Rumelihisarı is a fortress located in Istanbul, Turkey on a hill at the European side of the Bosporus just north of the Bebek district; giving the name of the quarter around it. It was built by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II between 1451 and 1452, before he conquered Constantinople. The three great towers were named after three of Mehmed II's vezirs, Sadrazam Candarlı Halil Pasha, who built the big tower next to the gate, Zağanos Pasha, who built the south tower, and Sarıca Pasha, who built the north tower.
Republic of Turkey
Motto: Yurtta Sulh, Cihanda Sulh
Peace at Home, Peace in the World
Anthem: İstiklâl Marşı
The Anthem of Independence
Location of Turkey
Largest city Istanbul
Official languages Turkish
Government Parliamentary republic
- President Abdullah Gül
- Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
- Speaker of the Parliament Köksal Toptan
Succession to the Ottoman Empire²
- War of Independence May 19, 1919
- Formation of Parliament April 23, 1920
- Declaration of Republic October 29, 1923
- Total 783,562 km² (37th)
302,535 sq mi
- Water (%) 1.3
- 2007 census 70,586,256 (17th³)
- Density 93/km² (102nd³)
GDP (PPP) 2007 estimate
- Total $902.6 billion (15th)
- Per capita $12,888 (59th)
GDP (nominal) 2007 estimate
- Total $663.4 billion (17th)
- Per capita $9,629 (52nd)
Gini (2005) 38 (medium)
HDI (2007) ▲ 0.775 (medium) (84th)
Currency New Turkish Lira5 (TRY)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
- Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Internet TLD .tr
Calling code +90
2 Treaty of Lausanne (1923).
3 Population and population density rankings based on 2005 figures.
4 Human Development Report 2007/2008, page 230. United Nations Development Programme (2007). Retrieved on 2007-11-30.
5 The New Turkish Lira (Yeni Türk Lirası, YTL) replaced the old Turkish Lira on January 1, 2005.
Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye), known officially as the Republic of Turkey (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti (help·info)), is a Eurasian country that stretches across the Anatolian peninsula in western Asia and Thrace (Rumelia) in the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. Turkey borders eight countries: Bulgaria to the northwest; Greece to the west, Georgia to the northeast; Armenia, Azerbaijan (the exclave of Nakhichevan), and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the southeast. The Mediterranean Sea and Cyprus are to the south; the Aegean Sea and Archipelago are to the west; and the Black Sea is to the north. Separating Anatolia and Thrace are the Sea of Marmara and the Turkish Straits (the Bosporus and the Dardanelles), which are commonly reckoned to delineate the border between Asia and Europe, thereby making Turkey transcontinental.
Due to its strategic location astride two continents, Turkey's culture has a unique blend of Eastern and Western tradition. A powerful regional presence in the Eurasian landmass with strong historic, cultural and economic influence in the area between Europe in the west and Central Asia in the east, Russia in the north and Southwest Asia in the south, Turkey has come to acquire increasing strategic significance.
Turkey is a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic whose political system was established in 1923 under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, following the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of World War I. Since then, Turkey has become increasingly integrated with the West through membership in organizations such as the Council of Europe (1949), NATO (1952), OECD (1961), OSCE (1973) and the G20 industrial nations (1999). Turkey began full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005, having been an associate member of the EEC since 1963, and having reached a customs union agreement in 1995. Meanwhile, Turkey has continued to foster close political, economic and industrial relations with the Eastern world, particularly with the states of the Southwest Asia, Central Asia and East Asia. Turkey is classified as a developed country by the CIA and as a regional power by political scientists and economists worldwide.
Main article: Names of Turkey
The name of Turkey, Türkiye in the Turkish language, can be divided into two words: Türk, which means "Strong" in Old Turkic and usually signifying the inhabitants of Turkey or a member of the Turkish or Turkic peoples, a later form of "Tu–kin", a name given by the Chinese to the people living south of the Altay Mountains of Central Asia as early as 177 BCE; and the abstract suffix –iye (derived from the Arabic suffix –iyya, but is also associated with the Medieval Latin suffix –ia in Turchia, and the Medieval Greek suffix –ία in Τουρκία), which means "owner" or "related to". The first recorded use of the term "Türk" or "Türük" as an autonym is contained in the Orkhon inscriptions of the Göktürks (Sky Turks) of Central Asia (c. 8th century CE). The English word "Turkey" is derived from the Medieval Latin "Turchia" (c. 1369).
Pre-Turkic history of Anatolia
Main article: History of Anatolia
Portion of the legendary walls of Troy (VII), identified as the site of the Trojan War (ca. 1200 BCE)
The Anatolian peninsula (also called Asia Minor), comprising most of modern Turkey, is one of the oldest continually inhabited regions in the world due to its location at the intersection of Asia and Europe. The earliest Neolithic settlements such as Çatalhöyük (Pottery Neolithic), Çayönü (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A to Pottery Neolithic), Nevali Cori (Pre-Pottery Neolithic B), Hacilar (Pottery Neolithic), Göbekli Tepe (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A) and Mersin are considered to be among the earliest human settlements in the world. The settlement of Troy starts in the Neolithic and continues into the Iron Age. Through recorded history, Anatolians have spoken Indo-European, Semitic and Kartvelian languages, as well as many languages of uncertain affiliation. In fact, given the antiquity of the Indo-European Hittite and Luwian languages, some scholars have proposed Anatolia as the hypothetical center from which the Indo-European languages have radiated.
The Celsus Library in Ephesus, dating from 135 CE
The first major empire in the area was that of the Hittites, from the 18th through the 13th century BCE. Subsequently, the Phrygians, an Indo-European people, achieved ascendancy until their kingdom was destroyed by the Cimmerians in the 7th century BCE. The most powerful of Phrygia's successor states were Lydia, Caria and Lycia. The Lydians and Lycians spoke languages that were fundamentally Indo-European, but both languages had acquired non-Indo-European elements prior to the Hittite and Hellenistic periods.
Starting around 1200 BC, the west coast of Anatolia was settled by Aeolian and Ionian Greeks. The entire area was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire during the 6th and 5th centuries and later fell to Alexander the Great in 334 BCE. Anatolia was subsequently divided into a number of small Hellenistic kingdoms (including Bithynia, Cappadocia, Pergamum, and Pontus), all of which had succumbed to Rome by the mid-1st century BCE. In 324 CE, the Roman emperor Constantine I chose Byzantium to be the new capital of the Roman Empire, renaming it New Rome (later Constantinople and Istanbul). After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, it became the capital of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire).
Turks and the Ottoman Empire
Main articles: Turkic migration, History of the Turkish people, Seljuk Empire, and Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman Empire at the height of its power (ca. 1680)
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) is one of the most famous architectural legacies of the Ottoman Empire
The House of Seljuk was a branch of the Kınık Oğuz Turks who in the 9th century resided on the periphery of the Muslim world, north of the Caspian and Aral Seas in the Yabghu Khaganate of the Oğuz confederacy. In the 10th century, the Seljuks started migrating from their ancestral homelands towards the eastern regions of Anatolia, which eventually became the new homeland of Oğuz Turkic tribes following the Battle of Manzikert (Malazgirt) in 1071. The victory of the Seljuks gave rise to the Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate; which developed as a separate branch of the larger Seljuk Empire that covered parts of Central Asia, Iran, Anatolia and Southwest Asia.
In 1243, the Seljuk armies were defeated by the Mongols and the power of the empire slowly disintegrated. In its wake, one of the Turkish principalities governed by Osman I was to evolve into the Ottoman Empire, thus filling the void left by the collapsed Seljuks and Byzantines.
The Ottoman Empire interacted with both Eastern and Western cultures throughout its 623-year history. In the 16th and 17th centuries, it was among the world's most powerful political entities, often locking horns with the Holy Roman Empire in its steady advance towards Central Europe through the Balkans and the southern part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth on land; and with the combined forces (Holy Leagues) of Habsburg Spain, the Republic of Venice and the Knights of St. John at sea for the control of the Mediterranean basin; while frequently confronting Portuguese fleets at the Indian Ocean for defending the Empire's monopoly over the ancient maritime trade routes between East Asia and Western Europe, which had become increasingly compromised since the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope in 1488.
Following years of decline, the Ottoman Empire entered World War I through the Ottoman-German Alliance in 1914, and was ultimately defeated. After the war, the victorious Allied Powers sought the dismemberment of the Ottoman state through the Treaty of Sèvres.
Main articles: History of the Republic of Turkey and Atatürk's reforms
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey
The occupation of İstanbul and İzmir by the Allies in the aftermath of World War I prompted the establishment of the Turkish national movement. Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha, a military commander who had distinguished himself during the Battle of Gallipoli, the Turkish War of Independence was waged with the aim of revoking the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres. By September 18, 1922, the occupying armies were repelled and the country saw the birth of the new Turkish state. On November 1, the newly founded parliament formally abolished the Sultanate, thus ending 623 years of Ottoman rule. The Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 led to the international recognition of the sovereignty of the newly formed "Republic of Turkey" as the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, and the republic was officially proclaimed on October 29, 1923, in the new capital of Ankara.
Mustafa Kemal became the republic's first president and subsequently introduced many radical reforms with the aim of founding a new secular republic from the remnants of its Ottoman past. According to the Law on Family Names, the Turkish parliament presented Mustafa Kemal with the honorific name "Atatürk" (Father of the Turks) in 1934.
Turkey entered World War II on the side of the Allies on February 23, 1945 as a ceremonial gesture and became a charter member of the United Nations in 1945. Difficulties faced by Greece after the war in quelling a communist rebellion, along with demands by the Soviet Union for military bases in the Turkish Straits, prompted the United States to declare the Truman Doctrine in 1947. The doctrine enunciated American intentions to guarantee the security of Turkey and Greece, and resulted in large-scale US military and economic support.
After participating with the United Nations forces in the Korean conflict, Turkey joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1952, becoming a bulwark against Soviet expansion into the Mediterranean. Following a decade of intercommunal violence on the island of Cyprus and the Greek military coup of July 1974, overthrowing President Makarios and installing Nikos Sampson as dictator, Turkey intervened militarily in 1974. Nine years later the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was established. The TRNC is recognised only by Turkey.
Following the end of the single-party period in 1945, the multi-party period witnessed tensions over the following decades, and the period between the 1960s and the 1980s was particularly marked by periods of political instability that resulted in a number of military coups d'états in 1960, 1971, 1980 and a post-modern coup d'état in 1997. The liberalization of the Turkish economy that started in the 1980s changed the landscape of the country, with successive periods of high growth and crises punctuating the following decades.
Government and politics
Main articles: Politics of Turkey, Constitution of Turkey, and Elections in Turkey
The Grand Chamber of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara
Turkey is a parliamentary representative democracy. Since its foundation as a republic in 1923, Turkey has developed a strong tradition of secularism. Turkey's constitution governs the legal framework of the country. It sets out the main principles of government and establishes Turkey as a unitary centralized state.
The head of state is the President of the Republic and has a largely ceremonial role. The president is elected for a five-year term by direct elections. The last President, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, was elected on May 16, 2000, after having served as the President of the Constitutional Court. He was succeeded on August 28, 2007, by Abdullah Gül. Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers which make up the government, while the legislative power is vested in the unicameral parliament, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature, and the Constitutional Court is charged with ruling on the conformity of laws and decrees with the constitution. The Council of State is the tribunal of last resort for administrative cases, and the High Court of Appeals for all others.
The Prime Minister is elected by the parliament through a vote of confidence in his government and is most often the head of the party that has the most seats in parliament. The current Prime Minister is the former mayor of İstanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose conservative AKP won an absolute majority of parliamentary seats in the 2002 general elections, organized in the aftermath of the economic crisis of 2001, with 34% of the suffrage. In the 2007 general elections, the AKP received 46.6% of the votes and could defend its majority in parliament. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Ministers have to be members of the parliament, but in most cases they are (one notable exception was Kemal Derviş, the Minister of State in Charge of the Economy following the financial crisis of 2001; he is currently the president of the United Nations Development Programme).
Universal suffrage for both sexes has been applied throughout Turkey since 1933, and every Turkish citizen who has turned 18 years of age has the right to vote. As of 2004, there were 50 registered political parties in the country, whose ideologies range from the far left to the far right. The Constitutional Court can strip the public financing of political parties that it deems anti-secular or separatist, or ban their existence altogether.
