As the Ottoman Empire declined during the first part of the 20th century, the sultans found that they could not keep pace with western progress, After a time the autocratic government became indifferent to the welfare of the people. The death blow was dealt in the First World War. The Allied Powers moved into Turkey in 1918 and, in 1920 by the Treaty of Sevres, the land was divided between the victorious allies.
In the Turkish War of Independence, which lasted from 1919 to 1923, the Turkish people, inspired by the ideals and leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, successfuly fought against partition. The Treaty of Lausanne, signed in 1923, secured the territorial integrity and independence of Turkey, and on the 29th October, 1923, Turkey was proclaimed a Republic with Ataturk as her first president. The capital was moved to Ankara at this time as a final break from the Ottoman traditions.
After Ataturk forced the Ottoman Sultan to abdicate and he took over the leadership of the new republic, a great many changes were seen in the country in an effort to modernize Turkey. Ataturk had the powers of the religious leaders restricted, freedom of worship was proclaimed, and polygamy was ended. Women were granted equal rights. Western ideas were spread by a system of public schools, and the Latin alphabet took the place of the Arabic script that was used up to this period. Roads and railways were built, mines were opened, and industry was encouraged. The new Turkey, progressing rapidly, had little in common with the old Ottoman Empire, which had been known as “The Sick Man of Europe.
Kemal Ataturk died on November 10, 1938. All his sweeping reforms had not been accepted without a murmur, but today he is considered the cherished son of his people and “the father of modern Turkey.