About New & Noteworthy in Istanbul
Turkey is back. Over the past few years, Turkey has shot up world rankings in economic activity, political significance and now, tourism. And Istanbul is its crown jewel. No longer a marginal tourist destination providing little support for foreigners, Istanbul has staged a massive campaign to attract international visitors, eager to flaunt its considerable attractions and capitalize on its newly rediscovered cultural and economic cachet.
Within the last decade, Turkey has come into its own like a maturing teenager fast realizing his newfound strength and desirability. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan - a native Istanbullu and a figure equally revered and despised by his hometown denizens - has been flexing Turkey's muscles on the world stage to heighten the global reputation of his country, whether through new trade policies or diplomatic posturing. No longer kow-towing to the flailing European Union, Turkey has found its own source of power through open economic policies and strategic diplomatic plays, making it, once again, an independent force to be reckoned with.
However the economic boom has not touched all sectors and the country remains, in many ways, a country of rich and poor, with little option in between. Istanbul exemplifies this class stratification and while the middle class is growing, Istanbul provides daily reminders of the wealth inequity conundrum. Being aware of such issues makes you a better traveler.
Rapid changes in the economy and the world stage can be felt throughout the society and, notably, Istanbul is emerging as a center of modern art, rivaling Berlin and London as a wellspring of emerging artists. After being named European Capital of Culture in 2010, the normally cagey European art world began embracing Istanbul as one of its own. Affluent hipsters have made the pilgrimage in masse to connect with their Turkish brethren and parts of the city are beginning to resemble Brooklyn more and more, of course while still retaining a distinctive Turkish flavor.
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