İzmit (ancient Nicomedia) is a city in Turkey, administrative center of Kocaeli Province as well as the Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality. It is located at the Gulf of İzmit (the ancient Gulf of Astacus) in the Sea of Marmara, about 100 km (62 mi) east of İstanbul, on the northwestern part of Anatolia. The city centre has a population of 248,424 (2007 census). The urban area has a population of 577,932 inhabitants and is part of Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality, which has the same border as Kocaeli Province with a population of 1,411,845 inhabitants.
İzmit (Nicomedia) was the eastern and most senior capital city of the Roman Empire between 286 and 324, during the Tetrarchy introduced by Diocletian. Following Constantine's defeat of co-emperor Licinius at the Battle of Chrysopolis (Üsküdar) in 324, Nicomedia served as an interim capital city for Constantine the Great between 324 and 330, until the nearby Byzantium was officially declared Nova Roma (later known as Constantinople, present-day Istanbul.)
The geological location of İzmit is between 40°-41° N and 29°-31° E, surrounded by the Gulf of İzmit at south, İstanbul and the Sea of Marmara at west, the Black Sea at north, and Sakarya at east.
The city is mostly built on hill slopes because of the cramped area, while flat plains are located around the gulf, near the sea. This topographic structure divided the city in two different parts. The first part was created on flat plains, where the city center is also located. The railway and highway networks also pass from this area which is close to the Sea of Marmara. The second part was built on hills, with many historic houses from the Ottoman period in the old quarters.
The local climate, more temperate near the Gulf of İzmit (Körfez in Turkish) and the Black Sea, more severe in the mountains, constitutes a transition between Mediterranean and Black Sea types; the typical urban summer here is hot and dry, the winter wet, however, Izmit and Marmara lack the refreshing summer breezes of the northern reaches, and can become humid.
The highest recorded temperature in the city (11 Aug 1970) was 41.6°C , the lowest (4 Feb 1960) -8.7°C , while the yearly average stands at 14.8°C .
The Black Sea coast sees an annual rainfall of 1000mm., which gradually lessens south-eastwards: Izmit, for example, generally gets less than 800mm. The south-facing slopes of the Samanlı mountains, near Körfez, experience conditions similar to Black Sea coastal regions. Winter winds blow from the south to south-east, while in summer mainly south-easterly.
There are numerous tourist attractions both in the city centre and its adjacent region, such as the remains of the ancient Acropolis, Agora, Amphitheater, Nymphaeum, Necropolis, Demeter Temple and the Hellenistic Üçtepeler Mound King Tombs, the Roman city walls, parts of the Temple of Augustus, parts of the Palace and Arsenal of Diocletian, Roman aqueducts and cisterns, a Byzantine fortress at the core of the Roman city walls, Orhan Gazi Mosque (1333), the 14th century Süleyman Paşa Hamam, the 16th century Imaret Mosque and Pertev Paşa Mosque (1580) designed by the great Ottoman architect Sinan, Pertev Paşa Fountain (1571), the 16th century Mehmed Bey Hamam, Saatçi Ali Efendi Mansion (1776), Tüysüz Fountain (1782), the early 19th century Fevziye Mosque, Kapanca Sokağı Fountain and Canfeda Kethüda Kadın Fountain (1827), the mid 19th century Sırrı Paşa Mansion, Kasr-ı Hümayun Palace and the French Theological School, Redif Barracks (1863), and the İzmit Clock Tower (1901).
İzmit is an important industrial centre, with a large oil refinery, and major paper and cement factories. Ford Motor Company has a plant here in a joint venture with Otosan, assembling the Transit/Tourneo and Transit/Tourneo Connect vans. It is also a transportation hub, being located on the main highway and railway lines between İstanbul and Ankara, and having a major port.
In the past few years the province has developed into a growth point for the automotive industry, receiving investment from Ford, Hyundai, Honda and Isuzu. Tyre and rubber products are produced to world class standard (Goodyear, Pirelli, Lassa and Bridgestone). Today Kocaeli province has grown 1200 industrial investments of which 108 have been established with international capital. Turkey’s largest enterprise, Tüpraş Petroleum Refinery Plant, is also located in Kocaeli, containing altogether 27% of the national chemical industry (petro-chemical included), including 18 of the 100 largest enterprises of Turkey are located in Kocaeli and paying 17-18% of the national tax revenues.
Financial Times affiliated Foreign Direct Investment Magazine nominated Kocaeli (the province of which İzmit is the capital) among the 25 European Regions of the Future for 2006-2007. The city was chosen along with Adana for Turkey, which scored the most points for cost effectiveness against Kocaeli's wider infrastructure, while Adana and Kocaeli tied on points for human resources and quality of life.
The famous Turkish traditional sweet Pişmaniye is a product of İzmit and the Kocaeli Province.
Being located along the commercially-active Black Sea and Marmara Sea shorelines, Kocaeli boasts 5 ports and 35 industrial docks, making it an important communications centre, as well as Anatolia’s farthest inland contact point and a gateway to global markets. The main transportation routes, the D-100 highway and the E-6 TEM (Trans European Motorway) which connects Europe with Asia, along with railway lines, form an intercontinental passage network. Kocaeli neighbours one of the world’s largest metropolitan centres, Istanbul. Its vicinity to Istanbul's two international airports (Sabiha Gökçen International Airport and Atatürk International Airport) which are 45 and 80 km (50 mi) away, respectively, from İzmit's city centre, provides national and international connections.
Kocaeli University was established in the city in 1992. The university has more than 50,000 students.
In antiquity, the city was called Astacus or Olbia (founded 712 BC). After being destroyed, it was rebuilt and founded by Nicomedes I of Bithynia in 264 BC under the name of Nicomedia, and has ever since been one of the most important cities in northwestern Asia Minor. Hannibal came to Nicomedia in his final years and committed suicide in nearby Libyssa (Gebze). The historian Arrian was born there. Nicomedia was the metropolis of Bithynia under the Roman Empire (see Nicaea), and Diocletian made it the eastern capital city of the Roman Empire in 286 when he introduced the Tetrarchy system. Nicomedia remained as the eastern (and most senior) capital of the Roman Empire until Licinius was defeated by Constantine the Great in 324. Constantine mainly resided in Nicomedia as his interim capital city for the next six years, until in 330 he declared the nearby Byzantium as Nova Roma, which eventually became known as Constantinople (present-day Istanbul). Constantine died in a royal villa at the vicinity of Nicomedia in 337. Owing to its position at the convergence of the Asiatic roads leading to the new capital, Nicomedia retained its importance even after the foundation of Constantinople.
The city was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1338.
The earthquake of August 17, 1999 (magnitude 7.4) devastated the region, killing more than 19,000 people and leaving many more homeless. It took several years for the city to recover from this disaster; but the scars, especially on the memories of the residents - many of whom lost loved ones, can still be observed.