Latakia, Or Ladieiyeii
LATAKIA, or LADIEIYEII, a seaport town of Syria, situated opposite the island of Cyprus, about 72 miles north of Tripoli, and administratively dependent on the mutassarrif of that city. It is a rather poor-looking place ; but, besides being the most important town of a considerable district, the residence of several foreign consuls, and the seat of an American mission, it has considerable historical interest. Remains of the Roman period are still to be seen, the best preserved of which is a sort of triumphal arch hypothetically assigned to the time of Septimius Severus. As a trading port Latakia has recently declined. The harbour, about a mile from the town, is naturally small, and has been silted up so as to be serviceable only for the lesser native craft. The Russian and French steamers, which make Latakia a point of call, lie in the roadstead ; and the whole trade of the place, with Egypt and European countries, does not exceed the value of £100,000 per annum. The great article of export is the famous Latakia tobacco, mainly purchased by Egypt and England. It is grown among the Nosairiyeh hills ; and the hillmen, each with his little plot of ground, bestow great care on the cultivation of the plant. The best and most fragrant is brought from the districts of Diryus and Amamareh. Consul Jago gives the population of the town as about 12,000 in 187I; other estimates vary from 5000 to 14,000.
The oldest name of the town, according to llerennius Philo, was PaAtt0a or AEU181aerlj ; it received that of Laodicea (ad mare) from Seleucus Nicator, who founded it in honour of his mother as one of the four " sister " cities of the Syrian Tetrapolis (Antioch, Seleueia, Apamea, Laodicea). In the Roman period it was favoured by Julius Ccesar, and took the name of Julia ; and, though it suffered severely when Dolabella was besieged within its walls (43 n.c.), Strabo describes it as a flourishing port, which supplied, from the vineyards on the mountains, the greater part of the wine imported to Alexandria. The town received the privileges of an Italian colony from Severus, for taking his part against Antioch in the struggle against Niger. Laodicea was the seat of an ancient bishopric, and even had souse claim to metropolitan rights. At the time of the Crusades, " Liebe," as Jacques de Vitry says it was popularly called, was a wealthy city. It fell to Tancred with Antioch in 1102, and was recovered by Saladin in 1188. A Christian settlement was afterwards permitted to establish itself in the town, and to protect itself by fortifications ; but it was expelled by Sultan Kiliiwun and the defences destroyed. By the 16th century Laodicea had sunk very low ; the revival in the beginning of the 17th was clue to the new trade in tobacco. The town has several times been almost destroyed by earthquakes - in 1170, 1287, and 1822.