Istanbul is a world city at the intersection point of Europe and Asia, the settlement date of which extends for 300.000; the historical date for about 3.000 and the date of being a capital for 1.600 years. Through the ages the city has hosted various civilizations and cultures, has preserved its cosmopolitan structure, where people of many religions, languages and ethnic origins have lived together for centuries and it has become a unique mosaic in the historical process. Istanbul is one of the rare sites in the world that has succeeded in being the center in every area for long periods of time and it is a world capital from the past to the current day.
Istanbul is also one of the few cities which has been the center of the country's economic life. When we glance at the city’s economy and working-occupational-professional life, Istanbul generates about 23% of Turkey's Gross National Product (GNP). Its annual contribution to the state budget is about 40%. On the other hand, the city's share of government expenditures has remained roughly 7-8%. The headquarters of all private banks, and 21% of the total number of bank branches in Turkey, are located in Istanbul.
Istanbul has a central importance in both domestic and international trade. The added value created in Istanbul, reaches 26.5 percent of provincial total added value. Exports from Istanbul make up 46% of Turkey’s total, imports into Istanbul make up 40% of Turkey’s total.
Istanbul is Europe’s third and world’s 21st biggest city. The city has a population of 12,573,836 residents according to the latest count as of 2007.
Istanbul that makes continents meet, is also a world-embracing congress city with its own wealth of history and nature, its being an international center of arts and culture, its accessibility, alternatives of accommodation, professional services, price policies and the quality of its convention centers.
Coming forward with its unique historical accumulation and splendid natural beauties, as well as successfully undersigning several international events in recent years, Istanbul was selected as the “2010 European Culture Capital.” In 2011 and 2012, Istanbul achieved to rank at the top in the world for congresses with over 500 delegates. The next target is to keep its place in the ranking of the top 3 congress cities in Europe and the top 5 in the world and to attempt the global leadership every year. Istanbul puts its existing values inaction as a tourism potential and it hosts national and international organizations with high numbers of participants.
The official language is Turkish. However, English is widely spoken in major cities.
You can obtain currency before travelling to Turkey or on arrival. Foreign money can be changed at banks during business days (09.00-17.00 Monday-Friday) as well as at hotels, at the airport and in exchange offices. TL is freely sold and bought in hotels, banks and special exchange offices called "Döviz Bürosu".
Major credit cards including American Express, Diners, MasterCard, and Visa are accepted in large hotels, car rental companies, restaurants and shops. You will need cash (TL) to pay for taxi fares, restaurants and coffee shops. You can get cash with your credit card or cash card by using cash machines (ATM's) in bank buildings or street booths.
GMT+2. CET +1. and EST (US -East) +7
The workweek in Turkey runs from Monday to Friday. Banks, government offices and majority of corporate offices open at 9 AM and close at 5 PM.
Turkey has 220 volts/50 Hz. electricity and socket type is European standard. (2-pin plug).
Turkey has three GSM operators, with all of them offering 3G services and almost over 95% coverage over the country. Internet service is available all around the country.
Taxis are easy to spot as they are all bright yellow in colour. All have a taxi meter, and you should ensure that this is switched on at the beginning of your journey. If you are travelling outside the city boundaries it is usual to agree a fixed rate in advance.
For general information on the climate and up-to-date weather forecasts visit www.meteoroloji.gov.tr
Prepaid telephone cards are a convenient way to make domestic and international telephone calls from public phones. They can be purchased at convenience stores and from vending machines for approximately 10 Euro. There are four international phone companies and their rates vary. Your hotel probably provides fax service at the front desk. Some convenience stores have fax services too.
Convenience store can be found on almost every city block. A variety of foods, drinks (most sell alcoholic beverages and cigarettes), toiletries, magazines, instant cameras, stationery, recording media, etc. can be purchased in these 24 – hours open stores.
In places where service is not included, it is custom to tip for the table services you received. And even in the handful of places where service is included (just as on mainland Europe) the waiters will expect you to tip on top of that. The rule of thumb is to leave a tip worth 10% of the bill in restaurants, cafés and bars. But restaurants, cafés and bars are not the only places where tips are expected. It is also a custom to tip hotel staff, porters, hairdressers and musicians. The amount is at your discretion. Tipping taxi drivers is not custom, unless he helped you load the luggage. A consumption Tax is included in the price of goods and services in Turkey. The prices displayed on goods usually include tax, but some retailers will add the tax at the cash register.
Please note that smoking is prohibited by law within the convention premises as well as in restaurants and public buildings.