There are 550 members of parliament who are elected for a four-year term by a party-list proportional representation system from 85 electoral districts which represent the 81 administrative provinces of Turkey (İstanbul is divided into three electoral districts whereas Ankara and İzmir are divided into two each because of their large populations). To avoid a hung parliament and its excessive political fragmentation, only parties that win at least 10% of the votes cast in a national parliamentary election gain the right to representation in the parliament. As a result of this threshold, the 2007 elections saw three parties formally entering the parliament (compared to two in 2002). However, due to a system of alliances and independent candidatures, seven parties are currently represented in the parliament. Independent candidates may run; however, they must also win at least 10% of the vote in their circonscription to be elected.
Main articles: Foreign relations of Turkey and Accession of Turkey to the European Union
Roosevelt, İnönü and Churchill at the Second Cairo Conference in December 1943
Turkey began full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005
Turkey is a founding member of the United Nations (1945), the OECD (1961), the OSCE (1973) and the G20 industrial nations (1999).
Turkey is a founding member of the Council of Europe, since 1949
Turkey is among the earliest members of NATO, since 1952
In line with its traditional Western orientation, relations with Europe have always been a central part of Turkish foreign policy. Turkey became a founding member of the Council of Europe in 1949, applied for associate membership of the EEC (predecessor of the European Union) in 1959 and became an associate member in 1963. After decades of political negotiations, Turkey applied for full membership of the EEC in 1987, became an associate member of the Western European Union in 1992, reached a Customs Union agreement with the EU in 1995 and has officially begun formal accession negotiations with the EU on October 3, 2005. It is believed that the accession process will take at least 15 years due to Turkey's size and the depth of disagreements over certain issues. These include disputes with EU member Republic of Cyprus over Turkey's 1974 military intervention to prevent the island's annexation to Greece. Since then, Turkey does not recognize the essentially Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus as the sole authority on the island, but instead supports the Turkish Cypriot community in the form of the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
The other defining aspect of Turkey's foreign relations has been its ties with the United States. Based on the common threat posed by the Soviet Union, Turkey joined NATO in 1952, ensuring close bilateral relations with Washington throughout the Cold War. In the post-Cold War environment, Turkey's geostrategic importance shifted towards its proximity to the volatile Arab world. As well as hosting an important NATO air base near the Turkish border with Syria and Iraq for U.S. operations in the region, Turkey's status as a secular democracy and its positive relations with Israel made Ankara a crucial ally for Washington. In return, Turkey has benefited from the United States' political, economic and diplomatic support, including in key issues such as the country's bid to join the European Union.
Since the late 1980s, Turkey began to increasingly cooperate with the leading economies of East Asia, particularly with Japan and South Korea, on a large number of industrial sectors; ranging from the co-production of automotive and other transportation equipment, such as high-speed train sets, to electronical goods, home appliances, construction materials and military hardware.
The independence of the Turkic states of the Soviet Union, with whom Turkey shares a common cultural and linguistic heritage, allowed Turkey to extend its economic and political relations deep into Central Asia. The most salient of these relations saw the completion of a multi billion dollar oil and natural gas pipeline from Baku in Azerbaijan to the port of Ceyhan in Turkey. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, as it is called, has formed part of Turkey's foreign policy strategy to become an energy conduit to the West. However, Turkey's border with Armenia, a state in the Caucasus, remains closed following its occupation of Azeri territory during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. Relations with Armenia have been further strained by the controversy surrounding the forced deportations and related deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the last days of the Ottoman Empire, recognised by a number of countries and historians as the Armenian Genocide. Turkey rejects the term genocide, arguing instead that the deaths were a result of disease, famine and inter-ethnic strife.
Main articles: Turkish Armed Forces and Conscription in Turkey
A KC-135R-CRAG Stratotanker of the Turkish Air Force refueling TAI-built F-16 fighter jets
The Turkish Armed Forces consists of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. The Gendarmerie and the Coast Guard operate as parts of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in peacetime, although they are subordinated to the Army and Navy Commands respectively in wartime, during which they have both internal law enforcement and military functions.
The Turkish Armed Forces is the second largest standing armed force in NATO, after the U.S. Armed Forces, with a combined strength of 1,043,550 uniformed personnel serving in its five branches. Every fit heterosexual male Turkish citizen is required to serve in the military for time periods ranging from three weeks to fifteen months, depending on his education and job location (homosexuals have the right to be exempt, upon their own personal request).
MEKO 200 TN type frigates of the Turkish Navy in formation
In 1998, Turkey announced a program of modernization worth some US$31 billion over a ten year period in various projects including tanks, fighter jets, helicopters, submarines, warships and assault rifles. Turkey is also a Level 3 contributor to the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, gaining an opportunity to develop and influence the creation of the next generation fighter spearheaded by the United States.
Turkey has maintained forces in international missions under the United Nations and NATO since 1950, including peacekeeping missions in Somalia and former Yugoslavia, and support to coalition forces in the First Gulf War. Turkey maintains 36,000 troops in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and has had troops deployed in Afghanistan as part of the U.S. stabilization force and the UN-authorized, NATO-commanded International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) since 2001. In 2006, the Turkish parliament deployed a peacekeeping force of Navy patrol vessels and around 700 ground troops as part of an expanded United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the wake of the Israeli-Lebanon conflict.
The Chief of the General Staff is appointed by the President, and is responsible to the Prime Minister. The Council of Ministers is responsible to the parliament for matters of national security and the adequate preparation of the armed forces to defend the country. However, the authority to declare war and to deploy the Turkish Armed Forces to foreign countries or to allow foreign armed forces to be stationed in Turkey rests solely with the parliament. The actual Commander of the armed forces is the Chief of the General Staff General İlker Başbuğ who will succeed General Yaşar Büyükanıt on August 30, 2008.
The Turkish military has traditionally held a powerful position in domestic Turkish politics, considering itself the guardian of Turkey's secular democracy. It has several times within the last decades forcibly removed elected governments believed to be straying from the principles of the state as established by Atatürk and enshrined in the constitution.
Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, connecting Europe (left) and Asia (right)
Main articles: Regions of Turkey, Provinces of Turkey, Districts of Turkey, and List of cities in Turkey
The capital city of Turkey is Ankara. The territory of Turkey is subdivided into 81 provinces for administrative purposes. The provinces are organized into 7 regions for census purposes; however, they do not represent an administrative structure. Each province is divided into districts, for a total of 923 districts.
Provinces usually bear the same name as their provincial capitals, also called the central district; exceptions to this are the provinces of Hatay (capital: Antakya), Kocaeli (capital: İzmit) and Sakarya (capital: Adapazarı). Provinces with the largest populations are İstanbul (+12 million), Ankara (+4.4 million), İzmir (+3.7 million), Bursa (+2.4 million), Adana (+2.0 million) and Konya (+1.9 million).
The biggest city and the pre-Republican capital İstanbul is the financial, economic and cultural heart of the country. Other important cities include İzmir, Bursa, Adana, Trabzon, Malatya, Gaziantep, Erzurum, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Konya, Mersin, Eskişehir, Diyarbakır, Antalya and Samsun. An estimated 70.5% of Turkey's population live in urban centers. In all, 18 provinces have populations that exceed 1 million inhabitants, and 21 provinces have populations between 1 million and 500,000 inhabitants. Only two provinces have populations less than 100,000.
İstanbul - 12,573,836
Ankara - 4,466,756
İzmir - 3,739,353
Bursa - 2,439,876
Adana - 2,006,650
Konya - 1,959,082
Antalya - 1,789,295
Mersin - 1,595,938
Gaziantep - 1,560,023
Şanlıurfa - 1,523,099
Diyarbakır - 1,460,714
Kocaeli - 1,437,926
Hatay - 1,386,224
Manisa - 1,319,920
Samsun - 1,228,959
(Population figures are given according to the 2007 census)
Geography and climate
Main articles: Geography of Turkey and Environmental issues in Turkey
Ölüdeniz near Fethiye in the Turkish Riviera
Turkey is a transcontinental Eurasian country. Asian Turkey (made up largely of Anatolia), which includes 97% of the country, is separated from European Turkey by the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles (which together form a water link between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean). European Turkey (eastern Thrace or Rumelia in the Balkan peninsula) includes 3% of the country. The territory of Turkey is more than 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) long and 800 km (500 mi) wide, with a roughly rectangular shape. Turkey's area, inclusive of lakes, occupies 783,562 square kilometres (300,948 sq mi), of which 755,688 square kilometres (291,773 sq mi) are in Southwest Asia and 23,764 square kilometres (9,174 sq mi) in Europe. Turkey's area makes it the world's 37th-largest country, and is about the size of Metropolitan France and the United Kingdom combined. Turkey is encircled by seas on three sides: the Aegean Sea to the west, the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Turkey also contains the Sea of Marmara in the northwest.
The European section of Turkey, in the northwest, is Eastern Thrace, and forms the borders of Turkey with Greece and Bulgaria. The Asian part of the country, Anatolia (also called Asia Minor), consists of a high central plateau with narrow coastal plains, between the Köroğlu and East-Black Sea mountain range to the north and the Taurus Mountains to the south. Eastern Turkey has a more mountainous landscape, and is home to the sources of rivers such as the Euphrates, Tigris and Aras, and contains Lake Van and Mount Ararat, Turkey's highest point at 5,165 metres (16,946 ft).
Turkey is geographically divided into seven regions: Marmara, Aegean, Black Sea, Central Anatolia, Eastern Anatolia, Southeastern Anatolia and the Mediterranean. The uneven north Anatolian terrain running along the Black Sea resembles a long, narrow belt. This region comprises approximately one-sixth of Turkey's total land area. As a general trend, the inland Anatolian plateau becomes increasingly rugged as it progresses eastward.
Mt. Ararat is the highest peak in Turkey at 5,165 m (16,946 ft)
Turkey's varied landscapes are the product of complex earth movements that have shaped the region over thousands of years and still manifest themselves in fairly frequent earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions. The Bosporus and the Dardanelles owe their existence to the fault lines running through Turkey that led to the creation of the Black Sea. There is an earthquake fault line across the north of the country from west to east, which caused a major earthquake in 1999.
The coastal areas of Turkey bordering the Mediterranean Sea have a temperate Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet and cold winters. Conditions can be much harsher in the more arid interior. Mountains close to the coast prevent Mediterranean influences from extending inland, giving the central Anatolian plateau of the interior of Turkey a continental climate with sharply contrasting seasons. Winters on the plateau are especially severe. Temperatures of −30 °C to −40 °C (−22 °F to -40 °F) can occur in the mountainous areas in the east, and snow may lie on the ground 120 days of the year. In the west, winter temperatures average below 1 °C (34 °F). Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures generally above 30 °C (86 °F) in the day. Annual precipitation averages about 400 millimetres (15 in), with actual amounts determined by elevation. The driest regions are the Konya plain and the Malatya plain, where annual rainfall frequently is less than 300 millimetres (12 in). May is generally the wettest month, whereas July and August are the most dry.
Main articles: Economy of Turkey and Economic history of Turkey
Levent financial district in Istanbul
Turkey is a founding member of the OECD and the G20 industrial nations.
For most of its republican history, Turkey has adhered to a quasi-statist approach, with strict government controls over private sector participation, foreign trade, and foreign direct investment. However, during the 1980s, Turkey began a series of reforms, initiated by Prime Minister Turgut Özal and designed to shift the economy from a statist, insulated system to a more private-sector, market-based model. The reforms spurred rapid growth, but this growth was punctuated by sharp recessions and financial crises in 1994, 1999 (following the earthquake of that year), and 2001, resulting in an average of 4% GDP growth per annum between 1981 and 2003. Lack of additional reforms, combined with large and growing public sector deficits and widespread corruption, resulted in high inflation, a weak banking sector and increased macroeconomic volatility.
Image:Skyline of Maslak in Istanbul on June 23, 2005.jpg
Maslak financial district in Istanbul
Since the economic crisis of 2001 and the reforms initiated by the finance minister of the time, Kemal Derviş, inflation has fallen to single-digit numbers, investor confidence and foreign investment have soared, and unemployment has fallen. The IMF forecasts a 6% inflation rate for Turkey in 2008. Turkey has gradually opened up its markets through economic reforms by reducing government controls on foreign trade and investment and the privatisation of publicly-owned industries, and the liberalisation of many sectors to private and foreign participation has continued amid political debate.
