Levantines (Latin Christians)

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This article is specifically about Latin Christians in the Levant. Other ethnic groups in the Levant are covered under their individual names.

Levantines or Franco-Levantines (French: Levantins; Italian: Levantini; Greek: Φραγκολεβαντίνοι Frankolevantini; Turkish: Levantenler or Tatlısu Frenkleri) are Latin Christians who lived under the Ottoman Empire. The term is also applied to their descendants living in modern Turkey and the Middle East.


Levantines were mostly of Italian (especially Venetian and Genoese), French, or other Euro-Mediterranean origin and have been living in Constantinople/Istanbul, Smyrna/Izmir and other parts of Anatolia (in present-day Turkey) and the eastern Mediterranean coast since the middle Byzantine or the Ottoman era.[citation needed]

The majority of them are either descendants of traders from the maritime republics of the Mediterranean (such as Venice, Genoa and Ragusa) or of European inhabitants of the Crusader states (especially the French Levantines in Lebanon, Israel and Turkey).[citation needed]

In Turkey[edit]

Levantines continue to live in Istanbul (mostly in the districts of Galata, Beyoğlu and Nişantaşı), İzmir (mostly in the districts of Karşıyaka, Bornova and Buca), and the lesser port city Mersin where they had been influential for creating and reviving a tradition of opera.[1] Famous people of the present-day Levantine community in Turkey include Maria Rita Epik, Franco-Levantine Caroline Giraud Koç and Italo-Levantine Giovanni Scognamillo.

Most of Turkey's small Roman Catholic community are Levantines.

In the Levant[edit]

When the United Kingdom took over the southern portion of Ottoman Syria in the aftermath of the First World War, some of the new rulers adapted the term "Levantine" pejoratively to refer to inhabitants of mixed Arab and European descent and to Europeans (usually French, Italian or Greek) who had assimilated and adopted local dress and customs. Today, a small percentage of Lebanon's small group of Latin Catholics are of at least partial French/Italian descent.[2][3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mersin'in bahanesi yok, Radikal, 26 May 2007
  2. ^ "Gale Encyclopedia of the Mideast & N. Africa: Levantine". answers.com. Retrieved 2012-01-25. 
  3. ^ "About the Journal of Levantine Studies". levantine-journal.org. Retrieved 2012-01-25. 


  • Alex Baltazzi, George Galdies, George Poulimenos, A Lexicon of Smyrneika (Izmir Rumcasi Sozlugu): Illustrated with Phrases, Proverbs, Pictures and Dialogues, ISBN 975333284X.

also Second EDition now in print: http://www.gorgiaspress.com/bookshop/showproduct.aspx?ISBN=978-1-4632-0251-4

External links[edit]