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Exports and imports    EN


*Assist. Assoc. Professor,  University of Sinop, Sinop, Turkey

Sinop was the last exit point where the roads at the inner part of Anatolia intersect at the Black Sea coast. It was located in the very center of both the west-east and the north Black Sea road along the seaway. Also, it had the most natural and safe harbor, and it was the closest port to Crimea. All of these enabled merchants to bring their goods specifically to Sinop harbor and make shipments to various places, particularly during the 18th century. Thus, the goods that the merchants brought from within Anatolia were shipped to regions which had a coast on Black Sea. The goods, which were imported and exported from Sinop, consisted of every kind of trading goods and merchandise such as food products, beverages, clothing, grain, skin, steel, copper, haircloth and various fabrics [1]. The arrival of the goods to Sinop, and their re-shipment to Anatolia and the Black Sea coasts were due to the natural harbor of Sinop and the caravan roads reaching Sinop from within Anatolia. Sinop had also a significant role on the Caspian Sea-Black Sea route which was one of the three main routes providing the economic activities between Asia, Europe and Africa. Regarding the land route, Sinop was the last exit to the Black Sea among the roads that came from Anatolia. The caravans were transporting the trading goods from the production centers located in the hinterland to Sinop. And from there, they were being re-shipped to various places on Black Sea. Thus, goods arrived at Sinop from cities like Tokat, Amasya, Merzifon, Hatay, Halep, Kütahya, Acem, Horasan, Kâbe indicating the land routes connections of the port city. [2] Regarding the sea routes, they were from three directions. The first of them was from the north of Black Sea and Crimea, the second one from the Rumelian shore, and the third one from the Anatolian side of Black Sea. The merchants, who were shipping goods to these districts from Sinop or from the districts of Black Sea to Sinop, were alternately exporting Anatolian goods from Sinop as well as importing goods from different Black Sea districts. In brief, Sinop was a trading post where the merchants and passengers, who were traveling from the west to the east of the Black Sea (From İstanbul to Trabzon), from Anatolia to the cities and harbors in Crimea and Rumelian region for trade or various purposes [3]. It can be seen thatSinop had maintained its aforementioned feature of being an important port city throughout the during the first half of the 18th century [4].

There has been a decrease in economic activities in the city since the late 18th century. During those dates, Sinop port was almost exclusively involved with the domestic market; its trading potential and activity had fallen behind in comparison with the past years [5]. As understood from the records from these dates, Sinop Customs had limited place in the Black Sea trade. A limited number of trading goods went through its customs. There were various reasons of that. At first, trading at Sinop harbor was limited to handcrafted goods and, traditional agriculture and livestock goods. Notwithstanding that, during the years following Tanzimat, textile goods and raw material resources from the hinterland would become of interest to the European states and this was reflected in the increasing activity of the Black Sea ports. Secondly, despite its natural and safe port Sinop was located in an isolated geographical position. Therefore, the merchants, who were seeking profit, did not make its port their first choice. Its economic activity responded to the needs of a limited area surrounding the city. Finally, it is understood that the aforementioned limitation was also caused by Black Sea’s not really being an international trade zone at the time [6].

The goods and merchandise that went through Sinop Customs between the years of 1795-1796 is presented on the Table below.

Table 1. Chart. Commodities Went Through Sinop Customs (March 13, 1795- January 10, 1796)



Leather and Other goods

Asel-i sohum







Printer’s felt

Jackal skin

Emtâ-i Amasya

Emtâ-i Kastamonu

Buffalo skin

Emtâ-i Köprü

Color winding

Badger skin



Weasel skin


A fabric which has yellow stripes on red ground

Marten skin



Stout leather

Pekmez (a mollasses-like syrup)




Crimean face seal



Leather bag

Misine nal-ı temür


Raw cotton





Fruit leather

Tonya wadmal




Temür-i ham





Tulum cheese






Grape wood


Cottonseed oil




Source: Rıza Karagöz, “5248 Numaralı Gümrük Defterine Göre XVIII. Yüzyıl Sonlarında Sinop Gümrüğü”, Tarih Boyunca Karadeniz Ticareti ve Canik, C.II, Osman Köse (ed.), Canik Belediyesi Kültür Yayınları, Samsun 2013, p.1180-1181.

Craft and trade was the primary source of income of the people who lived in the city center during the Tanzimat Reform Era. The income of 191,398 kurus in Muslim neighborhoods was the 68% of Muslim population’s total income. The non-Muslim population’s total income from craftsmanship and trade was 162,270 kurus. And this was the 97.6% of non-Muslim population’s total income. It is understood by this that non-Muslim population’s most popular occupations were related to artisanship and trade [7]. Therefore, primary sources of income of Sinop’s population, both of the Muslims and the non-Muslims, were the incomes received from craftsmanship and trade with the ratio of 79% [8]. The primary trade goods of the city consisted of lumber, linseed, tobacco and wheat production [9]. Large trees and small ones were cut down and transported to the Shipyard and Imperial Armory [10].

