Rize Province
Rize ili
Pokut Yayla in Rize
Pokut Yayla in Rize
Location of the province within Turkey
Location of the province within Turkey
 • Valiİhsan Selim Baydaş
3,835 km2 (1,481 sq mi)
 • Density90/km2 (230/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+3 (TRT)
Area code0464

Rize Province (Turkish: Rize ili) is a province of northeast Turkey, on the eastern Black Sea coast between Trabzon and Artvin. The province of Erzurum is to the south. Its area is 3,835 km2,[2] and its population is 344,016 (2022).[1] The capital is the city of Rize. It was formerly known as Lazistan, however the designation of the term of Lazistan was officially banned in 1926.[3]

The province is home to Laz, Hemshin, Turkish and Georgian communities.[4][5]


The name comes from Greek ρίζα (riza), meaning "mountain slopes".[6] The Georgian, Laz, and Armenian names also have Greek origins: their names in respective order are Rize (რიზე), Rizini (რიზინი), and Rize (Ռիզե).


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Anzer plateau is one of the uplands of the province.

We have little information as to the prehistory of this region, which being covered in thick forest is difficult to excavate and reveals little. Colchis, which existed from the 13th to the 1st centuries BC, is regarded as an early proto-Georgian polity that may have reached this area.[citation needed]


According to Pliny the Elder, the Aegean Ancient Greek community of Miletus established a series of trading posts along the Black Sea coast in 670 BC, of which one was Rize. In the mid-6th century BC, the tribes living in the southern Colchis (Tibareni, Mossynoeci, Macrones, Moschi, and Marres) were incorporated into the nineteenth Satrapy of Persia.

The Achaemenid Empire was defeated by Alexander the Great, but following Alexander's death, a number of separate kingdoms were established in Anatolia, including Pontus, in the corner of the south-eastern Black Sea, ruled by Mithridates. Rize was brought into the Kingdom of Pontus by Pharnaces in 180 BC. The small number of Hellenistic Greek inscriptions that have been found in Pontus suggest that Greek culture did not substantially extend beyond the coastal cities and the court.[7] The kingdom was absorbed into the Roman Empire between 10 AD and 395 AD, when it passed to the Byzantines. By this time, writers such as Pliny and Arrian were describing the inhabitants as Laz.

Medieval era

A view from Ayder plateau

During the medieval era, the region was under Byzantine control, and was mainly populated by Greeks and indigenous Lazs. During the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (c. 527–565), the tribes of the interior, called Sannoi or Tzannoi, the ancestors of modern Laz people, were subdued, christianized and brought to central rule.[8] Locals began to have closer contact with the Greeks and acquired various Hellenic cultural traits, including in some cases the language. Locals were under nominal Byzantine suzerainty in the theme of Chaldia, with its capital at Trebizond, governed by native semi-autonomous rulers, like the Gabras family.[9] In 790 AD, Armenians fleeing from the Arab invasion of Armenia settled in Hemshin and established the Principality of Hamamshen.[10] Following the invasion of the Seljuk Turks, there was a larger influx of Armenians in the area, resulting in partial Armenization of the local Tzan population.[11]

With the Georgian intervention in Chaldia and collapse of Byzantine Empire in 1204, the Empire of Trebizond was established along the southeastern coast of the Black Sea, populated by a large Lazian-speaking population.[12] In the eastern part of the same empire, an autonomous coastal theme of Greater Lazia was established.[13] Byzantine authors, such as Pachymeres, and to some extent Trapezuntines such as Lazaropoulos and Bessarion, regarded the Trapezuntian Empire as being merely a Lazian border state.[14] Though Greek in higher culture, the rural areas of Trebizond empire appear to have been predominantly Laz in ethnic composition.[15] Laz family names, with hellenized terminations, are noticeable in the records of the mediaeval empire of Trebizond.

In 1282, the kingdom of Imereti besieged Trebizond, however after the failed attempt to take the city, the Georgians occupied several provinces, and the Trebizontine province of Lazia threw off its allegiance to the king of the 'Iberian' and 'Lazian' tribes and united itself with the Georgian Kingdom of Imereti.

The Ottoman era

A general view of Rize city center

The Laz populated area was often contested by different Georgian principalities. Through the Battle of Murjakheti (1535), the Principality of Guria finally ensured control over the area until 1547, when it was conquered by resurgent Ottoman forces and reorganized into the Lazistan Sanjak as part of eyalet of Trabzon.

From the late-17th century onwards, the Ottoman administration built multiple bridges across the Fırtına River and its tributaries.