Atatürk Dam is the 5th largest dam in the world
According to Forbes magazine, Istanbul, Turkey's financial capital, had a total of 35 billionaires as of March 2008 (up from 25 in 2007), ranking 4th in the world behind Moscow (74 billionaires), New York City (71 billionaires) and London (36 billionaires), while ranking above Hong Kong (30 billionaires), Los Angeles (24 billionaires), Mumbai (20 billionaires), San Francisco (19 billionaires), Dallas (15 billionaires) and Tokyo (15 billionaires).
Turkey's economy is a mixture of modern industry and traditional agriculture; great strides have been made since the 1970s to strengthen and diversify the economy. The most productive began the massive Southeastern Anatolia Project to use the Tigris and Euphrates rivers for irrigation and hydroelectric power. Although plagued by the conflict with Kurdish separatists and bitterly opposed by Syria and Iraq (who are concerned that the downstream water flow from the rivers to them will be severely impeded), the project has nine dams and eight hydroelectric stations in operation (out of 22 and 19 originally planned). The government's goal is to transform arid Southeastern Turkey into a prosperous agricultural-industrial region.
TCDD high speed train
The GDP growth rate from 2002 to 2007 averaged 7.4%, which made Turkey one of the fastest growing economies in the world during that period. The World Bank forecasts a 5.4% GDP growth rate for Turkey in 2008. Turkey's economy is no longer dominated by traditional agricultural activities in the rural areas, but more so by a highly dynamic industrial complex in the major cities, mostly concentrated in the western provinces of the country, along with a developed services sector. In 2007, the agricultural sector accounted for 8.9% of the GDP, while the industrial sector accounted for 30.8% and the services sector accounted for 59.3%. The tourism sector has experienced rapid growth in the last twenty years, and constitutes an important part of the economy. In 2007, there were 27,214,988 visitors to the country, who contributed 18.5 billion USD to Turkey's revenues.
Etox is a Turkish sports car brand, based in Ankara
Other key sectors of the Turkish economy are banking, construction, automotive, home appliances, electronics, textiles, oil refining, petrochemical products, food, mining, iron and steel, and machine industry. Turkey has a large and growing automotive industry, which produced 1,024,987 motor vehicles in 2006, ranking as the 6th largest automotive producer in Europe in that year; behind Germany (5,819,614), France (3,174,260), Spain (2,770,435), the United Kingdom (1,648,388), and Italy (1,211,594), respectively.
In recent years, the chronically high inflation has been brought under control and this has led to the launch of a new currency to cement the acquisition of the economic reforms and erase the vestiges of an unstable economy. On January 1, 2005, the old Turkish Lira was replaced by the New Turkish Lira by dropping off six zeroes (1 YTL= 1,000,000 TL). As a result of continuing economic reforms, inflation has dropped to 8.2% in 2005, and the unemployment rate to 10.3%. In 2004, it was estimated that 46.2% of total disposable income was received by the top 20% income earners, while the lowest 20% received 6%.
Esenboğa International Airport in Ankara
Turkey has taken advantage of a customs union with the European Union, signed in 1995, to increase its industrial production destined for exports, while at the same time benefiting from EU-origin foreign investment into the country. In 2005, exports amounted to 73.5 billion USD while the imports stood at 116.8 billion USD, with increases of 16.3% and 19.7% compared to 2004, respectively. For 2006, the exports amounted to 85.8 billion USD, representing an increase of 16,8% over 2005. In 2007 the exports reached 115.3 billion USD (main export partners: Germany 11.2%, UK 8%, Italy 6.95%, France 5.6%, Spain 4.3%, USA 3.88%; total EU exports 56.5%.) However, larger imports amounting to about 162.1 billion USD threaten the balance of trade (main import partners: Russia 13.8%, Germany 10.3%, China 7.8%, Italy 6%, USA 4.8%, France 4.6%, Iran 3.9%, UK 3.2%; total EU imports 40.4%; total Asia imports 27%).
After years of low levels of foreign direct investment (FDI), Turkey succeeded in attracting 21.9 billion USD in FDI in 2007 and is expected to attract a higher figure in following years. A series of large privatizations, the stability fostered by the start of Turkey's EU accession negotiations, strong and stable growth, and structural changes in the banking, retail, and telecommunications sectors have all contributed to a rise in foreign investment.
Main articles: Tourism in Turkey, Turkish Riviera, and List of archaeological sites sorted by country#Turkey
Maiden's Tower is a popular tourist destination in Istanbul
House of the Virgin Mary is a both Christian and Muslim shrine located on Mt. Koressos, Selçuk
Nemrut Dağı is notable for the vast statues at a 1st century BC tomb on its summit.
Cappadocia is one of the most visited place in Central Anatolia
Tourism in Turkey is focused largely on a variety of archaeological and historical sites, and on seaside resorts along its Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. In the recent years, Turkey is also becoming a popular destination for spa and health care tourism. Turkey is the 9th most visited country in the world and 7th in Europe.
Istanbul is one of the most important tourism spots of Turkey. There are thousands of hotels and other tourist oriented industries in the city, catering to both vacationers and visiting professionals. Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, has a number of major attractions derived from its huge historical status as capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. These include the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (the "Blue Mosque"), the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapı Palace, the Basilica Cistern, the Dolmabahce Palace, the Galata Tower, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar, and the Pera Palas. Istanbul has also recently became one of the biggest shopping centers of European region by hosting malls and shopping centers like Metrocity, Akmerkez and Cevahir Mall (which is the biggest mall in Europe and seventh largest shopping center in the world). Sports and Pilgrimage (the fourth holiest place for Islam, is in Istanbul, Eyüp is also motivations for tourist to visit the city). The city is full of museums and cultural events too. Miniatürk, the world's largest miniature park is also in Istanbul. The park contains 105 models done in 1/25th scale.
Beach vacations and Blue Cruise, particularly for Turkish city-dwellers and visitors from Western Europe, are also central to the Turkish tourism industry. Most beach resorts are located along the southwestern and southern Aegean coast, especially along the Mediterranean coast near Antalya. Antalya is also accepted as the tourism capital of Turkey.  Major resort towns include Bodrum, Fethiye, Marmaris, Kuşadası, Çeşme, Didim and Alanya.
Major cultural and historical attractions elsewhere in the country include the sites of Ephesus, Troy, Pergamon, House of Virgin Mary, Pamukkale, Hierapolis, Konya (where the poet Rumi had spent most of his life), Didyma, Church of Antioch, religious places in Mardin (such as Deyrülzafarân Monastery), and the ruined cities and landscapes of Cappadocia.
Ankara has an historic old town, and although is not exactly a touristic city, is usual as a stop for travellers who go to Cappadocia. The city enjoys an excellent cultural life too, having a lot of museums and cultural events. The Anıtkabir is also in Ankara. It is the mausoleum of Atatürk (father of the Turks), the founder of the Republic of Turkey.
İzmir is also a popular tourist destination with its beautiful beaches and historical legacies. It has also an Agora and a Clock Tower in the city centre. İzmir International Fair is the oldest tradeshow in Turkey, considered the cradle of Turkey's fairs and expositions industry, and is also notable for hosting a series of simultaneous festival activities.
Main articles: Demographics of Turkey, Turkish people, and Immigration to Turkey
As of 2007, the population of Turkey stood at 70.5 million with a growth rate of 1.04 % per annum. The average population density (the number of persons per square kilometer) is 92 in Turkey; this changes between 11 and 2,420 in the country's provinces. Istanbul Province has the highest population density with 2,420 persons per square kilometer. The proportion of the population living in cities is 70.5 %. Half of Turkey's population is below the age of 28.3. Persons within the 15-64 age group, i.e. the working ages, constitute 66.5 % of the total population. The 0-14 age group corresponds to 26.4 % of Turkey's population; while senior citizens with 65 years of age or older correspond to 7.1 % of the total population. According to statistics released by the government in 2005, life expectancy stands at 68.9 years for men and 73.8 years for women, with an overall average of 71.3 years for the populace as a whole. Education is compulsory and free from ages 6 to 15. The literacy rate is 95.3% for men and 79.6% for women, with an overall average of 87.4%. The relatively low figure for women is mainly due to the prevailing feudal attitudes in the rural areas of the country, particularly in the southeastern provinces.
Bağdat Avenue in the Kadıköy district of Istanbul, on the Anatolian side, is a popular high street
Article 66 of the Turkish Constitution defines a "Turk" as anyone who is "bound to the Turkish state through the bond of citizenship"; therefore, the legal use of the term "Turkish" as a citizen of Turkey is different from the ethnic definition. The majority of the Turkish population are of Turkish ethnicity. Other major ethnic groups include the Kurds, Circassians, Zazas, Roma, Arabs and the three officially-recognized minorities (per the Treaty of Lausanne) of Greeks, Armenians and Jews. The largest non-Turkic ethnicity is the Kurds, a distinct ethnic group traditionally concentrated in the southeast of the country. A smaller non-Turkic ethinicity is the Syriacs which can be found in southeastern Turkey. The Syriacs stands for the largest Christian denomination in Turkey.
Cafés at the port of İzmir
Minorities other than the three official ones (Greeks, Armenians and Jews) do not have any special group privileges, and while the term "minority" itself remains a sensitive issue in Turkey, it is to be noted that the degree of assimilation within various ethnic groups outside the recognized minorities is high, with the following generations adding to the melting pot of the Turkish main body. Within that main body, certain distinctions based on diverse Turkic origins could be made as well. Reliable data on the exact ethnic repartition of the population is not available, as the Turkish census figures do not include ethnic or racial figures.
Due to a demand for an increased labor force in post-World War II Europe, many Turkish citizens emigrated to Western Europe (particularly West Germany), contributing to the creation of a significant diaspora. Recently, Turkey has also become a destination for numerous immigrants, especially since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the consequent increase of freedom of movement in the region. These immigrants generally migrate from the former Soviet Bloc countries, as well as neighboring Muslim states, either to settle and work in Turkey or to continue their journey towards the European Union.
Main articles: Turkish language and Turkish literature
Atatürk introducing the new Turkish alphabet, in 1928.
Turkish is the sole official language throughout Turkey and is one of the two official languages of nearby Cyprus, together with Greek. Turkish is also officially recognized as a regional language in the Prizren District of Kosovo and is among the official languages in several municipalities of the Republic of Macedonia where ethnic Turks make up more than 20% of the population. Though without any official status, Turkish is also widely spoken in several regions of other Balkan states which were formerly a part of the Ottoman Empire, such as Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria (primarily in the Ludogorie (Deliorman) region, Southern Dobruja and Eastern Rhodopes), Greece (primarily in Western Thrace), Romania (primarily in Northern Dobruja), and Serbia (primarily in the Sandžak region). More than two million Turkish speakers live in Germany, and there are significant Turkish-speaking diaspora communities in Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Istanbul Turkish is established as the official standard language of Turkey. Dialectal variation persists, in spite of the levelling influence of the standard used in mass media and the Turkish education system since the 1930s. Projects investigating Turkish dialects are being carried out by several universities, as well as a dedicated work group of the Turkish Language Association.
Reliable figures for the linguistic repartition of the populace in Turkey are not available due to the lack of information on the linguistic, ethnic, racial or religious background of Turkish citizens in the official population census polls conducted by the Turkish government, for reasons related to the constitutional definition of Turkish citizenship. However, the public broadcaster TRT broadcasts programs in local languages and dialects of Arabic, Bosnian, Circassian, Kurdish and Zazaki a few hours a week.
Main articles: Religion in Turkey, Islam in Turkey, Christianity in Turkey, Judaism in Turkey, and Secularism in Turkey
Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, one of the historical mosques of Turkey.
Republic Protests took place in 2007 in support of the Kemalist ideals of state secularism, opposing Sharia law.
Islam is the major religion practiced in the region, where nominally 99% of the Turkish population is Muslim of whom over 75% belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. A sizeable minority, about over 20% of the Muslim population, is affiliated with the Shi'a Alevi sect. The Bektashi belong to a Sufi order of Islam that is indigenous to Turkey, but also has numerous followers in the Balkan peninsula. Islam had arrived in the region as early as the 6th century through many empires or conquests that have been established such as the Ottoman Empire. It has also been influenced by Christianity and Judaism from the early ages. As of today there are thousands of historical landmarks of mosques throughout the country which are still active, including many churches and synagogues. The mainstream Hanafite school of Sunni Islam is largely organized by the state, through the Religious Affairs Directorate, which controls all mosques and Muslim clerics. The remainder of the population belongs to other faiths, particularly Christian denominations (Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Catholic, Syriac Orthodox and Protestant), Judaism (Sephardic and Ashkenazi), and Yezidism. According to a Pew Research Center report in 2002, 65% of the people in Turkey believe "religion is very important", while according to a Eurobarometer poll in 2005, 95% of Turkish citizens responded that "they believe there is a God".
