The Bosporus or Bosphorus, also known as the "Istanbul Strait", ( _tr. İstanbul Boğazı) ( _el. Βόσπορος) is a
straitthat forms the boundary between the European part ( Rumelia) of Turkeyand its Asian part ( Anatolia). The world's narrowest strait used for international navigation, it connects the Black Seawith the Sea of Marmara(which is connected by the Dardanellesto the Aegean Sea, and thereby to the Mediterranean Sea). It is approximately 30 km long, with a maximum width of 3,700 metres at the northern entrance, and a minimum width of 700 metres between Kandilli and Aşiyan; and 750 metres between Anadoluhisarı and Rumelihisarı. The depth varies from 36 to 124 metres in midstream. The shores of the strait are heavily populated as the city of Istanbul(with a metropolitan area in excess of 11 million inhabitants) straddles it.
Two bridges cross the Bosporus. The first, the
Bosphorus Bridge, is 1074 metres long and was completed in 1973. The second, Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Bosphorus II) Bridge, is 1090 metres long, and was completed in 1988 about five kilometres north of the first bridge. Plans for a third road bridge, which will allow transit traffic to by-pass the city traffic, have been approved by the Ministry of Transportation. The bridge will be part of the so called "Northern Marmara Motorway", which will be further integrated with the existing Black Sea Coastal Highway. The location will be somewhere north of the existing two bridges, but the exact path is kept secret to avoid an early boom in land prices.
Marmaray, is a 13.7 kilometre-long undersea railway tunnelcurrently under construction and is expected to be completed in 2012. Approximately 1,400 metres of the tunnel will run under the strait, at a depth of about 55 metres.
The name comes from the Greek word "Bosporos" ("Βόσπορος").Entry: [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3D%2320416 polytonic|Βόσπορος] at Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, 1940, "A Greek-English Lexicon".] Its
etymologyis from "bous" (polytonic|βοῦς: "ox") [Entry: [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0058%3Aentry%3D%236529 polytonic|βοῦς] at Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, 1940, "A Greek-English Lexicon".] and "poros" (polytonic|πόρος: "means of passing a river, ford, ferry") [Entry: [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3D%2385808 polytonic|πόρος] at Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, 1940, "A Greek-English Lexicon".] (the similar Ancient Greek word for "passage, strait" is "porthmos" (polytonic|πορθμός) [Entry: [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3D%2385757 polytonic|πορθμός] at Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, 1940, "A Greek-English Lexicon", ] ), thus meaning "oxen passage", which could reflect the older history of the region. The Greeks analysed it as "ox-ford" or "shallow sea ox passage" [Entry: [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3D%2320416 polytonic|Βόσπορος] at Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, 1940, "A Greek-English Lexicon".] and associated it with the myth of Io's travels after Zeus turned her into an heiferfor her protection. [Aeschylus, "Prometheus Bound", 733.] It has also been thought to be a Thracian form of "Phôsphoros" ("Φωσφόρος"), 'light-bearing', an epithet of the goddess Hecate.
It is also said in myth that floating rocks known as the
Symplegadesor Clashing Rocks once crushed any ship that attempted passage of the Bosporus until the hero Jasonobtained passage, whereupon the rocks became fixed, and Greek access to the Black Sea was opened.
Formation of the Bosporus
The exact cause for the formation of the Bosporus remains the subject of vigorous debate among geologists. Thousands of years ago, the
Black Seabecame disconnected from the Aegean Sea. One recent theory (published in 1997 by William Ryan and Walter Pitman from Columbia University) contends that the Bosporus was formed about 5600 BCEwhen the rising waters of the Mediterranean/ Sea of Marmarabreached through to the Black Sea, which at the time (according to the theory) was a low-lying body of fresh water.
Some have arguedFact|date=July 2007 that the resulting massive flooding of the inhabited and probably farmed northern shores of the Black Sea is thought to be the historic basis for the flood stories found in the "
Epic of Gilgamesh" and in the Biblein Book of Genesis, Chapters 6-9. On the other hand, there is also evidence for a flood of water going in the opposite direction, from the Black Sea into the Sea of MarmaraFact|date=July 2007 around 7000 or 8000 BCE.
Jerome's Vulgatetranslates the Hebrew "besepharad" in Obadiah, 1-20 as "Bosforus", but other translations give it as " Sepharad" (probably Sardis, but later identified with Spain). [ Obadiah, [http://bible.cc/obadiah/1-20.htm 1-20] .]
