Istanbul (//; Turkish: İstanbul [isˈtanbuɫ] ( listen)), once known as Constantinople and Byzantium before that, is the most populous city in Turkey, and the country's economic, cultural, and historical center. Istanbul is a transcontinental city in Eurasia, straddling the Bosphorus strait 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 14 million residents. Istanbul is one of the world's most populous cities and ranks as world's 5th-largest city proper and the largest European city.
Founded on the Sarayburnu promontory around 660 BCE as Byzantium, the city now known as Istanbul developed to become one of the most significant cities in history. For nearly sixteen centuries following its reestablishment as Constantinople (Greek: Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoúpolis; Latin: Constantinopolis) or New Rome (Greek: Νέα Ῥώμη, Nea Romē; Latin: Nova Roma) in 330 CE, it served as an imperial capital for the Roman and 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 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, and 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 bid for the Summer Olympics five times in twenty years.
Present-day Istanbul is a flourishing city, with a constantly growing skyline which is one of the most prominent in all of Europe and Western Asia. New developments are constantly being implemented including new metro lines, residential buildings and underground transportation projects such as the Marmaray Tunnel which is the deepest underground tunnel in the world. Along with these developments, the city is increasingly becoming the centre of operations for many international organizations such as the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, Turkic Council and D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation.
The first known name of the city is Byzantium (Greek: Βυζάντιον, Byzántion), the name given to it at its foundation by Megarean colonists around 660 BCE. The name is thought to be derived from a personal name, Byzas. Ancient Greek tradition refers to a legendary king of that name as the leader of the Greek colonists. Modern scholars have also hypothesized that the name of Byzas was of local Thracian or Illyrian origin and hence predated the Megarean settlement.
After Constantine the Great made it the new eastern capital of the Roman Empire in 330 CE, the city became widely known as "Constantinopolis" (Constantinople), which, as the Latinized form of "Κωνσταντινούπολις" (Konstantinoúpolis), means the "City of Constantine". He also attempted to promote the name "Nova Roma" and its Greek version "Νέα Ῥώμη" Nea Romē (New Rome), but this did not enter widespread usage. Constantinople remained the most common name for the city in the West until the establishment of the Turkish Republic, and Kostantiniyye (Ottoman Turkish قسطنطينيه) and İstanbul were the names used alternatively by the Ottomans during their rule. The use of Constantinople to refer to the city during the Ottoman period (from the mid-15th century) is now considered politically incorrect, even if not historically inaccurate, by Turks.
By the 19th century, the city had acquired other names used by either foreigners or Turks. Europeans used Constantinople to refer to the whole of the city, but used the name Stamboul—as the Turks also did—to describe the walled peninsula between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara. Pera (from the Greek word for "across") was used to describe the area between the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, but Turks also used the name Beyoğlu (today the official name for one of the city's constituent districts). Islambol (meaning either "City of Islam" or "Full of Islam") was sometimes colloquially used to refer to the city, and was even engraved on some Ottoman coins, but the belief that it was the precursor to the present name, İstanbul, is belied by the fact that the latter existed well before the former and even predates the Ottoman conquest of the city.
The name İstanbul (Turkish pronunciation: [isˈtanbuɫ] ( listen), colloquially [ɯsˈtambuɫ]) is commonly held to derive from the Medieval Greek phrase "εἰς τὴν Πόλιν" (pronounced [is tim ˈbolin]), which means "to the city" and is how Constantinople was referred to by the local Greeks. This reflected its status as the only major city in the vicinity. An alternative view is that the name evolved directly from the name Constantinople, with the first and third syllables dropped. A Turkish folk etymology traces the name to Islam bol "plenty of Islam" because the city was called Islambol ("plenty of Islam") or Islambul ("find Islam") as the capital of the Islamic Ottoman Empire. It is first attested shortly after the conquest, and its invention was ascribed by some contemporary writers to Sultan Mehmed II himself. Some Ottoman sources of the 17th century, such as Evliya Çelebi, describe it as the common Turkish name of the time; between the late 17th and late 18th centuries, it was also in official use. The first use of the word "Islambol" on coinage was in 1703 (1115AH) during the reign of Sultan Ahmed III. Nevertheless, the use of the name Constantinople remained common in English into the 20th century, Istanbul became common only after Turkey adapted the Latin alphabet in 1928 and urged other countries to use the city's Turkish name.
