Things to Know

Situated in the northeastern part of Turkey, Samsun is nestled between two river deltas, where the Kizilirmak and Yesilirmak rivers converge.

Samsun has a long and intriguing history, with myths dating back even further. According to ancient legends, the eastern delta of Samsun was the homeland of the Amazons, a tribe of female warriors who were archers and who would remove one breast to shoot more accurately. The term 'Amazon' is derived from an old Greek word meaning 'without breast'.

The legend of the Amazons dates back to around 1200 BC. Although little is known about their origins or way of life, the myth of these female warriors persisted even after the Greek invasion, with their homeland located vaguely along the world's largest river.

In the 3rd century BC, Samsun became part of the expanding Kingdom of Pontus, which initially belonged to the empire created by the great conqueror Alexander the Great. At its peak, the Kingdom of Pontus controlled approximately two-thirds of modern-day Turkey, as well as northern Black Sea coastal trading towns.

Over time, Samsun fell under the control of the Romans, who were later replaced by the Byzantines. It was then conquered by the Seljuks and became part of the Ilhanid Mongol principality before being incorporated into a Genoese trading network. Finally, in the 15th century, Samsun came under Ottoman control.

After the Ottoman Empire's defeat in World War I, it was left in ruins. The victorious Entente powers occupied Istanbul and Anatolia, with Greece eyeing the conquest of Smyrna, France looking to take control of Hatay region and Syria, and Italy aiming to seize southeastern Anatolia. Meanwhile, the British had already conquered Arabia, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq before leaving for home.

Anatolia was in a state of anarchy, with remnants of Ottoman Forces, as well as Greek and Turkish brigands, remaining in control. British troops tried to restore order in the region, with the southern part of Anatolia already under their control. However, restoration efforts were needed in the north.

When Ottoman general Mustafa Kemal won the battle of Gallipoli, he was appointed Inspector General of all forces in Anatolia. Realizing he would not be returning to Istanbul at this time, he set up his quarters near Samsun and toured the region, making the people aware of the Greek and Italian landings. He also held mass meetings and formed connections with various nationalist groups by sending telegrams of protest to foreign embassies, including about British reinforcements in the area and their aid to Greek brigand gangs.

However, British and French officers monitored him closely, with British warships stationed nearby to keep an eye on his movements. After spending one week in Samsun, Mustafa Kemal and his staff moved inland to Havza, about 53 miles away, and then to Amasya, 85 kilometers (53 miles) distant. It was here that Mustafa Kemal declared the war of independence, marking a pivotal moment in Turkish history.

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