Ancient Greece, Rome, the Byzantines and the Ottoman Empire
As the only passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the Bosporus has always been of great commercial and strategic importance. The Greek city-state of
Athensin the 5th century BC, which was dependent on grain imports from Scythia, therefore maintained critical alliances with cities which controlled the straits, such as the Megarian colony Byzantium.
The strategic significance of the strait was one of the factors in the decision of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great to found there in 330 AD his new capital,
Constantinople, which came to be known as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. On May 29, 1453 it was conquered by the emerging Ottoman Empire. In fact, as the Ottoman Turks closed in on Constantinople, they constructed a fortification on each side of the strait, Anadoluhisarı(1393) and Rumelihisarı(1451). They later renamed the city Istanbul.
The strategic importance of the Bosporus remains high, and control over it has been an objective of a number of hostilities in modern history, notably the
Russo–Turkish War, 1877–1878, as well as of the attack of the Allied Powers on the Dardanellesin 1915 in the course of the First World War.
Several international treaties have governed vessels using the waters. Following WW I, the 1920
Treaty of Sèvresdemilitarized the strait and made it an international territory under the control of the League of Nations. This was amended under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which restored the straits to Turkish territoryndashbut allowed all foreign warships and commercial shipping to traverse the straits freely. Turkey eventually rejected the terms of that treaty, and subsequently Turkey remilitarized the straits area. The reversion to this old regime was formalized under the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Turkish Straitsof July 1936. That convention, which is still in practical force as of 2008, treats the straits as an international shipping lane, but Turkey does retain the right to restrict the naval traffic of non-Black Sea nations (such as Greece, a traditional enemy, or Algeria).
World War II, through February 1945, when Turkey was neutral for most of the length of the conflict, the Dardanelles were closed to the ships of the belligerent nations. In the conferences during World War II, Soviet leader Joseph Stalinopenly requested the concession of Soviet military bases on the Straits, even though Turkey was not involved in the war. This incident, coupled with Stalin's demands for the restitution of the Turkish provinces of Kars, Artvinand Ardahanto the Soviet Union(which were lost by Turkey with the Russo–Turkish War of 1877–1878, but were regained with the Treaty of Karsin 1921) was one of the main reasons why Turkey decided to give up its general principle of neutrality in foreign affairs. Turkey did declare war against Germany in February 1945, but did not engage in offensive actions.
Turkish troops fought on behalf of the
United Nationsduring the Korean Warin 1950-53. Turkey joined NATOin 1952. [ [http://www.fpri.org/enotes/20030110.balkansturkey.torbakov.turkeypostsovietspace.html Foreign Policy Research Institute: The Turkish Factor in the Geopolitics of the Post-Soviet Space (Igor Torbakov)] ] [ [http://www.robertcutler.org/ch91dc.htm Robert Cutler: Turkish-Soviet Relations] ] [ [http://www.answers.com/topic/relations-with-turkey Answers.com: Russia's relations with Turkey] ] [ [http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/yazarDetay.do;jsessionid=DC0C8B5C41104733FE75243EF5E99B20.node1?haberno=36433 Today's Zaman: Against who and where are we going to stand? (Ali Bulaç)] ] In more recent years, the Turkish Straits have become particularly important for the oil industry. Russian oil, from ports such as Novorossyisk, is exported by tankers to western Europe and the U.S. via the Bosphorus and the Dardanellesstraits.
A cheap way to explore the Bosporus is offered by the public ferries that traverse the Bosporus from
Eminönüon the historic peninsula of Istanbul to Anadolu Kavağı near the Black Sea, zigzagging between the Rumelian and Anatolian sides of the city. [ [http://www.ido.com.tr/en/index.cfm?page=SubPage&textid=856&ln=en Explore Bosphorus with IDO] , on the website of İDO.]
It is also possible to experience Bosphorus by taking a regular ride in one of the public ferries that travel in every 45 minutes between the European and the Asian sides. It is also possible to travel by the privately owned ferries available between
There are also touristic rides available in various places along the coasts of Bosphorus. The prices vary according to the type of the ride, and some feature loud popular music for the duration of the trip.
List of maritime incidents in the Turkish Straits
* [http://www.tulpart.com/pic.asp?cmd=2&cid=5&sid=27 High Resolution Pictures of Bosphorus]
* [http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=istanbul&ie=UTF8&z=11&ll=41.101604,29.076004&spn=0.343047,0.701752&t=k&om=1 Google Maps link to Bosphorus]
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