Izmir is a metropolitan city in the western extremity of Anatolia and the third most populous city in Turkey, after Istanbul and Ankara. It is the second most populous city on the Aegean Sea after Athens, Greece. In 2014, the city of İzmir had a population of 2,847,691, while İzmir Province had a total population of 4,113,072.
In classical antiquity the city was known as Smyrna, a name which remained in use in English and other foreign languages until the Turkish Postal Service Law of 28 March 1930, which made İzmir the internationally recognized name. İzmir has almost 4,000 years of recorded urban history and even longer as an advanced human settlement. Lying on an advantageous location at the head of a gulf running down in a deep indentation, midway on the western Anatolian coast, it has been one of the principal mercantile cities of the Mediterranean Sea for much of its history. İzmir hosted the Mediterranean Games in 1971 and the World University Games in 2005.
The city of İzmir is composed of several metropolitan districts. Of these, Konak district corresponds to historical İzmir, this district’s area having constituted the “İzmir Municipality” area until 1984.With the constitution of the “Greater İzmir Metropolitan Municipality” the city of İzmir grouped together initially nine, and more recently eleven, metropolitan districts, namely Balçova, Bayraklı, Bornova, Buca, Çiğli, Gaziemir, Güzelbahçe, Karabağlar, Karşıyaka, Konak and Narlıdere.
The city is one of the oldest settlements of the Mediterranean basin. The 2004 discovery of Yeşilova Höyük and the neighboring Yassıtepe, in the small delta of Meles River, now the Bornova plain, reset the starting date of the city’s past further back than previously thought. Findings from two seasons of excavations carried out in the Yeşilova Höyük by a team of archaeologists from İzmir’s Ege University indicate three levels, two of which are prehistoric. Level 2 bears traces of early to mid-Chalcolithic, and Level 3 of Neolithicsettlements. These two levels would have been inhabited by the indigenous peoples of the area, very roughly, between 7th millennium BC to 4th millennium BC. As the seashore receded with time, the site was later used as a cemetery. Several graves containing artifacts dating roughly from 3000 BC, and contemporary with the first city of Troy, were found.
By 1500 BC, the region had fallen under the influence of the Central Anatolian Hittite Empire; several localities near İzmir are mentioned in their records. The first settlement to have commanded the Gulf of İzmir as a whole is recorded, in a semi-legendary manner, as being founded on top of Mount Yamanlar, to the northeast of the inner gulf. In connection with the silt brought by the streams which join the sea along the coastline, the settlement to form later the core of “Old Smyrna” was founded on the slopes of the same mountain, on a hill in the present-day quarter of Bayraklı. The Bayraklı settlement is thought to have stretched back in time as far as the 3rd millennium BC. It became one of the most advanced cultures in early Anatolian history and was on a par with Troy. The presence of a vineyard of İzmir’s Wine and Beer Factory on this hill, also called Tepekule, prevented the urbanization of the site and facilitated the excavations that started in the 1960s by Ekrem Akurgal. In the 13th century BC, however, invasions from the Balkans destroyed Troy VII, and Central and Western Anatolia as a whole fell into what is generally called the period of “Anatolian” and “Greek” Dark Ages of the Bronze Age collapse.