Latakia

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This article is about Latakia city. For the governorate, see Latakia Governorate. For other uses, see Latakia (disambiguation).
Latakia
اللَاذِقِيَّة
Latakia Cote d'Azur beach • Latakia skylineMuseum of Latakia • Downtown LatakiaTishreen University • Latakia CornicheLatakia Sports City Stadium • Port of Latakia
Latakia

Cote d'Azur beach • Latakia skyline
Museum of Latakia • Downtown Latakia
Tishreen University • Latakia Corniche
Latakia Sports City Stadium • Port of Latakia
Official seal of Latakia
Seal
Latakia is located in Syria
Latakia
Latakia
Location in Syria
Coordinates: 35°31′N 35°47′E / 35.517°N 35.783°E / 35.517; 35.783
Country  Syria
Governorate Latakia Governorate
District Latakia District
Government
 • Governor Abdulqader Abdulsheikh[2]
Area
 • Land 58 km2 (22 sq mi)
 • Metro 108 km2 (42 sq mi)
Elevation 11 m (36 ft)
Population (2004 census)
 • City 383,786[1]
 • Metro 424,392
Area code(s) 41
Website eLatakia

Latakia, or Latakiyah (Arabic: اللَاذِقِيَّةal-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.[3][4] 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.

Etymology[edit]

Like many Seleucid cities, Latakia was named after a member of the ruling dynasty.[5] 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.[5][6] To the Ottomans, it was known as Turkish: Lazkiye, while its Latin name is Latin: Laodicea ad Mare.

History[edit]

Ancient settlement and founding[edit]

The location of Latakia, the Ras Ziyarah[7] promontory,[8] has a long history of occupation. The Phoenician city of Ramitha was located here, known to the Greeks as Leukê Aktê, "white coast". Ramitha dates at least to the second millennium BC and was a part of the kingdom of Ugarit a short distance north. As Ugarit declined at the end of the second millennium BC, the better natural harbor facilities at Ramitha increased its importance.[6]

The settlement became part of the Assyrian Empire, later falling to the Persians, who incorporated it into their fifth satrapy, Abar-Nahara, beyond the river. It was taken by Alexander the Great in 333 BC following his victory at the Battle of Issus over the Persian army led by Darius III, beginning the era of Hellenism in Syria.[9]

After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, Northern Syria fell under the control of Seleucus I Nicator. He founded the city of Laodicea on the site, one of five cities named after his mother, Laodice. Laodicea became a main center of Greek culture and one of the new satrapal headquarters. It was the main harbor for Apamea, linked with a road across the Alawi mountains. Laodicaea became a major port, second only to Seleucia Pieria.[6] It formed a tetrapolis, with Antioch, Seleucia Pieria and Apamea, linking the four main cities of Seleucid Syria into a union known as the Syrian tetrapolis.[9]

The city was described in Strabo's Geographica:[10]

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.

Roman rule[edit]

Temple of Bacchus in Latakia
Latakia Tetraporticus, built by Septimius Severus in AD 183

In 64 BC, the Roman legate Pompey formally abolished the Seleucid Empire and created the new Roman province of Syria. During the struggle for power between Augustus Caesar and Marcus Antonius, the latter managed to win temporary support from Laodicea during his brief governorship of Syria through the remission of certain taxes and the promise of autonomy. Following the defeat of Marcus Antonius, the Romans modified Laodicea's name, changing it to Laodicea-ad-Mare, and the city flourished again as an entrepôt for East-West trade, second only to Antioch. This commerce was systemized with the construction of the Via Maris, a coastal road that ran south from Antioch to Damascus and Beirut via Laodicea.[9] In the first century BC, Herod the Great, king of Judaea, furnished the city with an aqueduct, the remains of which stand to the east of the town. Initially the Romans deployed four legions in Syria, one of which, the Legio VI Ferrata, was likely based in Laodicea.[11]

