The Port of Poti lies on the eastern shores of the Black Sea about 55 kilometers north of the Port of Batumi in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. The town of Poti grew up around the port when an artificial harbor was constructed, and the town was linked by rail to other cities in Georgia in the 1880s.
The economy of the modern Port of Poti is based on the service and food industries, and the port is the main base and headquarters for Georgia’s navy. Other businesses include a fishing fleet and fish-processing as well as the manufacture of dredgers, hydraulic equipment, and electrical equipment. In 2002, over 47 thousand people lived in the Port of Poti.
The Port of Poti was built on the site of the ancient Greek colony of Phasis, dating to the 6th or 7th Century BC. Historians believe that the port was a center for trade and culture for the Colchis, as it was located on the trade route to and from India. During the 1st Century BC, commander Pompey brought Phasis under Rome’s control.
The Port of Poti was attacked unsuccessfully by Iranian soldiers during the 6th Century Lazic War between eastern Rome and the pre-Islamic Sassanid Empire from today’s Iran. The name Poti was first written in Georgian documents in the 8th Century, when it was a valuable port for the Kingdom of Georgia. Medieval Europeans knew it as Fasso.
The Ottoman Empire conquered Poti in 1578. Calling the town Fas, they fortified it and made it an outpost, establishing a busy slave market there. In 1640, Georgian princes joined together to retake the town, but it fell to the Ottomans again in 1723. In the late 1700s, A Russo-Georgian army tried again without success to remove the Ottomans. Even when Russian forces took control of most of Georgia, it was forced to return the fortress at Poti to the Ottomans by the Treaty of Bucharest in 1812.
During the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829, the Port of Poti was finally taken over by Russia. The Russian Empire immediately began to plan the port. In 1858, it was give the status of port town. The old port was rebuilt in the last half of the 19th Century, and the railroad arrived in 1872.
During the early years of the 20th Century, the Port of Poti grew steadily in both size and importance. New public buildings and utilities were installed, and an oil refinery began to operate there. The Port of Poti was an important export point for coal and manganese from the interior.
During the First Russian Revolution, the Port of Poti was the scene for workers’ strikes. For four years (1917-1921), Georgia was independent, and Poti was its main gateway to Europe. In 1921, it was invaded by Soviet Russia’s Red Armies that installed their own government in Georgia. Under Soviet rule, the Port of Poti was primarily a seaport, but new military and industrial facilities were also established.
The Soviet government made the Port of Poti a naval base in 1941, operating their Black Sea Fleet out of the port. By the early 1990s, several Soviet units of the Black Sea Fleet were stationed in the Port of Poti. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the port’s military function for the USSR ceased, and all Russian military personnel were transferred to their base at Batumi by 1998. Until the 2008 war with Russia, the Port of Poti was used a military facility for several Georgian units, including the navy headquarters.
During Georgia’s war with Russia in 2008, Russian planes attacked the Port of Poti, causing much damage. Despite a ceasefire, Russian troops continued to enter the port area, and several Georgian vessels were destroyed. While Russia withdrew from much of Georgia in the late summer, it is maintained a military presence in the Port of Poti.