First settlement in Antakya, which has a history of nearly 2300 years, dates back to 8000 B.C. The city was founded by Seleucus, one of Alexander’s commanders who shared his empire after the death of Alexander. It then entered into the sovereignty of Parthian, Sasanian, Byzantine, Abbasid Tulunid, Ikshidiyun, Hamdani, Seljukians, Crusaders and Mamluk states respectively. The city came under the sovereignty of Ottomans during Yavuz Sultan Selim’s Egypt campaign. Independent Hatay State was founded in 1937 and in 1939 Hatay joined Turkey.
Located on the east end of the Mediterranean as a frontier province, Hatay has a surface area of 5,867 km². It is surrounded by Syria in the east and south, Gaziantep’s Islahiye town in the northeast, Adana and Osmaniye provinces in the northwest and Iskenderun Gulf in the west.
Lying between the Nur Mountains (the Amanos) extending from north to southwest, Mount Kel and Syrian plateau, fertile Amik plain of the province constitutes a coastal plain extending like a stripe in the west. Main watercourses of the province are Asi, Karasu and Afrin. There are two dams used for irrigation. One of them is Tahtaköprü Dam built on Karasu River, the second one is Yarseli Dam on Beyazçay River, and the other one is Yayladağı Dam on Kureyçi Stream.
Hatay is on the Mediterranean climate zone which is hot and dry in summers and warm and rainy in winters. Climate becomes harsher in the inner parts. Average annual precipitation varies from 570 to 1160 mm. Rain is lesser in the coastal parts. One of the typical climatic properties of Hatay province is the prevailing wind from southwest.
Scrubs and forests constitute natural vegetation of Hatay. Forests which constitute the natural vegetation in the province are denser on Amanos Mountains and Mount Kel. On the slopes of Amanos Mountains facing the sea, after the scrubby lands, are woods from 800 to 1200 m with coniferous trees such as juniper and broadleaf trees such as oak, beech, cornel, poplar, plane and chinaberry trees. Above 1200 m are vast forests consisting of coniferous trees such as calabrian pine, black pine, cedar and occasionally juniper. On the parts of Mount Kel looking towards the Mediterranean direction, myrtle and daphne of scrub-type trees are very common up to almost 900 m.
Administrative and Socio-Economic Status
Population of Hatay province according to Address-Based 2009 Census is 1 448 418 people. 715,653 of the population are living in urban areas and 732,765 are in counties and villages. The rate of urban population is 49% and rate of those living in the villages is 51%. Again, according to the results of the same census, population of the city center is 202,216, which means the population density is 249 people per km².
Largest towns in terms of population are the Central town, Iskenderun, Dörtyol and Samandağ respectively. Largest town in terms of surface area is again the Central town, and the least populated town is Kumlu; town with the smallest surface area is Belen. Hatay, where the annual birth rate is 24.6 per mille, is quite higher than Turkey’s average which corresponds to the number of 14.5 per mille.
Number of towns in Hatay is 12, number of municipalities is 76 and the number of villages is 362.
Mustafa Kemal University, which was founded on 10.11.1992 as three units, namely a college, and two vocational schools of higher education, has now became an educational and scientific institution consisting of 33 units in 18 years.
Among these are *12 Faculties, *4 Institutes, *5 Colleges, *1 Conservatory, *15 vocational Schools of Higher Education, an active Research and Application Center; 2 of the faculties are not active as yet.
As of 2009-2010 academic year, our university has 947 academic staff, 623 administrative personnel, thus 1,570 employees in total and around 24,900 students. 3,437 students were graduated from our university at the end of the last academic year and 8,288 students enrolled in our university by 2009-2010 through ÖSYM.
While the urbanization rate in Hatay province is 49.41% in 2009 with a 1.01% increase compared to 2008, it is quite below Turkey’s average; it is also below the average rate of Turkey in terms of GDP per capita and employment rate in the industry compared to the total employment. Rate of agriculture workers compared to the total employment is above the country average.
Literacy in Hatay province as of 2009 is 85.81% for women and 96.54% for men. On the other hand, preschool schooling rate in Hatay province is 43.87%, which is higher than 38.55%, Turkey average. Number of students per classroom in elementary education in Hatay province is 33, which is parallel to 32, the average number of the country. Number of students per classroom in secondary education is 31 in Turkey and 36 in Hatay.
Sectors prevailing the economical life of Hatay are commerce, agriculture, industry, transportation, and construction industry. Manufacturing of iron and steel products, car filter production, manufacturing and sales of agricultural equipment and machinery, farming and exporting fresh fruits and vegetables, citrus fruits are quite intense in Hatay. Hatay is the second largest province following Istanbul in terms of the number of transportation fleets.
Iskenderun Iron and Steel plant and Tosyalı Iron and Steel plant, which are among the factories shaping the Turkish industry, are in Hatay.
While the export rate per capita was USD 1,846 in Turkey in 2008, it was USD 1,247 in Hatay. Hatay’s export rate increased by 2.5 times between the years 2004 and 2009.
Considering the import rate per capita, while the average number for Turkey is 2,824, import figure per capita in Hatay province is USD 2,366, which is quite close to that of Turkey. 50% of the imports actualized in Hatay are for the manufacturing industry.
State highway roads in Hatay are 349 km in total while the length of railroads is 54 km.
In the finance sector, on the other hand, the number of bank branches in Hatay at the end of 2007 was 84, and it increased to 100 at the end of 2009. While the number of people per branch in Hatay was 16,502 at the beginning of 2007, this number decreased down to 14,132 people as of end of September 2009, which indicates that banking investments in Hatay have gained strength.
In terms of health tourism, Erzin springs and thermal springs as well as Hamamat Thermal Springs in Kumlu town on the way between Kırıkhan and Reyhanlı attract numerous domestic and foreign tourists.
Hatay has a significant tourism potential with its belief tourism centers, ancient cities and plateaus. Hatay province is also very famous with its dessert Kunefah (Künefe). Historical and touristic places in Hatay are:
St. Pierre Church, St. Simon Stylite Monastery, Yayladağı Barleam Monastery, Mount Kel Barleam Monastery, Habib-i Neccar Mosque, Sheikh Ahmet Kuseyri Mosque and Tomb, Sokullu Mehmet Pasha Complex, Payas Sokullu Complex, Ulu Mosque, Demirkapı, Demirköprü, Koz Castle, Bakras Castle, Payas Castle, Mancınık Castle, Cin Tower, Darbısak Castle, Cindi Baths, Saka Baths, Kurşunlu Inn, Sokullu Inn, Mount Habibi Neccar and Tekkoz Kengerlidüz Natural Reserve Area, Reyhanlı Hamamat Thermal Springs, Erzin Başlamış Thermal Springs and Healing Waters, Reyhanlı Bath, Kisecik Village Healing Water, Sarıseki Cave, Hatay Archeological Museum (Antakya Mosaic Museum), Aççana Ruins, Çevlik Ruins, Harbiye, Titus Rock Tunnel, Tel Aççana, Kinet Tumulus, Necropolis, Ceylanlı, İmma, Tainat, Dor Temple, Water Ducts, (Memekli Bridge), and long coastal bands.