In modern Turkish, the name is written as İstanbul, with a dotted İ, as the Turkish alphabet distinguishes between a dotted and dotless I. In English the stress is on the first syllable (Is), but in Turkish it is on the second syllable (tan). A person from the city is an İstanbullu (plural: İstanbullular), although Istanbulite is used in English.
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 7th 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, On the European side, near the point of the peninsula (Sarayburnu), there was a Thracian settlement during the early 1st millennium BCE. Modern authors have linked it to the Thracian toponym Lygos, mentioned by Pliny the Elder as an earlier name for the site of Byzantium.
The history of the city proper begins around 660 BCE, when Greek settlers from Megara established Byzantium on the European side of the Bosphorus. The settlers built an acropolis adjacent to the Golden Horn on the site of the early Thracian settlements, fueling the nascent city's economy. The city experienced a brief period of Persian rule at the turn of the 5th century BCE, but the Greeks recaptured it during the Greco-Persian Wars. Byzantium then continued as part of the Athenian League and its successor, the Second Athenian Empire, before gaining independence in 355 BCE. Long allied with the Romans, Byzantium officially became a part of the Roman Empire in 73 CE. Byzantium's decision to side with the Roman usurper Pescennius Niger against Emperor Septimius Severus cost it dearly; by the time it surrendered at the end of 195 CE, two years of siege had left the city devastated. Five years later, Severus began to rebuild Byzantium, and the city regained—and, by some accounts, surpassed—its previous prosperity.
Rise and fall of Constantinople
Constantine the Great effectively became the emperor of the whole of the Roman Empire in September 324. Two months later, he laid out the plans for a new, Christian city to replace Byzantium. As the eastern capital of the empire, the city was named Nea Roma; most called it Constantinople, a name that persisted into the 20th century. On 11 May 330, Constantinople was proclaimed the capital of an empire that became known as the Byzantine Empire or Eastern Roman Empire.
The establishment of Constantinople served as one of Constantine's most lasting accomplishments, shifting Roman power eastward as the city became a center of Greek culture and Christianity. Numerous churches were built across the city, including the Hagia Sophia which was built during the reign of Justinian the Great and remained the world's largest cathedral for a thousand years. Constantine also undertook a major renovation and expansion of the Hippodrome of Constantinople; accommodating tens of thousands of spectators, the hippodrome became central to civic life and, in the 5th and 6th centuries, the epicenter of episodes of unrest, including the Nika riots. Constantinople's location also ensured its existence would stand the test of time; for many centuries, its walls and seafront protected Europe against invaders from the east and the advance of Islam. During most of the Middle Ages, the latter part of the Byzantine era, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city on the European continent and at times the largest in the world.
Constantinople began to decline after the Fourth Crusade, during which it was sacked and pillaged. The city subsequently became the center of the Latin Empire, created by Catholic crusaders to replace the Orthodox Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Empire was restored, albeit weakened, in 1261. Constantinople's churches, defenses, and basic services were in disrepair, and its population had dwindled to a hundred thousand from half a million during the 8th century.
Various economic and military policies instituted by Andronikos II, such as the reduction of military forces, weakened the empire and left it vulnerable to attack. In the mid-14th century, the Ottoman Turks began a strategy of gradually taking smaller towns and cities, cutting off Constantinople's supply routes and strangling it slowly. On 29 May 1453, after an eight-week siege (during which the last Roman emperor, Constantine XI, was killed), Sultan Mehmed II "the Conqueror" captured Constantinople and declared it the new capital of the Ottoman Empire. Hours later, the sultan rode to the Hagia Sophia and summoned an imam to proclaim the Islamic creed, converting the grand cathedral into an imperial mosque due to the city's refusal to surrender peacefully. Mehmed declared himself as the new "Kaysar-i Rûm" (the Ottoman Turkish equivalent of Caesar of Rome) and the Ottoman state was reorganized into an empire.
