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Kizlar hamamiAs of 2010, Mersin was Turkey's sixth most populous city. It is also part of an interurban agglomeration referred to as the Adana-Mersin Metropolitan Area which lies on the west part of Çukurova, a geographical, economical and cultural region. The port is the essence of Mersin's economy. There are 45 piers with a total port area of 785,000 square metres or 194 acres servicing 6,000 ships per year when operating at full capacity.

Alongside the port is the Mersin Free Zone established in 1986. It is the first free zone in Turkey with warehouses, shops, assembly-disassembly facilities, maintenance and engineering workshops. As well as banking and insurance, packaging, labelling and exhibition facilities, the trading volume of the free zone was USD 51.8 billion in 2002. The zone is a publicly owned center for foreign investors, close to major markets in the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern and Western Europe, the Russian Federation and Central Asia. Mersin has modern highway connections to the north, east and west. Mersin is also connected to the southern Turkish railroad system. Adana airport is 69 kilometres or 43 miles away with scheduled daily domestic and international flights.

The city of Mersin has a State Opera and Ballet, the fourth largest in Turkey following Istanbul, İzmir and Ankara. The annual Mersin International Music Festival was established in 2001 and takes place every October. The photography association Mersin Fotograf Derneği (MFD), is one of the most popular and active cultural organizations in the city. There is a great museum in the city center housed in the Atatürk House where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk stayed whenever he visited the city. Mersin University was founded in 1992 and opened to students in 1993–1994, with 11 faculties, 6 schools and 9 vocational schools. Tarsus American College and Çağ University, midway between Tarsus and Adana, are smaller universities serving the students who reside in Adana, Tarsus and Mersin.

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