With over 56 million speakers, Turkish is the official language of Turkey and mother tongue to 90 percent of its population. Turkish is also the first-language
of many people living within the boundaries of what was once the Ottoman Empire. There are about 900,000 speakers in Bulgaria and another 40,000 in the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In Cyprus, where Turkish is spoken by about one in five people, it is one of two official languages along with Greek. In the 1920s, the establishment of the Turkish state brought about the need for substantial language reform. Turkish was declared the nation's official language and efforts were made to purge it of words borrowed from Arabic and Persian and to replace them Turkish. Most importantly, the Arabic alphabet was replaced with the Roman alphabet which is the current standard.