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Istanbul's Economic Boom
Highrises in Istanbul

Historically, Istanbul has been the centre of the country's economic life, even after Ankara became Turkey's official capital in 1923.

In 2005 the city's GDP reached $133 billion. Istanbul generates 55 percent of Turkey's trade as well as 21.2 percent of Turkey's gross national product. It contributes 40 percent of all taxes collected in Turkey and produces 27.5 percent of Turkey's national product.

Istanbul houses the Istanbul Stock Exchange (ISE), Turkey's only securities market. Aside from being a popular tourist destination, the city is home to the headquarters of Turkey's largest companies and banks.

For foreigners Istanbul still brings to mind images of bazaars, carpet shops and little workshops in small side streets of the old city centre. In recent years, however, the shopping habits of Istanbul's inhabitants have begun to change considerably. The Turkish Council of Shopping Centres and Retailers estimates that "the number of malls in Turkey will reach 350 by 2010, from 189 now, with 72 under construction and 87 at the planning stage." Most of these malls are located in Istanbul.

The business district of Levent on the European side of the Bosporus

The number of high-rises is also growing throughout the city. One of the most important transformations has been the construction of apartment houses, intended to replace the first generation of gecekondu housing. After growing horizontally for decades, the city is now growing vertically.

October 2008

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