See caption
Clockwise from top: the Golden Horn between Karaköy and Sarayburnu within the historic areas; Maiden's Tower; a nostalgic tram on İstiklal Avenue; Levent business district with Dolmabahçe Palace; Ortaköy Mosque in front of the Bosphorus Bridge; and Hagia Sophia.
Turkey, with Istanbul pinpointed at the northwest along a thin strip of land bounded by water
Turkey, with Istanbul pinpointed at the northwest along a thin strip of land bounded by water
Location within Turkey
Turkey, with Istanbul pinpointed at the northwest along a thin strip of land bounded by water
Turkey, with Istanbul pinpointed at the northwest along a thin strip of land bounded by water
Location within Europe
Turkey, with Istanbul pinpointed at the northwest along a thin strip of land bounded by water
Turkey, with Istanbul pinpointed at the northwest along a thin strip of land bounded by water
Istanbul (Asia)
Turkey, with Istanbul pinpointed at the northwest along a thin strip of land bounded by water
Turkey, with Istanbul pinpointed at the northwest along a thin strip of land bounded by water
Istanbul (Earth)
Coordinates: 41°00′49″N 28°57′18″E / 41°00′49″N 28°57′18″E / 41.01361; 28.95500
Official nameHistoric Areas of Istanbul
Inscription1985 (9th session)
Area765.5 ha (1,892 acres)

Istanbul (l/,[8][9] also US: l/; Turkish: İstanbul [isˈtanbuɫ] (About this soundlisten)), formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople, is the most populous city in Turkey and the country's economic, cultural and historic center. Istanbul is a transcontinental city in Eurasia, straddling the Bosporus strait (which separates Europe and Asia) between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Its commercial and historical center lies on the European side and about a third of its population lives in suburbs on the Asian side of the Bosporus.[10] With a total population of around 15 million residents in its metropolitan area,[3] Istanbul is one of the world's most populous cities, ranking as the world's fourth largest city proper and the largest European city. The city is the administrative center of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (coterminous with Istanbul Province).

Founded under the name of Byzantion (Βυζάντιον) on the Sarayburnu promontory around 660 BCE,[11] the city grew in size and influence, becoming one of the most important cities in history. After its reestablishment as Constantinople in 330 CE,[12] it served as an imperial capital for almost 16 centuries, during the Roman/Byzantine (330–1204), Latin (1204–1261), Palaiologos Byzantine (1261–1453) and Ottoman (1453–1922) empires.[13] It was instrumental in the advancement of Christianity during Roman and Byzantine times, before the Ottomans conquered the city in 1453 CE and transformed it into an Islamic stronghold and the seat of the Ottoman Caliphate.[14] Under the name Constantinople it was the Ottoman capital until 1923. The capital was then moved to Ankara and the city was renamed Istanbul.

The city held the strategic position between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. It was also on the historic Silk Road.[15] It controlled rail networks between the Balkans and the Middle East, and was the only sea route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. In 1923, after the Turkish War of Independence, Ankara was chosen as the new Turkish capital, and the city's name was changed to Istanbul. Nevertheless, the city maintained its prominence in geopolitical and cultural affairs. The population of the city has increased tenfold since the 1950s, as migrants from across Anatolia have moved in and city limits have expanded to accommodate them.[16][17] Arts, music, film, and cultural festivals were established towards the end of the 20th century and continue to be hosted by the city today. Infrastructure improvements have produced a complex transportation network in the city.

Over 12 million foreign visitors came to Istanbul in 2015, five years after it was named a European Capital of Culture, making the city the world's fifth most popular tourist destination.[18] The city's biggest attraction is its historic center, partially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its cultural and entertainment hub is across the city's natural harbor, the Golden Horn, in the Beyoğlu district. Considered a global city,[19] It hosts the headquarters of many Turkish companies and media outlets and accounts for more than a quarter of the country's gross domestic product.[20] Hoping to capitalize on its revitalization and rapid expansion, Istanbul has bid for the Summer Olympics five times in twenty years.[21]


The first known name of the city is Byzantium (Greek: Βυζάντιον, Byzántion), the name given to it at its foundation by Megarean colonists around 660 BCE.[22] The name is thought to be derived from a personal name, Byzas. Ancient Greek tradition refers to a legendary king of that name as the leader of the Greek colonists. Modern scholars have also hypothesized that the name of Byzas was of local Thracian or Illyrian origin and hence predated the Megarean settlement.[23]