Ottoman and Turkish era
Following the conquest of Constantinople, Mehmed II immediately set out to revitalize the city, by then also known as Istanbul. He urged the return of those who had fled the city during the siege, and resettled Muslims, Jews, and Christians from other parts of Anatolia. The sultan invited people from all over Europe to his capital, creating a cosmopolitan society that persisted through much of the Ottoman period. Mehmed II repaired the city's damaged infrastructure, began to build the Grand Bazaar, and constructed Topkapı Palace, the sultan's official residence. With the transfer of the capital from Edirne (formerly Adrianople) to Constantinople, the new state was declared as the successor and continuation of the Roman Empire.
The Ottomans quickly transformed the city from a bastion of Christianity to a symbol of Islamic culture. Religious foundations were established to fund the construction of ornate imperial mosques, often adjoined by schools, hospitals, and public baths. The Ottoman Dynasty claimed the status of caliphate in 1517, with Istanbul remaining the capital of this last caliphate for four centuries. Suleiman the Magnificent's reign from 1520 to 1566 was a period of especially great artistic and architectural achievement; chief architect Mimar Sinan designed several iconic buildings in the city, while Ottoman arts of ceramics, stained glass, calligraphy, and miniature flourished. The population of Istanbul was 570,000 by the end of the 18th century.
A period of rebellion at the start of the 19th century led to the rise of the progressive Sultan Mahmud II and eventually to the Tanzimat period, which produced political reforms and allowed new technology to be introduced to the city. Bridges across the Golden Horn were constructed during this period, and Istanbul was connected to the rest of the European railway network in the 1880s. Modern facilities, such as a water supply network, electricity, telephones, and trams, were gradually introduced to Istanbul over the following decades, although later than to other European cities. The modernization efforts were not enough to forestall the decline of the Ottoman Empire.
In the early 20th century, the Young Turk Revolution deposed Sultan Abdul Hamid II and a series of wars plagued the ailing empire's capital. The last of these, World War I, resulted in the British, French, and Italian occupation of Constantinople. The final Ottoman sultan, Mehmed VI, was exiled in November 1922; the following year, the occupation of Constantinople ended with the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne and the recognition of the Republic of Turkey, declared by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
In the early years of the republic, Istanbul was overlooked in favor of Ankara, selected as Turkey's capital to distance the new, secular country from its Ottoman history. From the late 1940s and early 1950s, Istanbul underwent great structural change, as new public squares, boulevards, and avenues were constructed throughout the city, sometimes at the expense of historical buildings. The population of Istanbul began to rapidly increase in the 1970s, as people from Anatolia migrated to the city to find employment in the many new factories that were built on the outskirts of the sprawling metropolis. This sudden, sharp rise in the city's population caused a large demand for housing, and many previously outlying villages and forests became engulfed into the metropolitan area of Istanbul.
Istanbul is located in north-western Turkey within the Marmara Region on a total area of 5,343 square kilometers (2,063 sq mi). The Bosphorus, which connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea, divides the city into a European, Thracian side—comprising the historic and economic centers—and an Asian, Anatolian side. The city is further divided by the Golden Horn, a natural harbor bounding the peninsula where the former Byzantium and Constantinople were founded. The confluence of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus, and the Golden Horn at the heart of present-day Istanbul has deterred attacking forces for thousands of years and remains a prominent feature of the city's landscape.
Following the model of Rome, the historic peninsula is said to be characterized by seven hills, each topped by imperial mosques. The easternmost of these hills is the site of Topkapı Palace on the Sarayburnu. Rising from the opposite side of the Golden Horn is another, conical hill, where the modern Beyoğlu district is situated. Because of the topography, buildings in Beyoğlu were once constructed with the help of terraced retaining walls, and roads were laid out in the form of steps. Üsküdar on the Asian side exhibits similarly hilly characteristics, with the terrain gradually extending down to the Bosphorus coast, but the landscape in Şemsipaşa and Ayazma is more abrupt, akin to a promontory. The highest point in Istanbul is Çamlıca Hill, with an altitude of 288 meters (945 ft). The northern half of Istanbul has a higher mean elevation compared to the south coast, with locations surpassing 200 meters (660 ft), and some coasts with steep cliffs resembling fjords, especially around the northern end of the Bosporus, where it opens up to the Black Sea.