In AD 193, the city was sacked by the governor of Syria, Pescennius Niger, in his revolt against the new emperor, Septimius Severus. In 194, Septimius Severus reorganized Syria into five new provinces. One of these, Coele-Syria, including all of northern Syria, briefly had its capital in Laodicea before reverting to Antioch. Septimius Severus considered Antioch to be more degenerate than Laodicea, and sought to punish Antioch for having supported the aspirations of his rival Pescennius Niger.[11]

Septimius Severus endowed Laodicea with four colonnaded streets that divided the city into a series of rectangles. Roman Laodicea, based on the foundations of the Seleucid grid, was laid out along a vertical axis stretching for 1.5-2 kilometers from north to south, linking the center of the town with the northern road to Antioch, and forming the cardus maximus (main commercial street). The east-west axis consisted of three main streets: the first linked the port to the citadel, the second linked the port to the Apamea road, and the third linked the port to a monumental four-way arch, or tetrapyle, which was erected at the point of intersection with the north-south colonnaded avenue.[11] Septimius also built baths, a theatre, a hippodrome, numerous sanctuaries and other public buildings in the city. Rome regarded Laodicea as a key strategic seaport in the prized province of Syria.[12]

Throughout the third and fourth centuries, Laodicea remained dependent on Antioch. In 272, the city was seized by Zenobia, the queen of the Palmyrene Empire, following her abortive attempt to take Antioch from Emperor Aurelian. After the revolt of Antioch in 378, Laodicea returned to imperial favor and enjoyed prosperity into the Byzantine period. In 494, the town was damaged by the first of a long series of earthquakes. In 528, Emperor Justinian I created the new province of Theodorias out of the coastal belt around Laodicea, which was rebuilt and fortified against the increasing Persian threat.[12] In 555, another earthquake devastated Latakia.[citation needed]

A sizable Jewish population lived in Laodicea during the first century.[13] The heretic Apollinarius was bishop of Laodicea in the 4th century. The city minted coins from an early date.

Early Islamic era[edit]

Laodicea fell to the Rashidun army in 638, under general Abu Ubaida, who reportedly had trenches dug around the town so that even horsemen could advance unobserved; they then pretended to retreat to Homs, only to return at night and surprise the inhabitants. Christians who had left the city were allowed to return and retain their church. Laodicea was known to the Muslims as "al-Ladhiqiyah" or "Latakia",[12] and Umar ibn al-Khattab, the reigning caliph during its capture, assigned it to the administration of Jund Hims.[14]

During its rule by the Umayyads, the town was devastated by a Byzantine raid in 705 and again in 719, when a Byzantine force supported by a fleet burnt the town and took many of its inhabitants into captivity. Restorations and reconstruction of the buildings and fortifications was begun by Caliph Umar II, who also ransomed the inhabitants from the Byzantines. His successor, Yazid II, improved the fortifications and reinforced the Muslim garrison.[12]

In the late 10th century, the Byzantines, under Emperor Nikephoros II, began taking advantage of the confusion and instability in the late Abbasid era, seizing parts of the Islamic territory. In 970, Latakia fell, but in 980, the Fatimids captured the town and its Byzantine governor, Karmaruk, was later beheaded in Cairo. Finally, late in the century, it fell to the Turks under the suzerainty of Banu Munqidh of Shaizar, who ceded it to the Seljuk sultan Malik Shah I in 1086. However, many of Latakia's great public buildings were already in ruins by then.[12]

Crusader, Ayyubid, and Mamluk rule[edit]