Turkey has a secular constitution, with no official state religion. The strong tradition of secularism in Turkey is essentially similar to the French model of laïcité, in which the state actively monitors the area between the religions. The constitution recognizes the freedom of religion for individuals, whereas the religious communities are placed under the protection of the state and can't become involved in the political process (e.g. by forming a religious party) or establish faith-based schools. No party can claim that it represents a form of religious belief; nevertheless, religious sensibilities are generally represented through conservative parties. Turkey prohibits by law the wearing of religious headcover and theo-political symbolic garments for both genders in government buildings, schools, and universities; the law was upheld by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights as "legitimate" in the Leyla Şahin v. Turkey case on November 10, 2005.
Culture and sports
Main articles: Culture of Turkey, Music of Turkey, Sports in Turkey, Arts in Turkey, Turkish literature, and Ottoman architecture
Leyla Gencer, known as "La Regina" (The Queen) in the opera world, was one of the greatest sopranos
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk expressed that "Culture is the foundation of the Turkish Republic."
Orhan Pamuk is one of the leading contemporary Turkish novelists and the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature
Sertab Erener won the Eurovision Song Contest 2003 with the song "Everyway That I Can"
Nuri Bilge Ceylan won the Best Director award at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival with Üç Maymun
Turkey has a very diverse culture that is a blend of various elements of the Oğuz Turkic, Anatolian, Ottoman (which was itself a continuation of both Greco-Roman and Islamic cultures) and Western culture and traditions, which started with the Westernization of the Ottoman Empire and still continues today. This mix originally began as a result of the encounter of Turks and their culture with those of the peoples who were in their path during their migration from Central Asia to the West. As Turkey successfully transformed from the religion-based former Ottoman Empire into a modern nation-state with a very strong separation of state and religion, an increase in the methods of artistic expression followed. During the first years of the republic, the government invested a large amount of resources into fine arts; such as museums, theatres, opera houses and architecture. Because of different historical factors playing an important role in defining the modern Turkish identity, Turkish culture is a product of efforts to be "modern" and Western, combined with the necessity felt to maintain traditional religious and historical values. Turkish music and literature form great examples of such a mix of cultural influences, which were a result of the interaction between the Ottoman Empire and the Islamic world along with Europe, and thus contributing to a blend of Turkic, Islamic and European traditions in modern-day Turkish music and literary arts.
Turkish literature was heavily influenced by Persian and Arabic literature during most of the Ottoman era, though towards the end of the Ottoman Empire, particularly after the Tanzimat period, the effect of both Turkish folk and Western literary traditions became increasingly felt. The mix of cultural influences is dramatized, for example, in the form of the "new symbols [of] the clash and interlacing of cultures" enacted in the works of Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. Pamuk is among the leading contemporary Turkish novelists, whose innovative writing style displays influences of postmodernism and magic realism. Nazım Hikmet, who introduced the free verse style to Turkish poetry, as well as being an innovative playwright, novelist and memoirist who experimented new methods, is widely regarded as one of the all-time greatest international literary figures of the 20th century. Other leading Turkish poets, novelists and playwrights include Namık Kemal, Tevfik Fikret, Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu, Ahmet Haşim, Yahya Kemal Beyatlı, Melih Cevdet Anday, Oktay Rıfat, Sait Faik Abasıyanık, Orhan Veli Kanık, Edip Cansever, Cemal Süreya, Kemal Tahir, Orhan Kemal, Yaşar Kemal, Aziz Nesin, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, Oğuz Atay, Fazıl Hüsnü Dağlarca, Behçet Necatigil and Can Yücel. Turkish film directors have won numerous prestigious awards in the recent years. Nuri Bilge Ceylan won the Best Director Award at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival with the film Üç Maymun. This was the fourth time that Ceylan received an award at Cannes, following the awards for the film Uzak (which was also nominated for the Golden Palm) at the festival of 2003 and 2004, and the film İklimler (also nominated for the Golden Palm) at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. These three films, along with the other important works of Ceylan such as Kasaba (1997) and Mayıs sıkıntısı (1999) have also won awards at the other prominent film festivals. Turkish film director Fatih Akın, who lives in Germany and has dual Turkish-German citizenship, won the Golden Bear Award at the 2004 Berlin Film Festival with the film Head-On. Fatih Akın was nominated for the Golden Palm and won the Best Screenplay Award at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, together with several other awards in major international festivals, and the Lux Prize by the European Parliament, with the film The Edge of Heaven. Other important films of Akın, such as Kurz und schmerzlos (1998), Im Juli (2000), Solino (2002), and Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul (2005) also won numerous awards. Another famous Turkish film director is Ferzan Özpetek, whose films like Hamam (1997), Harem suaré (1999), Le Fate Ignoranti (2001), La finestra di fronte (2003), Cuore Sacro (2005) and Saturno contro (2007) won him international fame. The film La finestra di fronte (2003) was particularly successful, winning the 2003 David di Donatello Award for Best Film, the Crystal Globe and Best Director awards at the 2003 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the 2003 Silver Ribbon for Best Original Story from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, the Festival Prize at the 2004 Foyle Film Festival, the Audience Award at the 2004 Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival, and the Canvas Audience Award at the 2004 Flanders International Film Festival.
Dolmabahçe Palace, Istanbul
Architectural elements found in Turkey are also testaments to the unique mix of traditions that have influenced the region over the centuries. In addition to the traditional Byzantine elements present in numerous parts of Turkey, many artifacts of the later Ottoman architecture, with its exquisite blend of local and Islamic traditions, are to be found throughout the country, as well as in many former territories of the Ottoman Empire. Sinan is widely regarded as the greatest architect of the classical period in Ottoman architecture. Since the 18th century, Turkish architecture has been increasingly influenced by Western styles, and this can be particularly seen in Istanbul where buildings like the Blue Mosque and the Dolmabahçe Palace are juxtaposed next to numerous modern skyscrapers, all of them representing different traditions.
The most popular sport in Turkey is football. Turkey's top teams include Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş. In 2000, Galatasaray cemented its role as a major European club by winning the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup. Two years later the Turkish national team finished third in the 2002 World Cup Finals in Japan and South Korea, while in 2008 the national team reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Euro 2008 competition.
Other mainstream sports such as basketball and volleyball are also popular. The men's national basketball team finished second in Eurobasket 2001; while Efes Pilsen S.K. won the Korac Cup in 1996, finished second in the Saporta Cup of 1993, and made it to the Final Four of Euroleague and Suproleague in 2000 and 2001. Turkish basketball players have also been successful in the NBA. In June 2004, Mehmet Okur won the 2004 NBA Championship with the Detroit Pistons, becoming the first Turkish player to win an NBA title. Okur was selected to the Western Conference All-Star Team for the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, also becoming the first Turkish player to participate in this event. Another successful Turkish player in the NBA is Hidayet Türkoğlu, who was given the NBA's Most Improved Player Award for the 2007-2008 season, on April 28, 2008. Women's volleyball teams such as Eczacıbaşı and Vakıfbank Güneş Sigorta have been the most successful by far in any team sport, winning numerous European championship titles and medals.
Istanbul Park racing circuit a few hours before the F1 Turkish Grand Prix
Motorsports have become popular recently, especially following the inclusion of the Rally of Turkey to the FIA World Rally Championship calendar in 2003, and the inclusion of the Turkish Grand Prix to the Formula 1 racing calendar in 2005. Other important annual motorsports events which are held at the Istanbul Park racing circuit include the MotoGP Grand Prix of Turkey, the FIA World Touring Car Championship, the GP2 Series and the Le Mans Series. From time to time Istanbul and Antalya also host the Turkish leg of the F1 Powerboat Racing championship; while the Turkish leg of the Red Bull Air Race World Series, an air racing competition, takes place above the Golden Horn in Istanbul. Surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, paragliding and other extreme sports are becoming more popular every year.
The traditional Turkish national sport has been the Yağlı güreş (Oiled Wrestling) since Ottoman times. International wrestling styles governed by FILA such as Freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling are also popular, with many European, World and Olympic championship titles won by Turkish wrestlers both individually and as a national team. Another major sport in which the Turks have been internationally successful is weightlifting; as Turkish weightlifters, both male and female, have broken numerous world records and won several European, World and Olympic championship titles. Naim Süleymanoğlu and Halil Mutlu have achieved legendary status as one of the few weightlifters to have won three gold medals in three Olympics.
Topkapı Palace - Hagia Sophia - Blue Mosque
Emblem of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality
Location of Istanbul on the Bosphorus Strait, Turkey
Coordinates: 41.01224, 28.976018
Founded 667 BC as Byzantium
Roman/Byzantine period AD 330 as Nova Roma (original name given in 330 and used during Constantine's reign) and later Constantinople (following Constantine's death in 337)
Ottoman period 1453 as Konstantiniyye (in Ottoman Turkish), Constantinople (internationally) and various other names in local languages
Turkish Republic period 1923 as Istanbul (in Turkish) and Constantinople (internationally), renamed as Istanbul also in foreign languages following the Turkish Postal Service Law of March 28, 1930
- Total 1,830.92 km² (706.9 sq mi)
Elevation 100 m (328 ft)
- Total 11,372,613 (3rd)
- Density 6,211/km² (16,086.4/sq mi)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
- Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 34010 to 34850 and
80000 to 81800
Area code(s) (+90) 212 (European side)
(+90) 216 (Asian side)
Licence plate 34
Website: Istanbul Portal
Historic Areas of Istanbul*
UNESCO World Heritage Site
State Party Turkey
Criteria I, II, III, IV
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription 1985 (9th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.
Istanbul (historically Byzantium and later Constantinople; see the other names of Istanbul) is the world's 3rd largest city and Turkey's cultural and financial center. The city covers 27 districts of the Istanbul province. It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbor known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of the country. It extends both on the European (Thrace) and on the Asian (Anatolia) side of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world which is situated on two continents. In its long history, Istanbul served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). The city was chosen as joint European Capital of Culture for 2010. The historic areas of Istanbul were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.
Further information: Names of Istanbul
The modern Turkish name İstanbul (IPA: [isˈtanbul] or colloquial [ɨsˈtanbul]) has been used to describe this city, in a range of different variants, from as far back as the 10th century; it has been the common name for the city in normal Turkish speech since before the conquest of 1453. Etymologically, it derives from the Greek phrase "εἰς τὴν Πόλιν" [istimˈbolin] or in the Aegean dialect "εἰς τὰν Πόλιν" [istamˈbolin] (modern Greek "στην Πόλι" [stimˈboli]), which means "in the city", "to the city" or "downtown".
Byzantium is the first known name of the city. In 667 B.C., this Doric colony was founded by settlers from the city-state of Megara, and they named the colony after their king Byzas. When Roman emperor Constantine I (Constantine the Great) made the city the new eastern capital of the Roman Empire on May 11, 330, he conferred on it the name Nova Roma ("New Rome"). Constantinople ("City of Constantine") was the name by which the city became instead more widely known. It is first attested in official use under emperor Theodosius II (408–450). It remained the principal official name of the city throughout the Byzantine period, and the most common name used for it in the West until the early 20th century.
The city has also been nicknamed "The City on Seven Hills" because the historic peninsula, the oldest part of the city, was built on seven hills (just like Rome), each of which bears a historic mosque. The hills are represented in the city's emblem with seven triangles, above which rise four minarets. Two of many other old nicknames of Istanbul are Vasilevousa Polis (the Queen of Cities), which rose from the city's importance and wealth throughout the Middle Ages; and Dersaadet, originally Der-i Saadet (the Door to Happiness) which was first used towards the end of 19th century and is still remembered today.
With the Turkish Postal Service Law of 28 March 1930, the Turkish authorities officially requested foreigners to adopt Istanbul as the sole name also in their own languages.
