The Modern City
One of the great historic cities of the world, Istanbul 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 Istanbul 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, Istanbul 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 Istanbul 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, one of the world's longest (3,524 ft/1,074 m) suspension bridges. This was followed by the Second Bosporus Bridge (3,322 ft/1,012 m), completed in 1988. The first section of a new subway system opened in Sept., 2000.
Istanbul is the seat of Istanbul 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.