An Overview of Istanbul

Historic and modern, European and Asian — that’s Istanbul. The city at the junction of two continents is home to ancient structures like the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque in the Old City, as well as modern businesses, hotels, restaurants and nightlife in the New City. The sight of mosques and bustling bazaars and the smell of incense and spices are common in Istanbul. Across the Bosporus Strait, the Asian side of Istanbul offers a glimpse into everyday, residential life (source).

Today, Istanbul has a population of approximately 9,413,000 people.

While the majority of Turkey’s land mass is part of the Middle East, its economy leans more closely towards Europe and the West. Turkey is a member of a number of Western organizations, such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Council of Europe.

Historically, Istanbul has always been the centre of the Turkey’s economy due of its strategic location at an important junction of land and sea trade routes. Today the city is the lynchpin of the country’s success: Istanbul employs 20% of Turkey’s industrial labor and contributes 38% of Turkey’s industrial workspace; it generates 55% of Turkey’s trade, it contributes 40% of all taxes collected in Turkey and produces around 25% of Turkey’s GDP. Many of Turkey’s major manufacturing centers are also located in the city and its surrounding metropolis, Products from Istanbul range from silk, olive oil, and tobacco to textiles, chemicals, electronics, and automobiles (source).

Religion in Turkey

Since up to 99 percent of the population are Muslims, Christians are obviously a minority religion in Turkey. Because it is a secular country & the only Muslim country in the world that has no state religion, the Constitution guarantees religious freedom, and tolerance is the rule. The population includes members of the Armenian Apostolic and Greek Orthodox churches, Roman and Eastern Catholics, and Jews. Today, approximately 120,000 Christians and 26,000 Jews live in Turkey, out of 73 million of the total population.

Dispute continues, however, over what part Islam should have in Turkish life. It is one of the most controversial issues in Turkey today, and may at some point alter whether Turkish society is organized on a secular or religious basis (source).

There are no statistics of people’s religious beliefs nor is it asked in the census. According to the government, 99.8% of the Turkish population is Muslim, mostly Sunni, some 10 to 15 million are Alevis. The remaining 0.2% is other – mostly Christians and Jews. The Eurobarometer Poll 2005 reported that in a poll 96% of Turkish citizens answered that “they believe there is a God”, while 1% responded that “they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force”. In a Pew Research Center survey, 53% of Turkey’s Muslims said that “religion is very important in their lives”. Based on the Gallup Poll 2006-08, Turkey was defined as more religious, in which over 63 percent of people believe religion is important. According to the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, 62% of women wear the headscarf or hijab in Turkey. 33% of male Muslim citizens regularly attend Friday prayers (source)

Would you pray that God would send more laborers to this city and country to lift His name high?

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