Istanbul is situated near the North Anatolian Fault, close to the boundary between the African and Eurasian Plates. This fault zone, which runs from northern Anatolia to the Sea of Marmara, has been responsible for several deadly earthquakes throughout the city's history. Among the most devastating of these seismic events was the 1509 earthquake, which caused a tsunami that broke over the walls of the city and killed more than 10,000 people. More recently, in 1999, an earthquake with its epicenter in nearby İzmit left 18,000 people dead, including 1,000 people in Istanbul's suburbs. The people of Istanbul remain concerned that an even more catastrophic seismic event may be in the city's near future, as thousands of structures recently built to accommodate Istanbul's rapidly increasing population may not have been constructed properly. Seismologists say the risk of a 7.6-magnitude or greater earthquake striking Istanbul by 2030 is more than 60 percent.
Since 2004, Istanbul has been a city whose municipal boundaries are concurrent with the boundaries of its province. The city, considered capital of Istanbul Province, is administered by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (MMI), which oversees the 39 districts of the city-province.
The current city structure can be traced back to the Tanzimat period of reform in the 19th century, before which Islamic judges and imams led the city under the auspices of the Grand Vizier. Following the model of French cities, this religious system was replaced by a mayor and a citywide council composed of representatives of the confessional groups (millet) across Istanbul. Beyoğlu was the first area of the city to have its own director and council, with members instead being longtime residents of the neighborhood. Laws enacted after the Ottoman constitution of 1876 aimed to expand this structure across the city, imitating the twenty arrondissements of Paris, but they were not fully implemented until 1908, when Istanbul was declared a province with nine constituent districts. This system continued beyond the founding of the Turkish Republic, with the province renamed a belediye (municipality), but the municipality was disbanded in 1957.
Small settlements adjacent to major population centers in Turkey, including Istanbul, were merged into their respective primary cities during the early 1980s, resulting in metropolitan municipalities. The main decision-making body of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality is the Municipal Council, with members drawn from district councils.
The Municipal Council is responsible for citywide issues, including managing the budget, maintaining civic infrastructure, and overseeing museums and major cultural centers. Since the government operates under a "powerful mayor, weak council" approach, the council's leader—the metropolitan mayor—has the authority to make swift decisions, often at the expense of transparency. The Municipal Council is advised by the Metropolitan Executive Committee, although the Committee also has limited power to make decisions of its own. All representatives on the Committee are appointed by the metropolitan mayor and the Council, with the mayor—or someone of his or her choosing—serving as head.
District councils are chiefly responsible for waste management and construction projects within their respective districts. They each maintain their own budgets, although the metropolitan mayor reserves the right to review district decisions. One-fifth of all district council members, including the district mayors, also represent their districts in the Municipal Council. All members of the district councils and the Municipal Council, including the metropolitan mayor, are elected to five-year terms. Representing the Justice and Development Party, Kadir Topbaş has been Mayor of Istanbul since March 2004.
With the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and Istanbul Province having equivalent jurisdictions, few responsibilities remain for the provincial government. Similar to the MMI, the Istanbul Special Provincial Administration has a governor, a democratically elected decision-making body—the Provincial Parliament—and an appointed Executive Committee. Mirroring the executive committee at the municipal level, the Provincial Executive Committee includes a secretary-general and leaders of departments that advise the Provincial Parliament. The Provincial Administration's duties are largely limited to the building and maintenance of schools, residences, government buildings, and roads, and the promotion of arts, culture, and nature conservation. Hüseyin Avni Mutlu has been Governor of Istanbul Province since May 2010.
Istanbul was historically known as a cultural hub, but its cultural scene stagnated after the Turkish Republic shifted its focus toward Ankara. The new national government established programs that served to orient Turks toward musical traditions, especially those originating in Europe, but musical institutions and visits by foreign classical artists were primarily centered in the new capital. Much of Turkey's cultural scene had its roots in Istanbul, and by the 1980s and 1990s Istanbul reemerged globally as a city whose cultural significance is not solely based on its past glory.
