is a cosmopolitan city built on two continents.
The most recent population census shows that it has a population of
about 12 million people, from which almost 65% are inhabitants of the
Asian side. Fulfilling the residential role of the city, it doesn't
present a lot to see historically. In contrast, the European side is
the commercial and cultural center, further divided into two districts
(the Old City and the modern downtown) by a narrow channel of water
called 'the Golden Horn'. Below you will find some helpful details to
make your stay easier when you are in Istanbul.
Most countries' citizens
require a visa to enter Turkey. For some countries this visa can be
supplied directly upon arrival at the airport, for others it is advisable
to pre-arrange it at a Turkish Embassy in the home country. Check with
your local Turkish Embassy prior to departure.
The regional location of Istanbul
is the second most humid region of the country, with an average humidity
of 73%. The maximum that has been recorded is 41'C (105.8 'F) - 16'C
The currency used in the Turkish Republic is
the Lira - unfortunately one of the least valuable world currencies
due to a poor economy. For that reason, many prices are quoted in USD
(especially in the tourist areas). Visa and Master cards are accepted
generally everywhere, although American Express or Diners Cards can
pose difficulties. Travelers' Cheques are not easily cashed as most
of the banks and exchange offices (doviz burosu) charge a sizable commission.
It is advisable to use them as direct payment where possible, instead
of cashing them.
In Istanbul, electricity
is supplied at 220 volts with plugs of two round prongs. As is not easy
to find adapters in the city, it is advisable to bring your own for
use of any extra electrical item.
It is very easy to find
Internet cafes anywhere in the city with reasonable prices. A set time-related
fee is charged for the use of the computer or the Internet, but use
of scanners, printers etc. is usually extra.
All taxis in the city (a total
of 22,000 !) carry a meter. If the meter does not appear to be working,
it is advisable to change taxis. The night fare commences after midnight.
The whole country
is in one time zone with a daylight saving period, so it is always two
hours ahead of GMT. Daylight saving starts around April and ends around
January 1st : New Years Eve, April 23rd : National
Independence and Children's Day, May 19th : Youth and Sports Day, August
30th : Victory Day, October 29th : Republic Day. There are two other
religious holidays, of which the times vary greatly, as they follow
the lunar Islamic calendar of 354 days.
Police 155. Traffic police 154.
Ambulance 112. These numbers are toll free when you use a regular phone
but if you are using a public or a cellular there is a charge.
There are three kinds of public
1. Token phones: For these you have to insert a special token
that can be purchased from the post office. These phones are very hard
to find and quite old-fashioned.
2. Card phones: These work with a special prepaid card that can
be purchased from the post offices and most street vendors. There are
three kinds - 30 units, 60 units and 100 units. It is advisable to purchase
60 or 100 units for making international calls.
3. Credit card phones: These work with all the major credit cards
and they are available at the airport and all the major touristy sites.
For international operators, here are the most common numbers: AT&T
0-0-8001 2277, MCI 0-0-8001 1177, US Sprint 0-0-8001 4477.
Weight and Measurement System
Turkey uses the metric