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Getting to know Istanbul

General

Istanbul is one of the 81 provinces in Turkey. It’s located in north-western Turkey. Although Ankara is the capital of Turkey, Istanbul is the largest and most populous city in Turkey. Istanbul is also the economic, cultural, and historic center of Turkey.

Modern and Traditional Together

Istanbul is Turkey’s most developed and largest city, with the latest discoveries indicating that the history of human habitation there goes back some 400,000 years. It is Istanbul’s endless variety that fascinates its visitors. The museums, churches, palaces, grand mosques, bazaars, and sites of natural beauty are countless.

As an imperial capital of 1500 years, Istanbul is rich in architectural monuments reflecting its past splendor. At every turn in the city, one can happen upon Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman palaces, mosques, churches, monasteries, monuments, walls, and ruins. The old city center, with its places of worship, government, trade, and entertainment was where the citizens mingled, enjoying the benefits of the security and bounty of the state while maintaining their culture and way of life.

History of Istanbul

Istanbul was formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople. Under the name Constantinople it was the Ottoman capital until 1923. The capital was then moved to Ankara and the city was renamed Istanbul. Nevertheless, the city maintained its prominence in geopolitical and cultural affairs. The population of Istanbul has increased tenfold since the 1950s, as migrants from across Anatolia have moved in and city limits have expanded to accommodate them.

Geography of Istanbul

Istanbul is a transcontinental Eurasian city. About 65 percent of Istanbul is located in Europe and about 35 percent of it is located in Asia. These parts are separated by the Bosphorus. Istanbul is the only city in the world built on two continents.

Istanbul province borders with Kocaeli province in the east, Tekirdag province in the west, the Black Sea in the north, and the Sea of Marmara in the south. The Bosphorus, which connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea, divides the city into a European part and an Anatolian part.

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Istanbul’s land area is about 5,350 square kilometers (about 2,050 square miles).

Culture in Istanbul

Istanbul is an international center for arts and culture with a rich tradition in opera and ballet. Theaters that perform both Turkish and international works, concerts, exhibitions, festivals, conferences, and of course, museums enrich Istanbul culture. Istanbul’s private museums, which opened one after the other in the early 2000s, have hosted exhibitions featuring the world’s finest masterpieces.

Contemporary Istanbul is the only international fair for contemporary art in Turkey. Organized every year, the fair is a meeting place for art-lovers, collectors, art galleries, and artists from all over the world. The most prestigious of the city’s international cultural events are the international festivals organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, including in their programs the finest examples of artistic creativity in the fields of classical music, ballet, modern dance, opera, folklore, jazz/pop, cinema, drama and visual arts from both Turkey and abroad as well as seminars, conferences, and lectures.

Tourism in Istanbul

In 2010 Istanbul was named a European Capital of Culture, making the city the world’s fifth-most popular tourist destination. Istanbul is Turkey’s second-largest international gateway, after Antalya, receiving a quarter of the nation’s foreign tourists. Istanbul attracts about 13.5 million foreign tourists in 2018. Istanbul’s biggest attraction is its historic center, partially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its cultural and entertainment hub is across the city’s natural harbor, the Golden Horn, in the Beyoglu district.

Istanbul’s tourist industry is concentrated in the European part, with 90 percent of the city’s hotels there.

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Economy of Istanbul

As the only sea route between the oil-rich Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the Bosphorus is one of the busiest waterways in the world; more than 200 million tons of oil pass through the strait each year, and the traffic on the Bosphorus is three times that on the Suez Canal. As a result, it has been decided to build another new canal, known as Canal Istanbul, parallel to the Strait, in the European part of Istanbul.

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Istanbul has three major shipping ports—the Port of Haydarpasa, the Port of Ambarli, and the Port of Zeytinburnu—as well as several smaller ports and oil terminals along the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara.

Istanbul, as a global city, hosts the headquarters of many Turkish companies and accounts for more than a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product.

Istanbul’s seventy museums, the most visited of which are the Topkapi Palace Museum and the Hagia Sophia, bring in $30 million in revenue each year.

Population of Istanbul

In 2019, Istanbul’s population was 15.5 million people and it is still increasing. According to the population, Istanbul is the 13th-largest city in the world. Istanbul’s population is more than the population of 160 countries in the world, and that’s why Istanbul is known as a big metropolis

Districts of Istanbul

Istanbul is divided into 39 districts (İlçe). Each district is divided into neighborhoods (Mahalle). There are 25 districts in the European part and 14 districts in the Anatolian part of Istanbul.

The highest authority in each district is the District Governor (Kaymakam). Each district also has a mayor (Belediye Başkanı) and a local legislative body (Belediye Meclisi) for decision-making on municipal issues.

The name of Istanbul’s districts is listed below:

  1. Adalar
  2. Arnavutköy
  3. Ataşehir
  4. Avcılar
  5. Bağcılar
  6. Bahçelievler
  7. Bakırköy
  8. Başakşehir
  9. Bayrampaşa
  10. Beşiktaş
  11. Beykoz
  12. Beylikdüzü
  13. Beyoğlu
  14. Büyükçekmece
  15. Çatalca
  16. Çekmeköy
  17. Esenler
  18. Esenyurt
  19. Eyüpsultan
  20. Fatih
  21. Gaziosmanpaşa
  22. Güngören
  23. Kadıköy
  24. Kağıthane
  25. Kartal
  26. Küçükçekmece
  27. Maltepe
  28. Pendik
  29. Sancaktepe
  30. Sarıyer
  31. Silivri
  32. Sultanbeyli
  33. Sultangazi
  34. Şile
  35. Şişli
  36. Tuzla
  37. Ümraniye
  38. Üsküdar
  39. Zeytinburnu

The districts in the European part of Istanbul are as follows:

  1. Arnavutköy
  2. Avcılar
  3. Bağcılar
  4. Bahçelievler
  5. Bakırköy
  6. Başakşehir
  7. Bayrampaşa
  8. Beşiktaş
  9. Beylikdüzü
  10. Beyoğlu
  11. Büyükçekmece
  12. Çatalca
  13. Esenler
  14. Esenyurt
  15. Eyüp Sultan
  16. Fatih
  17. Gaziosmanpaşa
  18. Güngören
  19. Kağıthane
  20. Küçükçekmece
  21. Sarıyer
  22. Silivri
  23. Sultangazi
  24. Şişli
  25. Zeytinburnu

The districts in the Anatolian part of Istanbul are as follows:

  1. Adalar
  2. Ataşehir
  3. Beykoz
  4. Çekmeköy
  5. Kadıköy
  6. Kartal
  7. Maltepe
  8. Pendik
  9. Sancaktepe
  10. Sultanbeyli
  11. Şile
  12. Tuzla
  13. Ümraniye
  14. Üsküdar

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