The province was a site of battles between Ottoman and Russian armies during the Caucasus Campaign of World War I, and was occupied by Russian forces in 1916–1918. It was returned to the Ottomans with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918.

Since 1924, Rize has been a province of the Republic of Turkey. Until tea plantations were established in the 1940s, the province was a poor area at the far end of the country, with only the Soviet Union beyond the Iron Curtain. Many generations of people in Rize left to look for jobs in Istanbul or overseas.

In Turkey

In September 1935, the third Inspectorate General (Umumi Müfettişlik, UM) was created, to which the Rize province was included.[16] Its establishment was based on the Law 1164 from June 1927,[16] which was passed in order to turkefy the population.[17] The third UM spanned across the provinces of Erzurum, Artvin, Rize, Trabzon, Kars, Gümüşhane, Erzincan and Ağrı. It was governed by an Inspector General seated in the city of Erzurum.[16][18] The Inspectorate General was dissolved in 1952 during the government of the Democrat Party.[19]

Life in Rize today

The city of Rize is a coastal town on a narrow strip of flat land between the mountains and the sea. Today, the area is wealthier, although there is a marked difference between the lifestyle of the people in the relatively wealthy city of Rize and those in the remote villages where wooden houses perch on the steep mountainside with the rain beating down. The province is known in Turkey for the production of Rize tea.[5]


A historical bridge over Hala Creek

Rize is located between the Pontic Mountains and the Black Sea. It is considered to be the "wettest" corner of Turkey and is the country's main tea producing region. In addition to tea, the region is also known for growing kiwi fruit. The province is largely rural and very scenic, containing many mountain valleys and elevated yaylas (meadows). The district of Çamlıhemşin is one of Turkey's most popular venues for trekking and outdoor holidays. Roads are scarce in some of the more remote regions, so electrical powered cable cars have been installed to transport people and supplies into the mountains. Summers are cool (July average 22 °C) and winters are mild (January average 7 °C) with high levels of precipitation all year long.

The new Black Sea coast road has made Rize more accessible, but has drawn criticism for its negative effect on the region's wildlife. Since the early 2000s, Rize has seen an increase in visitors from outside the province, particularly tourist from urban areas. This increase in tourism has raised concerns among locals that the traditional way of life and the unblemished character of the natural surroundings is being endangered. The provincial governor, Enver Salihoglu (as of 2005) has stated his opposition to the expansion of the road network and has advocated a commercial focus on beekeeping, trout farming, and the growing of organic teas.[20]

Native plants include the Cherry Laurel (Turkish: taflan or karayemiş), the fruit of which is an edible small dark plum that leaves a dark stain on the mouth and teeth. In addition, the Bilberry, which are now being actively cultivated, can be found growing the region. Rize is traversed by the northeasterly line of equal latitude and longitude.


Ovit Plato is on the way to Ispir from Ikizdere, Rize, Turkey

Notable mountains[21]


From east to the west


Rize province is divided into 12 districts, including the capital district Rize:


Part of the Pontic Mountains (Eastern Black Sea Mts.), Rize was formed in the Palaeozoic period. Valleys first appeared during the Cretaceous period and have since expanded due to erosion.


A view Çayeli district and the Black Sea

The region's climate is characterized by relatively mild to warm temperatures and evenly distributed precipitation throughout the year. The Köppen Climate Classification subtypes for this climate are Cfa (Humid Subtropical Climate) and Cfb (Oceanic Climate).[22]



Traditional cuisine in the city quite rich and the anchovy forms the basic for many of the dishes peculiar to the region. Soups, salads, pilafs and even desserts are made of anchovy. Some of the local dishes are hamsi buğulama (boiled anchovy), hamsi stew, and kamsi köfte (anchovy meatballs). Lahana çorbası (cabbage soup), muhlama (made of cheese, cornmeal and butter) and pides (pita bread topped with various fillings) are also other local delicacies.[23]

Rize tea

Main article: Rize tea

Rize tea is a major agricultural product to the region and has changed the local economy. Rize Province is also one of the largest consumers of Rize tea too.[24]

The province of Rize has prided itself of being the largest tea producer within Turkey.[25] In 2021, the Rize Commerce Exchange started the construction of a seven-floor building in the shape of the traditional tulip-shaped tea glasses called ince belli, in hopes to boost local tourism.[25]

