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İstanbul: The Modern City

One of the great historic cities of the world, İstanbul is the chief city and seaport of Turkey as well as its commercial, industrial, and financial center. Manufactures include textiles, glass, shoes, motor vehicles, ships, and cement. The European part of İstanbul is the terminus of an international rail service (formerly called the Orient Express), and at Haydarpaşa station, on the Asian side, begins the Baghdad Railway. Yeşilköy International Airport is nearby.

Always a cosmopolitan city, İstanbul has preserved much of its international and polyglot character and contains sizable foreign minorities. The city experienced explosive population growth in the 1970s and 80s (it tripled in size), with the Turkish Muslim majority increasing. The present administrative districts of İstanbul include Fatih and Eminönü on the European side and Kadiköy (ancient Chalcedon) and Üsküdar (Scutari) on the Asian side. Massive efforts have been made to keep up with recent growth by modernizing the city's infrastructure and municipal services. In 1973 the European and Asian sections of the city were linked by the opening of the Bosporus Bridge, then one of the world's longest suspension bridges; it was renamed the July 15th Martyrs Bridge in 2016. Two other bridges span the Bosporus, the Fatih Sultan Mehmet, a suspension bridge completed in 1988, and the Yavuz Sultan Selim, a hybrid cable-stayed suspension bridge, opened in 2016. The first section of a new subway system opened in 2000, and a rail tunnel under the Bosporus opened in 2013.

İstanbul is the seat of İstanbul Univ. (founded 1453 as a theological school; completely reorganized 1933), a technical university, Univ. of the Bosporus (formerly Robert College), Marmara Univ., Mimar Sinan Univ., and Yildiz Univ. It is the see of the patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, of a Latin-rite patriarch of the Roman Catholic Church, and of a patriarch of the Armenian Church.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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