Main article: History of Istanbul“ If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital. ”
The first human settlement in Istanbul, the Fikirtepe mound on the Anatolian side, is from the Copper Age period, with artifacts dating from 5500–3500 BC. A port settlement dating back to the Phoenicians has been discovered in nearby Kadıköy (Chalcedon). Cape Moda in Chalcedon was the first location which the Greek settlers of Megara chose to colonize in 685 BC, prior to colonizing Byzantion on the European side of the Bosphorus under the command of King Byzas in 667 BC. Byzantion was established on the site of an ancient port settlement named Lygos, founded by Thracian tribes between the 13th and 11th centuries BC, along with the neighbouring Semistra, of which Plinius had mentioned in his historical accounts. Only a few walls and substructures belonging to Lygos have survived to date, near the Seraglio Point (Turkish: Sarayburnu), where the famous Topkapı Palace now stands. During the period of Byzantion, the Acropolis used to stand where the Topkapı Palace stands today.
After siding with Pescennius Niger against the victorious Roman emperor Septimius Severus, the city was besieged by the Romans and suffered extensive damage in 196 AD. Byzantium was rebuilt by Severus and quickly regained its previous prosperity, being temporarily renamed as Augusta Antonina by the emperor, in honor of his son.
Panoramic view of the city in the 1870s as seen from the Galata Tower (full image)
The location of Byzantium attracted Constantine I in 324 after a prophetic dream was said to have identified the location of the city; but the true reason behind this prophecy was probably Constantine's final victory over Licinius at the Battle of Chrysopolis (Üsküdar) on the Bosphorus, on 18 September, 324, which ended the civil war between the Roman Co-Emperors, and brought an end to the final vestiges of the Tetrarchy system, during which Nicomedia (present-day İzmit, 100 km (62 mi) east of Istanbul) was the most senior Roman capital city. Byzantium (now renamed as Nova Roma which eventually became Constantinopolis, i.e. "The City of Constantine") was officially proclaimed the new capital of the Roman Empire six years later, in 330. Following the death of Theodosius I in 395 and the permanent partition of the Roman Empire between his two sons, Constantinople became the capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. As well as being the centre of an imperial dynasty, the unique position of Constantinople at the centre of two continents made the city a magnet for international commerce, culture and diplomacy. The Byzantine Empire was distinctly Greek in culture and became the centre of Greek Orthodox Christianity, while its capital was adorned with many magnificent churches, including the Hagia Sophia, once the world's largest cathedral. The seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, still remains in the Fener (Greek: Phanar) district of Istanbul.
In 1204, the Fourth Crusade was launched to capture Jerusalem, but had instead turned on Constantinople, which was sacked and desecrated. The city subsequently became the centre of the Catholic Latin Empire, created by the crusaders to replace the Orthodox Byzantine Empire, which was divided into a number of splinter states, of which the Empire of Nicaea was to recapture Constantinople in 1261 under the command of Michael VIII Palaeologus.
Panoramic view of the Golden Horn in Istanbul, as seen from the Galata Tower. The Galata Bridge can be seen in the center of the picture. The Seraglio Point where the Topkapı Palace is located is seen at the left tip of the historic peninsula; followed by (left to right) the Hagia Sophia, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Yeni Mosque near the Galata Bridge, the Beyazıt Tower rising high in the background, and the Süleymaniye Mosque at far right, among others. The Sea of Marmara and the Princes' Islands are seen in the background, on the horizon. At the extreme left of the picture, the district of Kadıköy (ancient Chalcedon) on the Asian side of the city can be seen. Behind the Galata Bridge, towards the horizon, the Column of Constantine (which was surrounded by iron bars for restoration at the time of this photo) rises.
In the last decades of the Byzantine Empire, the city had decayed as the Byzantine state became increasingly isolated and financially bankrupt, its population had dwindled to some thirty or forty thousand people whilst large sections remained uninhabited. Due to the ever increasing inward turn the Byzantines took, many facets of their surrounding empire were now falling apart, leaving them vulnerable to attack. Ottoman Turks began a strategy by which they took selected towns and smaller cities over time, enveloping Bursa in 1326, Nicomedia in 1337, Gallipoli in 1354, and finally Adrianople in 1362. This essentially cut off Constantinople from its main supply routes, strangling it slowly.
On 29 May 1453, Sultan Mehmed II "the Conqueror" captured Constantinople after a 53-day siege and proclaimed that the city was now the new capital of his Ottoman Empire. Sultan Mehmed's first duty was to rejuvenate the city economically, creating the Grand Bazaar and inviting the fleeing Orthodox and Catholic inhabitants to return. Captured prisoners were freed to settle in the city whilst provincial governors in Rumelia and Anatolia were ordered to send four thousand families to settle in the city, whether Muslim, Christian or Jew, to form a unique cosmopolitan society. The Sultan also endowed the city with various architectural monuments, including the Topkapı Palace and the Eyüp Sultan Mosque. Religious foundations were established to fund the construction of grand imperial mosques (such as the Fatih Mosque which was built on the spot where the Church of the Holy Apostles once stood), adjoined by their associated schools, hospitals and public baths. Suleiman the Magnificent's reign of the Ottoman Empire from 1520 to 1566 was a period of great artistic and architectural achievements. The famous architect Sinan designed many mosques and other grand buildings in the city, while Ottoman arts of ceramics and calligraphy also flourished.
Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, connecting Europe (left) and Asia (right)
When the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the capital was moved from Istanbul to Ankara. In the early years of the republic, Istanbul was overlooked in favour of the new capital Ankara. However, in the 1950s, Istanbul underwent great structural change, as new roads and factories were constructed throughout the city. Wide modern boulevards, avenues and public squares were built in Istanbul, sometimes at the expense of the demolition of many historical buildings. During the 1970s, the population of Istanbul began to rapidly increase as people from Anatolia migrated to the city in order to find employment in the many new factories that were constructed at the outskirts of the city. This sudden sharp increase in the population caused a rapid rise in housing development, and many previously outlying villages became engulfed into the greater metropolis of Istanbul. Illegal construction, combined with corner-cutting methods, have accounted for the reason why 65% of all of the buildings in Istanbul are not up to standard. The concerns have increased due to the serious nature of the Izmit earthquake of 1999.
City limits in 1922
Istanbul is located in the north-west Marmara Region of Turkey. It encloses the southern Bosphorus which places the city on two continents—the western portion of Istanbul is in Europe, while the eastern portion is in Asia. The city boundaries cover a surface area of 1,539 square kilometres (594 sq mi), while the metropolitan region, or the Province of Istanbul, covers 6,220 square kilometres (2,402 sq mi).
Istanbul and the Bosporus today
Istanbul is situated near the North Anatolian fault line, which runs from northern Anatolia to the Marmara Sea. Two tectonic plates, the African and the Eurasian, push against each other here. This fault line has been responsible for several deadly earthquakes in the region throughout history. In 1509 a catastrophic earthquake caused a tsunami which broke over the sea-walls of the city, destroying over 100 mosques and killing 10,000 people. In 1766 the Eyüp Sultan Mosque was largely destroyed. The 1894 earthquake caused the collapse of many parts of the Grand Bazaar. A devastating earthquake on August 17, 1999, with its epicenter in nearby Izmit, left 18,000 dead and many more homeless. In all of these earthquakes, the devastating effects are a result of the building density and poor construction of buildings. Seismologists predict another earthquake, possibly measuring magnitude 7.0, occurring before 2025.
The city has a Temperate climate with hot and humid summers; and cold, wet winters. Humidity is generally rather high which can make temperatures feel much warmer or colder than they actually are. Yearly precipitation for Istanbul averages 640 millimetres (25.2 in). Snowfall is quite common, snowing for a week or two during the winter season, but it can be heavy once it snows. It is most likely to occur between the months of December and March. The summer months between June and September bring average daytime temperatures of 28 °C (82 °F). The warmest month is July with an average temperature of 23.3 °C (74 °F), the coldest is January with 5.6 °C (42 °F). The weather becomes slightly cooler as one moves toward eastern Istanbul. Summer is by far the driest season, although there is no real summer drought such as occurs further west, and so the climate cannot be considered truly Mediterranean. The city is quite windy, having an average wind speed of 17 km/h (11 mph).
Weather averages for Istanbul
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C 8 8 11 16 21 26 28 28 24 19 14 10 18
Average low °C 3 3 4 8 12 17 19 19 16 13 8 6 11
Precipitation mm 94 71.1 58.4 43.2 30.5 22.9 17.8 15.2 27.9 53.3 88.9 101.6 640.1
Average high °F 46 47 51 60 69 78 82 82 76 67 57 50 64
Average low °F 37 37 40 47 54 62 66 67 61 55 47 42 51
Precipitation inches 3.7 2.8 2.3 1.7 1.2 0.9 0.7 0.6 1.1 2.1 3.5 4.0 25.2
Source: Weatherbase 2008-01-04
Istanbul's districts are divided into three main areas:
Traditional waterfront houses on the Bosphorus
The historic peninsula of old Istanbul corresponds approximately to the extent of Constantinople in the 15th century; it comprises the districts of Eminönü and Fatih. This area lies on the southern shores of the Golden Horn, which separates the old city center from the northern and younger parts of the European side. The historic peninsula ends with the Theodosian Land Walls in the west. The peninsula is surrounded by the Sea of Marmara on the south and the entrance of the Bosphorus on the east.
North of the Golden Horn are the historical Beyoğlu and Beşiktaş districts, where the last Sultan's palace is located, followed by a chain of former villages such as Ortaköy and Bebek along the shores of the Bosphorus. On both the European and Asian sides of the Bosphorus, wealthy Istanbulites built luxurious chalet mansions, called yalı, which were used as summer residences.
The quarters of Üsküdar and Kadıköy which are located on the Asian side were originally independent cities, like Beyoğlu also used to be. Today they are full of modern residential areas and business districts, and are home to around one-third of Istanbul's population.
To the west, to the east and to the north, Istanbul exceeds far over historical quarters. Elevated office and residential areas rise particularly in the north on height of the second Bosphorus bridge above Bebek in the quarters of Levent,Etiler and Maslak. Due to Istanbul's exponential growth during the second half of 20th century, a significant portion of the city consists of "Gecekondus", a Turkish word created in the 1940s meaning "built overnight" and refers to the illegally constructed squatter buildings that comprise entire neighborhoods and run rampant in Turkey’s larger cities, especially Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, and Bursa. According to the official definition stated in the Gecekondus Act of 1966, these neighborhoods are typically built on abandoned land or on lands owned by others, without the permission of the landowner, and do not obey rules and regulations.
Istanbul Province has 32 districts, of which 27 form the city proper of Istanbul, also called Greater Istanbul, administered by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (or Municipality of Metropolitan Istanbul) (Turkish: İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi.
View of the Bosphorus strait, as seen from the Bosphorus Bridge
See also: List of mayors of Istanbul
The mayor of Istanbul, currently Kadir Topbaş, serves as the prefect of the city, as well as governor of the province. Istanbul is a home rule city and municipal elections are mainly partisan. The metropolitan model of governance has been used with the establishment of metropolitan administration in 1930. The metropolitan council is responsible for all authority when it comes to making city decisions. The metropolitan government structure consists of three main organs: (1) The Metropolitan Mayor (elected every five years), (2) The Metropolitan Council (decision making body with the mayor, district Mayors, and one fifth of the district municipal councilors), (3) The metropolitan executive committee. There are three types of local authorities: (1) municipalities, (2) special provincial administrations, (3) village administrations. Among the local authorities, municipalities are gaining greater importance with the rise in urbanization.
Further information: Historical population values and Demographics of Turkey
Check the image detail for the data (there is a table that generated this info)
The population of the metropolis more than tripled during the 25 years between 1980 and 2005. Roughly 70% of all Istanbulites live in the European section and around 30% in the Asian section. Due to high unemployment in the southeast of Turkey, many people from that region migrated to Istanbul, where they established themselves in the outskirts of the city. Migrants, predominantly from eastern Anatolia arrive in Istanbul expecting improved living conditions and employment, which usually end with little success. This results each year with new gecekondus at the outskirts of the city, which are later developed into neighbourhoods and integrated into the greater metropolis.
The city has a population of 11,372,613 residents according to the latest count as of 2007, and is one of the largest cities in the world today. The rate of population growth in the city is currently at 3.45% a year on average, mainly due to the influx of people from the surrounding rural areas. Istanbul's population density of 2,742 people per square mile (1,700 per square km) far exceeds Turkey's 130 people per square mile (81 people per square km).
