Today called Samsun, historically Amisus, city, capital of Samsun il
(province), northern Turkey. The largest city on the southern coast of
the Black Sea, Samsun lies between the deltas of the Kzl and Yesil
rivers. Amisus, which stood on a promontory just northwest of the
modern city centre, was founded in the 7th century BC; after Sinop it
was the most flourishing Milesian colony on the Euxine (Black) Sea.
After Alexander the Great's conquest of Asia Minor in the 4th century
BC, it came under the kings of Pontus and continued to prosper until
burned down by its defenders when captured by the Romans in 71 BC.
Known as Amisos under the Byzantines, it was renamed Samsun by
the Seljuq Turks when they took it in the second half of the 12th
century. Under Seljuq rule, it surpassed Sinop as a centre of trade
between Europe and Central Asia; a large trading colony of Genoese
was established there. Taken by the Ottoman sultan Bayezid I at the
end of the 14th century, it reverted to the Turkmen Candar principality
after Ottoman defeat at the hands of the conqueror Timur (Tamerlane)
in 1402. The city was burned by the Genoese before the Ottomans
recaptured it in 1425. The landing of Mustafa Kemal (later called
Atatürk) at Samsun on May 19, 1919, to organize national resistance
marked the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence and
heralded the establishment of the republic in 1923.
A broad avenue lined with government offices, hotels, and shops
traverses modern Samsun east-west along the coast. The city is the
metropolitan centre for a fertile agricultural hinterland and the main
outlet for the trade of the middle Black Sea coast. Its growth during the
later 19th century is associated with the development of tobacco
growing in adjoining Bafra ilçe (district) and the use of modern ships
on the Black Sea. Its well-protected harbour, modernized and
expanded in the 1960s, is the nation's largest port on the Black Sea
littoral. Exports include tobacco and wool from the interior and
cigarettes, fertilizer, and textiles from the city's factories. Samsun is the
terminus of a railway line from inner Anatolia, through which iron ore is
brought from Divrigi. The city has air services to Istanbul and Ankara
and is also linked by major roads with Ankara and Sivas. Samsun is
the site of the May 19 University, founded in 1975.
Samsun il, with an area of 3,975 sq mi (10,296 sq km), is drained by
the Kzl and Yesil rivers. A densely populated, fertile region, it
constitutes one of the principal sources of Turkish tobacco. Pop.
(1990) city, 303,979.