[Public Diplomacy] The territorial-administrative structure of Turkey (Part 3/8)

On this series: This blog post belongs to a series under the title and leading question „Can networks of local governments challenge the rise of cross-border neo-populism?“. The complete series are my contribution to an edited volume by Dr. Agata Rogoś, postdoctoral research fellow at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Agata’s Edited volume’s working title is „Permeability of dispossession / Dispossession of borders“. In accordance with her, I publish my contribution on my personal homepage, prior to the finalization of the book. The final version may still change, whether due to further copy editing and proofreading, or regarding the unclear and unforeseeable course of events and political circumstances in Europe, in the Western Balkans, and in Turkey. Yet, I believe that the phenomenon of cross-border neo-populism, as in the given case of Bosnia and Turkey, will not disappear any time soon. The complete list of references will be included in the first and in the last contribution of this series, which consists of eight single sections.

3. The territorial-administrative structure of Turkey

Turkey’s capital Ankara is located in the Central Anatolia Region (İç Anadolu Bölgesi), which is one of Turkey’s seven regions (bölge); however, these are rather geographical than administrative units.[1] Administratively, the country is subdivided into 81 provinces (il), 973 districts (ilçe), numerous towns (şehir or belde), villages (köy) and neighbourhoods (mahalle). Istanbul, situated at the shores of the Bosphorus in the northwesternmost Marmara Region, is an anomaly of the centralized state – given that its significance as a cultural, social, economical and cosmopolitan megacity (megakent[2]) outshines Ankara’s attractivity in any thinkable way.

Political map of Turkey: subdivisional level of the ‚il‘ (province). Picture from OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay.

Although the exact number of Istanbulites is subject to discussions, official figures assume that approximately 16 million out of 84.711.239 million inhabitants of Turkey live in Istanbul, which makes up to 20 % of the total population. Together with 29 other Turkish cities (şehir), Istanbul is attributed the status of a metropolis (büyükşehir, literally: big city). As Istanbul comprises 39 districts (ilçe) with their own, respective municipal sub-governments (belediye), each presided by a mayor (belediyebaşkanı), the metropolitan government (büyükşehir belediyesi) of the whole metropolis is represented by the metropolitan mayor (büyükşehir belediyebaşkanı). Currently (January 2021), this position is filled by Ekrem İmamoğlu from the oppositional CHP (as initially mentioned).

Regarding the sibling cities and sibling districts arrangements (kardeş şehir or kardeşbelediye) with Balkan and other towns, these exist either between Turkish metropoleses and foreign cities – and/or between single districts and their counterparts, towns, or communities abroad: an example for the former is the sibling city arrangement between Istanbul and Sarajevo. The latter can be found in the sibling of the Osmangazi district within the metropolis of Bursa and the Stari Grad municipality within Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo („Uz sevdalinke, kafu i rahatlokum otvoren obnovljeni Baščaršijski trg“, 2015). As the Turkish „sibling“ mostly figures as the proactive, more powerful „elder brother“ in the sibling cities arrangements, their situation within the fabric of Turkey’s political administration and their relation to the central state need to be outlined in the subsequent section.

Recommended form of citation

Schad, Thomas. (2021) ‚The territorial-administrative structure of Turkey‘ ( = Part 3 of the series Can networks of local governments challenge the rise of cross-border neo-populism?)Inkubator Metamorph, 23 June. Available at: https://thomasschad.wordpress.com/2021/06/23/public-diplomacy-the-territorial-administrative-structure-of-turkey-part-3-8/ (Accessed: Date of access).

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[1] The Central Anatolia Region borders five other regions: the Marmara Region, the Black Sea Region, the Aegean Region, the Mediterranean Region, and the Eastern Anatolian Region. The seventh region, the Southeastern Anatolia Region, stretches alongside most of the Syrian and a small stretch of the Iraqi border.

[2] Megakent or Mega şehir are notions frequently in use in Turkish urban sociology as translations of megacity.


Find all the referencese in the first blog post of this series (click here)


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