By the end of the 19th century, Istanbul had established itself as a regional artistic center, with Turkish, European, and Middle Eastern artists flocking to the city. Despite efforts to make Ankara Turkey's cultural heart, Istanbul had the country's primary institution of art until the 1970s. When additional universities and art journals were founded in Istanbul during the 1980s, artists formerly based in Ankara moved in. Beyoğlu has been transformed into the artistic center of the city, with young artists and older Turkish artists formerly residing abroad finding footing there. Modern art museums, including İstanbul Modern, the Pera Museum, Sakıp Sabancı Museum and SantralIstanbul, opened in the 2000s to complement the exhibition spaces and auction houses that have already contributed to the cosmopolitan nature of the city. These museums have yet to attain the popularity of older museums on the historic peninsula, including the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, which ushered in the era of modern museums in Turkey, and the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum.
The first film screening in Turkey was at Yıldız Palace in 1896, a year after the technology publicly debuted in Paris. Movie theaters rapidly cropped up in Beyoğlu, with the greatest concentration of theaters being along the street now known as İstiklal Avenue. Istanbul also became the heart of Turkey's nascent film industry, although Turkish films were not consistently developed until the 1950s. Since then, Istanbul has been the most popular location to film Turkish dramas and comedies. The Turkish film industry ramped up in the second half of the century, and with Uzak (2002) and My Father and My Son (2005), both filmed in Istanbul, the nation's movies began to see substantial international success. Istanbul and its picturesque skyline have also served as a backdrop for several foreign films, including Topkapi (1964), The World Is Not Enough (1999), and Mission Istaanbul (2008).
Coinciding with this cultural reemergence was the establishment of the Istanbul Festival, which began showcasing a variety of art from Turkey and around the world in 1973. From this flagship festival came the International Istanbul Film Festival and the Istanbul International Jazz Festival in the early 1980s. With its focus now solely on music and dance, the Istanbul Festival has been known as the Istanbul International Music Festival since 1994. The most prominent of the festivals that evolved from the original Istanbul Festival is the Istanbul Biennial, held every two years since 1987. Its early incarnations were aimed at showcasing Turkish visual art, and it has since opened to international artists and risen in prestige to join the elite biennales, alongside the Venice Biennale and the São Paulo Art Biennial.
Leisure and entertainment
Istanbul has numerous shopping centers, from the historic to the modern. The Grand Bazaar, in operation since 1461, is among the world's oldest and largest covered markets. Mahmutpasha Bazaar is an open-air market extending between the Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Bazaar, which has been Istanbul's major spice market since 1660. Galleria Ataköy ushered in the age of modern shopping malls in Turkey when it opened in 1987. Since then, malls have become major shopping centers outside the historic peninsula. Akmerkez was awarded the titles of "Europe's best" and "World's best" shopping mall by the International Council of Shopping Centers in 1995 and 1996; Istanbul Cevahir has been one of the continent's largest since opening in 2005; Kanyon won the Cityscape Architectural Review Award in the Commercial Built category in 2006. İstinye Park in İstinye and Zorlu Center near Levent are among the newest malls which include the stores of the world's top fashion brands. Abdi İpekçi Street in Nişantaşı and Bağdat Avenue on the Anatolian side of the city have evolved into high-end shopping districts.
Aside from typical Turkish cuisine like kebab, Istanbul is also famous for its historic seafood restaurants. Many of the city's most popular and upscale seafood restaurants line the shores of the Bosphorus (particularly in neighborhoods like Ortaköy, Bebek, Arnavutköy, Yeniköy, Beylerbeyi and Çengelköy). Kumkapı along the Sea of Marmara has a pedestrian zone that hosts around fifty fish restaurants. The Princes' Islands, 15 kilometers (9 mi) from the city center, are also popular for their seafood restaurants. Because of their restaurants, historic summer mansions, and tranquil, car-free streets, the Princes' Islands are a popular vacation destination among Istanbulites and foreign tourists.
Restaurants featuring foreign cuisines are mainly concentrated in the Beyoğlu, Beşiktaş, Şişli and Kadıköy districts. Along İstiklal Avenue is the Çiçek Pasajı, now home to winehouses (known as meyhanes), pubs, and restaurants. İstiklal Avenue, originally famous for its taverns, has shifted toward shopping, but the nearby Nevizade Street is still lined with winehouses and pubs. Some other neighborhoods around İstiklal Avenue have recently been revamped to cater to Beyoğlu's nightlife, with formerly commercial streets now lined with pubs, cafes, and restaurants playing live music. Other focal points for Istanbul's nightlife include Nişantaşı, Ortaköy, Bebek, and Kadıköy.
