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        Population and Commerce in the Ottoman Empire

        The Ottoman Empire stood for nearly five centuries. As an Islamic empire, it followed in the footsteps of earlier Islamic powers in how it expanded to the Near East and the Mediterranean. The heart of the Empire, however, was in Asia Minor, or modern-day Turkey. This strategic location at the intersection of Europe, Asia, and Africa was a major source of its power. Controlling trade between these continents generated great economic revenue. Not only could the empire tax this trade, but the empire’s great cities like Istanbul and Damascus grew in importance and wealth as the Empire’s star rose.

        This set of resources provides background information about trade and commerce in the Ottoman Empire and its relation to the empire’s population growth and decline. As you review these resources, think about the relationships between trade, commerce, and diversity.

        The Golden Horn, Istanbul, 16th-17th Century

        This miniature painting, taken from a 16th-17th century Islamic manuscript, shows the Golden Horn, a major harbor in Istanbul. Trade ships from the Black Sea and from the Mediterranean Sea made their way to Istanbul regularly, while traders from Asia usually traveled there via caravan over land.

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        Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, 17th Century

        This miniature painting from a 17th century Arab manuscript shows the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. This market, which took over 200 years to build, was the largest in the world during the Ottoman Empire’s height. At the crossroads of three continents, the variety and quality of goods offered there was

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        Havariler Kilisesi, Anatolia

        Buildings such as the Havariler Kilisesi, which has been both a cathedral and a mosque at different times, show the great diversity of the people who lived in the Ottoman Empire. While the empire’s rulers were Muslim, they were relatively tolerant of Jews and of the Christian populations who lived i

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