Al-Moghrabi Mosque
The Latin Church of Latakia

The first crusades reached Syria in 1097, and on August 19, 1097, twenty-eight ships from Cyprus under Guynemer of Boulogne penetrated Latakia's harbor, sacking the town and making it part of the Principality of Antioch.[12] During the crusade, the southern ports of Latakia and Baniyas were handed over to Byzantine officials by Robert of Normandy and Raymond of St. Gills. However, a few years later, in August 1099, Bohemond laid siege to Latakia with the help of the Pisan fleet led by Archbishop Daiberto Lanfranchi. Within a few months, though, Bohemond was taken prisoner by Danishmend. Seven months later, his nephew Tancred assumed the regency and laid embarked on to Latakia again. This time, it fell to him in 1103 after an eighteen-month siege.[12][15] The following year, however, a Byzantine fleet under Admiral Kantakouzenos once more forced the Franks to capitulate, though the Byzantines were unable to take the citadel. It was not until 1108 that the Franks were able to consolidate their hold. With the aid of a Pisan fleet, Tancred seized Latakia after Bohemond had promised it to Emperor Alexios I Komnenos as part of the Treaty of Devol in 1108. For their services, the Pisans and the Genoese were granted enclaves in the town, as well as the right to trade freely in the port and the principality.[12]

Under the Franks, Latakia became known as "La Liche", covering an area of 220 hectares (0.85 sq mi) and consisting of three separate parts. The port, originally an open bay with marble quay stones laid by the Romans, remained an important commercial center. The town proper, previously encircled by a continuous line of fortifications, now vanished. On two hills stood twin castles dominating the town. In Crusader times, the town had a French presence, a sizable Muslim population, and a large Greek Orthodox community, two of whose churches remain intact, the Church of the Virgin and the Church of St. Nicholas.[12]

In 1126, the cities of Latakia and Jableh formed part of the dowry of Princess Alice, daughter of King Baldwin II of Jerusalem, who made an unsuccessful bid to assume the regency of Antioch. Alice later donated a house in the town to the Christian Knights Hospitallers, who made it their principal base in the region.[12] In April 1126, Emir Sawar, governor of Aleppo, launched a raid and sacked the town, taking away many prisoners and large amounts of treasure. The town was further devastated by earthquakes in 1157 and 1170, in addition to attacks on the port.[12]

On July 21, 1188, Saladin arrived before the walls of Latakia and forced the capitulation of the Crusaders two days later. By then, it had become a well-fortified and wealthy city. Saladin appointed Emir Sunkur al-Kilati as governor and gave the town a strong Muslim garrison. Guy de Lusignan, the Jerusalem king captured in the Battle of Hattin, was reportedly imprisoned and held for ransom in Latakia.[16] In August 1190, Saladin had the port dismantled to prevent its capture by the advance of the Third Crusade. After a failed attempt, Bohemond II succeeded in briefly taking the city in 1197, but he retreated soon after. Again under Muslim control, the city was rebuilt and the citadel restored. The Franks of Tripoli and the Hospitallers unsuccessfully attacked the town several more times. In the early part of the thirteenth century, a great mosque, Masjid al-Kabir, was constructed.[16]

In 1207, the city's sizable Venetian community received a trading concession from the Muslim governor. The agreement did not last long though; in December 1223, an army from Aleppo, fearing the onset of the Fifth Crusade, destroyed all the defenses and dismantled the citadel. Arab geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi wrote that Latakia under the Ayyubids was "an ancient Greek city, with many antique buildings, and has fine dependencies, also an excellently-built harbor." He also mentioned that the city was formerly a part of Jund Hims, but by 1225, it was counted under the Aleppo District.[17] With the first of the Mongol invasions and the coming to power of the Mamluks, Bohemond VI took possession of the town and rewarded the Knights Hospitallers for their support by allotting them half of the town and half of the surrounding areas. The Genoese were thus reestablished at the expense of the Venetians.[16]

Following the fall of the Principality of Antioch in 1268 to the Mamluks under Sultan Baibars, King Hugo III of Antioch signed a treaty with Baybars concerning Latakia. Under the treaty, concluded on July 4, 1275, the town obtained its freedom from the Muslims in return for an annual tribute. Remaining as a truncated Crusader enclave, Latakia had lost its prominence and was already declining as other ports, such as Tripoli and Alexandria, developed.[16]

Baybars was forced to surrender Latakia to Emir Sunkur of Damascus on July 24, 1281. Baibars regained control of the city after the fall of Sunkur. In 1287, an earthquake devastated the town and caused widespread damage to the fortifications, destroying the Pigeon Tower, the Pier Tower and the lighthouse. Taking advantage of this misfortune, Sultan Qalawun, who had already captured the great Hospitallers castle of Margat, immediately dispatched Emir Turuntay to attack the town. On April 20, 1287, Latakia fell to Turuntay.[16]

