|• Governor||Abdulqader Abdulsheikh|
|• Land||58 km2 (22 sq mi)|
|• Metro||108 km2 (42 sq mi)|
|Elevation||11 m (36 ft)|
|Population (2004 census)|
Latakia; Lattakia or Latakiyah (Arabic: اللَاذِقِيَّة al-Lādhiqīyah Syrian pronunciation: [el.laːdˈʔɪjje, -laːðˈqɪjja]), is the principal port city of Syria, as well as the capital of the Latakia Governorate. In addition to serving as a port, the city is a manufacturing center for surrounding agricultural towns and villages. According to the 2004 official census, the population of the city is 383,786. It is the 5th-largest city in Syria after Aleppo, Damascus, Homs and Hama, and it borders Tartus to the south, Hama to the east, and Idlib to the north.
Though the site has been inhabited since the second millennium BC, the modern-day city was first founded in the 4th century BC under the rule of the Seleucid empire. Latakia was subsequently ruled by the Romans, then the Ummayads and Abbasids in the 8th–10th centuries. Under their rule, the Byzantines frequently attacked the city, periodically recapturing it before losing it again to the Arabs, particularly the Fatimids. Afterward, Latakia was ruled by the Seljuk Turks, Crusaders, Ayyubids, Mamluks and Ottomans. Following World War I, Latakia was assigned to the French mandate of Syria, in which it served as the capital of the autonomous territory of the Alawites. This autonomous territory became the Alawite State in 1922, proclaiming its independence a number of times until reintegrating into Syria in 1944.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 History
- 3 Geography
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Economy
- 6 Culture
- 7 Education
- 8 Local infrastructure
- 9 International relations
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Like many Seleucid cities, Latakia was named after a member of the ruling dynasty. First named Laodicea (Greek: Λαοδίκεια ἡ Πάραλος, also transliterated Laodikeia or Laodiceia), by Seleucus I Nicator in honor of his mother, Laodice. The original name survives in its Arabic form as al-Ladhiqiyyah (Arabic: اللاذقية), from which the French Lattaquié and English Latakia or Lattakia derive. To the Ottomans, it was known as Turkish: Lazkiye, while its Latin name is Latin: Laodicea ad Mare.
Ancient settlement and founding
It is a city most beautifully built, has a good harbour, and has territory which, besides its other good crops, abounds in wine. Now this city furnishes the most of the wine to the Alexandreians, since the whole of the mountain that lies above the city and is possessed by it is covered with vines almost as far as the summits. And while the summits are at a considerable distance from Laodicea, sloping up gently and gradually from it, they tower above Apameia, extending up to a perpendicular height.
Early Islamic era
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Crusader, Ayyubid, and Mamluk rule
In circa 1300, Arab geographer al-Dimashqi noted that there was no running water in Latakia and that trees were scarce, but the city's port was "a wonderful harbor... full of large ships." In 1332, the Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta also visited Latakia in his journeys.
In the Ottoman period, the region of Latakia became predominantly Alawi. The city itself, however, contained significant numbers of Sunni and Christian inhabitants. The landlords in the countryside tended to be Sunni, while the peasants were mostly Alawi. Like the Druzes, who also had a special status before the end of World War I, the Alawis had a strained relationship with the Ottoman overlords. In fact, they were not even given the status of millet, although they enjoyed relative autonomy.
French Mandate period
An extensive port project was proposed in 1948, and construction work began on the Port of Latakia in 1950, aided by a US$6 million loan from Saudi Arabia. By 1951, the first stage of the construction was completed, and the port handled an increasing amount of Syria's overseas trade.
A major highway linked Latakia with Aleppo and the Euphrates valley in 1968 and was supplemented by the completion of a railway line to Homs. The port became even more important after 1975, due to the troubled situation in Lebanon and the loss of Beirut and Tripoli as ports.
In 1973, during the October War (Yom Kippur War), the naval Battle of Latakia between Israel and Syria was fought just offshore from Latakia. The battle was the first to be fought using missiles and ECM (electronic countermeasures).
Latakia is the home of Russia's largest foreign electronic eavesdropping facility.
Latakia is located 348 kilometres (216 mi) north-west of Damascus, 186 kilometres (116 mi) south-west from Aleppo, 186 kilometres (116 mi) north-west of Homs, and 90 kilometres (56 mi) north of Tartus. Nearby towns and villages include Kasab to the north, Al-Haffah, Deirmama, Slinfah and Qardaha to the east in the al-Ansariyah mountain range, and Jableh and Baniyas to the south.
