With this statement of the French leader Napoleon Bonaparte we can start our talk about this fantastic city which has all the elements of beauty and excellence in various areas; it is the largest city in Turkey, the capital of cultural, economic and tourism. In addition to its strategic geographical location and charming nature, its cultural and religious weight is a prominent center among the cities of the world.
- Location: Istanbul is located in Marmara region in north-west of Turkey; bordered to the north by the Black Sea, to the south by the Sea of Marmara, to the west by the province of Tekirdag, to the east by Sakarya and Kogali. The Bosphorus Strait divides the city into two parts; eastern part located in the Asian continent “the Kogali Peninsula”, and a western part located in the continent of Europe “ Chatlja Peninsula”. This made Istanbul the world’s best defense site.
- Area: The total area of Istanbul is 5461 square kilometers, the land area of which is 5343 square kilometers; the central city area is 1830 square kilometers, administratively divided into 39 municipalities, 27 of which are the central city.
- Climate: Istanbul climate is generally mild, especially in spring and autumn. While summer is warm and humid, and winter is characterized by cold and rain, also it is often snowing.
- Population: Istanbul has a population of 14,804,116 people, this figure represents 18.5% of Turkey’s population, according to the official statistics of 2016.
- Demographics: Istanbul has a distinct ethnic and religious diversity, which has made it a prominent place among followers of various religious sects. Sunni Muslims forms the majority of the city’s population, while the Alawites are the largest religious minority, followed by Christians with their sects, the Latin Shemites, and the Jews.
- History: Istanbul dates back to the 7th millennium BC, meaning that the city was inhabited even before the Bosphorus was formed. Throughout history, Istanbul has been known by several names: Byzantium, Constantinople, Astana, and Islambul.
From the middle of the 7th century BC, the Greek immigrants founded the town of Bezas on the European side of Istanbul, while Constantine I chose it as the official capital of the Roman Empire and changed its name to Constantinople. The city was flourishing while the Roman Empire was greatly divided. Its political, military, commercial and religious status increased, especially when it became the capital of the Greek Orthodox Christians.
In the seventh century AD, after the emergence of Islam and the expansion of Muslims in their conquests across the world, the armies of the Umayyad caliphate tried to open Constantinople, but they did not succeed because the Byzantines defended them, and due to the strong fortification of the city. The Ottomans later managed to control the most important Byzantine cities, such as Bursa and Izmit, which constituted the eastern gateway to Constantinople, Galipoli on the Dardanelles Strait, while they expanded westward in Thrace and Aderna; their conquests extended until their wars reached Bulgaria and Greece. The city fell on May 29, 1453, after its siege for 53 days, in the hands of the Ottomans under the leadership of Sultan Mohammed II, nicknamed al- Fateh.
After the Ottoman conquest, al-Fateh transferred the capital of the Ottoman Empire from Aderna to Constantinople, which became the Islambol (the City of Islam), and soon the Ottomans worked on the renaissance of the city at various levels to occupy a leading position among the cities of the world.
By 1516, Istanbul became the capital of the Islamic Caliphate after the Ottoman Sultan Selim I, was declared a successor to the Muslims. This gave impetus to its prosperity and development in various fields, attesting to important achievements at all levels.
Allied armies occupied Istanbul at the end of the First World War. They remained until the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the declaration of the Turkish Republic led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. They withdrew under the Treaty of Lausanne, and Ataturk moved the capital to Ankara.
- Economy: Istanbul is the most important economic center in Turkey. It provides about 20% of workers’ employment opportunities, contributes 22% of the national product, and provides about 40% of the total state taxes, while producing about 55% of exports.
According to statistics from 2014, the per capita GNI is about $ 12.12 thousand in Turkey, while the figure in Istanbul is $ 19.9 thousand.
Among the most prominent industries in Istanbul are textiles, leather products, chemical and rubber products, electronic products, food and pharmaceutical industries, and others. Istanbul is also famous for olive, fruit, cotton, sunflower and tobacco.
Istanbul is the capital of tourism in Turkey because it attracts the largest number of visitors annually due to the natural beauty of the city and the diversity of its sources; and the wonderful historical monuments spread throughout the city, in addition to the distinguished services offered to tourists at various levels. It is a city that does not rest and does not sleep. It is in a constant activity that is diverse among artistic, cultural, scientific, economic and even political events and festivals.
- Historical and touristic monuments: Istanbul is famous for its large historical mosques with prominent Ottoman features such as the Sulaymaniyah, Sultanahmet, Al Fateh, New Mosque, Abu Ayyub Al Ansari Mosque and many more. The Hagia Sophia is an important landmark for Muslims in the Ottoman era. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk turned into a museum. Istanbul is thriving with many famous museums such as the 1453 Panorama, The famous Topkapi Museum and the Dolma Bahge Museum, where the Ottomans ruled the state during the last 100 years of its existence.
Public areas and squares in Istanbul have gained worldwide acclaim throughout history, such as Taksim Square and the nearby Istiklal Street. Some of the ports are also important landmarks such as the port of Aminonu and Yinnie Kappi. Also, Istanbul is home to a large number of large parks and which add to the beauty to this charming city, as well as the famous Turkish baths and entertainment centers.