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Characteristics of the Study Area
Location and Topography

İstanbul is located in the north-west Marmara region of Turkey, in the coordinates of 28o10’ and 29o40’ East longitudes and 40o50’ and 41o30’ North latitudes. İstanbul city with a surface area of 5,313 km2 (TÜİK, 2008) has three neighbouring provinces (i.e. Kocaeli in the east, Bursa in the south and Tekirdağ in the west). Marmara Sea at south and Black Sea at north surround the city besides these provinces. The Bosphorus, which connects the Black Sea with Marmara Sea, divides the city of İstanbul into two parts and also seperates the European and Asian Continents. Two parts of İstanbul are connected with each other by Fatih Sultan Mehmet and Boğaz (The Bosphorus) Bridges.


As gleaned from its name as a “city of seven hills”, the urban areas of İstanbul have developed from hill to hill. This geographical feature of İstanbul created its quite unique urban landscape-which greatly influenced and determined the existing urbanization & landuse patterns, transport systems, and eventually its urban structure, which is quite different and unique from other mega cities developed from huge flat plains or at the mouth of rivers or the straits.


The elevation contour map indicates the elevation of land above sea level and gradient of elevation (steeper land on darker color with high density of contour on the figure). In the eastern part, there are quartzite hills (Aydos - 537 m, Kayışdağı - 438 m, Alemdağ - 442 m, Büyük Çamlıca - 262 m and Yusa -202 m) and higher areas, starting from the east of Gebze-Ömerli Damn route and continuous rise (350m) take place in the east of İstanbul Metropolitan area. In the western part, there is again a peneplain with wide based river valleys, apart from a couple of heights rising up to 200 m in some part in Bosphorus – Büyükçekmece–Karacaköy route.

The other prominent physical feature of İstanbul is its surface waters that run through its hills, ranging from the Bosporus Strait and the Golden Horn to various smaller rivers. The city’s uneven ground and hilly land created various lakes, which are the source of its rivers.

                      Location of the city


                Topographic map of the city

Population and Demography

İstanbul had a population of 1,078,000  in 1945 (TÜİK, 2007). After the development of industrilization, the city’s population started to increase with a yearly average rate of 4% to 5% and reached to 7,309,000 in 1990 and 9,199,000 in 1997 (TÜİK, 2007). According to the population census as of 2007, İstanbul had a population of over 12 million people. Figure below shows the population growth of the city since 1927.

            Population growth in İstanbul


According to official census data based on “Address Based Population Registration System as of 2007, which was conducted by Turkish State Institute of Statistics (TÜİK)”, shows that the internal migration to İstanbul still continues at a great speed and the population reached to 12,573,000 (TÜİK, 2008). 8,156,696 people currently live in European side and 4,416,867 people live in Asian side of İstanbul (TÜİK, 2008). Total female population of the city is 6,283,073 and total male population is 6,291,763 (TÜİK, 2008).


2.3.3. Economy

İstanbul has always been the center of the country's economic life because of its location as an international junction of land and sea trade routes. Today, the city generates 55% of Turkey's trade and 45% of the country's wholesale trade, and generates 21.2% of Turkey's gross national product (İTO, 2009). İstanbul contributes 40% of all taxes collected in Turkey and produces 27.5% of Turkey's national product (İTO, 2009). In 2005 the city of İstanbul had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $133 billion (İTO, 2009). In 2005 companies based in İstanbul made exports worth $41.4 billion and imports worth $69.9 billion; which corresponded to 56.6% and 60.2% of Turkey's exports and imports, respectively, in that year (İTO, 2009).

          Population in the districts of the city


İstanbul is also Turkey's largest industrial center. It employs approximately 20% of Turkey's industrial labor and contributes 38% of Turkey's industrial workspace (İTO, 2009). İstanbul and its surrounding provinces produce cotton, fruit, olive oil, silk, and tobacco. Food processing, textile production, oil products, rubber, metal-ware, leather, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electronics, glass, machinery, automotive, transport vehicles, paper and paper products, and alcoholic drinks are among the city's major industrial products.


İstanbul is one of the most important tourism spots of Turkey. There are thousands of hotels and other tourist oriented industries in the city, catering to both vacationers and visiting professionals. In 2006 a total of 23,148,669 tourists visited Turkey, most of whom entered the country through the airports and seaports of İstanbul (İTO, 2009). İstanbul is also one of the world's major conference destinations and is an increasingly popular choice for the world's leading international associations.


Turkey is situated at the transit corridor between South-East Europe and the Middle East. Since “The Declaration For The Construction Of International Arteries” (AGR) prepared by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE) in 1950 in Geneva, Turkey has developed international corridors connecting with Southern Europe, because the international Road Network of AGR included an extension to Turkey. According to the provisions of AGR, two arteries should reach Turkey as E-Road. These are E-80 entering from the Bulgarian border (Kapıkule) and E-90 entering from the Greek border (İpsala). These two main routes reaches the International Road Network of the Middle East and Asia at southern and eastern borders of Turkey via Anatolia.


In addition to the E-Roads, the Trans-Europe Motorway (TEM) project is on going and it covers the whole country as an expressway network. The TEM highway network in Turkey starts at the Bulgarian border and passes through İstanbul via the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge and its parts into two branches in Ankara going eastward and southward. Its eastern branch again parts into two branches in Aşkale. One of them reaches Trabzon in the Black Sea Region, the other ends in Gürbulak at the Iranian border. The southern branch ends at the Syrian and Iraqi borders. Furthermore, it connects İstanbul to İzmir and Antalya.

Population density map of the city in 2007

İstanbul is situated at the most important connection point between South Europe and Turkey or Europe and Asia, and at the same time at the connecting point between the Black Sea and Marmara Sea, which is the entrance and exit points from the Aegean and the Mediterranean seas.


İstanbul’s road network, as a whole, follows a ladder pattern rather than ring/radial form due to the long stretches of its urbanized areas going in an east-west direction. The total length of its road network as of 2007 is 26,853km, of which 63% or 16,800km is developed in the European side.


The road in İstanbul is classified into 3 categories: freeway, arterial road and other roads. In this classification, freeway is limited only for TEM highway of about 150 km in total length, which is under the responsibility of Turkish Road Association, General Directorate of Highways (KGM). Accordingly other roads under the responsibility of İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İMM) are classified into just two categories; arterial road and others.


Public transport of İstanbul is coducted by both public and private sector. İstanbul has a metro (8.5km), a light metro (19.3km), three tramways (32km), two funiculars (1.2km), two nostalgic tramways (4.2km), suburban railways (72km), and two ropeways (0.9km) with a total length of 138km.


The major part of bus service is operated by İETT (İstanbul Electric Tramway and Tunnel Establishments), a public organization established by the law enacted in 1939, while some private companies are allowed to operate buses under the same fare system as İETT. With 3000 buses on 531 lines, carrying 1,700 million passengers a day on different lines including the tram and the tunnel, 10 service areas on 565 thousand square meters space scattered around İstanbul.


Sea public transport of İstanbul is operated by both private and public sector. Turyol and Dentur, two private companies, are specialized in passenger transport with small- to-medium-sized boats. İDO (İstanbul Hydrofoils Company), one of the public economic enterprises under the control of İMM, has the services of fast ferry, sea bus, intercity passenger ship, intercity car ship and Mavi Marmara passenger ship.