This video is part of a series of 24 animated maps.

View series: Europe and nations, 1815-1914

An example of an animated map

The Ottoman Empire: Expansion and Retreat

This map is part of a series of 24 animated maps showing the history of Europe and nations, 1815-1914.

I.2 The Ottoman Empire: Expansion and Retreat


From their power base in Western Anatolia, the Ottoman Turks began to build an Empire on both sides of the Bosporus during the second half of the 14th century.

The fall of Constantinople in 1453 brought the Byzantine Empire to an end.

During the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire and its vassal states covered a huge area extending from the Mediterranean’s African coast and the Arabian Peninsula to the South to the Caucasus mountains and the Hungarian plains to the North.

However, two military defeats near Vienna in 1529 and 1683 marked the end of this period of expansion. The Ottoman Empire went into decline, as the Austrian, and then the Russian, Empires became more powerful.


Throughout the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire’s rule was gradually weakening, creating rivalry and tension among the European powers. As a result, European diplomacy began to focus on the so-called Eastern Question.

Greece gained its independence in 1830.

In the same year, France established a colony in Algeria, moving into Tunisia in 1881.

Egypt, where Mohammed Ali had already thrown off Ottoman domination, was increasingly under the influence of England by 1882

Italy established a foothold in Libya in 1912.

In the Balkans, where Russia and Austria were vying for dominance, the Christian populations gradually obtained independence. By 1914, the Ottoman Empire’s European lands had been reduced to the city of Constantinople and the eastern parts of Thrace.