Latakia is the capital of the Latakia Governorate, in western Syria, bordering Turkey to the north. The governorate has a reported area of either 2,297 square kilometres (887 sq mi) or 2,437 square kilometres (941 sq mi). Latakia city is located in the Latakia District in the northern portion of Latakia governorate.
Under Köppen's climate classification, Latakia features a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Csa) with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Latakia's wettest months are December and January, where average precipitation is around 160 mm. The city's driest month, July, only sees on average about 1 mm of rain. Average temperatures in the city range from around 12 degrees Celsius in January to around 27 degrees Celsius in August. Latakia on average receives around 760 mm of rainfall annually and snow in winter is few, be snow mixed with rain or light snow.
|Climate data for Latakia|
|Average high °C (°F)||12.6
|Average low °C (°F)||8.4
|Precipitation mm (inches)||162.6
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1 mm)||11.3||9.3||8.4||4.6||2.7||1.0||0.3||0.3||1.0||5.2||6.6||11.0||61.7|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||136.4||153.7||198.4||225||297.6||321||325.5||316.2||288||248||192||151.9||2,853.7|
|Source #1: World Meteorological Organization,|
|Source #2: Hong Kong Observatory for rainy days and sunshine hours|
At the beginning of the 20th century, Latakia had a population of roughly 7,000 inhabitants; however, the Journal of the Society of Arts recorded a population of 25,000 in 1905. In a 1992 estimate, Latakia had a population of 284,000, rising to 303,000 in the 1994 census. The city's population continued to rise, reaching an estimated 402,000 residents in 2002. However those numbers are subject to definitional issues about where the city begins and ends. Under one definition, in year 2010 the Latakia metropolitan area had a population of 370,000.
In religious affiliation, Latakia city has a slight Sunni Muslim majority and a large Alawite minority. The rural hinterland has an Alawite majority of roughly 70%, with Christians making up 14%, Sunni Muslims making up 12%, and Ismailis representing the remaining 2%. The city still serves as the capital of the Alawite population and is a major cultural center for the religion. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, large numbers of Alawites emigrated to the city of Damascus in the south. A sizable Greek Orthodox population exists in Latakia, which serves as a diocese and the largest congregation of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch. In 1825, there was a recorded population of 6,000-8,000 Muslims, 1,000 Greek Orthodox Christians, 30 Armenian Christians, 30 Maronite Catholics, and 30 Jews.
An Armenian community of 3,500 still lives in the city, and there also exists a small Greek community. Within the city boundaries is the "unofficial" Latakia camp, established in 1956, and that has a population of 6,354 Palestinian refugees, mostly from Jaffa and the Galilee. The entire population speaks Arabic, mostly in the North Levantine dialect.
Latakia has an extensive agricultural hinterland. Exports include bitumen and asphalt, cereals, cotton, fruits, eggs, vegetable oil, pottery, and tobacco. Cotton ginning, vegetable-oil processing, tanning, and sponge fishing serve as local industries for the city.
The Cote d'Azur Beach of Latakia is Syria's premier coastal resort, and activities undertaken there include water skiing, jet skiing, and windsurfing. The city contains eight hotels, two of which have five-star ratings; both the Cote d'Azur de Cham Hotel and Lé Merdien Lattiquie Hotel are located 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) north of the city, at Cote d'Azur. The latter hotel has 274 rooms and is the only international hotel in the city.
Compared to other Syrian cities, window shopping and evening strolls in the markets is considered a favorite pastime in Latakia. Numerous designer-label stores line 8 Azar Street, and the heart of the city's shopping area is the series of blocks enclosed by 8 Azar Street, Yarmouk Street, and Saad Zaghloul Street in the city center. Cinemas in Latakia include Ugarit Cinema, al-Kindi, and a smaller theater off al-Moutanabbi Street.
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The National Museum of Latakia was built in 1986 near the seafront of the city. It formerly housed the residence of the Governor of the Alawite State and was originally a 16th-century Ottoman khan ("caravansary") known as Khan al-Dukhan, meaning "The Khan of Smoke", as it served the tobacco trade. The khan historically served not only as an inn, but also contained private residences. The exhibits include inscribed tablets from Ugarit, ancient jewellery, coins, figurines, ceramics, pottery, and early Arab and Crusader-era chain-mail suits and swords.
