Ahmed Mustafa | 301346661
Istanbul Global City
The city of Turkey, Istanbul
has an estimated population of 14,557,000 as of 2017. It has served as the capital of the Roman Empire (330 to 395AD),
the Byzantine Empire (395–1204AD) (1261–1453AD), the Latin Empire (1204–1261AD),
and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922 AD). It was earlier known as Constantinople
which was later renamed to Istanbul after the capital of Turkey was moved to
Ankara. It is also a city, with over 150,000 students attending 3 big
universities and many colleges. Even though Ankara is the capital of Turkey,
Istanbul acts and continues to be the commercial and financial capital. Turkey’s
economy is one of the fastest growing in the world and the city has quadrupled
in size over the last few years (BBC, 2010). The population of Istanbul
is approximately 12 million and the statistics keep increasing daily as
newcomers from other provinces travel to the city for work. Turkey, acts as a
link between Asia and Europe and therefore it has a lot of ethnic diversity due
to migration of people which has been occurring for many years. The ethnic
composition includes the Turks who make up about 80% of the total population,
followed by Kurds, Greek, Roma and numerous minority populations like that of
the Arabs, Caucasians and Europeans. Majority of the Turks are Muslim, three
quarters of which follow the teachings of Sunni Islam. (Focus, 2010-2011).
Old Istanbul is the crowded
streets of the Grand Bazaar, magnificent mosques, hamams (bathouses), and grand
palaces of the Ottoman Empire. Headscarved women walk down the cobbled lanes
and men smoke apple tobacco from a nargileh (water pipe) to a soundtrack of the
Muezzin’s call to prayer (BBC, 2010).
Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul – the names which the city has been called
during its 28 centuries of existence. Relics from all these periods still exist
in Istanbul (BBC, 2010). Although over
95% of the population are Muslin, Istanbul has a long history of tolerance and
multi-culturism with Jewish and Christian traditions present in the city.
Islamic fundamentalists targeted the city in 2003 with Al-Queda bombs aimed at
Jewish synagogues, the British Consulate and HSBC Bank, killing 78 people. In
2005 Turkey entered formal talks to become a member of the European Union but
whilst Turkey’s dispute with Greece over Cyprus remains unresolved many believe
it can’t happen.
Despite a long relationship
with Europe, very few Europeans live in Turkey today. In the mid-1800s,
Armenians, at 2.5 million, comprised a large population in Turkey. However, in
1915 the Turkish govern-ment launched a genocide against them, killing more
than half the people in two years. Most have left for the now-sovereign state
of Armenia; only 70,000 remain in present-day Turkey (Focus, 2010-2011).
While Islam has influenced
the development of Turkey for almost a thousand years, Turkey is officially a
secular state (Focus, 2010-2011).
The presence of the Bosphorus
Waterway located towards the northwest makes the city connected to the Black Sea
and the Sea of Marmara. It can be observed that the commercial center lies in
Europe while the rest part of the city lies in Asia. This strategic location of
Istanbul has contributed in connecting the city with other cities. Istanbul actively
competes on an international scale to attract investors, visitors, people and
inhabitants. Istanbul is one of the most important cities in Europe and the
Middle East. It was the the European Capital of Culture ECoC 2010 along with
Pécs (Hungary) and Ruhr (Germany). It was also chosen as a cultural center to
be promoted through the European Union (EU) for the entire year as a result of
the Turkey’s political efforts even though Turkey is not a member of the EU,
the programme was interpreted by the authorities as a chance to remind the
people about the cultural heritage and common historical roots with the other EU
countries. (Bcakcr, 2012) (Focus, 2010-2011).