Why is Turkey building a copy of the Bosphorus and turning Istanbul into an island?


The Istanbul Canal is one of the most controversial engineering projects of our time. Turkey wants to build an artificial strait that will duplicate the Bosphorus and turn Istanbul into an island.

The construction of the canal began on June 26, 2021. It is assumed that the new strait will connect the Black Sea with the Marmara Sea, it will stretch for 50 km in length, will be 25 meters deep and 150 meters wide.

Officially, its task is to relieve maritime traffic across the Bosphorus and reduce the number of accidents occurring there. The Turkish government is ready to spend $ 13 billion on this matter. At the same time, financing will be exclusively from domestic sources, without attracting foreign investment.


It’s all about the Montreux convention of 1936, which is unfavorable for the Turks, which

By comparison, in order to pass through the Egyptian Suez Canal, merchant ships must

Suez canal

In the same time

The Montreux Convention, which imposed such a disadvantageous deal on Turkey, was adopted under pressure from the great powers. The main argument was that the Bosphorus is a natural object, and therefore it is unfair to try to make money on it. Today, Erdogan’s government intends to dig a second strait in order to at least make it paid.

To save time. The Bosphorus Strait is indeed congested. To pass through it, ships are forced to wait for their turn for a long time, wasting time and money due to downtime. In addition, the natural strait is rather difficult for navigation due to the relief and the peculiarities of the currents.

To avoid trouble, foreign ships hire a Turkish pilot to help navigate the difficult passage. By the way, this «pilotage fee», that is, the provision of guides is one of Turkey’s ways to somehow snatch money from foreigners.

The new Istanbul Canal will be much easier to navigate and most likely not so expensive to be abandoned. Large shopping campaigns will be more profitable and safer to use it.

The artificial canal is the brainchild of Turkish President Recep Erdogan, who is building it despite the criticism of his own population.

The Istanbul Canal will change the salinity of the Marmara Sea and lead to the extinction of some fish species. The freshwater lake Durusu, an important source of drinking water for the capital, will become saline. In addition, the canal will lead to salinization and waterlogging of agricultural and forest land, and will also increase flooding.

The Montreux Convention prohibits Turkey from passing through its straits the naval fleet of non-Black Sea powers of a certain tonnage. Only small warships with a total tonnage of up to 45 thousand tons and a period of no more than 21 days can enter the Black Sea.

On the contrary, the fleet of the Black Sea powers can pass through the straits without restrictions. The Istanbul Canal will abolish this rule. Turkey will be able to regulate traffic according to its mood, and given that this country is a NATO member, Russia cannot expect anything good.

The Turkish megaproject will not only turn Istanbul into an island, but also become one of the largest man-made structures in history. However, it will bring many unpleasant consequences both for the surrounding countries and for the people of Turkey themselves.