Beyoglu is one of Istanbul's oldest districts and is a romantic glimpse into the past of this ancient city. However Istanbul is changing fast in order to deal with the economic expansion of the country, and although some people may be worried it's losing its identity, it is becoming a world class city. Its name is derived from the Greek meaning "to the city," and it is home to nearly 15 million people in Turkey, and is an intriguing blend of Eastern and Western cultures.
Istanbul is so sprawling that some residents have never even seen the Bosporus Strait even though they have lived there for years. In the past many tenement buildings sprang up practically overnight, but are now due to be replaced by safer and earthquake resistant structures by the Turkish government as the city becomes more modern.
One of the city's major aims is to host the Olympics, and Turkey has already bid for the games four times. Due to its enormous economic growth during the last decade, and its political reforms it is considered to be a strong candidate. Rivals for the games include Doha, Qatar, Madrid, Azerbaijan and Tokyo, with the winner due to be announced next year.
Istanbul has been in the midst of transformation since the early 1980s, when the country first opened the economy. This unleashed a wave immigration and development, and many of the immigrants were poor, ethnic Kurds escaping the conflict in the rural south east. At the time the city was still developing, and only had around 2 million residents. Nowadays it is completely different and boasts world quality museums and elegant palaces.