The Ottoman Empire c. 1900

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Map Code: Ax02246

At its height, the Ottoman Empire ruled the Middle East and much of northern Africa and eastern Europe, but by the late 1800s, the Empire was in decline. Increasing instability had taken its toll, aided by ethnic and regional groups across the Empire who sought independence. Unsuccessful wars had weakened the Ottoman military, driving them out of Egypt and North Africa. Modernization brought about by the Edict of Tazimat (1839) and political reform through short-lived revolution had failed to rebuild the former superpower’s strength. The economy was failing – the Empire owed more than two million pounds to European banks – and trade had fallen behind powers such as Britain and France. The Ottomans did, however, retain geographical strength, with their territories encompassing many strategic coastlines and waterways. These territories were attractive to other great European powers and, eventually, it was Germany whose offers of help were accepted by the Ottomans.

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