The precise date of their intitial expansion from their early homeland is unknown, but the first known state of the tribe they all became named after was that of the Gokturks (or Kokturks) (Gog = 'Blue' or 'Celestial') is dated to the 6th century CE. Huns, whose origins go back to 1200 BCE, are also considered as one of the first Turkic tribes by some scholars and it has become possible to be labeled Turkic without having any connection to the Asena tribe who popularised that name.
Later Turkic peoples include the Karluks (mainly 8th century), Uighurs, Kirghiz, Oghuz (or Ğuz) Turks, and Turkmens. As these peoples were founding states in the area between Mongolia and Transoxiania, they came into contact with Muslim peoples and gradually adopted Islam. However, there were also (and still are) Turkic people belonging to different religions (Christians, Jews (see Khazars), Buddhists, Zoroastrians).
Turkic soldiers in the army of the Abbasid caliphs emerged as de facto rulers of most of the Muslim Middle East (except Syria and Egypt), particularly after the 10th century. Oghuz and other tribes captured and dominated various countries under the leadership of the Seljuk dynasty and eventually captured the territories of the Abbasid dynasty and the Byzantine Empire.
Meanwhile, Kirghiz and Uighurs were struggling with each other and with the mighty Chinese Empire. Kirghiz people finally settled in the region that is now referred to as Kyrgyzstan. Tatar peoples settled in what is today southern Russia following the westward sweep of the Mongols under Genghis Khan in the 13th century. Everywhere, Turkic groups mixed to some extent with other local populations.
As the Seljuks declined after the Mongol invasion, the Ottoman Empire emerged as a new important Turkic state which came to dominate not only the Middle East, but also southeastern Europe and parts of southwestern Russia and northern Africa. Meanwhile, other Turkic groups founded dynasties in Iran (Safavids) and northern India (the Mughal Empire).
The Ottoman Empire grew weaker in the face of repeated wars with Russia and Austria and the emergence of nationalist movements in the Balkans, and finally gave way after World War I to the present-day republic of Turkey.
Presently, the largest group of Turkic people is living in Turkey. Other major Turkic groups are living in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan. Additionally, other Turkic people live in the Xinjiang region of China (Uighurs), Iran & Afghanistan (Azeri, Uzbeks, Turkmens), Russia (Tatars, Yakuts), and Moldova (Gagauz). Turks also live in Cyprus and the Balkans.