After Constantine the Great made it the new eastern capital of the Roman Empire in 330 CE, the city became widely known as Constantinople, which, as the Latinized form of "Κωνσταντινούπολις" (Konstantinoúpolis), means the "City of Constantine".[22] He also attempted to promote the name "Nova Roma" and its Greek version "Νέα Ῥώμη" Nea Romē (New Rome), but this did not enter widespread usage.[24] Constantinople remained the most common name for the city in the West until the establishment of the Turkish Republic, which urged other countries to use Istanbul.[25][26] Kostantiniyye (Ottoman Turkish: قسطنطينيه‎) and Be Makam-e Qonstantiniyyah al-Mahmiyyah (meaning "the Protected Location of Constantinople") and İstanbul were the names used alternatively by the Ottomans during their rule.[27] Although historically accurate, the use of Constantinople to refer to the city during the Ottoman period is, as of 2009, often considered by Turks to be "politically incorrect".[28]

By the 19th century, the city had acquired other names used by either foreigners or Turks. Europeans used Constantinople to refer to the whole of the city, but used the name Stamboul—as the Turks also did—to describe the walled peninsula between the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara.[28] Pera (from the Greek word for "across") was used to describe the area between the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, but Turks also used the name Beyoğlu (today the official name for one of the city's constituent districts).[29]

The name İstanbul (Turkish pronunciation: [isˈtanbuɫ] (About this soundlisten), colloquially [ɯsˈtambuɫ]) is commonly held to derive from the Medieval Greek phrase "εἰς τὴν Πόλιν" (pronounced [is tim ˈbolin]), which means "to the city"[30] and is how Constantinople was referred to by the local Greeks. This reflected its status as the only major city in the vicinity. The importance of Constantinople in the Ottoman world was also reflected by its Ottoman name 'Der Saadet' meaning the 'gate to Prosperity' in Ottoman. An alternative view is that the name evolved directly from the name Constantinople, with the first and third syllables dropped.[22] A Turkish folk etymology traces the name to Islam bol "plenty of Islam"[31] because the city was called Islambol ("plenty of Islam") or Islambul ("find Islam") as the capital of the Islamic Ottoman Empire. It is first attested shortly after the conquest, and its invention was ascribed by some contemporary writers to Sultan Mehmed II himself.[32] Some Ottoman sources of the 17th century, such as Evliya Çelebi, describe it as the common Turkish name of the time; between the late 17th and late 18th centuries, it was also in official use. The first use of the word "Islambol" on coinage was in 1703 (1115 AH) during the reign of Sultan Ahmed III.[33]

In modern Turkish, the name is written as İstanbul, with a dotted İ, as the Turkish alphabet distinguishes between a dotted and dotless I. In English the stress is on the first or last syllable, but in Turkish it is on the second syllable (tan).[34] A person from the city is an İstanbullu (plural: İstanbullular), although Istanbulite is used in English.[35]