The following overview shows the numbers of inhabitants by year. Population tallies up to 1914 are estimated with variations of up to 50% depending upon researcher. The numbers from 1927 to 2000 are results of censuses. The numbers of 2005 and 2006 are based on computer simulation forecasts. The doubling of the population of Istanbul between 1980 and 1985 is due to a natural increase in population as well as the expansion of municipal limits.Year Population
Main article: Religion in Istanbul
Further information: Mosques, Churches, Synagogues
The urban landscape of Istanbul is shaped by many communities. The religion with the largest community of followers is Islam. Religious minorities include Greek Orthodox Christians, Armenian Christians, Catholic Levantines and Sephardic Jews. According to the 2000 census, there were 2691 active mosques, 123 active churches and 26 active synagogues in Istanbul; as well as 109 Muslim cemeteries and 57 non-Muslim cemeteries. Some districts have sizeable populations of these ethnic groups, such as the Kumkapı district which has a sizeable Armenian population, the Balat district which has a sizeable Jewish population, the Fener district which has a sizeable Greek population, and some neighbourhoods in the Nişantaşı and Beyoğlu districts which have sizeable Levantine populations. In some quarters, such as Kuzguncuk, an Armenian church sits next to a synagogue, and on the other side of the road a Greek Orthodox church is found beside a mosque.
The seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church is located in the Fener (Phanar) district. Also based in Istanbul are the archbishop of the Turkish-Orthodox community, an Armenian archbishop, and the Turkish Grand-Rabbi. A number of places reflect past movements of different communities into Istanbul, most notably Arnavutköy (Albanian village), Polonezköy (Polish village) and Yenibosna (New Bosnia).
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque
The Muslims are the largest religious group in Istanbul. Among them, the Sunnis form the most populous sect, while approximately 15 to 30% of the local Muslims are Alevis. In 2007 there were 2,944 active mosques in Istanbul.
Istanbul was the final seat of the Islamic Caliphate, between 1517 and 1924, when the Caliphate was dissolved and its powers were handed over to the Turkish Parliament. On September 2, 1925, the tekkes and tarikats were banned, as their activities were deemed incompatible with the characteristics of the secular democratic Turkish Republic; particularly with the secular education system and the laicist state's control over religious affairs through the Religious Affairs Directorate. Most followers of Sufism and other forms of Islamic mysticism practiced clandestinely afterwards, and some of these sects still boast numerous followers. In order to avoid the still valid prohibition, these organisations represent themselves as "cultural associations."
The city has been the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate since the 4th century AD, and continues to serve as the seat of some other Orthodox churches, such as the Turkish Orthodox Church and the Armenian Patriarchate. The city was formerly also the seat of the Bulgarian Exarchate, before its autocephaly was recognized by other Orthodox churches.
The everyday life of the Christians, particularly the Greeks and Armenians living in Istanbul changed significantly following the bitter conflicts between these ethnic groups and the Turks during the fall of the Ottoman Empire, which began in the 1820s and continued for a century. The conflicts reached their culmination in the decade between 1912 and 1922; during the Balkan Wars, the First World War and the Turkish War of Independence. The city's Greek Orthodox community was exempted from the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923. However, a series of special restrictions and taxes during the years of the Second World War (see, e.g., Varlık Vergisi), and the Istanbul Pogrom of 1955 which caused the deaths of 15 Greeks and the injury of 32 others, greatly increased emigration from Istanbul to Greece. In 1964, all Greeks without Turkish citizenship residing in Turkey (around 12,000) were deported. Today, most of Turkey's remaining Greek and Armenian minorities live in or near Istanbul. The number of the local Turkish Armenians in Istanbul today amount to approximately 40,000 (not including the nearly 40,000 Armenian workers in Turkey who came from Armenia and mostly live and work in Istanbul), while the Greek community amounted to approximately 5,000 at the beginning of the 21st century. Beside the mostly Catholic Levantines, who are the descendants of European (Genoese, Venetian and French) traders who established trading outposts during the Byzantine and Ottoman periods, there is also a small, scattered number of Bosphorus Germans living in Istanbul.
The Sephardic Jews have lived in the city for over 500 years, see the history of the Jews in Turkey. They fled the Iberian Peninsula during the Spanish Inquisition of 1492, when they were forced to convert to Christianity after the fall of the Moorish Kingdom of Andalucia. The Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II (1481-1512) sent a sizable fleet to Spain under the command of Kemal Reis in order to save the Sephardic Jews. More than 200,000 fled first to Tangier, Algiers, Genova and Marseille, later to Salonica and finally to Istanbul. The Sultan granted over 93,000 of these Spanish Jews to take refuge in the Ottoman Empire. Another large group of Sephardic Jews came from southern Italy which was under Spanish control. The İtalyan Sinagogu (Italian Synagogue) in Galata is mostly frequented by the descendants of these Italian Jews in Istanbul, where more than 20,000 Sephardic Jews still remain today. Altogether 20 active synagogues are to be found in the city, the most important of them being the Neve Shalom Synagogue inaugurated in 1951, in the Beyoğlu quarter. The Turkish Grand Rabbi in Istanbul (currently Ishak Haleva) presides over community affairs. The Sephardic Jews of Iberia and Italy contributed much to the rising power of the Ottoman Empire by introducing new ideas, methods and craftsmanship. The first Gutenberg press in Istanbul was established by the Sephardic Jews in 1493, who excelled in many areas, particularly medicine, trade and banking. There is also a relatively smaller and more recent community of Ashkenazi Jews in Istanbul who continue to live in the city since the 19th century. A second large wave of Ashkenazi Jews came to Istanbul during the 1930s and 1940s following the rise of Nazism in Germany which persecuted the Ashkenazi Jews of central and eastern Europe.
Main article: Economy of Istanbul
View of the city from Gülhane Park near Topkapı Palace
Istanbul has always been the center of the country's economic life because of its location as an international junction of land and sea trade routes. The opening of specific markets in the city during the 1980s further strengthened the city's economic status. Inaugurated at the beginning of 1986, the Istanbul Stock Exchange (ISE) is the sole securities market of Turkey.
Maslak financial district
Today, the city generates 55% of Turkey's trade and 45% of the country's wholesale trade, and generates 21.2% of Turkey's gross national product. Istanbul contributes 40% of all taxes collected in Turkey and produces 27.5% of Turkey's national product. In 2005 the City of Istanbul had a GDP of $133 billion. In 2005 companies based in Istanbul made exports worth $41,397,000,000 and imports worth $69,883,000,000; which corresponded to 56.6% and 60.2% of Turkey's exports and imports, respectively, in that year. According to Forbes magazine, Istanbul had a total of 35 billionaires as of March 2008 (up from 25 in 2007), ranking 4th in the world behind Moscow (74 billionaires), New York City (71 billionaires) and London (36 billionaires). 
Levent financial district
Istanbul is also Turkey's largest industrial center. It employs approximately 20% of Turkey's industrial labor and contributes 38% of Turkey's industrial workspace. Istanbul and its surrounding province produce cotton, fruit, olive oil, silk, and tobacco. Food processing, textile production, oil products, rubber, metal ware, leather, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electronics, glass, machinery, automotive, transport vehicles, paper and paper products, and alcoholic drinks are among the city's major industrial products.
Istanbul is one of the most important tourism spots of Turkey. There are thousands of hotels and other tourist oriented industries in the city, catering to both vacationers and visiting professionals. In 2006 a total of 23,148,669 tourists visited Turkey, most of whom entered the country through the airports and seaports of Istanbul and Antalya. The total number of tourists who entered Turkey through Atatürk International Airport and Sabiha Gökçen International Airport in Istanbul reached 5,346,658, rising from 4,849,353 in 2005. Istanbul is also one of the world's major conference destinations and is an increasingly popular choice for the world's leading international associations.
Health and medicine
See also: List of hospitals in Istanbul
The city has many public and private hospitals, clinics and laboratories within its bounds and numerous medical research centers. Many of these facilities have high technology equipment, which has contributed to the recent upsurge in "medical tourism" to Istanbul, particularly from West European countries like the United Kingdom and Germany where governments send patients with lower income to the city for the relatively inexpensive service of high-tech medical treatment and operations. Istanbul has particularly become a global destination for laser eye surgery and plastic surgery. The city also has an Army Veterans Hospital in the military medical center.
Pollution-related health problems increase especially in the winter, when the combustion of heating fuels increase. The rising number of new cars in the city and the slow development of public transportation often cause urban smog conditions. Mandatory use of unleaded gas was scheduled to begin only in January 2006.
Main article: Utilities in Istanbul
The first water supply systems which were built in Istanbul date back to the foundation of the city. Two of the greatest aqueducts built in the Roman period are the Mazulkemer Aqueduct and the Valens Aqueduct. These aqueducts were built in order to channel water from the Halkalı area in the western edge of the city to the Beyazıt district in the city center, which was known as the Forum Tauri in the Roman period. After reaching the city center, the water was later collected in the city's numerous cisterns, such as the famous Philoxenos (Binbirdirek) Cistern and the Basilica (Yerebatan) Cistern. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent commissioned Sinan, his engineer and architect-in-chief, to improve the water needs of the city. Sinan constructed the Kırkçeşme Water Supply System in 1555. In later years, with the aim of responding to the ever-increasing public demand, water from various springs was channeled to the public fountains by means of small supply lines; see German Fountain.
Today, Istanbul has a chlorinated and filtered water supply and a sewage disposal system managed by the government agency İSKİ. There are also several private sector organizations distributing clean water. Electricity distribution services are covered by the state-owned TEK. The first electricity production plant in the city, Silahtarağa Termik Santrali, was established in 1914 and continued to supply electricity until 1983.
The Ottoman Ministry of Post and Telegraph was established in the city on 23 October 1840. The first post office was the Postahane-i Amire near the courtyard of Yeni Mosque. In 1876 the first international mailing network between Istanbul and the lands beyond the vast Ottoman Empire was established. In 1901 the first money transfers were made through the post offices and the first cargo services became operational. Samuel Morse received his first ever patent for the telegraph in 1847, at the old Beylerbeyi Palace (the present Beylerbeyi Palace was built in 1861–1865 on the same location) in Istanbul, which was issued by Sultan Abdülmecid who personally tested the new invention. Following this successful test, installation works of the first telegraph line between Istanbul and Edirne began on 9 August 1847. In 1855 the Telegraph Administration was established. In July 1881 the first telephone circuit in Istanbul was established between the Ministry of Post and Telegraph in Soğukçeşme and the Postahane-i Amire in Yenicami. On 23 May 1909, the first manual telephone exchange with a 50 line capacity was established in the Büyük Postane (Grand Post Office) of Sirkeci.
İstanbul Atatürk Airport
Istanbul has two international airports: The larger one is the Atatürk International Airport located in the Yeşilköy district on the European side, about 24 kilometres (15 mi) west from the city center. When it was first built, the airport used to be at the western edge of the metropolitan area but now lies within the city bounds.
The smaller one is the Sabiha Gökçen International Airport located in the Kurtköy district on the Asian side, close to the Istanbul Park GP Racing Circuit. It is situated approximately 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of the Asian side and 45 kilometres (28 mi) east of the European city center.
The O1 motorway in Istanbul (commonly known among the public by its older name, the E5) is mostly used for inner city traffic
The E80 and Trans European Motorway (TEM) are the three main motorway connections between Europe and Turkey. The motorway network around Istanbul is well developed and is constantly being extended. Motorways lead east to Ankara and west to Edirne. There are also two express highways circling the city. The older one, the O1, is mostly used for inner city traffic; while the more recent one, the TEM highway, is mostly used by intercity or intercontinental traffic. The Bosphorus Bridge on O1 and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge on TEM establish the motorway connection between the European and the Asian sides of the Bosphorus.
Sea transport is vital for Istanbul, as the city is practically surrounded by sea on all sides: the Sea of Marmara, the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Black Sea. Many Istanbulites live on the Asian side of the city but work on the European side (or vice-versa) and the city's famous commuter ferries form the backbone of the daily transition between the two parts of the city - even more so than the two suspension bridges which span the Bosphorus. The commuter ferries, along with the high speed catamaran Seabus (Deniz Otobüsü), also form the main connection between the city and the Princes' Islands.
