Levantines (Latin Christians)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is specifically about Latin Christians in the Levant. Other ethnic groups in the Levant are covered under their individual names.
This article is about Latin Christians in the Levant. For the other Christian ethnic group commonly called Levantine, see Arab Christians.

Levantines or Franco-Levantines (Arabic: شوام‎; 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. They 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 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, Palestine, and Turkey).[citation needed] Others may be converts to Roman Catholicism, immigrants from Anglo-French colonization, or Eastern Christians who had resided there for centuries.

In Turkey[edit]

Levantines continue to live in Istanbul (mostly in the districts of Galata, Beyoğlu and Nişantaşı), İzmir (mostly in the districts of Alsancak, Karşıyaka, Bornova and Buca), and the lesser port city Mersin. They have 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

  • Pongiluppi, Francesco. La Rassegna Italiana Organo degli Interessi Italiani in Oriente. Giornale Ufficiale della Camera di Commercio Italiana di Costantinopoli, Edizioni Isis, Istanbul, 2015.

External links[edit]