrace were defined by the Treaty of Constantinople (1913) and the Bulgarian-Ottoman convention (1915) and were reaffirmed by the Treaty of Lausanne.


East Thrace has an area of 23,757 km2, 3.1% of Turkey's internal area; the population density is around 515/km2, compared to about 98/km2 for Asiatic Turkey. The two continents 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. East Thrace is bordered on the west by Greece and on the north by Bulgaria, with the Aegean Sea to the southwest and the Black Sea to the northeast.[2][3]

River Maritsa (Turkish: Meriç), which forms the land border between Greece and Turkey, also forms the natural border between Western Thrace and East Thrace.
Province (part) Area
Çanakkale (Europe) 1,528 63,016 41
Edirne 6,074 414,714 68
Istanbul (Europe) 3,563 10,241,510 2,874
Kırklareli 6,278 369,347 59
Tekirdağ 6,313 1,142,451 181
East Thrace 23,757 12,231,038 515
% of national 3.1% 14.3% 465%


The area has a hybrid mediterranean climate/humid subtropical climate on the Aegean Sea coast and the Marmara Sea coast, and an oceanic climate on the Black Sea coast. Summers are warm to hot, humid and moderately dry whereas winters are cold and wet and sometimes snowy. The coastal climate keeps the temperatures relatively mild.


See also: History of Thrace and History of Western Thrace

East Thrace was the setting for several important events in history and legend, including:

The mass killings and displacement of Thracian Bulgarians in 1913 and the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey ethnically cleansed the Orthodox populations. Jews were ethnically cleansed as a result of 1934 Thrace pogroms.

During the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) and the Balkan Wars (1912–1913), Muslim Muhacir of various ethnic groups from the former Ottoman territories in the Balkans, were forced to flee toward Eastern Thrace through expulsions, violence and massacres, followed by further emigration caused by the 1923-24 Population exchange between Greece and Turkey.[4]

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
Gelibolu 31,500 70,500 2,000 3,200 107,200
Çatalca 18,000 48,500 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 were recorded 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]

21st century East Thrace constitutes what remains of Turkish Rumelia, which once stretched as far north as Hungary and as far west as Bosnia. Rumelia was lost piecemeal from 1699 onwards, until in 1912 the bulk of it was lost in the First Balkan War. Some small regains were made during the Second Balkan War. The current borders were set forth in the Treaty of Constantinople (1913) and the Bulgarian–Ottoman convention (1915), and were reaffirmed in the Treaty of Lausanne.


The majority of the Muslim population are descendants of the Muhacir, such as Balkan Turks, Bulgarian Turks in Turkey, Amuca tribe, Albanians in Turkey, Bosniaks in Turkey, Gajal, Pomaks in Turkey, Megleno-Romanians, Vallahades, Crimean Tatars in Turkey, Circassians in Turkey, and Romani people in Turkey live there.[7]

Attractions and festivals

Some tourist attractions are the Edirne Museum, Complex of Sultan Bayezid II Health Museum, Treaty of Lausanne Monument and Museum, Kırklareli Museum, and the Edirne Palace. There are several historical religious buildings, such as the Selimiye Mosque, Üç Şerefeli Mosque, Old Mosque, Muradiye Mosque, and the Grand Synagogue of Edirne. There are also historical bridges, such as the Fatih Bridge, Meriç Bridge, and Uzunköprü Bridge.

Natural attractions include the Lake Gala National Park, İğneada Floodplain Forests National Park, Lake Saka Nature Reserve, and Dupnisa Cave.

Since 1360, the oil wrestling tournament Kırkpınar is held annually near Edirne; usually in late June. The Romani festival Kakava is held annually in Edirne and Kırklareli.


See also


  1. ^ "Thrace GoTürkiye Destinations". gothraceturkiye.com. Retrieved 14 May 2023.
  2. ^ "Inland fisheries of Europe". Retrieved 14 May 2023.
  3. ^ "Turkey - Geography". countrystudies.us. Retrieved 14 May 2023.
  4. ^ "Expulsion and Emigration of the Muslims from the Balkans". EGO(http://www.ieg-ego.eu). Retrieved 14 May 2023.
  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 Archived 2012-08-31 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Trakya Halkları - trakyanet". Archived from the original on 21 September 2022. Retrieved 14 May 2023.

Further reading

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