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Touristic Information

Population: 71,158,647 (July 2007 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 24.9% (male 9,034,731/female 8,703,624)
15-64 years: 68.1% (male 24,627,270/female 23,857,507)
65 years and over: 6.9% (male 2,253,383/female 2,682,132) (2007 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.04% (2007 est.)

Birth rate: 16.4 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Death rate: 6 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.038 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.032 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 1.019 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

Infant mortality rate: total: 38.33 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.88 years
male: 70.43 years
female: 75.46 years (2007 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.89 children born/woman (2007 est.)

Istanbul is a cultural heaven which amazes you by having contradictions as classical and modern, happy and sad, developed and underdeveloped, cute and ugly at the same time. Istanbul carries the blood of the Mediterranean as well as the atmosphere of Asian and Arabic influences. So, in order to observe all these contradictions and make your own judgement, you need to pick the best itinerary which suits most to your preferences...

The itinenaries shown below are MY OWN itineraries which I believe that after seeing them all, you can confidently say "I saw Istanbul and know a lot about it!

Istanbul Figures

Istanbul in terms of facts and figures

Fatih Sultan Mehmed Bridge:It takes its name from the sultan called "Mehmed (the Conqueror)" who conquered Istanbul (Constantinople) in 1453 from the Byzantine Empire... This bridge was constructed in 1988.

Istanbul is a city of mosques and universities. There are over 8.000 small and big mosques which were constructed over the centuries and still being constructed... It's a city of universities and the first university was founded in the 15th century with the order of Sultan Mehmed "the Conqueror":The University of Istanbul. In today, there are about 16 private and public universities in the city ,namely:

Public: Yildiz Technical University , Istanbul Technical University , University of Istanbul , University of Marmara , Bogazici University , University of Galatasaray, Mimar Sinan University(Architecht Sinan).

Private: Koc University , Sabanci University , Bilgi University , Kultur University , Kadir Has University , ,Yeditepe University , Dogus University , University of Beykent, Isik University, Fatih(conquerer)University, Istanbul University of Commerce, Okan University,Bahcesehir University.

The city is called as "City of Seven Hills" because of its hills. These hills are depicted on the carpet designs and miniatures. Because of being that hilly, the construction of a subway system brings a heavy burden on the municipal government's shoulders. There's a subway line between 4Levent-Taksim  and several lines are also being projected.

Istanbul is often described as ‘the crossroads of Europe and Asia' - a heaving bazaar-city of carpets and caravanserais with an imperial history stretching back for more than 1,500 years.

This metropolis of an estimated 15 million occupies both sides of an east-west land bridge divided by the 32km (20-mile) Bosphorus Strait, which also connects the trade routes of the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean.

As a result, the city has been a jealously guarded centre of world trade since the Byzantine era, and protected by water on three sides, with the natural harbour of the Golden Horn nestled within the city.

Even after Constantinople (as it was previously known) fell to the Ottoman Sultans in 1453, the city remained (and it still is) the trading post for valuable spices and textiles brought via the Silk Road from as far away as China.

Its prime position has meant that Istanbul has suffered from frequent sieges, changing from a Hellenic outpost to New Rome, the world's first Christian capital, and the seat of the world's biggest Muslim Empire. Its identity today combines that of both eastern and European.

Fragments of this varied architectural inheritance are visible, with stunning Ottoman mosques, classical columns, Byzantine structures, ancient city walls and fine churches.

Added to this, rapid industrialisation has drawn thousands of rural poor to the metropolis, resulting in a vast social gap between ‘natives' and migrants and a growth rate at treble the national average. The city's wealthy elite live in the newly built suburbs and enjoy the sophistication of Istanbul's café society, designer shops, thriving nightlife (over 60% of Istanbullites are under 25 years old) and vibrant contemporary cultural life.

Turkey suffered an appalling economic crisis in 2000, caused by the huge earthquake in 1999, which was followed by the repercussions of 9/11 attacks. This caused record high unemployment and inflation and, paradoxically, increased competition and vast devaluation of the Turkish Lira leading to foreign tourists taking advantage of excellent prices.

