© 2020, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.Demography researchers and scientists have been effectively utilizing advanced technologies and methods such as geographical information systems, spatial statistics, georeferenced data, and satellite images for the last 25 years. Areal interpolation methods have also been adopted for the development of population density maps which are essential for a variety of social and environmental studies. Still, a good number of social scientists are skeptical about such technologies due to the complexity of methods and analyses. In this regard, a practical intelligent dasymetric mapping (IDM) tool that facilitates the implementation of the statistical analyses was used in this study to develop the population distribution map for the Istanbul metropolitan area via night light data provided by the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program’s Operational Linescan System (DMSP-OLS) and the census records of the study area. A population density map was also produced using the choropleth mapping method to enable to make a comparison of the traditional and intelligent population density mapping implementations. According to the dasymetric population density map, 38.5% of the study area fell into sparse density category while low, moderate, high, and very high population density class percentages were found to be 9.4%, 5.5%, 2.9%, and 0.1% respectively. On the other hand, the percentages of the same population density classes ranking from sparse to very high in the choropleth map were determined to be 90.7%, 7.3%, 1.7%, 0.3%, and 0%. In the change analysis made as a result of the classification, the changes between the city area and the population were revealed. During this period, the city area and population grew. Spatial change has also been interpreted by comparing it with population changes. There appears to be a remarkable increase in both surface area and population. It is observed that the increase is especially in the south and northwest of the city. With the population increase, the number of new residential areas has increased. It is thought that behind this growth, there are different reasons besides the effect of the increase in residential areas. When the environmental awareness of people has increased more than in the past centuries, new solutions should be produced in order to be more controlled, smart, and sustainable while planning the cities of the future. Considering that the development of technology and remote sensing techniques is progressing in parallel with this technology, this study in which GIS technologies integrated with satellite images are used, it is thought that it will contribute positively to the studies in this area in terms of regular development of urban areas, increasing the opportunity to make fast and correct decisions, and creating infrastructure for studies such as monitoring and prevention of illegal housing.