The efforts of the Muslim refugees from Russia, who settled down in Sinop, and the suitability of the land helped improving the productivity of grain products such as wheat and barley part of which was exported. Along with lumber trade, art of jewelry was advanced in some of the neighborhoods of the city center and one of the jewelers received a medal for the filigree metal cup holders he sent to one of the industrial exhibitions held in Europe. Other than those, wallets and cigarette cases decorated with mother-of-pearl were being produced in Sinop [11]. Every Thursday, one of the Russian steamships was sailing from İstanbul and İnebolu to Samsun-Trabzon. One of the Georgian steamships on Sundays, an Ottoman steamship of the İdare-i Mahsusa on Wednesdays and one of the Russian steamships on Thursday were sailing from Trabzon and Samsun to İnebolu-İstanbul destination [12]. Therefore, it is fair to say, though it was limited from time to time, that economic activities were being conducted in the city.

There were two kinds of production from the hinterland of the city. The first was based on agriculture and livestock, and the second one was based on lumber trade due to the area’s large forests. And that indicates the importance of woodcraft activities on the financial income of the villages. One of the reasons lumber trade was among the economic activities is that because wood was the main material used in shipbuilding until the mid-19th century [13]. The shipyard in Sinop was the third most important shipyard of the Ottoman after İstanbul and Gelibolu [14]. Moreover, Sinop was among the areas that provided the lumber needed to rebuild the buildings that were destroyed after the great fires that took place in the capital along with the lumber needed by the Navy. These aforementioned reasons caused the lumber trade to be intensively conducted as an economic activity in the region. Furhtermore, the city of Sinop served as a storage for supplying the needs for lumber in more distant areas such as Suez shipyard along with the capital [15]. At the end of the 19th century, land transportation in Sinop was usually being conducted via carts. The highway that was practical for transportation between Sinop-Boybat was the most important road of the region. In the seasons where the water levels rise, Ayancık and Çobanlar Village streamlets were used for lumber transportation [16].

In conclusion, a significant part of Sinop’s source of income was made of the economic activities of its port until the end of the 18th century. In the 19th century most of the goods from its port were sold to Russia and France [17]. However, the Russian Raid in 1853 and the Crimean War proved to be a turning point in the history of Sinop. The Black Sea trade was carried out by Samsun and Trabzon as the constructed highways of these port cities boosted the trade in question.


[1] İbrahim Güler, “XVIII. Yüzyılın İlk Yarısında Sinop (İdari Taksimat ve Ekonomik Tarihi)”, (Phd Thesis, Marmara Üniversitesi Türkiyat Araştırmaları Enstitüsü, II Section, İstanbul 1992), pp. 193-194.

[2] Ibid İbrahim Güler, p.196.

[3] Ibid İbrahim Güler, pp.197-198; Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi, C.II, pp. 73-75.

[4] Ibid İbrahim Güler, p.11.

[5] Rıza Karagöz, “5248 Numaralı Gümrük Defterine Göre XVIII. Yüzyıl Sonlarında Sinop Gümrüğü”, Tarih Boyunca Karadeniz Ticareti ve Canik, C.II, Osman Köse (ed.), Canik Belediyesi Kültür Yayınları, Samsun 2013, p.1180.

[6] Ibid Rıza Karagöz, pp. 1182-1183.

[7] Selim Özcan, “Tanzimat Döneminde Sinop’un Sosyal Ekonomik Durumu”, (Phd Thesis, Ondokuz Mayıs Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü, II Section, Samsun 2007), p. 104.

[8] Ibid Selim Özcan, p. 105.

[9] 1314 Kastamonu Vilayet Salnamesi, pp. 452-453.

[10] 1289 Kastamonu Vilayet Salnamesi, s.90.

[11] 1310 Kastamonu Vilayet Salnamesi, s.443.

[12] 1310 Kastamonu Vilayet Salnamesi, s.443; 1311 Kastamonu Vilayet Salnamesi, s.252; 1312 Kastamonu Vilayet Salnamesi, s.320.

[13] Ibid Selim Özcan, pp. 136-140.

[14] Mehmet Ali Ünal, Osmanlı Devrinde Sinop, Fakülte Kitabevi, Isparta 2008, pp. 232-233.

[15] Ibid Mehmet Ali Ünal, s.234; İbid Selim Özcan, s.141.

[16] Coşkun Özdemir, “Sinop’un Toplumsal Yapısı”, (Master’s Thesis, İnönü Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü, II Section, Malatya 2007), s.33.

[17] Ibid Coşkun Özdemir, pp.33-34.