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The maritime region of the port-city    EN


Geographically, the province of Trabzon is a port city on the Northeast of Anatolia. Since the date it was founded, it was the export gateway between Asia and Middle East, Caucasus and Anatolia, and Anatolia and Europe. The fact that Trabzon port has a relatively safeguarded bay when compared with other Black Sea ports, excluding Sinop, and it has a wide hinterland in terms of connection roads and markets has made it the most important Ottoman port of Black Sea for centuries.

All along, Trabzon has attracted attention as the resort of tradesmen coming from Anatolia, Iran, Caucasus and Middle East with its position as the intersection of historical trade routes [1]. In the Ottoman Empire, exports and imports took place by sea ports as land transport was long, difficult and costly. Significant amounts of grain were imported through this route [2]. The leading export, however, in the port of Trabzon is textile products. Sugar and tea had a significant share in the imports for the needs of Anatolia and Iran as much as cotton and wool weaving. Among the imported goods, metals such as iron and copper, hardware, coffee and silk were the leading goods [3].

The main exported goods are tobacco, hazelnuts, leather, bean and cattle. However, the amount of imported goods was almost twice as big as the exported goods. The main reason for this difference is the variety of imported goods. The most imported products were cotton products, while the most exported goods are nuts-hazelnuts and cattle [4].

According to 1903 Province Yearbook, most of the imported goods were food, drink and textiles. The exported goods were agricultural products such as wheat, barley, vegetables, fruit, beans, hazelnuts and tobacco; animal products such as sheep, cattle, fish oil, goat skin, wool, wax, salt fish and pastrami and products such as linen and fish net. Other than these, products such as dried fruit, grapes, silk, carpet and rugs were commercial materials coming from through the land routes [5]. In the Ottoman State, the share of exports from the port of Trabzon made up 41,3% of the total trade in 1908, while it made up 53,2% in 1910 [6].

In the Ottoman Empire, the route of commerce was predominantly caravan route of Malatya-Sivas-Tokat-Amasya-Samsun-Sinop and the line of Samsun-Sinop-Amasra-İstanbul [7]. Except these, another route was Samsun-Amasya-Tokat line over Sinop and Samsun ports in the direction of North-south and Kastamonu-Sinop/Durağan-Vezirköprü-Havza in the direction of east-west [8]. Of these routes, the trade over Trabzon was predominantly food, drink and textiles, while the trade over Samsun was predominantly soldier and ammunition shipmenst [9].

In the 19th century, the port of Trabzon developed commercial relations with the port-cities of all Black Sea coasts and particularly to the Balkans and Eastern European countries such as Poland and Austria.  In this commerce, while coarse wool, tobacco and hardware were imported from the Balkans, hazelnut, copper, linen and cotton and wool weaving from central Anatolia were exported to the Balkans [10]. However, as a result of the aggressiveness of the Russian Empire and its expansion to Batumi, the ports of the Ottoman State, and primarily the port of Trabzon, lost their significance gradually [11].


 [1] Mehmet Yavuz Erler, “The Economy of the Ottoman Black Sea in the XIX th Century”, The Journal of International Social Research, Volume. 2/7, Spring 2009, p. 122.

[2] Ahmet Seyyar, “Trabzon’un Sosyo-Ekonomik Gelişimi (1900–1950)”, (Graduate Thesis, Marmara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü, İstanbul: 2010, p. 166)

[3] Mübahat S., Kütükoğlu, “XIX. Yüzyılda Trabzon Ticareti”, Birinci Tarih Boyunca Karadeniz Kongresi Bildirileri (13–17 Ekim 1986), Haz.: Mehmet Sağlam vd., (Samsun: 1988), p. 104.

[4] Ibid, Mübahat S., Kütükoğlu, pp. 115-117.

[5] 1321 Trabzon Vilâyeti Salnâmesi (Trabzon: Trabzon Vilâyet Matbaası, 1903), pp. 456–457

[6] Ibid, Mübahat S., Kütükoğlu, p. 104.

[7] M. Safran, “XIII. ve XIV. Yüzyıllarda Karadeniz Limanlarının Ticari ve Tarihi Önemi”, Birinci Tarih Boyunca Karadeniz Kongresi Bildirileri, 13-17 Ekim 1986, Ondokuz Mayıs Üniversitesi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi Özel Sayısı:2, (Samsun: 1988), pp. 459-462.

[8] Ibid, Mehmet Yavuz Erler, “The Maritime Region of The Port-City”, Urban Landscape & Geography / Geography, Samsun, Black Sea Project Port Cities, 2015.

[9] Ibid, Mehmet Yavuz Erler, “Karadenizde Avrupai Bir Kent: Samsun (1865-1875)”, Karadeniz Tarihi Sempozyumu, Karadeniz Teknik Üniversitesi Yayınları, Vol. I, Trabzon 2007, p. 542.

[10] Necmettin Aygün, 18. Yüzyılda Trabzon’da Ticaret, (Trabzon: Serander Yayınları, 2005), p. 42

[11] Özgür Yılmaz, “Karadeniz’in Uluslararası Ticarete Açılması ve Trabzon”, Uluslararası Sosyal Araştırmalar Dergisi, 2:7, pp. 368-369