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."[18] Latakia continued to suffer from constant wars and pillagers. It was attacked and burned again in 1366 by Peter I of Cyprus. Much of the town was in ruins and was less populated than the rival ports of Tripoli and Beirut, and the port was in a serious state of decline by 1450.[16] In 1332, the Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta also visited Latakia in his journeys.[19]

Ottoman rule[edit]

A group of resting Alawite musicians from Latakia, 1920s

Latakia came under Ottoman control after 1516 and was part of Ottoman Syria. The city continued to decline, and by the middle of the sixteenth century, the town had become a small dependent village. In Ottoman times, Latakia was noted for its cotton, olives, walnuts, mulberry trees and vineyards.[16]

In the early eighteenth century, Latakia was governed by Yasin Bey and subject to the Sanjak of Tripoli, but a major uprising in the town resulted in his and his family's removal from authority. A new mosque, Masjid al-Jadid, was erected by the Ottoman governor of Damascus between 1733 and 1743. In 1810 and 1823, earthquakes caused major damage in the town and other coastal areas of Syria.[16]

Despite losing its prominence as an important town, the port itself continued to remain extremely active and economically valuable. The port was receiving more than 100 ships annually in 1835, but the harbor itself was silted up and could only contain between four or six small boats. By the end of the nineteenth century, it received around 120 steamships and around 570 sailboats annually, most of which could only anchor outside of the harbor itself.[16] In 1888, when Wilayat Beirut was established, Latakia became its northernmost town.[20]

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.[21]

French Mandate period[edit]

A postage stamp from the Alawite State in 1926
Flag of the Alawite State (1920-1936)
Main article: Alawite State

In the beginning of the twentieth century, Latakia was a small town with a population of 7,000, ruled from Beirut. After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the town fell under the French mandate established on August 31, 1920. Latakia became the capital of the autonomous territory of the Alawites, with a government under the authority of the mandatory French administration. In 1922, this territory, composed of Latakia and Tartus, became the State of Alawites and was integrated into the Federations of States. The French quickly set about restoring the port facilities by rebuilding the north and south moles and deepening the harbor from two to six meters.[16]

In December 1924, French General Maxime Weygand announced the secession of the State of Alawites, which was proclaimed independent in 1925. In 1930, a fundamental law created a government of Latakia, and by 1931, the population of Latakia had grown to 20,000. In 1932, a plan for a new deep-water harbor was proposed.[16]

The government of Latakia was incorporated into Syria in 1936, but it benefited from a special administration under the authority of the Syrian government.[16] In the same year, the French were authorized to station troops in Latakia for five more years. With the loss of the ports of Alexandretta and Antioch to Turkey in 1939, Latakia became the main port in Syria, and there remained no alternative but to develop its port facilities.[22]

In 1939, Latakia again became the capital of the autonomous territory of the Alawites, once again separate from Syria, only to be integrated once more in June 1944 following the Proclamation of Syrian Unity, which was confirmed in 1947 with the Proclamation of Independence.[22]

Modern era[edit]

Latakia in 1970

All but a few classical buildings have been destroyed, often by earthquakes; those remaining include a Roman triumphal arch and Corinthian columns known as the Colonnade of Bacchus.[23]

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.

In August 1957, 4,000 Egyptian troops landed in Latakia under orders from Gamal Abdel Nasser after Turkish troops massed along the border with Syria, accusing it of harboring Turkish Communists.[24]

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.[22] In 1971, the port handled 1,630,000 tons of cargo. During the 1970s, the port was expanded, and in 1981, it handled 3,593,000 tons of imported goods and 759,000 tons of exports.[25]

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).[26]

During the Syrian Civil War the city was reportedly attacked by rebels on the 14 August 2011. Activists claimed that 25 people died during the attack.[27]

Latakia is the home of Russia's largest foreign electronic eavesdropping facility.[28]

Geography[edit]

The southern corniche

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.[29] 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)[30] or 2,437 square kilometres (941 sq mi).[31] Latakia city is located in the Latakia District in the northern portion of Latakia governorate.

