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For Latin Catholics in the Ottoman Empire, see Levantines (Latin Christians). Levant_sentence_0

For other uses, see Levantine and Levant (disambiguation). Levant_sentence_1

Not to be confused with Levante or Levent. Levant_sentence_2


Countries and regionsLevant_header_cell_0_1_0 Narrow definition:

 Israel  Jordan  Lebanon  Palestine  Syria  Turkey (Hatay Province)

Broad definition may also include:  Egypt  Greece  Iraq  Libya (Cyrenaica)  Turkey (whole country)Levant_cell_0_1_1

PopulationLevant_header_cell_0_2_0 Narrow definition: 44,550,926Levant_cell_0_2_1
DemonymLevant_header_cell_0_3_0 LevantineLevant_cell_0_3_1
LanguagesLevant_header_cell_0_4_0 Arabic, Aramaic, Armenian, Circassian, Domari, Greek, Hebrew, Kurdish, TurkishLevant_cell_0_4_1
Time ZonesLevant_header_cell_0_5_0 UTC+02:00 (EET) and UTC+03:00 (FET/AST)Levant_cell_0_5_1
Largest citiesLevant_header_cell_0_6_0 Levant_cell_0_6_1

The Levant (/ləˈvænt/) is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. Levant_sentence_3

In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the historical region of Syria, which included present-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine and most of Turkey south-east of the middle Euphrates. Levant_sentence_4

In its widest historical sense, the Levant included all of the Eastern Mediterranean with its islands; that is, it included all of the countries along the Eastern Mediterranean shores, extending from Greece to Cyrenaica in eastern Libya. Levant_sentence_5

The term entered English in the late 15th century from French. Levant_sentence_6

It derives from the Italian Levante, meaning "rising", implying the rising of the Sun in the east, and is broadly equivalent to the term al-Mashriq (Arabic: ٱلْمَشْرِق‎, [ʔal.maʃ.riq), meaning "the eastern place, where the Sun rises". Levant_sentence_7

In the 13th and 14th centuries, the term levante was used for Italian maritime commerce in the Eastern Mediterranean, including Greece, Anatolia, Syria-Palestine, and Egypt, that is, the lands east of Venice. Levant_sentence_8

Eventually the term was restricted to the Muslim countries of Syria-Palestine and Egypt. Levant_sentence_9

In 1581, England set up the Levant Company to monopolize commerce with the Ottoman Empire. Levant_sentence_10

The name Levant States was used to refer to the French mandate over Syria and Lebanon after World War I. Levant_sentence_11

This is probably the reason why the term Levant has come to be used more specifically to refer to modern Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, and Cyprus. Levant_sentence_12

Some scholars mistakenly believed that it derives from the name of Lebanon. Levant_sentence_13

Today the term is often used in conjunction with prehistoric or ancient historical references. Levant_sentence_14

It has the same meaning as "Syria-Palestine" or Ash-Shaam (Arabic: ٱلشَّام‎, /ʔaʃ.ʃaːm/), the area that is bounded by the Taurus Mountains of Turkey in the North, the Mediterranean Sea in the west, and the north Arabian Desert and Mesopotamia in the east. Levant_sentence_15

Typically, it does not include Anatolia (also called Asia Minor), the Caucasus Mountains, or any part of the Arabian Peninsula proper. Levant_sentence_16

Cilicia (in Asia Minor) and the Sinai Peninsula (Asian Egypt) are sometimes included. Levant_sentence_17

As a name for the contemporary region, several dictionaries consider Levant to be archaic today. Levant_sentence_18

Both the noun Levant and the adjective Levantine are now commonly used to describe the ancient and modern culture area formerly called Syro-Palestinian or Biblical: archaeologists now speak of the Levant and of Levantine archaeology; food scholars speak of Levantine cuisine; and the Latin Christians of the Levant continue to be called Levantine Christians. Levant_sentence_19

The Levant has been described as the "crossroads of western Asia, the eastern Mediterranean, and northeast Africa", and the "northwest of the Arabian plate". Levant_sentence_20

The populations of the Levant share not only the geographic position, but cuisine, some customs, and history. Levant_sentence_21

They are often referred to as Levantines. Levant_sentence_22

Etymology Levant_section_0

See also: Names of the Levant Levant_sentence_23

The term Levant appears in English in 1497, and originally meant the East or "Mediterranean lands east of Italy". Levant_sentence_24

It is borrowed from the French levant "rising", referring to the rising of the sun in the east, or the point where the sun rises. Levant_sentence_25

The phrase is ultimately from the Latin word levare, meaning 'lift, raise'. Levant_sentence_26

Similar etymologies are found in Greek Ἀνατολή (Anatolē, cf. Levant_sentence_27

Anatolia), in Germanic Morgenland (literally, "morning land"), in Italian (as in "Riviera di Levante", the portion of the Liguria coast east of Genoa), in Hungarian Kelet, in Spanish and Catalan Levante and Llevant, ("the place of rising"), and in Hebrew (Hebrew: מִזְרָח‎, mizrah, "east"). Levant_sentence_28

Most notably, "Orient" and its Latin source oriens meaning "east", is literally "rising", deriving from Latin orior "rise". Levant_sentence_29

The notion of the Levant has undergone a dynamic process of historical evolution in usage, meaning, and understanding. Levant_sentence_30

While the term "Levantine" originally referred to the European residents of the eastern Mediterranean region, it later came to refer to regional "native" and "minority" groups. Levant_sentence_31

