JACOB M. LANDAU
Turkey—that is, Anatolia—the hub of the Ottoman Empire, with Istanbul (formerly Constantinople) as the capital, was for centuries an important center of Jewish life and activity. Jews were one group among many in the Ottoman lands. Although the population ratios changed frequently because of internal and external migration, eastern Anatolia was inhabited chiefly by Turks, Kurds, and Armenians, while a sizable number of Greeks lived in the main towns of western Anatolia, in addition to Turks and Armenians. Members of many other groups, both European and Middle Eastern, entered the region (to trade or to settle there), a process that continued throughout the nineteenth century. Muslims were generally the majority, most of them Sunni, although Shiites inhabited parts of central and eastern Anatolia, especially among the Kurds. Jews lived mostly in the cities and towns of western and central Anatolia, with sizable communities in Istanbul and Izmir (Smyrna). In the eighteenth century the population of both cities became increasingly heterogeneous, and European newcomers became increasingly evident.
By the end of the eighteenth century the Ottoman Empire was in a state of destabilization. It had lost numerous wars with Europe and Russia and had retreated from several provinces, notably Hungary. In the last years of the century the French occupied Egypt. Even if that were to be temporary, it was symbolic of Ottoman military weakness; this was related to outdated technology, economic difficulties, administrative inefficiency, and the erosion of integrity among the political leadership.
In technology the Ottomans had fallen well behind the European powers. This was evident in the deterioration of their naval power and marine commerce, as well in their sea and land transport systems. External trade went