Climate[edit]

Under Köppen's climate classification, Latakia features a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Csa) with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters.[32] 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.

Climate data for Latakia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 15.6
(60.1)
16.3
(61.3)
18.4
(65.1)
21.5
(70.7)
24.2
(75.6)
26.8
(80.2)
28.9
(84)
29.7
(85.5)
29.0
(84.2)
26.8
(80.2)
22.1
(71.8)
17.3
(63.1)
23.05
(73.49)
Daily mean °C (°F) 12
(54)
12.7
(54.9)
14.7
(58.5)
17.8
(64)
20.7
(69.3)
23.9
(75)
26.5
(79.7)
27.1
(80.8)
25.6
(78.1)
22.6
(72.7)
17.9
(64.2)
13.7
(56.7)
19.6
(67.3)
Average low °C (°F) 8.4
(47.1)
9
(48)
10.9
(51.6)
14
(57)
17.1
(62.8)
20.9
(69.6)
24
(75)
24.5
(76.1)
22.1
(71.8)
18.4
(65.1)
13.7
(56.7)
10
(50)
16.08
(60.94)
Precipitation mm (inches) 162.6
(6.402)
99.8
(3.929)
90.6
(3.567)
44.2
(1.74)
21
(0.83)
4.5
(0.177)
0.9
(0.035)
4.5
(0.177)
7.8
(0.307)
67.1
(2.642)
95.2
(3.748)
160.7
(6.327)
758.9
(29.878)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 11.3 9.3 8.4 4.6 2.7 1 0.3 0.3 1 5.2 6.6 11 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,[33]
Source #2: Hong Kong Observatory for rainy days and sunshine hours[34]

Demographics[edit]

Year Population
1905 25,000[35]
1932 24,000[36]
1943 36,000[36]
1957 56,000[36]
1970 126,000[36]
1987 241,000[36]
1994 303,000[36]

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.[35] In a 1992 estimate, Latakia had a population of 284,000,[37] rising to 303,000 in the 1994 census.[36] The city's population continued to rise, reaching an estimated 402,000 residents in 2002.[38] 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.[4]

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.[38] Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, large numbers of Alawites emigrated to the city of Damascus in the south.[39] A sizable Greek Orthodox population exists in Latakia, which serves as a diocese and the largest congregation of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.[40][41] 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.[42]

An Armenian community of 3,500 still lives in the city,[43] and there also exists a small Greek community.[44] 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.[45] The entire population speaks Arabic, mostly in the North Levantine dialect.[46]

Economy[edit]

The Port of Latakia in 1979

The Port of Latakia is the main route in Syria for containers, though it also handles a large amount of metals, machinery, chemicals and foodstuffs. In 2004, 5.1 million tonnes were unloaded, and one million tonnes were loaded from Latakia port. New quay investments are underway in the port. The port is managed by a semi-autonomous state company.[47] 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.[23]

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.[48]

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.[49]

Culture[edit]

Festivals[edit]

Latakia Sports City during al-Mahaba Festival

Latakia is home to a major annual festival, Al-Mahaba Festival. The festival is held between August 2–12 and includes cultural events, sports competitions and musical concerts. The festival is held in the Latakia Sports City complex and is a landmark of the city.[50] The Festival of Flowers is held at the same time and includes flower arrangements and exhibitions.[51] The Latakia in Memory Festival is aimed at reviving the ancient history of Latakia. Held annually on September 16 for three days, the festival includes carnivals, panoramic exhibitions on Ugarit and ancient Laodicea, an ancient Phoenician boats contest and exhibition and wind surfing contests.[51]

Museums[edit]

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.[40] The exhibits include inscribed tablets from Ugarit, ancient jewellery, coins, figurines, ceramics, pottery, and early Arab and Crusader-era chain-mail suits and swords.[52][53]

Sport[edit]

