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Istanbul, the demographic and economic heart of Turkey, has gone through enormous changes over the past century. This mega-city of about 15 million inhabitants has seen its population increased more than tenfold since 1950. Over time, it has established itself as the industrial, financial and logistics centre of the country, producing almost one-third of the national output and absorbing the bulk of foreign direct investment. And, on the international scale, Istanbul ranks among the fastest growing OECD metro-regions.
However, Istanbul faces challenges that could hamper its ambition to become a Eurasian hub for finance, logistics, culture and tourism, as well as its development in general. Its economy is changing from one driven by labour-intensive activities to one based on knowledge industries, while traditional and labour-intensive sectors (e.g. textiles and its supply chain) are shifting only gradually and slowly to other complementary industry segments. Constraints on human capital development and the informal sector have hindered productivity levels and increased income disparities.
Over-migration is putting a burden on Istanbul’s transport, public infrastructure and housing, and earthquake risk management. The scale and variety of these challenges necessitates improving local public management and implementing a national strategy to reduce regional disparities and to limit migration flows towards the megalopolis.
The Territorial Review of Istanbul is integrated into a series of thematic reviews of metropolitan regions undertaken by the OECD Territorial Development Policy Committee. The overall aim of these case studies is to draw and disseminate horizontal policy recommendations for national governments.
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