Turkish (Türkçe (help•info)), also referred to as Istanbul Turkish,is the most widely spoken of the Turkic languages, with around 10–15 million native speakers in Southeastern Europe and 55–60 million native speakers in Western Asia. Speakers are located predominantly in Turkey, with smaller groups in Germany, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Northern Cyprus, Greece, the Caucasus, and other parts of Europe and Central Asia. Classification Turkish is a member of the Oghuz group of languages, a subgroup of the Turkic language family. There is a high degree of mutual intelligibility between Turkish and the other Oghuz Turkic languages, including Azerbaijani, Turkmen, Qashqai, Gagauz, and Balkan Gagauz Turkish. The Turkic family comprises some 30 living languages spoken across Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Siberia. Some linguists believe the Turkic languages to be a part of a larger Altaic language family. About 40% of all speakers of Turkic languages are native Turkish speakers. The characteristic features of Turkish, such as vowel harmony, agglutination, and lack of grammatical gender, are universal within the Turkic family. History The earliest known Turkic inscriptions are the three monumental Orkhon inscriptions found in modern Mongolia. Erected in honour of the prince Kul Tigin and his brother Emperor Bilge Khan, and dating back to sometime between 732 and 735, as well as Bayn Tsokto inscriptions erected by Tonyukuk, the commander in chief between 720 and 725 they constitute important earliest records. Official status Turkish is the official language of Turkey and is one of the official languages of Cyprus. It also has official (but not primary) status in the Prizren District of Kosovo and three municipalities of the Republic of Macedonia, based on the concentration of Turkish-speaking local population.