A cruise ship (left) and Seabus (right)
İDO (İstanbul Deniz Otobüsleri - Istanbul Sea Buses) was established in 1987 and operates the high speed catamaran Seabus which run between the European and Asian parts of Istanbul, also connecting the city with the Princes' Islands and other destinations in the Sea of Marmara. The Yenikapı High Speed Car Ferry Port on the European side, and the Pendik High Speed Car Ferry Port on the Asian side, are where the high speed catamaran "car ferries" are based. The car ferries which operate between Yenikapı (on the European side of Istanbul) and Bandırma reduce the driving time between Istanbul and İzmir and other major destinations on Turkey's Aegean coast by several hours; while those which operate between Yenikapı or Pendik (on the Asian side of Istanbul) and Yalova significantly reduce the driving time between Istanbul and Bursa or Antalya.
A commuter ferry
The port of Istanbul is the most important one in the country. The old port on the Golden Horn serves primarily for personal navigation, while Karaköy port in Galata is used by the large cruise liners. Regular services as well as cruises from both Karaköy and Eminönü exist to several port cities in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea. Istanbul's main cargo port is located in the Harem district on the Asian side of the city.
Istanbul also has several marinas of varying size for personal navigation, the largest of which are the Ataköy Marina on the European side and Kalamış Marina on the Asian side.
Sirkeci Terminal was opened in 1890 as the terminus of the Orient Express
In 1883, a Belgian entrepreneur, Georges Nagelmackers, began rail service between Paris and Constantinople, using a steamship to ferry passengers from Varna to Constantinople. In 1889, a rail line was completed going through Bucharest to Constantinople, making the whole journey via land possible. The route was known as the Orient Express, made even more famous by the works of Agatha Christie and Graham Greene.
Haydarpaşa Terminal was opened in 1908 as the terminus of the Istanbul-Baghdad and Istanbul-Medina railways
Today, the Sirkeci Terminal of the Turkish State Railways (TCDD), which was originally opened as the terminus of the Orient Express, is the terminus of all the lines on the European side and the main connection node of the Turkish railway network with the rest of Europe. Currently, international connections are provided by the line running between Istanbul and Thessaloniki, Greece, and the Bosphorus Express serving daily between Sirkeci and Bucharest, Romania. Lines to Sofia, Belgrade, Budapest, and Chişinău are established over the Bosphorus Express connection to Bucharest. .
Beyond the Bosphorus, the Haydarpaşa Terminal on the Asian side serves lines running several times daily to Ankara, and less frequently to other destinations in Anatolia. The railway networks on the European and Asian sides are currently connected by the train ferry across the Bosphorus, which will be replaced by an underwater tunnel connection with the completion of the Marmaray project, scheduled for 2012. Marmaray (Bosphorus Rail Tunnel) will also connect the metro lines on the European and Asian parts of the city. Haydarpaşa Terminal was originally opened as the terminus of the Istanbul-Baghdad and Istanbul-Damascus-Medina railways.
Main article: Public transport in Istanbul
Urban rail transit
İstanbul rail transit map
Historic tram on İstiklal Avenue
By the end of 1990, a historic tram was put in service along Istiklal Avenue between Taksim and Tünel, which is a single 1.6 km-long line.
On 1 November 2003, another nostalgic tram line (T3) was reopened on the Anatolian part of Istanbul between Kadıköy and Moda. It has 10 stations on a 2.6 km long route. The trip takes 21 minutes.
A fast tram (T1) was put in service in 1992 on standard gauge track with modern cars, connecting Sirkeci with Topkapı. The line was extended on one end from Topkapı to Zeytinburnu in March 1994, and on the other end from Sirkeci to Eminönü in April 1996. On 30 January 2005 it was extended from Eminönü to Fındıklı, crossing the Golden Horn through the Galata Bridge for the first time after 44 years. A final extension to Kabataş was opened in June 2006.
A modern tram running in the old quarter of Istanbul
The line has 24 stations on a length of 14 km. Service was initially operated with 22 LRT vehicles built by ABB, now reassigned to other lines; while stations were provided with temporary high platforms. These vehicles were replaced by 55 low-floor Bombardier Flexity Swift trams in 2003. An entire trip takes 42 minutes. The daily transport capacity is 155,000 passengers. The amount of investment totaled US$110 million.
In September 2006, a second tram line (T2) was added, running west from Zeytinburnu to Bağcılar. Service on this line is operated with 14 ABB LRT cars. Stations have high platforms at the level of the car floor.
Istanbul's Tünel (1875) was the second subterranean railway line in the world after London's Underground (1863), and the first line in continental Europe
The modern funicular line running between Kabataş and Taksim
Istanbul is served by two underground funicular railways, of very different ages and styles.
The older of these lines is the Tünel. This line is the oldest underground metro line in continental Europe, and the second in the world after London (arguably third in the world, if one counts Brooklyn, New York's abandoned Atlantic Avenue Tunnel). The Tünel is 573 m long with an altitude difference of 60 m and no intermediate stations between Karaköy and Tünel Square. It has been continuously in service since 1875. Two trains run on a single rail every 3.5 minutes, and a trip takes 1.5 minutes. 15,000 people are transported daily.
A second funicular line, the Kabataş-Taksim Funicular, opened in June 2006, connecting Kabataş and Taksim. This system connects the Seabus station and the tram stop in Kabataş to the metro station at Taksim Square. It is about 600 meters long and climbs approximately 60 meters in 110 seconds.
Main article: Istanbul LRT
The Istanbul LRT is a light rail transit system consisting of 2 lines. The first line (M1) began service on 3 September 1989 between Aksaray and Kartaltepe. The line was further developed step-by-step and reached Atatürk Airport on December 20, 2002. The other line (T4) was opened in 2007 between Edirnekapı and Mescid-i Selam. There are 36 stations, including 12 underground and 3 viaduct stations, on the line's 32 km length. The lines are totally segregated from other traffic without level crossings and run underground for 10.2 km. Service is operated with LRT vehicles built by ABB in 1989.
Main article: Istanbul Metro
A subway station in Istanbul
The construction of the modern underground railway network of Istanbul began in 1992. The first line (M2) between Taksim and 4th Levent went into service on 16 September 2000. This line is 8.5 km long and has 6 stations, which all look similar but are in different colors. Currently there are 8 French built 4-car trains in service, which run every 5 minutes on average and transport 130,000 passengers daily. A trip along the entire line takes 12 minutes. The entire subway line was built by the cut-and-cover method to withstand an earthquake of up to 9.0 on the Richter magnitude scale.
A northern extension from 4th Levent to Ayazağa (Maslak) is now expected to be completed in 2008. The southern section of the metro from Taksim to Yenikapı, across the Golden Horn on a bridge and underground through the old city, is also under construction, with a tentative completion date of 2008. It will be 5.4 km long, with four stations. At Yenikapı it will intersect with the extended light metro and the suburban train lines.
On the Asian side, construction of the line from Kadıköy to Kartal continues. The Marmaray tunnel (Bosporus undersea railway tunnel) will connect the metro lines of the Asian and European parts of the city. According to the scheduled construction timeline, the tunnel will enter service in 2012.
A railway line runs between the main train station of the European part, the Sirkeci Terminal, and the Halkalı district towards the west of the city center, with 18 stations along its 30 km length. A single trip takes 48 minutes. Another suburban line runs on the Anatolian part from the main train station, the Haydarpaşa Terminal, to Gebze at the eastern end of the city. The 44 km long line has 28 stations and the trip takes 65 minutes. Electrified trains transport 13,000 passengers hourly on each line.
Main article: Architecture of Istanbul
Throughout its long history, Istanbul has acquired a reputation for being a cultural and ethnic melting pot. As a result, there are many historical mosques, churches, synagogues, palaces, castles and towers to visit in the city. Some of these historical structures, which draw millions to the city every year, reflect the heart and soul of Istanbul.
Maiden's (Leander's) Tower
The famous Maiden's (Leander's) Tower, one of the symbols of Istanbul, was originally built by the ancient Athenian general Alcibiades in 408 BC to control the movements of the Persian ships in the Bosphorus strait.
The most important monuments of Roman architecture in the city include the Column of Constantine (Turkish: Çemberlitaş), which was erected in 330 by Constantine the Great for marking the declaration of the new capital city of the Roman Empire . The Mazulkemer Aqueduct, the Valens Aqueduct, the Column of the Goths at the Seraglio Point, the Milion which served for calculating the distances between Constantinople and other cities of the Roman Empire, and the Hippodrome of Constantinople which was built following the model of the Circus Maximus in Rome are other Roman era structures in the city. Construction of the Walls of Constantinople began under Constantine the Great, who enlarged the previously existing walls of Byzantium in order to defend the new Roman capital city which quickly grew following its proclamation as Nova Roma. A new set of walls was built further west during the reign of Theodosius II, and rebuilt after an earthquake in 447 in their current shape.
The Hagia Sophia: Originally a church, later a mosque, now a museum, was the largest ever cathedral building in the world for a thousand years, until the completion of the Seville Cathedral in Spain
The early Byzantine architecture followed the classical Roman model of domes and arches, but further improved these architectural concepts, as evidenced with the Hagia Sophia, which is the largest structure on Sultanahmet Square in the Eminönü district. The Hagia Sophia was designed by Isidorus and Anthemius as the third church to rise on this location, between 532 and 537, following the Nika riots (532) during which the second church was destroyed (the first church, known as the Megala Ekklessia ("Great Church") was inaugurated by Constantius II in 360; the second church was inaugurated by Theodosius II in 405, while the third and current one was inaugurated by Justinian in 537). The Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus (commonly known as the Little Hagia Sophia), which was the first church built by Justinian in Constantinople and edificed between 527 and 536, had earlier signaled such an improvement in the design of domed buildings, which require complex solutions for carrying the structure. The present-day Hagia Irene (which was originally built by Constantine in the 4th century, but was later enlarged by Justinian in the 6th century) and the Basilica Cistern are also from this period.
The most important churches which were built after the Byzantines recovered Constantinople from the Latin Crusaders in 1261 include the Pammakaristos Church and Chora Church. Also in this period, the Genoese Podestà of Galata, Montano de Marinis, built the Palazzo del Comune (1314), a copy of the San Giorgio Palace in Genoa, which still stands in ruins on the back streets of Bankalar Caddesi in Galata, together with its adjacent buildings and numerous Genoese houses from the early 1300s. The Genoese also built the Galata Tower, which they named as Christea Turris (Tower of Christ), at the highest point of the citadel of Galata, in 1348.
The Ottoman Turks built the Anadoluhisarı on the Asian side of the Bosphorus in 1394, and the Rumelihisarı at the opposite (European) shore, in 1452, a year before the conquest of Constantinople. The main purpose of these castles, armed with the long range Balyemez (Faule Metze) cannons, was to block the sea traffic of the Bosphorus and prevent the support ships from the Genoese colonies on the Black Sea ports, such as Caffa, Sinop, and Amasra, from reaching Constantinople and helping the Byzantines during the Turkish siege of the city. The first mosque on the European side of Istanbul was built inside the Rumeli Castle in 1452.
Following the Ottoman conquest of the city, Sultan Mehmed II initiated a wide scale reconstruction plan, which included the construction of grand buildings such as the Topkapı Palace, Grand Bazaar and the Yedikule (Seven Towers) Castle which guarded the main entrance gate of the city, the Porta Aurea (Golden Gate). The first grand mosque which was built in the city proper was the Eyüp Sultan Mosque in around 1459. The mosque was built on the site of the grave of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad who had died fighting in the Arab army in a siege to take the city in 669, making Istanbul one of the holy cities of Islam. The first imperial mosque inside the city walls was the Fatih Mosque (1470) which was built on the site of the Church of the Holy Apostles, an important Byzantine church which was originally edificed in the time of Constantine the Great. Many other imperial mosques were built in the following centuries, such as the famous Süleymaniye Mosque (1557) which was ordered by Suleiman the Magnificent and designed by the great Ottoman architect Sinan, and the famous Sultan Ahmet Mosque (1616) which is also known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles which adorn its interior. In the centuries following Mehmed II, many new important buildings, such as the Süleymaniye Mosque, Sultanahmet Mosque, Yeni Mosque and numerous others were constructed.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, traditional Ottoman architectural styles were gradually replaced by European styles, such as the Baroque style interiors of the Aynalıkavak Palace (1677–1679) and Nuruosmaniye Mosque (1748–1755, the first Baroque style mosque in the city, also famous for its Baroque fountain), and the 18th century Baroque additions to the Harem section of the Topkapı Palace. Following the Tanzimat reforms which effectively started Turkey's Europeanization process in 1839, new palaces and mosques were built in Neoclassical, Baroque and Rococo styles, or a mixture of all three, such as the Dolmabahçe Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace and Ortaköy (Mecidiye) Mosque.
