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Izmit





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Izmit

Near the harbour of Izmit, Turkey.
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Near the harbour of Izmit, Turkey. Photo: Dick Osseman.

Older houses of Izmit, Turkey.
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Older houses of Izmit, Turkey. Photo: Dick Osseman.

City in northwestern Turkey with 290,000 inhabitants (2004 estimate), situated at the head of Izmit Gulf, part of the Sea of Marmara. It is the capital of the Kocaeli Province with 1.2 million inhabitants (2004 estimate).
Izmit is a heavily industrialized city, thanks to its strategic position between Istanbul and Ankara. It produces about half of all paper used in Turkey. In addition are there an oil refinery, and industries for producing tobacco products, cement, phosphate, textiles, petrochemicals, tires and beer. The port of Izmit deals both with domestic and international shipping, and Izmit also houses a strategically important naval base.
The city is connected by road and rail with many cities and towns, especially important are Istanbul 100 km west, Ankara 500 km southeast and Eskisehir 250 km south.
Izmit covers a number of hills near the sea, which ends in a narrow plain where the commercial and industrial activities are located. Despite being an old city, few old landmarks remain. Exceptions are the ancient walls and a Byzantine fortress, while there is a 16th century mosque designed by the famous Ottoman court architect Sinan.

History
8th century BCE: Founded, and called Astacus or Olbia.
264: Following a destructive fire, it is rebuilt as Nicomedia by the command of King Nicomedes 1 of Bithynia. It served as the capital of Bithynia.
Around 300 CE. It becomes the eastern capital of the Roman Empire.
11th century: Captured by the Seljuqs.
1338: Conquered by the Ottomans, as one of the earliest acquisitions in what would develop into an empire.




By Tore Kjeilen