Latakia is the home city of two football clubs: Teshrin Sports Club was founded in 1947, and Hutteen Sports Club was founded in 1945. Both teams are based in the al-Assad Stadium, which carries a capacity of 35,000 people. Just north of the city is the Latakia Sports City complex, which was built in 1987 to host the 1987 Mediterranean Games.
Latakia tobacco is a specially prepared tobacco originally produced in Syria and named after the port city of Latakia. Now the tobacco is mainly produced in Cyprus. It is cured over a stone pine or oak wood fire, which gives it an intense smokey-peppery taste and smell. Too strong for the tastes of most people to smoke straight, it is used as a "condiment" or "blender" (a basic tobacco mixed with other tobaccos to create a blend), especially in English, Balkan, and some American Classic blends.
The University of Latakia was founded in 1971 and renamed Tishreen University ("October University") in 1976 to commemorate the victory Syria claimed in the October War of 1973. The university has an enrollment of 25,660 students, 57% of which are females. The city houses a branch of the Arab Academy for Science and Technology and Maritime Transport.
The modern city still exhibits faint traces of its former importance, notwithstanding the frequent earthquakes with which it has been visited. The marina is built upon foundations of ancient columns, and there are in the town an old gateway and other antiquities, as also sarcophagi and sepulchral caves in the neighbourhood. This gateway is a remarkable triumphal arch at the southeast corner of the town, almost entire: it is built with four entrances, like the Forum Jani at Rome. It is conjectured that this arch was built in honour of Lucius Verus, or of Septimius Severus. Fragments of Greek and Latin inscriptions are dispersed all over the ruins, but entirely defaced.
Notable points of interest in the nearby area include the massive Saladin's Castle and the ruins of Ugarit, where some of the earliest alphabetic writings have been found. There are also several popular beaches. There are numerous mosques in Latakia, including the 13th-century Great Mosque and the 18th-century Jadid Mosque constructed by Suleiman Pasha Azem.
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Roads link Latakia to Aleppo, Beirut, Homs, and Tripoli. The main commercial coastal road of the city is Jamal Abdel Nasser Street, named after former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Lined with hotels, restaurants and the city museum, the street begins in central Latakia along the Mediterranean coast and ends at Hitteen Square. From the square, it branches southwest into al-Maghreb al-Arabi Street, south into 8 Azar Street, which continues south to form Baghdad Avenue—the main north-south road—branching into Beirut Street and Nadim Hassan Street along the southern coastline. From the southern portion of Jamal Abdel Nasser Street branch off al-Yarmouk Street and al-Quds Street, the latter which ends at al-Yaman Square in western Latakia, it continues west into Abdel Qader al-Husseini Street. North from al-Yaman Square Souria Avenue and south of the square is al-Ourouba Street. Souria Avenue ends in al-Jumhouriah Square, then continues north as al-Jumhouriah Street.
Much of the city is accessible by taxi and other forms of public transportation. Buses transport people to various Syrian, Lebanese, and Turkish cities, including Aleppo, Damascus, Deir ez-Zor, Palmyra, Tripoli, Beirut, Safita, Hims, Hama, Antakya, and Tartous. The "luxury" Garagat Pullman Bus Station is located on Abdel Qader al-Husseini Street, and at least a dozen private companies are based at the station. On the same street is the older Hob-Hob Bus Station that operates a "depart when full" basis to Damascus and Aleppo. Local microbuses run between al-Yaman Square and the city center, as well as between the station on al-Jalaa Street and the city center. There is also a microbus station with buses departing to Qalaat Salah ed-Din, Qardaha, Kassab, and Jableh.
Latakia's train station is located on al-Yaman Square. Chemins de Fer Syriens operated services, including two daily runs to Aleppo and one weekly run to Damascus via Tartous. In 2005, approximately 512,167 passengers departed from Latakia's train station.
The Bassel Al-Assad International Airport is located 25 kilometers (16 mi) south of Latakia and serves as a national and regional airport with regular flights to Sharjah, Jeddah, Riyadh and Cairo. The Port of Latakia is also a link in six organized cruises between Alexandria, Izmir and Beirut. In addition, there are irregular ferry services to Cyprus. In 2005, approximately 27,939 passengers used the port.
Twin towns – Sister cities
- Sousse, Tunisia
- Mersin, Turkey
- Constanţa, Romania
- Rimini, Italy
- Gilan Province, Iran
- Genoa, Italy
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Latakia.|
- elatakia The First Complete website for Latakia news and services
- Latakia news and services (Arabic)
- Tishreen University (English) (Arabic)
- Audio interview with Latakia resident about life in Latakia (English)
- Pictures from 2009