The 2002 elections saw a new prime minister (Recep Erdogan, leader of the moderate Islamic AK party) at the helm, guiding the way to a more stable economy, with inflation down to around 7.7% in 2005, a 30-year low.

Istanbul suffered from Islamic terrorism in November 2003, with several simultaneous bomb attacks in the heart of the city, targeting synagogues and western and financial centres, and resulting in dozens of deaths.

Turkey recently made long overdue and internationally welcomed improvements to its human rights, hoping for future entry into the EU. When (and indeed if) that happens largely depends on the other influential EU members.

Istanbul is buzzing more than ever. The local Belediye (council) has been noticeably smartening up the slightly tatty central area, the arts and music scene is flourishing, and more international fashion chains are on thriving pedestrian avenue Istiklal Caddesi than ever before. New bars, clubs, private art galleries and restaurants open up all the time, especially in Beyoglu, and the city seems more funky and cosmopolitan than ever with its young people even more keen on cultural expression.

Istanbul's climate is, in the main, a Mediterranean one, although it is affected by climatic variations due to its location on the Marmara Sea and Bosphorus. Summers are hot and winters cold, with spring and autumn usually sunny and warm although they can be changeable. Light snow is common in the winter.

turkish cuisine

Turkish Cuisine

Turkish Cuisine is of a great variety, a mixture of western and eastern cuisines with the flavor of unique Ottoman Cuisine. It can simply be categorized as;

Soups (Corba)
Cold appetizers(Meze)
Hot appetizers(Ara sicak)
Main Course(Ana yemek)
Vegetables cooked in olive oil(Zeytinyagli)
Fruit Mix(meyve)
Soft Drinks

Soups: To begin with, soups do come first. They are very important in Turkish Cuisine. The soups are usually made of chicken juice by adding different things,i.e tomatoes,lentil,rice,yoghurt, eggs and flour. The most famous soups of traditional Ottoman Cuisine are Dugun Corbasi(Wedding Day Soup), Iskembe Corbasi(Tripe Soup eaten with garlic juice and vinegar), Mercimek Corbasi(Red Lentil Soup) and Yayla Corbasi(Yoghurt and rice with dried mint). If the soups do not contain chicken or meat broth, they are deemed to be 'tasteless'...

Cold Appetizers: The cold appetizers are another unique part of the Turkish Cuisine. A good 'Meze Tabagi'(Meze Platter) usually contains Dolma(stuffed green pepper,tomatoes or leaves with rice and pinenuts), Beyaz Peynir(Turkish White Cottage Cow's Cheese), Barbunya(Red Beans cooked in olive oil), Humus(made of chickpeas), Cerkez Tavugu(Circassian Chicken, little chicken-breast pieces mixed with walnut, bread and spices), Haydari(very thick yoghurt mixed with garlic and mint), Ezme(red chilly pepper,tomato paste,mint and spices)and finally Yesil ve Siyah Zeytin(Green and Black Olives).

Hot Appetizers: The hot starters are usually pastries which are called as Boerek. Boereks are of various types; i.e pastry which is made of different, thin dough layers stuffed with ground meat or cheese,cooked in oven or pastry made of two thin dough layers with cheese or ground meat inside, fried in sunflower oil. With boreks, potato or cheese croquettes may be served. The most famous type of borek is called Su Boerek(Thin dough layers shock-boiled in water). Other hot appetizers are Patlican Kizartma (fried eggplants), Kabak Kizartma (fried zucchinis) and fried mussles or calamares.

Main Courses: The main courses usually include meat, mainly lamb and veal. Sometimes chicken is used for some recipies. The meat is accompanied with eggplants, zucchini or potatoes,either smashed or french-fried. The most famous main course is called Doner Kebab(similar to Gyro) and second famous is Shis-Kebab(small pieces of lamb or veal grilled). Other famous main courses are Hunkar Begendi(lamb served on eggplant pureé), Islim Kebab(lamb served in sliced eggplant), or Tandir(very soft lamb grilled) and Manti(Turkish Style Ravioli with garlic yoghurt and red-pepper butter sauce). With them, Ayran(Yoghurt mixed with water and salt) may be served..

