|• Electoral district||Şanlıurfa|
|• Governor||Abdullah Erin|
|• Total||18,584 km2 (7,175 sq mi)|
|• Density||110/km2 (280/sq mi)|
Şanlıurfa Province (Turkish: Şanlıurfa ili, Kurdish: Parêzgeha Rihayê) or simply Urfa Province is a province in southeastern Turkey. The city of Şanlıurfa is the capital of the province which bears its name. The population is 1,845,667 (2014). The province is considered part of Turkish Kurdistan and has a Kurdish majority with a significant Arab and Turkish minority.
Şanlıurfa province is divided into 13 districts (capital district in bold):
- Urfa (Central district. In 2014 it was split into three districts: Eyyübiye, Haliliye and Karaköprü.)
Area 18,584 km2 (7,173 sq. miles), the largest province of Southeast Anatolia with:
- Adıyaman to the north;
- Syria to the south;
- Mardin and Diyarbakır to the east;
- Gaziantep to the west;
Şanlıurfa includes several major components of the Southeastern Anatolia Project (in Turkish Güneydogu Anadolu Projesi (GAP)) designed to:
- exploit the hydropower potential of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers;
- dramatically expand irrigation for agriculture; and
- develop the economy of the region.
This very large-scale, state-sponsored development project involved the damming, redirecting, hydroelectric tapping and other use of rivers in this broad, semi-arid region. (The rivers then flow into Syria and Iraq). The GAP includes 22 dams and water supply for 1.8 million hectares for agricultural areas.
On 1 January 1928 the province was included into the First Inspectorate-General over which an Inspector-General ruled according to the policies recommended in Report for Reform in the East. The Inspectorate was governed with martial law and span over the provinces of Hakkâri, Siirt, Van, Mardin, Bitlis, Sanlıurfa, Elaziğ and Diyarbakır. The office of the Inspector General was dissolved in 1952.
While the AKP managed to win Şanlıurfa with a comfortable 43.04% during the 2004 local elections, it has since then increased its margins of victory here. Following the diminishing popularity of smaller parties such as the DYP, Şanlıurfa heavily shifted towards the AKP, winning the November 2015 election with 64.55% of the votes. Şanlıurfa once again showed its status as an AKP stronghold in the 2017 referendum, with the Yes vote winning with a wide margin of 41.8%.
The far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) scored an exceptional 7.18% in the 1999 local elections. Its vote share eventually ebbed to a more usual 2.97% in the 2004 local elections. The MHP showed a significant recovery in the indecisive June 2015 election by winning 5.56% of the votes. However, the MHP went on to suffer from a nationwide loss in the upset November 2015 election, with its vote share declining to 2.75% in Şanlıurfa.
The centre-left Republican People's Party (CHP) usually maintains a modest share of slightly below 5%. Similar to the other two opposition parties, the CHP suffered a loss in Şanlıurfa, going from 4.10% in the June 2015 election to 2.70% in the November 2015 election.
The current Governor of Sanliurfa is Abdullah Erin.
Places of interest
The province is famous for its Abrahamic sites such as Balıklıgöl, where Prophet Abraham was cast by Nimrod into fire that is believed to have turned to water. Also the Mevlid-i Halil Mosque, where Abraham is believed to be born in the cave next to the mosque is well known. Within the province, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa, is the pre-historic site of Göbekli Tepe, where continuing excavations have unearthed 12,000-year-old sanctuaries dating from the early Neolithic period, considered to be the oldest temples in the world, predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years.
The following tombs and sacred spots are located within the province:
- Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham)'s birthplace
- Prophet Ayyub (Job)'s cave and tomb
- Prophet Alyasa (Elisha)'s Tomb
- Imam Bakir's Tomb
- Shaykh Hayat al-Harrani's Tomb
- The first burial place of Said Nursi
- Rahma Hatun's Tomb
- Neolithic Temple at Göbekli Tepe
- Neolithic Settlement at Nevalı Çori
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