Istanbul's first water supply systems date back to the city's early history, when aqueducts (such as the Valens Aqueduct) deposited the water in the city's numerous cisterns. At the behest of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Kırkçeşme water supply network was constructed; by 1563, the network provided 4,200 cubic meters (150,000 cu ft) of water to 158 sites each day. In later years, in response to increasing public demand, water from various springs was channeled to public fountains, like the Fountain of Ahmed III, by means of supply lines. Today, Istanbul has a chlorinated and filtered water supply and a sewage treatment system managed by the Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration (İSKİ).
The Silahtarağa Power Station, a coal-fired power plant along the Golden Horn, was the sole source of Istanbul's electricity between 1914, when its first engine room was completed, and 1952. Following the founding of the Turkish Republic, the plant underwent renovations to accommodate the city's increasing demand; its capacity grew from 23 megawatts in 1923 to a peak of 120 megawatts in 1956. Capacity declined until the power station reached the end of its economic life and shut down in 1983. The state-run Turkish Electrical Authority (TEK) briefly—between its founding in 1970 and 1984—held a monopoly on the generation and distribution of electricity, but now the authority—since split between the Turkish Electricity Generation Transmission Company (TEAŞ) and the Turkish Electricity Distribution Company (TEDAŞ)—competes with private electric utilities.
The Ottoman Ministry of Post and Telegraph was established in 1840 and the first post office, the Imperial Post Office, opened near the courtyard of Yeni Mosque. By 1876, the first international mailing network between Istanbul and the lands beyond the Ottoman Empire had been established. Sultan Abdülmecid I issued Samuel Morse his first official honor for the telegraph in 1847, and construction of the first telegraph line—between Istanbul and Edirne—finished in time to announce the end of the Crimean War in 1856. A nascent telephone system began to emerge in Istanbul in 1881 and after the first manual telephone exchange became operational in Istanbul in 1909, the Ministry of Post and Telegraph became the Ministry of Post, Telegraph, and Telephone. GSM cellular networks arrived in Turkey in 1994, with Istanbul among the first cities to receive the service. Today, mobile and landline service is provided by private companies, after Türk Telekom, which split from the Ministry of Post, Telegraph, and Telephone in 1995, was privatized in 2005. Postal services remain under the purview of what is now the Post and Telegraph Organization (retaining the acronym PTT).
In 2000, Istanbul had 137 hospitals, of which 100 were private. Turkish citizens are entitled to subsidized healthcare in the nation's state-run hospitals. As public hospitals tend to be overcrowded or otherwise slow, private hospitals are preferable for those who can afford them. Their prevalence has increased significantly over the last decade, as the percentage of outpatients using private hospitals increased from 6 percent to 23 percent between 2005 and 2009. Many of these private hospitals, as well as some of the public hospitals, are equipped with high-tech equipment, including MRI machines, or associated with medical research centers. Turkey has more hospitals accredited by the U.S.-based Joint Commission than any other country in the world, with most concentrated in its big cities. The high quality of healthcare, especially in private hospitals, has contributed to a recent upsurge in medical tourism to Turkey (with a 40 percent increase between 2007 and 2008). Laser eye surgery is particularly common among medical tourists, as Turkey is known for specializing in the procedure.
Istanbul's primary motorways are the O-1, O-2, O-3, and O-4. The O-1 forms the city's inner ring road, traversing the Bosphorus Bridge, and the O-2 is the city's outer ring road, crossing the Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Second Bosphorus) Bridge. The O-2 continues west to Edirne and the O-4 continues east to Ankara; the O-2, O-3, and O-4 are part of European route E80 (the Trans-European Motorway) between Portugal and the Turkish–Iranian border. The two Bosphorus Bridges are currently the only road crossings between the Asian and European sides of Turkey, together carrying 400,000 vehicles each day. The dual-deck, 14.6-kilometer (9.1 mi) Eurasia Tunnel is currently under construction beneath the Bosphorus, between Fatih and Üsküdar. A third Bosphorus bridge, first considered in the 1990s, may also finally be coming to fruition, as construction of the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge was officially launched in 2013. Both projects may be completed as early as 2015, although environmentalist groups worry that the third bridge will endanger the remaining green areas to the north of Istanbul.