Vegetables cooked with olive oil: Turkey is one of the biggest olive and olive oil producers of the world. Therefore, food cooked in olive oil is an indispensible part of our cuisine. The main olive oil dishes are Zeytinyagli Yesil Fasulye(String Beans in Olive Oil), Imam Bayildi(eggplant cut in from the middle, stuffed with onion and green pepper, served cold), Zeytinyagli Kuru Fasulye(Beans in olive oil), Zeytinyagli Enginar(Artichoke cooked with pieces of potatoes,carrots and peas).

Desserts: The desserts can be roughly divided into three,desserts made of milk, desserts made of pastry+syrups, desserts made of fruits and nuts...

Milk Desserts: The famous ones are Tavukgogsu(freshly cooked shredded chicken breast,mixed with pudding with rice flour,eggs and vanilla), Kazandibi(same dessert,put into oven,the bottom gets red and delicious), Keskul(milk,flour,rice flour, almonds, pistachio,eggs,vanilla).

Desserts with pastry and syrup:The famous ones are Baklava(very thin layers of buttered pastry filled with pistachio or walnuts,at least 20 layers),baked first in the oven, then cold syrup is added), Kadayif(pastry resembling human hair,put into the tray,added butter and walnut,cooked like baklava), Kunefe is a southeastern(Antakya) specialty, instead of walnuts, special Antakya cheese is put inside), Sekerpare(Piece of sugar) (is baked in the oven as a round cookie,nut is put on the top, and syrup is added.)

Desserts with fruit and nuts: The most famous one of this type is Ashure which is a sacred desert. It's believed that after the disasterous storm in Mt.Agri of Turkey, the people in Noah's Ark, had to cook a strange food to survive by adding everything aboard, dried figs,apricots, raisins, walnut, chickpeas, white beans, rice, wheat and sugar. It's cooked still the same way by putting cinnamon on the top. The others are Ayva Tatlisi(Quince Dessert), quince boiled with sugar, after color turns to be red, syrup and cream is put on the top), Incir Tatlisi(Fig Dessert), dried figs are boiled in syrup,with cream and walnut toppings.

Soft Drinks: Major soft beverages are Ayran(Yoghurt mixed with water and salt added), Boza (winter drink,made of fermented bulgur wheat, thick as pudding, accompanied by cinnamon), Salep(winter drink made of Salep powder and hot milk, cinnamon added), Salgam Suyu (Sugar beet juice), Elma Cayi(Apple tea), Ihlamur(Linden tea) and Turk Kahvesi(Turkish Coffee).

Fish Restaurants: If Turkey is surrounded by three seas and Istanbul is on the shore of Sea of Marmara, how about the fish restaurants? Fish restaurants are of a special style,once you go to have fish, you sit at the table for 1-2 hours and enjoy your meal very slowly by sipping your Raki. Raki contains 45% alcohol, it is quite strong. 1/3 of a typical raki glass is filled with raki, the rest is complemented with cold water,added ice if desired. The water-like liquid; when water is added, suddenly turns out white,a milk-like thing. It's often called "The Lion's Milk" by the Turkish. Raki is made of grapes and it's a non-fermented drink. It should be drunk very slowly with food, therefore the culture in the fish restaurants has developed...

In the fish restaurants, the food comes as if eating is a ritual, not an easy and quick thing. Cold appetizers, like white cheese, melon, beans in olive oil or shrimp do come first. After having some from each of them and starting sipping your "raki", comes the hot appetizers, like boreks or fish balls with a big bowl of fresh seasonal salad. Finally while you are enjoying the appetizers, your fish gets ready and you enjoy the most delicious part of your ritual. Finally you enjoy a light dessert or fresh fruits before putting an end to this pleasure. You waive you hand to the chief waiter who knows you for long years and go back home happily and relaxed..