Latakia is the home city of two football clubs: Teshrin Sports Club was founded in 1947,[54] and Hutteen Sports Club was founded in 1945.[55] 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[56] and presently holds key sporting events in Latakia.[49] The complex includes an Olympic-size stadium with some 45,000 seats, a diving pool, a covered swimming pool, and an Olympic-size swimming pool, as well as a tennis club with eleven courts and a yacht club.[56]

Latakia tobacco[edit]

Main article: Latakia (tobacco)

Latakia tobacco is a specially prepared tobacco originally produced in Syria and named after the port city of Latakia.[57] 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.[57]

Education[edit]

Al-Keleyye Private High School, built in the Bauhaus style

At the elementary level (ages 6–15), Latakia has 167,812 students enrolled in 615 schools with a capacity of 5,824 classes and staffed by 10,446 teachers. At the high-school level, Latakia has 16,968 students (54% of which are females) enrolled in 613 classes and staffed by 4,992 teachers.[58]

The University of Latakia was founded in 1971 and renamed Tishreen University ("University of October") 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.[58] The city houses a branch of the Arab Academy for Science and Technology and Maritime Transport.[23]

A school in Latakia, Syria is named after Jules Jammal, an Arab Christian military officer who blew himself up in a suicide attack on a French ship.[59][citation needed]

Local infrastructure[edit]

Landmarks[edit]

A modern neighborhood

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.[60] 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.[40]

Latakia is a home city of consulate generals of Finland, France, and honorary consulates of Greece and Romania.

Healthcare[edit]

Latakia has 16 hospitals offering 1,278 beds—an average of one bed for every 663 people. It also has 94 health centers with an average of 9,011 persons for each center. The number of medical doctors is 1,696, with 499 person per doctor. In addition, there are 888 dentists and 448 pharmacists.[58]

The main and largest hospital in Latakia is the National Hospital of Latakia on Baghdad Street. Al-Assad University Hospital on 8 Azar Street provides the main educational supplement to Tishreen University's medical students. The more modern Tishreen University Hospital was built as part of the Tishreen University complex and is in the final stages of furnishing.[61]

Transportation[edit]

Roads link Latakia to Aleppo, Beirut, Homs, and Tripoli.[23] 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,[62] south into 8 Azar Street, which continues south to form Baghdad Avenue—the main north-south road[63]—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.[62]

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.[49]

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.[64]

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.[64]

