Alexandretta / İskenderun

Hatay Province

İskenderun, formerly known in the west as Alexandretta (Greek Ἀλεξανδρέττα; ) or previously as Scanderoon (Arabic الإسكندرون al-ʼIskandarūn), is a city in the Turkish province of Hatay. It stands on the Mediterranean coast at the foot of the Amonos Mountains in the far southeast of Turkey, and has a population of 159,149 (2000 census).

İskenderun preserves the name, but probably not the exact site, of Alexandria ad Issum, founded by Alexander the Great in 333 BC, about 23 miles south of the scene of his victory at the Battle of Issus, to supersede Myriandrus as the key of the Syrian Gates. The importance of the place ever since has derived from its relation to this pass, the easiest approach to the open ground of Hatay and of Northern Syria. As the main outlet for the overland trade from Baghdad and India, which had great importance until the establishment of the Egyptian overland route, the place served as a great resort, first of Genoese and Venetian merchants, then of those of West and North European nations. The British Levant Company maintained an agency and factory here for 200 years, until 1825, in spite of appalling mortality among its employees.

France overprinted Syrian postage stamps and issued them in 1938; this 4-piastre value was used sometime in 1939.After the First World War the Sanjak of Alexandretta became part of the French Mandate of Syria, under a special statute, but Turkey demanded its return as the area was ethnically divided between Turks, Sunni Arabs, and large numbers of Alawites. In July of 1939, much to the resentment of the Syrians, France ceded the Sanjak of Alexandretta to Turkey, largely to secure Turkey's friendship in the upcoming European conflict. Since then Syria has continued to claim the region.

Today İskenderun functions as an important industrial centre, the end of the long oil pipeline running from northern Iraq, and Turkey's largest military port on the Mediterranean.


This article incorporates text from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, a publication in the public domain.

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