The Port of Lattakia is the capital of the Lattika governate. Lying on Syria's northwestern shores on the Mediterranean Sea on the Ra's Ziyarah promontory, the Port of Lattakia is about 45 kilometers southeast of Syria's border with Turkey.
The main port in Syria, the Port of Lattakia serves a vast agricultural region. The Port of Lattakia exports many products including pottery, cereals, fruit, eggs, cotton, tobacco, vegetable oil, asphalt, and bitumen. In 2005, the Lattakia governate was home to about 897 thousand people.
The area around the Port of Lattakia has been inhabited since at least the 12th Century BC when the ancient Ugarit settlement of Ras Shamra was destroyed. That settlement was replaced by the Phoenician Ramitha during the 3rd and 2nd Centuries BC when the Port of Lattakia flourished and was one of Syria's most important cities.
Calling it Laodicea, the Roman Empire considered the Port of Lattakia of great strategic importance, and they laid marble quay stones in the open bay. The Crusaders called the Port of Lattakia "La Liche," and it was still an important center for trade and commerce during that era. The Port of Lattakia lost importance in the next centuries as ports in Alexandria and Tripoli grew. By 1450, the town was deteriorating rapidly.
Under the rule of the Ottoman Turks, the Port of Lattakia was busy and important. While the port received over 100 ships a year in the mid-1800s, the harbor had become silted over and could hold only a few small boats. By the end of the 19th Century, the Port of Lattakia was receiving almost 700 steamships and sail boats a year, but most of them had to anchor outside the harbor.
After World War I when the Ottoman Empire was partitioned, the French controlled Ottoman Syria (today's Syria, Hatay, and Lebanon). In the two years after the end of the war, they restored port facilities, rebuilt the quays, and deepened the harbor. Then when Turkey took the ports of Antioch and Alexandretta in 1939, the Port of Lattakia became Syria's most important port.
In 1950, work began on a major port protect. By 1951, the port was handling more of Syria's maritime trade. After Beirut and Tripoli stopped operating as functional ports after 1975, traffic in the Port of Lattakia increased dramatically. In 1971, the Port of Lattakia handled more than 1.6 million tons of cargo. During the 1970s, the port was improved and expanded. In 1981, almost 3.6 million tons of cargo passed through the Port of Lattakia.
Today, the Port of Lattakia is Syria's main container port, and it handles large volumes of metals, chemicals, machinery, and foodstuffs. Managed by a semi-autonomous state company, the Port of Lattakia is undergoing renewed development today. In addition to the port, the local economy depends on processing of vegetable oils, ginning cotton, tanning, and fishing for sponges.
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