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Latakia city population
  2. ^ H. Zain / Mazen / H. Sabbagh (23 April 2011). "New Governor of Lattakia sworn in". Syrian Arab News Agency. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b City population size reported at "World-Gazetteer.com". Archived from the original on 10 Feb 2013. . Similarly reported by CityPopulation.de.
  5. ^ a b le Strange, 1890, p.380.
  6. ^ a b c Ball, 2000, p.157
  7. ^ "Ras Ziyarah", literally, "Cape of Visitation (Ziyarah)"
  8. ^ "Prostar Sailing Directions 2005 Eastern Mediterranean Enroute", p. 38
  9. ^ a b c Ring, 1994, p.451
  10. ^ Strabo (1857), The Geography of Strabo, p. 164, ISBN 0-521-85306-0 
  11. ^ a b c Ring, 1994, pp.451–452
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ring, 1994, p.453
  13. ^ Laodicea, Jewish Encyclopedia, retrieved 2009-03-01 [dead link]
  14. ^ le Strange, 1890, pp.35-36.
  15. ^ Riley-Smith, 2005, p.50
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Ring, 1994, p.454
  17. ^ Yaqut al-Hamawi quoted in le Strange, 1890, p.490.
  18. ^ al-Dimashqi quoted in le Strange, 1890, p.491.
  19. ^ The adventures of Ibn Battuta, a Muslim traveler of the fourteenth century By Ross E. Dunn, University of California Press. pp.137.
  20. ^ Dumper, 2007, p.84
  21. ^ Rabinovich, 1979, p.694
  22. ^ a b c Ring, 1994, p.455
  23. ^ a b c d Latakia. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2009-03-01, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  24. ^ Podeh 1999, pp. 43
  25. ^ Maʻoz, 1986, p.58
  26. ^ Betts, Richard K. (1982), Cruise Missile: Technology, Strategy and Politics, Brookings Institution Press, p. 381, ISBN 0-8157-0931-5 
  27. ^ "Syrian 'warships shell port city of Latakia'". Al Jazeera. 14 Aug 2011. 
  28. ^ Russian military presence in Syria poses challenge to US-led intervention The Guardian, 2012-12-23.
  29. ^ Distance Between Main Syrian Cities, HomsOnline, 2008-05-16, retrieved 2009-02-26 
  30. ^ Syria, citypopulation.de, 2008, retrieved 2009-08-10 
  31. ^ Provinces of Syria, Statoids, 2005, retrieved 2009-08-10 
  32. ^ http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/11/1633/2007/hess-11-1633-2007.pdf
  33. ^ World Weather Information Service - Latakia, World Meteorological Organization, 2009, retrieved 2009-03-02 
  34. ^ "Climatological Information for Latakia, Syria". Hong Kong Observatory. Retrieved 18 October 2013. 
  35. ^ a b Society of Arts (Great Britain), 1906, p.556.
  36. ^ a b c d e f g Winckler, 1998, p.72.
  37. ^ Latakia, Damascus-Online, retrieved 2009-07-29 [dead link]
  38. ^ a b Minahan, 2002, p.79.
  39. ^ Dumper, 2007, pp.126-127.
  40. ^ a b c Latakia Come to Syria.
  41. ^ Fahlbusch and Bromiley, 2008, p.279.
  42. ^ American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1825, p.375.
  43. ^ The Armenian Prelacy in Aleppo, Periotem, retrieved 2009-03-01 
  44. ^ Relations with Syria: The Greek community, Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2008, retrieved 2009-02-26 [dead link]
  45. ^ Latakia:Unofficial Refugee Camp, UNRWA, 30 June 2002, retrieved 12.07.2007 
  46. ^ Minahan, 2002, p.80.
  47. ^ Emerging Syria 2006, p.67
  48. ^ Carter, 2004, p.146.
  49. ^ a b c Mannheim, 2001, pp.290-291.
  50. ^ انطلاق مهرجان المحبة تحت شعار "سورية باب الجنة", Syria Ministry of Culture, retrieved 2009-07-29 
  51. ^ a b Lattakia: Arts and Culture, Latakia city government, retrieved 2009-07-29 
  52. ^ Carter, 2008, p.146.
  53. ^ Historical Sites of Latakia Syria Gate.
  54. ^ Teshrin SC Welt Fussball Archive.
  55. ^ Al-Hutteen SC Welt Fussball Archive.
  56. ^ a b Latakia Sports City Archnet Digital Library.
  57. ^ a b A Tale of Two Latakias, G. L. Pease Tobaccos, 2008, retrieved 2009-07-29 
  58. ^ a b c http://lattakia.org/ShowArticle.aspx?ID=24
  59. ^ AHMED FAWAZ La rencontre entre le Président et son second remonte à la fin des années quarante, sur les bancs du lycée Jules Jammal, dans la ville côtière de Lattaquié. Tous deux étaient membres du parti Baas. Cette rencontre n'était Le Nouvel Afrique Asie page 23
  60. ^ Description of the East, vol. ii. p. 197.
  61. ^ Lattakia: City services_Health, Latakia city government, retrieved 2009-07-29 
  62. ^ a b Mannehim, 2001, p.284.
  63. ^ Carter, 2004, p.144.
  64. ^ a b Transport, Latakia-city.gov.sy, 2008, retrieved 2009-03-10 
  65. ^ Mersin, Latakia become sister cities Turkish Daily News. 2008-01-21.
  66. ^ "The Syrian-Iranian Joint Supreme Committee meetings (in Arabic)". Alwehda Publications. 2009-03-08. Retrieved 2009-11-30. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°31′N 35°47′E / 35.517°N 35.783°E / 35.517; 35.783