When he first seized Syria in 1516, Selim I kept the administrative subdivisions of the Mamluk period unchanged. After he came back from Egypt in July 1517, he reorganized Syria into one large province or eyalet
(Arabic/Turkish for "Syria"). The eyalet was subdivided into several districts or sanjaks
In 1549, Syria was reorganized into two eyalets. The northern Sanjak of Aleppo
became the center of the new Eyalet of Aleppo. At this time, the two Syrian Eyalets were subdivided as follows:
In 1579, the Eyalet of Tripoli
was established under the name of Tripoli of Syria
: طرابلس الشام
). At this time, the eyalets became as follows:
In 1833, the Syrian provinces were ceded to Muhammed Ali of Egypt
in the Convention of Kutahya
. The firman stated that "The governments of Candia
are continued to Mahomet Ali. And in reference to his special claim, I have granted him the provinces of Damascus, Tripoli-in-Syria, Sidon, Saphet, Aleppo, the districts of Jerusalem and Nablous, with the conduct of pilgrims and the commandment of the Tcherde (the yearly offering to the tomb of the Prophet). His son, Ibrahim Pacha, has again the title of Sheikh and Harem of Mekka, and the district of Jedda; and farther, I have acquiesced in his request to have the district of Adana ruled by the Treasury of Taurus, with the title of Mohassil."
In this period, the Sublime Porte's firmans (decrees) of 1839 and, more decisively, of 1856 – equalizing the status of Muslim and non-Muslim subjects – produced a
"dramatic alienation of Muslims from Christians. The former resented the implied loss of superiority and recurrently assaulted and massacred Christian communities – in Aleppo in 1850, in Nablus in 1856, and in Damascus and Lebanon in 1860. Among the long-term consequences of these bitter internecine conflicts were the emergence of a Christian-dominated Lebanon in the 1920s – 40s and the deep fissure between Christian and Muslim Palestinian Arabs as they confronted the Zionist influx after World War I. "
Following the massacre of thousands of Christian civilians during the 1860 Lebanon conflict
, and under growing European pressure, mainly from France, an Ottoman edict issued in 1861 transformed "Al Kaimaqumyateen" or the Twin/Double Qaymakamate
, the former regime based on religious rule that led to civil war, into the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate
, governed by a mutasarrıf
who, according to law, had to be a non-Lebanese Christian.
As part of the Tanzimat
reforms, an Ottoman law passed in 1864 provided for a standard provincial administration throughout the empire with the eyalets becoming smaller vilayets
, governed by a vali
(governor) still appointed by the imperial Porte
but with new provincial assemblies participating in administration.
A map showing the administrative divisions of the Ottoman Empire in 1317 Hijri, 1899 Gregorian, Including Ottoman Syria.
of Jerusalem shown within Ottoman administrative divisions in the Eastern Mediterranean coast after the reorganisation of 1887–88
Ottoman Syria until World War I. Present borders in grey.
From 1872 until World War I
subdivisions of Ottoman Syria were:
The sanjak Zor and the major part of the vilayet Aleppo may or may not be included in Ottoman Syria. The Geographical Dictionary of the World, published in 1906, describes Syria as:
"a country in the [south-west] part of Asia, forming part of the Turkish Empire. It extends eastward from the Mediterranean Sea to the river Euphrates and the Syrian Desert (the prolongation northward of the Arabian Desert), and southward from the Alma-Dagh (ancient Amanus), one of the ranges of the Taurus
, to the frontiers of Egypt (Isthmus of Suez) It lies between the parallels of 31° and 37° [north latitude]. It comprises the vilayet of Syria (Suria)
, or of Damascus, the vilayet of Beirut, the [south-west] part of the vilayet of Aleppo, and the mutessarrifliks of Jerusalem and the Lebanon.
The designation Syria is sometimes used in wider sense so as to include the whole of the vilayet of Aleppo and the Zor Sanjak
, a large part of Mesopotamia
being thus added."
About Syria in 1915, a British report says:
"The term Syria in those days was generally used to denote the whole of geographical and historic Syria, that is to say the whole of the country lying between the Taurus Mountains and the Sinai Peninsula, which was made up of part of the Vilayet of Aleppo, the Vilayet of Bairut, the Vilayet of Syria, the Sanjaq of the Lebanon, and the Sanjaq of Jerusalem. It included that part of the country which was afterwards detached from it to form the mandated territory of Palestine."
Contemporary maps, showing Eyalets (pre-Tanzimat reforms)
Maps of Contemporary Ottoman Syria showing Eyalets (pre 1864 Vilayet Law)
Contemporary maps, showing Vilayets (post-Tanzimat reforms)
Maps of Contemporary Ottoman Syria showing Vilayets (post-Tanzimat reforms)
1855, showing sanjaks
- ^ The Middle East and North Africa: 2004, Routledge, page 1015: "Syria"
- ^ The Syrian Question, 1841
- ^ Benny Morris, Excerpt from Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881–1999, accessed 27 September 2015
- ^ Geographical Dictionary of the World in the early 20th Century. Logos Press, New Delhi, 1906. ISBN 8172680120
- ^ Report of a Committee set up to consider certain correspondence between Sir Henry McMahon (his majesty's high commissioner in egypt) and the Sharif of Mecca in 1915 and 1916 Archived 21 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine, ANNEX A, para. 3. British Secretary of State for the Colonies, 16 maart 1939 (doc.nr. Cmd. 5974). unispal Archived 24 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine
Last edited on 1 April 2021, at 17:08
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