Istanbul
İstanbul
Metropolitan municipality
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality
See caption
Clockwise from top: The Golden Horn between Galata and the Seraglio Point; Maslak financial district; İstiklal Avenue; Kuleli Military High School; and Sultan Ahmed Mosque
Location in Turkey
Coordinates:
Country Turkey
Region Marmara
Province Istanbul
 - Byzantium c. 660 BC
 - Constantinople 330 AD
 - Istanbul 1930 (officially)
Districts 39
Government
 • Mayor Kadir Topbaş (AKP)
Area
 • Metro 5,343 km2 (2,063 sq mi)
Population (2012)
 • Metropolitan municipality 13,854,740
 • Rank 1st Turkey, 2nd World
 • Density 2,593/km2 (6,720/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Istanbulite(s)
(Turkish: İstanbullu(lar))
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 34000 to 34850
Area code(s) (+90) 212 (European side)
(+90) 216 (Asian side)
Website Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

Istanbul historically known as Constantinople and Byzantium, is the most populous city in Turkey and the country's economic, cultural, and historic center. Istanbul is a transcontinental city in Eurasia, straddling the Bosphorus strait (which separates Europe and Asia) between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Its commercial and historical center lies on the European side and about a third of its population lives on the Asian side. The city is the administrative center of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (coterminous with Istanbul Province), both hosting a population of around 15 million residents. Istanbul is one of the world's most populous cities and ranks as the world's 7th-largest city proper and the largest European city. Istanbul is viewed as a bridge between East and West.

Founded under the name of Byzantion (Βυζάντιον) on the Sarayburnu promontory around 660 BCE, the city developed to become one of the most significant in history. After its reestablishment as Constantinople in 330 CE, it served as an imperial capital for almost 16 centuries, during the Roman/Byzantine (330–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin (1204–1261), and the Ottoman (1453–1922) empires. It was instrumental in the advancement of Christianity during Roman and Byzantine times, before the Ottomans conquered the city in 1453 and transformed it into an Islamic stronghold and the seat of the Ottoman Caliphate.

Istanbul's strategic position on the historic Silk Road, rail networks to Europe and the Middle East, and the only sea route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean have produced a cosmopolitan populace, although less so since the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Overlooked for the new capital Ankara during the interwar period, the city has since regained much of its prominence. The population of the city has increased tenfold since the 1950s, as migrants from across Anatolia have moved in and city limits have expanded to accommodate them. Arts, music, film, and cultural festivals were established at the end of the 20th century and continue to be hosted by the city today. Infrastructure improvements have produced a complex transportation network.

Approximately 12.56 million foreign visitors arrived in Istanbul in 2015, five years after it was named a European Capital of Culture, making the city the world's fifth most popular tourist destination. The city's biggest attraction is its historic center, partially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its cultural and entertainment hub can be found across the city's natural harbor, the Golden Horn, in the Beyoğlu district. Considered a global city, Istanbul has one of the fastest-growing metropolitan economies in the world. It hosts the headquarters of many Turkish companies and media outlets and accounts for more than a quarter of the country's gross domestic product. Hoping to capitalize on its revitalization and rapid expansion, Istanbul has bid for the Summer Olympics five times in twenty years.

Part of Istanbul is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Istanbul faces the Golden Horn and the Bosporus strait. The Bosphorus connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, and separates Europe and Asia. The city is actually in both Europe and Asia. One third of the people live on the Asian side. Its population is between 11 and 15 million people, making it one of the largest cities in Europe. Many people migrate to Istanbul every year.

History

Its original name was Byzantion in the Greek language, known as Byzantium in the Latin language. Byzantium was originally settled as a colony by Greeks from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king, Byzas. In 196 AD, Byzantium was damaged by the Romans, then rebuilt by the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus. Constantine the Great thought this city was in a nice location, and in 330, moved the capital of the Empire from Rome to there, as New Rome (Latin: Nova Roma; Greek: Νέα Ρώμη, Nea Rómi), renaming the city Constantinople, after his name.

When the Roman Empire was later divided into two, the East Roman Empire was known as the Byzantine Empire, and its capital was in Constantinople where Hagia Sophia had been built. Although it was captured by Crusaders for a time, it continued as one of political, cultural, religious and economical centers of Europe until it finally fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

Neolithic artifacts, uncovered by archeologists at the beginning of the 21st century, indicate that Istanbul's historic peninsula was settled as far back as the 6th millennium BCE. That early settlement, important in the spread of the Neolithic Revolution from the Near East to Europe, lasted for almost a millennium before being inundated by rising water levels. The first human settlement on the Asian side, the Fikirtepe mound, is from the Copper Age period, with artifacts dating from 5500 to 3500 BCE.

After the Ottoman Empire ended, the Republic of Turkey was started with its capital at Ankara.

Panoramic view of Istanbul from the confluence of the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. Several landmarks—including Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, and Dolmabahçe Palace—can be seen along their shores.

Places to visit

Images


Istanbul for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.