Starting from the early 19th century, the areas around İstiklal Avenue were filled with grandiose embassy buildings belonging to prominent European states, and rows of European (mostly Neoclassical and later Art Nouveau) style buildings started to appear on both flanks of the avenue. Istanbul especially became a major center of the Art Nouveau movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with famous architects of this style like Raimondo D'Aronco building many palaces and mansions in the city proper and on the Princes' Islands. His most important works in the city include several buildings of the Yıldız Palace complex, and the Botter House on İstiklal Avenue. The famous Camondo Stairs on Bankalar Caddesi (Banks Street) in Karaköy (Galata) is also a beautiful example of Art Nouveau architecture. Other important examples are the Hıdiv Kasrı (Khedive Palace) on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, Flora Han in Sirkeci, and Frej Apartmanı in the Şişhane quarter of Beyoğlu.
See also: Urban centers
İstiklal Avenue in Beyoğlu
Akmerkez in Etiler is the only shopping mall in the world which won both "Europe's Best" and "World's Best" awards by ICSC
The 6 km (4 mi) long Bağdat Avenue on the Anatolian side
The urban landscape is constantly changing. In the Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods, the city was largely made up of the historic peninsula of Constantinople, with the citadel of Galata (also called Sykae or Pera, present-day Beyoğlu) at north, and Chrysopolis (Üsküdar) and Chalcedon (Kadıköy) at east, across the Bosphorus. These were all independent cities back then. The present City of Istanbul can be considered the metropolitan area of old Constantinople, encompassing every single settlement around the original city, and expanding even further with the establishment of new neighbourhoods and districts since the 19th century.
Barbaros Boulevard in Beşiktaş, on the European side
Until the early 19th century, the city walls of Galata, the medieval Genoese citadel, used to stand. These Genoese fortifications, of which only the Galata Tower stands today, were demolished in the early 1800s to give way for a northwards expansion of the city, towards the neighbourhoods of Beşiktaş, Şişli, Nişantaşı, and beyond.
In the last decades, numerous tall structures were built around the city to accommodate a rapid growth in population. Surrounding towns were absorbed into Istanbul as the city rapidly expanded outwards. The tallest highrise office and residential buildings are mostly located in the northern areas of the European side, and especially in the business and shopping districts of Levent, Maslak, and Etiler which are situated between the Bosphorus Bridge and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge. Levent and Etiler also have numerous upmarket shopping malls, like Kanyon, Metrocity, Akmerkez, Mayadrom and Mayadrom Uptown. The headquarters of Turkey's largest companies and banks are also located in this area.
Starting from the second half of the 20th century, the Asian side of Istanbul, which was originally a tranquil place full of seaside summer residences and elegant chalet mansions surrounded by lush and vast umbrella pine gardens, experienced a massive urban growth. The construction of the long, wide and elegant Bağdat Avenue, with its rows of upscale shops and restaurants, contributed much to the initial expansion in the area. The fact that these areas were largely empty until the 1960s also provided the chance for developing better infrastructure and a tidier urban planning when compared with most other residential areas in the city. But the real expansion of the Asian side came with the opening of Ankara Asfaltı, the Asian extension of the E5 highway, which is located to the north of Bağdat Avenue, parallel to the railway line. Another important factor in the recent growth of the Asian side of the city was migration from Anatolia. Today, more than 1/3 of the city's population live in the Asian side of Istanbul.
As a result of Istanbul's exponential growth during the second half of the 20th century, a significant portion of the city's outskirts consists of gecekondus, a Turkish word created in the 1940s meaning ‘built overnight’ and referring to the illegally constructed squatter buildings that comprise entire neighbourhoods and run rampant outside the historic centers of Turkey's largest cities, especially Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, and Bursa. At present, some gecekondu areas are being gradually demolished and replaced by modern mass-housing compounds.
Life in the city
Arts and culture
See also: List of museums and monuments in Istanbul
Istanbul is becoming increasingly colorful in terms of its rich social, cultural, and commercial activities. While world famous pop stars fill stadiums, activities like opera, ballet and theater continue throughout the year. During seasonal festivals, world famous orchestras, chorale ensembles, concerts and jazz legends can be found often playing to a full house. The Istanbul International Film Festival is one of the most important film festivals in Europe, while the Istanbul Biennial is another major event of fine arts.
Pera Museum during the Rembrandt exhibition in 2006
Istanbul Modern, frequently hosts the exhibitions of renowned Turkish and foreign artists. Pera Museum and Sakıp Sabancı Museum have hosted the exhibitions of world famous artists and are among the most important private museums in the city. The Rahmi M. Koç Museum on the Golden Horn is an industrial museum that exhibits historic industrial equipment such as cars and locomotives from the 1800s and early 1900s, as well as boats, submarines, aircraft, and other similar vintage machines from past epochs.
Istanbul Archaeology Museum, established in 1881, is one of the largest museums of its kind in the world. The museum contains more than 1,000,000 archaeological pieces from the Mediterranean basin, the Balkans, the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. Istanbul Mosaic Museum contains the late Roman and early Byzantine floor mosaics and wall ornaments of the Great Palace of Constantinople. The nearby Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum displays a vast collection of items from various Islamic civilizations. Sadberk Hanım Museum contains a wide variety of artifacts, dating from the earliest Anatolian civilizations to the Ottomans.
The Grand Bazaar
Occasionally, in November, the Silahhane (Armory Hall) of Yıldız Palace hosts the Istanbul Antiques Fair, which brings together rare pieces of antiques from the Orient and Occident. The multi-storey Mecidiyeköy Antikacılar Çarşısı (Mecidiyeköy Antiques Bazaar) in the Mecidiyeköy quarter of Şişli is the largest antiques market in the city, while the Çukurcuma neighbourhood of Beyoğlu has rows of antiques shops in its streets. The Grand Bazaar, edificed between 1455–1461 by the order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror also has numerous antiques shops, along with shops selling jewels, carpets and other items of art and artisanship. Historic and rare books are found in the Sahaflar Çarşısı near Beyazıt Square, and it is one of the oldest book markets in the world, and has continuously been active in the same location since the late Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods.
A significant culture has been developed around what is known as a Turkish Bath. It was a culture of leisure during the Ottoman period, the finest example being the Çemberlitaş Hamamı (1584) in Istanbul, located on the Çemberlitaş (Column of Constantine) Square.
Live shows and concerts are hosted at a number of locations including historical sites such as the Hagia Irene, Rumeli Fortress, Yedikule Castle, the courtyard of Topkapı Palace, and Gülhane Park; as well as the Atatürk Cultural Center, Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall and other open air and modern theater halls.
The first Turkish newspaper, Takvim-i Vekayi, was printed on 1 August 1831 in the Bâbıâli (Bâb-ı Âli, meaning The Sublime Porte) district. Bâbıâli became the main center for print media. Istanbul is also the printing capital of Turkey with a wide variety of domestic and foreign periodicals expressing diverse views, and domestic newspapers are extremely competitive. Most nationwide newspapers are based in Istanbul, with simultaneous Ankara and İzmir editions. Major newspapers with their headquarters in Istanbul include Hürriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, Türkiye, Akşam, Bugün, Star, Dünya, Tercüman, Güneş, Vatan, Posta, Takvim, Vakit, Yeni Şafak, Fanatik and Turkish Daily News. There are also numerous local and national TV and radio stations located in Istanbul, such as CNBC-e, CNN Türk, MTV Türkiye, Fox Türkiye, Fox Sports Türkiye, NTV, Kanal D, ATV, Show TV, Star TV, Cine5, SKY Türk, TGRT Haber, Kanal 7, Kanal Türk, Flash TV and many others.
Recreation“ If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul. ”
—Alphonse de Lamartine
Traditional beach resorts had gradually disappeared due to water pollution. Recently, however, old places have reopened in the city. The most popular places for swimming in the city are in Bakırköy, Küçükçekmece, Sarıyer and the Bosphorus. Outside the city are the Marmara Sea's Princes' Islands, Silivri and Tuzla; as well as Kilyos and Şile on the Black Sea.
A street scene from Büyükada, the largest of the Princes' Islands
The Princes' Islands (Prens Adaları) are a group of islands in the Marmara Sea, south of the quarters Kartal and Pendik. Pine and stone-pine wooden neoclassical and art nouveau-style Ottoman era summer mansions from the 19th and early 20th centuries, horse-drawn carriages (motor vehicles are not permitted) and seafood restaurants make them a popular destination. They can be reached by ferry boats or high-speed catamaran Seabus (Deniz otobüsü) from Eminönü and Bostancı. Of the nine islands, only five are settled.
Şile is a distant and well-known Turkish seaside resort on the Black Sea, 50 kilometres (31 mi) from Istanbul, where unspoiled white sand beaches can be found. Kilyos is a small calm seaside resort not far from the northern European entrance of the Bosphorus at the Black Sea. The place has good swimming possibilities and has become popular in the recent years among the inhabitants of Istanbul as a place for excursions. Kilyos offers a beach park with seafood restaurants and night clubs, being particularly active in the summer with many night parties and live concerts on the beach.
Kanyon Mall in Levent with its award-winning architecture
See also: List of shopping malls in Istanbul
Istanbul has numerous historic shopping centers, such as the Grand Bazaar (1461), Mahmutpaşa Bazaar (1462) and the Egyptian Bazaar (1660). The first modern shopping mall was Galleria Ataköy (1987), which was followed by dozens of others in the later decades, such as Akmerkez (1993) which is the only mall to win both "Europe's Best" and "World's Best" awards by the ICSC; Metrocity (2003); Cevahir Mall (2005) which is the largest mall in Europe; and Kanyon Mall (2006) which won the 2006 Cityscape Architectural Review Award for its interesting design. İstinye Park (2007) and City's Nişantaşı (2008) are two new malls which target high-end consumers and are almost exclusively dedicated to world-famous fashion brands.
Along with the traditional Turkish restaurants, many European and Far Eastern restaurants and numerous other cuisines are also thriving in the city.
Çiçek Pasajı on İstiklal Avenue
Most of the city's historic winehouses (Meyhane in Turkish) and pubs are located in the areas around İstiklal Avenue in Beyoğlu. The 19th century Çiçek Pasajı (literally Flower Passage in Turkish, or Cité de Péra in French, Built by Zoğrafos Hristaki Efendi and opened in 1876) on İstiklal Avenue has rows of historic Meyhanes, pubs and restaurants. The famous Nevizade Street, which has rows of historic meyhanes next to each other, is also in this area.
Cezayir Sokak in Beyoğlu, also referred to as La Rue Française, has numerous pubs, cafés and restaurants playing live music
Other historic pubs are found in the areas around Tünel Pasajı and the nearby Asmalımescit Sokağı. Some historic neighbourhoods around İstiklal Avenue have recently been recreated, with differing levels of success such as Cezayir Sokak near Galatasaray Lisesi, which became unofficially known as La Rue Française and has rows of francophone pubs, cafés and restaurants playing live music.
Istanbul is also famous for its historic seafood restaurants. Many of them were originally established by the local Greeks. The
Thank you for the historical commentary Xeon! I visited Istanbul recently and found it fascinating.
Thanks you too, for the comment, but i think this comment is too big and copying from wikipedia, i think need delet.
nice comment ;), i like the fine capture, best wishes, kadri
Thanks you Kadri Eroğlu very much
Majestic Night Picture.. LIKE 5.. Best Wishes
Thanks you Adem Dogan so much
Beautifull night shot!
L + F
Thanks you BritPlom so much again
Wonderful work.YSL.Best greetings,kostas.
Thanks you kotsaris4
--=XEON=--- ,nice photo,like
Thanks you F. Zaman
L + favorita para esta magnífica imagen nocturna.
Que la pases ¡Pura vida!, Melsen Felipe
Thanks you Melsen Felipe
Hello Mr. Xeon. A wonderful night shot. Compliments.
F 7, 11 L.
Thanks you Rosanna Angelini so much
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Photo taken in Fatih Sultan Mehmet Kpr. (İstanbul Çevre Yolu), 34398 Üsküdar, Turkey
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