|— Province of Turkey —|
|• Total||3,920 km2 (1,510 sq mi)|
|• Density||82/km2 ( 210/sq mi)|
|Per capita income||12,160 TL (39th; 2011)|
Rize is on the north side of the range of mountains that run along the Black Sea coast. Overlooking the sea this is the wettest corner of Turkey and Rize is the country's largest producer of tea'. The province is mainly rural and very attractive with its mountain valleys and elevated yaylas (meadows). The district of Çamlıhemşin in particular is one of Turkey's most popular venues for trekking holidays. Within remote areas, roads are scarce and electrically powered cable cars are used to transport people and supplies into the mountains. As well as tea, nowadays kiwi fruit are grown here too. Summers are cool (July average 22°C), winters are mild (January average 7°C) and it is wet all year round.
The new Black Sea coast road is making Rize more accessible, while drawing criticism for its effect on the wildlife of the coast, and from the early 2000s, Rize has seen an increase in visitors from outside the province, particularly those seeking to escape into the countryside. This increased tourism has raised concerns among locals that the traditional way of life and the unblemished character of the natural surroundings is under threat. The provincial governor, Enver Salihoglu (as of 2005) has stated his opposition to the expansion of the road network and has advocated a commercial focus on beekeeping, trout farming, and the growing of organic teas.
Native plants include: the Cherry Laurel (Turkish: taflan or karamyemiş), the fruit of which is an edible small dark plum which leaves a dark stain on the mouth and teeth; bilberry which are now being actively cultivated; and tea is not native of course but grows here very well and of the greatest pleasures in Rize is to enjoy a glass of the local brew made from mountain spring water. Rize is traversed by the northeasterly line of equal latitude and longitude.
From east to the west
Ancient history 
We have little information as to the prehistory of this region, which being covered in thick forest is difficult to excavate and reveals little. The earliest records we have are of the Kulku or Kulha, an Asian community speaking an agglutinative language, the name being carved into a monument left by the Urartu king Sardur II, who conquered the area for his kingdom (765-735 BC).
Then in 714 BC a tribe of Cimmerians came to settle by the Çoruh River, fleeing as their homeland in the Caucasus was overrun by the Saka branch of the Scythians. The Cimmerians spread throughout Anatolia and still today there are many places named Kemer as a record of their presence, including some villages in Rize. The Saka meanwhile spread westwards into eastern Europe and in 680 BC defeated the last of the Cimmerians in Georgia (country), but they themselves were overturned by the Medes, who murdered the Saka King Madova in 626 BC.
According to Pliny the Elder, from 670 BC onwards the Aegean Ancient Greek community of Miletus established a series of trading posts along the Black Sea coast; one of these was Rize. Although this colony was always vulnerable to attacks from the Medes until the Persian armies were defeated by Alexander the Great. Following the death of Alexander a number of separate kingdoms were established in Anatolia including Bithynia and Cappadoccia and in this corner of the eastern Black Sea, Pontus. Rize was brought into the Kingdom of Pontus by Pharnaces in 180BC.
The kingdom was absorbed into the Roman Empire between 10 AD and 395 AD, when it passed to the Byzantines. By this time writers including Pliny and the Roman adventurer Arrian were describing the inhabitants as Laz.
During the whole medieval period those territories were under Byzantine rule and held a majority Greek population.
The high country above Rize however was always in flux and as late as 626 AD a tribe of Scythians, having been moved from their settlements further east by the Persians, came to settle in the area that is today's district of Hemşin.
A short period of Turkish domination in the region took part in the late 11th century, following the defeat of the Byzantines at the Battle of Malazgirt, and the Çoruh River. It was then incorporated into one of the Anatolian beyliks following the defeat of the Georgian Kingdom at the siege of Posof in 1080.
Large numbers of Turks coming to settle along the coast, including a large influx of Kipchak Turks. But it was still mainly a Greek speaking region. The area was recaptured by the Byzantines in 1098 during the Crusades and later following the sack of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade of 1204, the Byzantine Imperial family itself removed to nearby Trabzon establishing the Empire of Trebizond, of which Rize was part.
However, the area had been largely settled by Turks and this community remained, the Byzantines merely keeping a base in Rize.
