Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and its financial and cultural centre. The city is located on the Bosphorus strait and encompasses the natural harbour known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of Turkey. The area of Istanbul has been settled since prehistoric times. Greek settlers from Megara founded the first city, Bizantion, in the 7th century BC. After the city was annexed to the Roman empire and later became Costantinople, initially the capital of the East Roman empire, later known as the Byzantine empire. In 1453 Constantinople was conquered by the Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, who renamed the city as Istanbul and made it the capital of the Ottoman empire. Following the declaration of the republic of Turkey in 1923, the capital was transferred to Ankara. Nowadays Istanbul has over 11 million inhabitants and generates generates 55% of Turkey's trade. From a tourist perspective, Istanbul offers many interesting sights, ranging from the Hagia Sophia museum, several mosques, the Topkapi palace and other interesting architecture. The historic areas of Istanbul have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985.
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