Located on the west coast of Turkey by the Aegean Sea, Izmir belongs to the broader region of Southeast Europe, and is one of the major port cities in the Mediterranean. Izmir province stretches over an area of 12.000 km2 and comprises 30 districts, 11 of which are situated in the metropolitan area.
Historically, the port has been at the core of Izmir’s identity and the city has long been a hub of dense networks of maritime connections. The port has long facilitated cultural exchanges and served as a nexus where people from different parts of the Mediterranean and Asia met, mixed and inspired each other. Thanks to its favourable geographical location, climate, water resources and fertile lands, the 8500-year-old city has been the home of many civilizations and cultures.
Homer, the author of the legendary Iliad and Odyssey, whose works have had an enormous effect on Western culture, was born and lived in Izmir. The city was one of the prominent cities of the Hellenistic period and the Roman Empire. In the modern era, during the 17th century, Izmir became an important port attracting notable overseas trade owing to the Silk Road. Venetian, Dutch, English and French merchants settled in Izmir, opening export factories and consulates. In the course of the eighteenth century, Izmir became the leading Mediterranean port.
Alongside its cultural diversity, the city is notable for its biodiversity. Coupled with terrestrial biological diversity, Izmir embraces rich wetlands. 10% of the world’s flamingo population lives in Izmir’s largest wetland, the Gediz Delta. This precious cultural knowledge protects and helps manage lands, water and other natural resources. Traditional Izmir’s rural communities preserve crucial ecological knowledge. Izmir is the heir to ancient indigenous production landscapes where local agricultural practices protect rare biological diversity.
There are many ancient settlements within the boundaries of present day Izmir such as Smyrna, Klazomenai, Ephesus and Pergamon. Pergamon and its multi-layered cultural landscape, and Ephesus are catalogued in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2014 and 2015 respectively. The Historic Port City of Izmir, Historic Town of Birgi; Foça, Çandarlı and Çeşme Castles are currently on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.