Istanbul's local public transportation system is a complex network of trams, funiculars, metro lines, buses, bus rapid transit, and ferries. Fares across modes are integrated, using the contactless Istanbulkart, introduced in 2010, or the older Akbil electronic ticket device. Trams in Istanbul date back to 1872, when they were horse-drawn, but even the first electrified trams were decommissioned in the 1960s. Operated by Istanbul Electricity, Tramway, and Tunnel (İETT), trams slowly returned to the city in the 1990s with the introduction of a nostalgic route and a faster modern tram line, which now carries 265,000 passengers each day. The Tünel opened in 1875 as the world's second-oldest subterranean rail line (after London's Metropolitan Railway). It still carries passengers between Karaköy and İstiklal Avenue along a steep 573-meter (1,880 ft) track; a more modern funicular between Taksim Square and Kabataş began running in 2006.
The Istanbul Metro comprises three lines (the M1 and M2 on the European side, and the M4 on the Asian side) with several other lines (such as the M3, M5, M7, and M6 Mini-Metro) and extensions under construction. The two sides of Istanbul's metro are connected under the Bosphorus by the Marmaray tunnel, inaugurated in 2013 as the first rail connection between Thrace and Anatolia. With the Marmaray's completion, rail use in the city is expected to increase to 28 percent (from 4 percent), behind only Tokyo and New York City. Until then, buses provide transportation within and between the two halves of the city, accommodating 2.2 million passenger trips each day. The Metrobus, a form of bus rapid transit, crosses the Bosphorus Bridge, with dedicated lanes leading to its termini. İDO (Istanbul Seabuses) runs a combination of all-passenger ferries and car-and-passenger ferries to ports on both sides of the Bosphorus, as far north as the Black Sea. With additional destinations around the Sea of Marmara, İDO runs the largest municipal ferry operation in the world. The city's main cruise ship terminal is the Port of Istanbul in Karaköy, with a capacity of 10,000 passengers per hour. Most visitors enter Istanbul by air, but about half a million foreign tourists enter the city by sea each year.
International rail service from Istanbul launched in 1889, with a line between Bucharest and Istanbul's Sirkeci Terminal, which ultimately became famous as the eastern terminus of the Orient Express from Paris. Regular service to Bucharest and Thessaloniki continued until the early 2010s, when the former was interrupted for Marmaray construction and the latter was halted due to economic problems in Greece. After Istanbul's Haydarpaşa Terminal opened in 1908, it served as the western terminus of the Baghdad Railway and an extension of the Hejaz Railway; today, neither service is offered directly from Istanbul. Service to Ankara and other points across Turkey is normally offered by Turkish State Railways, but the construction of Marmaray and the Ankara-Istanbul high-speed line forced the station to close in 2012. New stations to replace both the Haydarpaşa and Sirkeci terminals, and connect the city's disjointed railway networks, are expected to open upon completion of the Marmaray project; until then, Istanbul is without intercity rail service. Private bus companies operate instead. Istanbul's main bus station is the largest in Europe, with a daily capacity of 15,000 buses and 600,000 passengers, serving destinations as distant as Frankfurt.
Istanbul has two international airports. The larger is Istanbul Atatürk, 24 kilometers (15 mi) west of the city center. It handled 51.2 million passengers in 2013, making it the fifth-busiest airport in Europe and the eighteenth-busiest in the world. Sabiha Gökçen International, 45 kilometers (28 mi) southeast of the city center, opened in 2001 to relieve Atatürk. Dominated by low-cost carriers, Istanbul's second airport has rapidly become popular, especially since the opening of a new international terminal in 2009; the airport handled 14.7 million passengers in 2012, a year after Airports Council International named it the world's fastest-growing airport. Atatürk has also experienced rapid growth, as its 20.6 percent rise in passenger traffic between 2011 and 2012 was the highest among the world's top 30 airports. Because of the traffic at Istanbul's current airports, a third international airport is planned for the Black Sea coast. Building a new runway at Atatürk Airport was rejected due to the cost involved; environmental concerns have also been raised with respect to the new airport. Currently under construction, the new international airport will become the largest airport in the world upon the completion of all four stages of the project, with a capacity to serve 150 million passengers per year.