Other Languages
Acèh: Éseutamu
Адыгэбзэ: Истамбыл
адыгабзэ: Истамбыл
Afrikaans: Istanboel
Akan: Istanbul
Alemannisch: Istanbul
አማርኛ: ኢስታንቡል
Аҧсшәа: Асҭампыл
العربية: إسطنبول
aragonés: Istambul
arpetan: Istanbul
অসমীয়া: ইষ্টানবুল
asturianu: Estambul
azərbaycanca: İstanbul
تۆرکجه: ایستانبول
Bali: Istanbul
bamanankan: Istanbul
Bân-lâm-gú: İstanbul
башҡортса: Истанбул
беларуская: Стамбул
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Стамбул
भोजपुरी: इस्तांबुल
български: Истанбул
Boarisch: Istanbul
bosanski: Istanbul
brezhoneg: Istanbul
буряад: Истанбул
català: Istanbul
Чӑвашла: Стамбул
Cebuano: Estambul
čeština: Istanbul
Chi-Chewa: Istanbul
chiTumbuka: Istanbul
Cymraeg: Istanbul
dansk: Istanbul
davvisámegiella: Istanbul
Deutsch: Istanbul
dolnoserbski: Istanbul
डोटेली: इस्तानबुल
eesti: İstanbul
эрзянь: Стамбул ош
español: Estambul
Esperanto: Istanbulo
estremeñu: Estambul
euskara: Istanbul
فارسی: استانبول
Fiji Hindi: Istanbul
føroyskt: Istanbul
français: Istanbul
Frysk: Istanbûl
furlan: Istanbul
Gaeilge: Iostanbúl
Gaelg: İstanbul
Gagauz: İstanbul
Gàidhlig: Istanbul
galego: Istambul
ГӀалгӀай: Истмале
Gĩkũyũ: İstanbul
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Istanbul
한국어: 이스탄불
Hausa: Istanbul
հայերեն: Ստամբուլ
Արեւմտահայերէն: Իսթանպուլ
हिन्दी: इस्तांबुल
hornjoserbsce: Istanbul
hrvatski: Istanbul
Ilokano: Istanbul
Bahasa Indonesia: Istanbul
interlingua: Istanbul
Interlingue: Istanbul
Ирон: Стамбул
íslenska: Istanbúl
italiano: Istanbul
עברית: איסטנבול
Jawa: Istanbul
Kabɩyɛ: Isitambuli
kalaallisut: Istanbul
къарачай-малкъар: Истанбул
ქართული: სტამბოლი
kaszëbsczi: Sztambùl
қазақша: Ыстанбұл
kernowek: Istanbul
Kinyarwanda: Istanbul
Kiswahili: Istanbul
Kreyòl ayisyen: Istanboul
kurdî: Stembol
Кыргызча: Стамбул
кырык мары: Стамбул
Ladino: Estambol
лакку: Истамбул
لۊری شومالی: اْستانبول
latviešu: Stambula
Lëtzebuergesch: Istanbul
лезги: Истамбул
lietuvių: Stambulas
Limburgs: Istanboel
lingála: Istanbul
Lingua Franca Nova: Istanbul
Livvinkarjala: Istanbul
lumbaart: Istanbul
magyar: Isztambul
मैथिली: इस्तानबुल
македонски: Истанбул
Malagasy: Istanbul
മലയാളം: ഇസ്താംബുൾ
मराठी: इस्तंबूल
მარგალური: სტამბოლი
مازِرونی: استامبول
Bahasa Melayu: Istanbul
Minangkabau: Istanbul
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Istanbul
мокшень: Истанбул
монгол: Стамбул
မြန်မာဘာသာ: အစ်စတန်ဘူလ်မြို့
Dorerin Naoero: Istanbul
Na Vosa Vakaviti: Istanbul
Nederlands: Istanboel
Nedersaksies: Istanboel
नेपाली: इस्तानबुल
नेपाल भाषा: इस्तान्बुल
нохчийн: Истмала
Nordfriisk: Istanbul
Norfuk / Pitkern: Istanbul
norsk: Istanbul
norsk nynorsk: Istanbul
Novial: Istanbul
occitan: Istambol
олык марий: Стамбул
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Istanbul
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਇਸਤਾਨਬੁਲ
پنجابی: استمبول
پښتو: استنبول
Patois: Istanbul
Picard: Istamboul
Piemontèis: Istanbul
polski: Stambuł
português: Istambul
Qaraqalpaqsha: İstanbul
qırımtatarca: İstanbul
română: Istanbul
rumantsch: Istanbul
Runa Simi: Istanbul
русиньскый: Істанбул
русский: Стамбул
саха тыла: Истанбул
sardu: Istanbul
Scots: Istanbul
shqip: Stambolli
sicilianu: Istanbul
Simple English: Istanbul
سنڌي: استنبول
slovenčina: Istanbul
slovenščina: Carigrad
словѣньскъ / ⰔⰎⰑⰂⰡⰐⰠⰔⰍⰟ: Цѣсар҄ь Градъ
ślůnski: Stambuł
Soomaaliga: Istanbuul
کوردی: ئەستەمبوڵ
српски / srpski: Истанбул
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Istanbul
suomi: Istanbul
svenska: Istanbul
Tagalog: Istanbul
Taqbaylit: Istambul
tarandíne: Istanbul
татарча/tatarça: Истанбул
తెలుగు: ఇస్తాంబుల్
tetun: Istanbul
тоҷикӣ: Истанбул
Türkçe: İstanbul
Türkmençe: Stambul
тыва дыл: Истaнбул
удмурт: Стамбул
українська: Стамбул
اردو: استنبول
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: Istanbul
vèneto: Istanbul
vepsän kel’: Stambul
Tiếng Việt: Istanbul
Volapük: İstanbul
Võro: Istanbul
Winaray: Istanbul
ייִדיש: סטאמבול
Yorùbá: Istanbul
粵語: 伊斯坦堡
Zazaki: Estamol
Zeêuws: Istanbul
žemaitėška: Stambols
中文: 伊斯坦堡
kriyòl gwiyannen: Istanbul