Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Republic of Hatay (Hatay State)

When you look at the map of Turkey you see a little protrusion in the southern corner near the Mediterranean Sea. During the Ottoman Empire this was the Sanjak (governorate) of Alexandretta. After WW1 it became part of Syria.

The population of the Sanjak included: Turks, Arabs of various religious denominations (Sunni Muslims, Alawites, Greek Orthodox), Greek Catholics, Syriac-Maronites, Jews, Syriacs, Kurds, and Armenians.

Atatürk, founder of the state of Turkey, had his eye on this strategically located county. After a bit of ethnic clansing the sanjak declared its independence under the name Hatay State in 1938. One year later, after a more or less framed referendum, Hatay became a Turkish province.

The capital city is Alexandretta, it was founded by Alexander the Great around 330 BC. Thousand years later the Arabs conquered it and translated its name into Iskenderun (Iskender means Alexander in Arabic).

Another famous city in Hatay is Antakya, the present name for the ancient city of Antioch.

At the southeastern border of Hatay the Russian fighter jet was shot down by Turkey.

next episode: another turkey

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