The region's recorded history dates back over 6,000 years. Armenian presence in Cilicia dates back to the first century BC, when under Tigranes the Great, the Kingdom of Armenia expanded and conquered a vast region in the Levant. In 83 BC, the Greek aristocracy of Seleucid Syria, weakened by a bloody civil war, offered their allegiance to the ambitious Armenian king. During the Roman and early Byzantine Empires, the capital of Cilicia province was the important seaport of Tarsus, where Mark Antony met Cleopatra, and birthplace of Paul the Apostle and Theodore of Tarsus, among other important missionaries.
The region became an early battleground between Muslim and Christian forces, and was conquered in the 8th century and remained part of the Abbasid Caliphate until reconquered by Byzantine forces in 962. Shortly after, in 1080, Ruben founded the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia.
When Seljuq Turks captured the region in the 12th century, many Turkmens, including Oğuz clans of
Yureğir, Afshar and Chepni settled in the regio's northern parts under the direction of Ramadanids. Those who preserved the nomadic lifestyle were named Yörüks. As of the 18th century, the Ottoman Empire pursued a policy aimed at settling these populations in permanent settlements; the process was more or less complete in the 19th century, although it involved many difficulties and much tension.
Between the 1832 Convention of Kütahya leaving the territorial gains acquired by Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt to his administration till the 1841 London Conference convened to settle the question, Çukurova remained under the rule of the Khedive of Egypt. Although the period of Egyptian rule, motivated by Egypt's perennial need, timber for the navy, was relatively short, it left important marks in such areas as the introduction of industrial-scale cotton production and new arrivals into the population tissue of the region. Cottonpickers of Çukurova still start their workday with prayers for the memory of İbrahim Pasha, and the locally influent
Menemencioğlu family, with notable descendants till our day, including Turkey's foreign minister during the Second World War, Numan Menemencioğlu, rose to notability by acting as middlemen for the Pasha. Among other families still prominent today and that had risen with the cotton boom,
Küçükalioğlu families can be cited.
In 1869, the Vilayet of Adana (Adana Province) was incorporated after splitting up Aleppo Province. The borders of the Vilayet of Adana are similar to today's Çukurova region.
The development of Mersin as a major port also began during this period. As a result, the cities of the region became prominent centers of trade, farming and industry. Today, Adana is the 5th largest city of Turkey, and a vital center of many agricultural products such as cotton.