Folk dances and traditional costumes

Folk dancers perform horon energetically when it is accompanied by kemenche. However this folk dance can also be accompanied by Tulum or kaval. Folk dancers wear traditional costumes while performing horon. Men wear shirt, vest, jacket, zipka (pants made of wool and gathered at knees) and black boots. On their jackets are silver embroideries, amulets, and hemayils with religion expressions put inside these small silver containers to br protected against evil's eye. On the other hand, women dancers wear colorful dresses and traditional hand painted head scarves including various motifs.[26]


Rize offers a rich variety of traditional handicrafts and handmade souvenirs to visitors. Some of them include: copper works, wicker baskets, butter churns, woven socks, shoulder bags, and spoon made of boxwood. Linen of Rize (Turkish: Rize Bezi) is a handwoven textile and is often used as part of the under layer of a dress.[27] Kemençe is a traditional 3-stringed string instrument which is made in this province.[27]

Places of interest

Pokut plateau, clouds above the mountains of Rize.

Sites in the province include:

Other buildings of note include:

See also


  1. ^ a b "Address-based population registration system (ADNKS) results dated 31 December 2022, Favorite Reports" (XLS). TÜİK. Retrieved 19 September 2023.
  2. ^ "İl ve İlçe Yüz ölçümleri". General Directorate of Mapping. Retrieved 19 September 2023.
  3. ^ Thys-Şenocak, Lucienne. Ottoman Women Builders. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2006. Print.
  4. ^ "Turkey's charismatic pro-Islamic leader". 4 November 2002 – via BBC News.
  5. ^ a b Gall, Carlotta (29 May 2021). "After Erdogan Angers a Loyal Province, His Opponents See an Opportunity". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  6. ^ Rize Archived 13 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine article from Özhan Öztürk, Encyclopedia of Black Sea (Karadeniz Ansiklopedik Sözlük), 2005
  7. ^ "Welcome to Encyclopaedia Iranica".
  8. ^ Evans, James Allan Stewart (2000). The Age of Justinian: The Circumstances of Imperial Power. London and New York: Routledge r. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-415-23726-0.
  9. ^ Hewsen, 47
  10. ^ Simonian, Hovann (31 July 2015). Hemshin : history, society and identity in the highlands of northeast Turkey. Simonian, Hovann H. London. p. 3. ISBN 978-1138874619. OCLC 921268078. The foundation of Hamshen, in about AD 790, came at the end of almost a century in which the fortunes of Armenians in Armenia had steadily declined, a period and a process that culminated in the transformation of the political organization of Armenia, a transformation to which the foundation of Hamshen itself contributed.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  11. ^ Simonian. "Hamshen Before Hemshin", pp. 21-22.
  12. ^ Mikaberidze, A. (2015). Historical dictionary of Georgia. 2nd ed. Lanham, MD, United States: ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD, p.634.
  13. ^ Thys-Şenocak, Lucienne. Ottoman Women Builders. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2006.
  14. ^ Bryer 1967, 179.
  15. ^ Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Laz
  16. ^ a b c "Üçüncü Umumi Müfettişliği'nin Kurulması ve III. Umumî Müfettiş Tahsin Uzer'in Bazı Önemli Faaliyetleri". Dergipark. p. 2. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  17. ^ Üngör, Umut. "Young Turk social engineering : mass violence and the nation state in eastern Turkey, 1913- 1950" (PDF). University of Amsterdam. pp. 244–247. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  18. ^ Bayir, Derya (22 April 2016). Minorities and Nationalism in Turkish Law. Routledge. pp. 139–141. ISBN 978-1-317-09579-8.
  19. ^ Fleet, Kate; Kunt, I. Metin; Kasaba, Reşat; Faroqhi, Suraiya (17 April 2008). The Cambridge History of Turkey. Cambridge University Press. p. 343. ISBN 978-0-521-62096-3.
  20. ^ "How Green Is Their Valley" The Economist. 27 August – 2 September 2005
  21. ^ Öztürk, Özhan. "Rize". Kara Lahana. Archived from the original on 13 May 2008.
  22. ^ "Rize, Turkey Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase.
  23. ^ Traditional cuisine Archived 11 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Yousuf, Ambreen (20 April 2021). "Tea culture in Turkey, Kashmir: Types, brewing, health benefits". Daily Sabah. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  25. ^ a b "Turkey's tea capital Rize aims high with glass-shaped building". Daily Sabah. 31 March 2021. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  26. ^ People of Black Sea Region of Turkey Archived 10 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ a b "Rize". Bologna Course Package, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Üniversitesi. Retrieved 8 October 2021.

40°55′54″N 40°50′52″E / 40.93167°N 40.84778°E / 40.93167; 40.84778