Sister and twin cities
- List of twin and sister cities of Istanbul
- The foundation of Byzantion (Byzantium) is sometimes, especially in encyclopedic or other tertiary sources, placed firmly in 667 BCE. Historians have disputed the precise year the city was founded. Commonly cited is the work of 5th-century-BC historian Herodotus, which says the city was founded seventeen years after Chalcedon, which came into existence around 685 BCE. Eusebius concurs with 685 BCE as the year Chalcedon was founded, but places Byzantion's establishment in 659 BCE. Among more modern historians, Carl Roebuck proposed the 640s BCE and others have suggested even later. The foundation date of Chalcedon is itself subject to some debate; while many sources place it in 685 BC, others put it in 675 BC or even 639 BCE (with Byzantion's establishment placed in 619 BCE). Some sources refer to Byzantium's foundation as the 7th century BCE.
- The name Istanbul has been in use since before the 1453 Ottoman conquest, but in English Istanbul became common only after Turkey adapted the Latin alphabet in 1928 and urged other countries to use the city's Turkish name.
- Sources have provided conflicting figures on the area of Istanbul. The most authoritative source on this figure ought to be the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (MMI), but the English version of its website suggests a few figures for this area. One page states that "Each MM is sub-divided into District Municipalities ("DM") of which there are 27 in Istanbul" [emphasis added] with a total area of 1,538.9 square kilometers (594.2 sq mi). The Municipal History page appears to be the most explicit and most updated, saying that in 2004, "Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality's jurisdiction was enlarged to cover all the area within the provincial limits". It also states a 2008 law merged the Eminönü district into the Fatih district (a point that is not reflected in the previous source) and increased the number of districts in Istanbul to 39. That total area, as corroborated on the Turkish version of the MMI website, and a Jurisdiction page on the English site is 5,343 square kilometers (2,063 sq mi).
- Historians disagree—sometimes substantially—on population figures of Istanbul (Constantinople), and other world cities, prior to the 20th century. A follow-up to Chandler & Fox 1974,Chandler 1987, pp. 463–505 examines different sources' estimates and chooses the most likely based on historical conditions; it is the source of most population figures between 100 and 1914. The ranges of values between 500 and 1000 are due to Morris 2010, which also does a comprehensive analysis of sources, including Chandler (1987); Morris notes that many of Chandler's estimates during that time seem too large for the city's size, and presents smaller estimates. Chandler disagrees with Turan 2010 on the population of the city in the mid-1920s (with the former suggesting 817,000 in 1925), but Turan, p. 224, is used as the source of population figures between 1924 and 2005. Turan's figures, as well as the 2010 figure, come from the Turkish Statistical Institute. The drastic increase in population between 1980 and 1985 is largely due to an enlargement of the city's limits (see the Administration section). Explanations for population changes in pre-Republic times can be inferred from the History section.
- The United Nations defines an urban agglomeration as "the population contained within the contours of a contiguous territory inhabited at urban density levels without regard to administrative boundaries". The agglomeration "usually incorporates the population in a city or town plus that in the suburban areas lying outside of, but being adjacent to, the city boundaries". Figures dated 1 July 2011 place the populations of the agglomerations of Moscow and Istanbul at 11.62 million and 11.25 million, respectively. The UN estimates that the agglomeration of Istanbul will exceed the agglomeration of Moscow in population by 2015 (with 12.46 million and 12.14 million, respectively), although extrapolation suggests that the former will not surpass latter until the second half of 2013. A revision with 2013 data is due in the first half of 2014.
- UEFA does not apparently keep a list of Category 4 stadiums, but regulations stipulate that only these elite stadiums are eligible to host UEFA Champions League Finals, which Atatürk Olympic Stadium did in 2005, and UEFA Europa League (formerly UEFA Cup) Finals, which Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium did in 2009. Türk Telekom Arena is noted as an elite UEFA stadium by its architects.
- Open Street Maps