The Ottoman era 
The Turks in the area were from various tribes in Anatolia, all under the Seljuk umbrella but with varying degrees of loyalty and contentment; there were numerous rebellions and uprisings. This era ended when the Empire of Trebizond began paying tribute to the Ottoman Empire in 1456 and then the Ottoman army led by Sultan Mehmet II entered Trabzon in 1461. Rize fell in 1470, the last gasp of the Roman Empire.
From the late-17th century onwards, the Ottoman administration built many elegant bridges across the Fırtına River and its tributaries.
The province was a site of battles between Ottoman and Russian armies during Caucasus Campaign of World War I and was occupied by the Russian forces in 1916-1918. It was returned to the Ottomans with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918.
From 1924 onwards, Rize has been a province of the Republic of Turkey. Slowly the Greek names of the villages and districts are being replaced with Turkish (Pilihoz is now Dumankaya, Mapavri is Çayeli etc.). However the old names are still in common usage, especially among the older generations, and can be seen on shop signs, taxi ranks and elesewhere, while other names from the Pontus era (such as Askoroz, Peripol and of course Rize itself) are still in use.
Until tea was planted here in the 1940s this was a poor area at the far end of the country, with only the Soviet Union beyond the Iron Curtain. Many generations of Rize people left to look for jobs in Istanbul or overseas.
Life in Rize today 
The city of Rize itself is a quiet country town on the coast, on a narrow strip of flat land between the mountains and the sea. Today the area is wealthier although there is a marked difference between the lifestyle of the people in the relatively wealthy city of Rize and those in the remote villages where wooden houses perch on the steep mountainside with the rain beating down. The province is known in Turkey for the production of Rize Tea.
Traditional cuisine in the city quite rich and the anchovy forms the basic for many of the dishes peculiar to the region. Soups, salads, pilafs and even desserts are made of anchovy. Some of the local dishes are hamsi buğulama (boiled anchovy), hamsi stew, and kamsi köfte (anchovy meatballs). Lahana çorbası (cabbage soup), muhlama (made of cheese, cornmeal and butter) and pides (pita bread topped with various fillings) are also other local delicacies)
Folk dances and traditional costumes 
Folk dancers perform horon energetically when it is acoompanied by kemenche. However this folk dance can also be accompanied by tulum or kaval. Folk dancers wear traditional costumes while performing horon. Men wear shirt, vest, jacket, zipka (pants made of wool and gathered at knees) and black boots. On their jackets are silver embroideries, amulets hemayils with religion expressions put inside these small silver containers to br protected against evil's eye. On the other hand, women dancers wear colorful dresses and traditional hand painted head scarves including various motifs.
Rize province is divided into 12 districts (capital district in bold):
Places of interest 
Rize is a province of great natural beauty, sites of particular interest include:
- Ayder - A yayla (high meadow) area with hot springs, hotels and restaurants, and from here you can climb up to higher and more remote meadows and villages.
- Çamlık - riverside area of forest park
- Fırtına Vadisi - the valley is now a protected site of natural beauty
- Ovit - mountain pass on the Erzurum road in Ikizdere, 2640 m, forest and mountain viewpoint
- The village and waterfall of Palovit, high in the mountains.
- Avup Dağı, the mountain between Rize and Çamlıhemşin, between Fırtına Deresı and Ortaköy Deresi. There are four Byzantine castles perched high on rocks on the mountainside including;
- Kale-i Balâ and Zilkale
Other buildings of note include:
- The watch tower, Kız Kalesi on the sea front in Pazar.
See also 
- Turkish Statistical Institute, MS Excel document – Population of province/district centers and towns/villages and population growth rate by provinces
- "İşte Türkiye'nin en zengin illeri" [Here is the richest provinces of Turkey]. Kuzey Ekspres Gazetesi (in Turkish). 2011-09-07. Retrieved 2013-03-01.
- "How Green Is Their Valley" The Economist. August 27th-September 2nd, 2005
- Öztürk, Özhan. "Rize". Kara Lahana.
- Traditional cuisine
- People of Black Sea Region of Turkey
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Rize Province|
- (Turkish) Rize governor's official website
- (Turkish) Rize municipality's official website
- (English) Rize weather forecast information
- (Turkish) Rize Tourism Guide
- Culture and travel Trabzon and Rize
- Rize photo gallery