The term became current in English in the 16th century, along with the first English merchant adventurers in the region; English ships appeared in the Mediterranean in the 1570s, and the English merchant company signed its agreement ("capitulations") with the Ottoman Sultan in 1579. Levant_sentence_32

The English Levant Company was founded in 1581 to trade with the Ottoman Empire, and in 1670 the French was founded for the same purpose. Levant_sentence_33

At this time, the Far East was known as the "Upper Levant". Levant_sentence_34

In early 19th-century travel writing, the term sometimes incorporated certain Mediterranean provinces of the Ottoman empire, as well as independent Greece (and especially the Greek islands). Levant_sentence_35

In 19th-century archaeology, it referred to overlapping cultures in this region during and after prehistoric times, intending to reference the place instead of any one culture. Levant_sentence_36

The French mandate of Syria and Lebanon (1920–1946) was called the Levant states. Levant_sentence_37

Geography and modern-day use of the term Levant_section_1

Today, "Levant" is the term typically used by archaeologists and historians with reference to the history of the region. Levant_sentence_38

Scholars have adopted the term Levant to identify the region due to it being a "wider, yet relevant, cultural corpus" that does not have the "political overtones" of Syria-Palestine. Levant_sentence_39

The term is also used for modern events, peoples, states or parts of states in the same region, namely Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey are sometimes considered Levant countries (compare with Near East, Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia). Levant_sentence_40

Several researchers include the island of Cyprus in Levantine studies, including the Council for British Research in the Levant, the UCLA Near Eastern Languages and Cultures department, Journal of Levantine Studies and the UCL Institute of Archaeology, the last of which has dated the connection between Cyprus and mainland Levant to the early Iron Age. Levant_sentence_41

Archaeologists seeking a neutral orientation that is neither biblical nor national have used terms such as Levantine archaeology and archaeology of the Southern Levant. Levant_sentence_42

While the usage of the term "Levant" in academia has been restricted to the fields of archeology and literature, there is a recent attempt to reclaim the notion of the Levant as a category of analysis in political and social sciences. Levant_sentence_43

Two academic journals were launched in the early 2010s using the word: the Journal of Levantine Studies, published by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and The Levantine Review, published by Boston College. Levant_sentence_44

The word Levant has been used in some translations of the term ash-Shām as used by the organization known as ISIL, ISIS, and other names, though there is disagreement as to whether this translation is accurate. Levant_sentence_45

History Levant_section_2

Main articles: History of the Middle East, Prehistory of the Levant, History of the ancient Levant, History of Palestine, and History of Israel Levant_sentence_46

Politics and religion Levant_section_3

The largest religious group in the Levant are the Muslims and the largest cultural-linguistic group are Arabs, due to the Muslim conquest of the Levant in the 7th century and subsequent Arabization of the region. Levant_sentence_47

Other large ethnic groups in the Levant include Jews, Kurds, Turks, Turkmens, Assyrians and Armenians. Levant_sentence_48

The majority of Muslim Levantines are Sunni with Alawi and Shia minorities. Levant_sentence_49

There are also Jews, Christians, Yazidi Kurds, Druze, and other smaller sects. Levant_sentence_50

Until the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948, Jews lived throughout the Levant alongside Muslims and Christians; since then, almost all have been expelled from their homes and sought refuge in Israel. Levant_sentence_51

There are many Levantine Christian groups such as Greek, Oriental Orthodox (mainly Syriac Orthodox, Coptic, Georgian, and Maronite), Roman Catholic, Nestorian, and Protestant. Levant_sentence_52

Armenians mostly belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church. Levant_sentence_53

There are Levantines or Franco-Levantines who are mostly Roman Catholic. Levant_sentence_54

There are also Circassians, Turks, Samaritans, and Nawars. Levant_sentence_55

There are Assyrian peoples belonging to the Assyrian Church of the East (autonomous) and the Chaldean Catholic Church (Catholic). Levant_sentence_56

In addition, this region has a number of sites that are of religious significance, such as Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Levant_sentence_57

Language Levant_section_4

Most populations in the Levant speak Levantine Arabic (شامي, Šāmī), usually classified as the varieties North Levantine Arabic in Lebanon, Syria, and parts of Turkey, and South Levantine Arabic in Palestine and Jordan. Levant_sentence_58

Each of these encompasses a spectrum of regional or urban/rural variations. Levant_sentence_59

In addition to the varieties normally grouped together as "Levantine", a number of other varieties and dialects of Arabic are spoken in the Levant area, such as Levantine Bedawi Arabic and Mesopotamian Arabic. Levant_sentence_60

Among the languages of Israel, the official language is Hebrew; Arabic was until July 19, 2018, also an official language. Levant_sentence_61

The Arab minority, in 2018 about 21% of the population of Israel, speaks a dialect of Levantine Arabic essentially indistinguishable from the forms spoken in the Palestinian territories. Levant_sentence_62

Of the languages of Cyprus, the majority language is Greek, followed by Turkish (in the north). Levant_sentence_63

Two minority languages are recognized: Armenian, and Cypriot Maronite Arabic, a hybrid of mostly medieval Arabic vernaculars with strong influence from contact with Greek, spoken by approximately 1000 people. Levant_sentence_64

Some communities and populations speak Aramaic, Greek, Armenian, Circassian, French, or English. Levant_sentence_65

See also Levant_section_5

Overlapping regional designations Levant_sentence_66


Subregional designations Levant_sentence_67


Others Levant_sentence_68


Other places in the east of a larger region Levant_sentence_69


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levant.