Latakia or Lattakia (both: lătəkēˈə, lätə–) [key], city (1995 est. pop. 320,100), capital of Latakia governorate, W Syria, on the Mediterranean Sea. It is Syria's leading port, exporting bitumen, asphalt, cereals, raw cotton, fruit, and the famous Latakia tobacco (cultivated since the 17th cent.). Industries include sponge fishing, vegetable-oil milling, and cotton ginning. Formerly the ancient Phoenician city of Ramitha, it was rebuilt (c.290 B.C.) by Seleucus I and later prospered as the Roman Laodicea ad Mare. Byzantines and Arabs fought over it from the 7th to 11th cent. A.D. The city was captured in 1098 by the Crusaders and flourished in the 12th cent. until after its capture in 1188 by Saladin. From the 16th cent. to World War I it was part of the Ottoman Empire. While Syria was under the French League of Nations mandate, Latakia was (1920–42) the capital of the territory of the Alawites. A deepwater port was completed in 1959. Landmarks include ancient columns and a Roman arch. The city is the seat of the Univ. of Latakia.
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