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Izmir

Izmir (ĭzmĪrˈ) [key], formerly Smyrna smûrˈnə, city (1990 pop. 1,762,849), capital of Izmir prov., W Turkey, on the Gulf of Izmir, an arm of the Aegean Sea. The largest Turkish seaport after İstanbul, its exports include cotton, tobacco, vegetables, manufactures, and carpets. It is also an important commercial and industrial center, whose manufactures include processed food, textiles, tobacco, cement, petrochemicals, and manufactured goods. Tourism is increasingly important. It is a road and rail transportation center, and an annual trade fair is held there. The Aegean Univ. and several museums are there, and Izmir was probably the birthplace of the poet Homer. Izmir prov. is rich in mineral resources.

The city was settled during the Bronze Age (c.3000 B.C.). It was colonized (c.1000 B.C.) by Ionians and was destroyed (627 B.C.) by the Lydians. Rebuilt on a different site in the early 4th cent. B.C. by Antigonus I, it was enlarged and beautified by Lysimachus, and became one of the largest and most prosperous cities of Asia Minor. Its wealth and splendor increased under Roman rule. The city had a sizable Jewish colony, was an early center of Christianity, and was one of the Seven Churches in Asia (Rev. 2–8).

Pillaged by the Arabs in the 7th cent., it fell to the Seljuk Turks in the 11th cent., was recaptured for Byzantium by Emperor Alexius I during the First Crusade, and formed part of the empire of Nicaea (see Nicaea, empire of) from 1204 to 1261, when the Byzantine Empire was restored. Also in 1261 the Genoese obtained trading privileges there, which they retained until the city fell (c.1329) to the Seljuk Turks. The Knights Hospitalers captured the city in 1344, restored Genoese privileges, and held the city until 1402, when it was captured and sacked by Timur. The Mongols were succeeded in 1424 by the Ottoman Turks. A Greek Orthodox archiepiscopal see, the city retained a large Greek population and remained a center of Greek culture and the chief Mediterranean port of Asia Minor.

After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the city was occupied (1919) by Greek forces. The Treaty of Sèvres (1920) assigned Izmir and its hinterland to temporary Greek administration, but fighting soon erupted between Greek and Turkish forces. Izmir fell to the Turks in Sept., 1922, and a few days later was destroyed by fire. Thousands of non-Muslims were killed by Turkish troops and thousands of Greek civilian refugees fled the city. The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) restored Izmir to Turkey. A separate convention between Greece and Turkey provided for the exchange of their minorities, which was carried out under League of Nations supervision, and the population of Izmir became predominately Turkish. The city suffered greatly from severe earthquakes in 1928 and 1939. It is now a NATO command center for SE Europe.

See G. Milton, Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922 (2008).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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