Throughout most of its history, Istanbul has been among the largest cities in the world. By 500 AD, Constantinople had somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000 people, edging out its predecessor, Rome, for world’s largest city. Constantinople jostled with other major historical cities, such as Baghdad and Chang’an, for the position of world’s most populous city until the 13th century. While it never returned to being the world’s largest, it remained Europe’s largest city from not long after the Fall of Constantinople until the start of the 19th century, when it was surpassed by London. Today, it is Europe’s second-largest city, after Moscow.
The Turkish Statistic Institute estimates that the population of Istanbul was 13,483,052 on 31 December 2011, making it the largest city in Turkey, with eighteen percent of the country’s population. Because of its vast land area, Istanbul is among the five most populous cities proper in the world, even though its metropolitan area—roughly equivalent to the city proper—ranks below fifteenth.The city’s annual population growth of 3.45 percent ranks as the highest among the seventy-eight largest metropolises in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The high population growth mirrors an urbanization trend across the country, as the second- and third-fastest growing OECD metropolises are the Turkish cities of İzmir and Ankara.
Istanbul experienced especially rapid growth during the second half of the 20th century, with its population increasing tenfold between 1950 and 2000. This growth in population comes, in part, from an expansion of city limits—particularly between 1980 and 1985, when the number of Istanbulites nearly doubled. However, the remarkable growth was, and still is, largely fueled by migrants from eastern Turkey seeking employment and improved living conditions. The number of residents of Istanbul originating from seven northern and eastern provinces is greater than the populations of their entire respective provinces; notably, Sivas and Kastamonu each account for more than half a million residents of Istanbul. Istanbul’s foreign population, by comparison, is very small, amounting to just 42,228 residents in 2007. Only 28 percent of the city’s residents are originally from Istanbul. Istanbul’s population density of 2,523 people per square kilometer (6,530/mi2) far exceeds Turkey’s 102 people per square kilometer (264/mi2). The most densely populated areas tend to lie to the northwest, west, and southwest of the city center, on the European side; the most densely populated district on the Asian side is Üsküdar.
- 2011 : 13,483,052
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