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Istanbul (formerly Constantinople and Byzantium) is the largest city of Turkey, and also one of the largest cities in Europe (although most of Turkey is not in Europe), with 11,000,000 inhabitants. It is also the administrative capital of the Istanbul Province. Founded by the Roman emperor Constantine on the site of the ancient Greek colony of Byzantium, and called Constantinople after him (only on March 28, 1930, did the name Istanbul become official), it became the eastern capital of the Roman Empire and later the capital of the Byzantine Empire. After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 it became part of and soon capital of the Ottoman Empire.

The old city is mainly located on the Bosporus strait, which separates Europe from Asia and the Black Sea from the Marmara Sea. However, the modern city is much larger and covers both European and Asian sides of the Bosporus. Famous tourist places include Sariyer, Eyüp and Taksim on the European side, and Beykoz, Üsküdar, Kadiköy, Moda, Bostanci and Adalar (the Princes Islands) on the Asian side. Although Istanbul is no longer the capital of Turkey, it is still the major city in Turkey's industry, commerce and culture and the most important import and export center.

For the history of Istanbul pre-1930s, see the articles at Byzantium and Constantinople.

On November 20, 2003, two bombs exploded in Istanbul, destroying the Turkish HQ of HSBC Holdings, a bank headquartered in London. The second bomb destroyed the British Consulate, killing the Consulate General, Robert Short. The attacks came only weeks after suicide blasts at two synagogues in the city.

For Istanbul cymbals, see Istanbul cymbals.

Table of contents
1 Etymology of the name
2 Places to visit
3 Airports

Etymology of the name

It is sometimes said that the name Istanbul comes from the Greek words stin poli which means "at the City". This is a historical myth. The name is merely a Turkish contraction of Constantinoupolis. The sound rendered by "i" is prepended by the virtue of the language. Many Turkic languages forbid certan combinations of consonants at the beginning of the word, hence certain borrowed words asquire a vowel chosen according to the rule of vowel harmony. In this way Smyrna became Izmir and Nicaea became Iznik, just as "machine" became "amashina" in e.g., Abkhaz language. The intermediate form Stamboul was commonly used in the 19th century.

Places to visit