Artvin Province is a province in Turkey, near the Black Sea coast in the north-eastern corner of the country, on the border with Georgia. It is an attractive area of steep valleys carved by the Choruh River system, surrounded by high mountains (up to 3900 m) and forest with much national parkland including the Karagol-Sahara, which contains the Savsat and Borchka lakes. The weather in Artvin is very wet, and as a result is heavily forested. This greenery runs from the top all the way down to the Black Sea coast. The rain turns to snow at higher altitudes, and the peaks are very cold in winter.
The forests are home to brown bears and wolves.
The Choruh is currently being dammed in 11 places for hydro-electric power, including the 249 m Deriner Dam and others at Borchka and Muratli.
In addition to the vast majority ethnic Turks, the province is home to communities of Laz people. In particular, there is a prominent community of Chveneburi Georgians many of them descendants of Muslim families from Georgia who migrated during the struggles between the Ottoman Turks and Russia during the 19th century. With such diverse peoples, Artvin has a rich variety of folk song and dance.
Local industries include bee-keeping.
Artvin is traversed by the northeasterly line of equal latitude and longitude.
The area has a rich history but has not been studied extensively by archaeologists in recent decades. Artifacts dating back to the Bronze Age and even earlier have been found. The Hurri settled in the Artvin area in 2000 BC and were succeeded by the Urartu civilisation, based in Lake Van. Later, the area was part of the kingdom of Colchis but was always vulnerable to invasions, first the Scythians from across the Caucasus, then the Arab armies of Islam, who controlled the area from 853 AD to 1023 when it was conquered by the Byzantines.
The Seljuk Turks of Alparslan conquered the area in 1064 AD; it was briefly recaptured by the king of Georgia with the help of the Byzantines, but by 1081 was in Turkish hands again. With the collapse of the Seljuks, the Artvin area came under the control of the Ildeniz tribe of the Anatolian Turkish beyliks. Fighting for control between various Turkish clans continued until the Safavid Persians, taking advantage of this infighting, were able to conquer the area in 1502.
Eventually the Ottomans of Mehmed II were able to defeat the Greek state in Pontus on the Black Sea coast and thus control the mountain hinterland too. Subsequent expeditions into the mountains by Selim I gave them control of a number of castles and thus the whole district. By 1627, Artvin was securely in Ottoman hands, part of the sancak of Lazistan.
This lasted 250 years until the area was ceded to the Russians by the Ottoman Empire following the Russo-Turkish War (1828-1829), and recovered and again ceded at the conclusion of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. Artvin was in war zone and continuously changing control between Russia and Turkey with the Treaties of Brest-Litovsk, Moscow, and Kars. All this fighting and uncertainty between Russia and Turkey in the late 19th century caused the people of Artvin to suffer terribly, with much of the population moving westwards away from the Russian-controlled zones.
There are many Georgian churches from the period of the Tao-Klarjeti kingdom, such as Oshki, Khakhuli, Ishkhani, Shatberdi, Parkhali, and many others. In 1850, Pope Pius IX established the Armenian-Catholic Diocese of Artvin (Artuinensis Armenorum) for the Armenian Catholics of southern Russia. It was subject to the Patriarch of Cilicia in Constantinople. Its first bishop was Timotheus Astorgi (1850-1858), followed by Antonius Halagi (1859) and Joannes Baptista Zaccharian (1878). In 1878, Russia annexed the territory and united the diocese with that of Tiraspol. Russia subsequently prevented the appointment of a new bishop.
The Catholic Encyclopedia informs that the city had 5,900 inhabitants in 1894, a mixture of Armenians and Turks. There were nine Armenian Catholic churches, and four schools for boys, and three schools for girls. The diocese of Artvin had 12,000 Armenian Catholics, 25 mission priests, 30 Catholic churches and chapels, and 22 primary schools with almost 900 pupils. The girls were taught by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Russians withdrew from Artvin following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917; when the First World War ended with the Ottomans on the losing side, British troops moved into the area in 1918, followed by Georgians. There were moves to incorporate Artvin into Georgia but a referendum was called in 1920, and, knowing that the majority of the population were Turks, the Georgians withdrew from Artvin in 1921 by the Treaty of Kars.
The city of Artvin has an ancient castle and a number of Ottoman Empire period houses, mosques, and fountains. Every June, there is a "bull-wrestling" festival in the high plateau of Kafkasor. Popular places for walking and outdoor expeditions. The Kachkar Mountains are among the most-popular venues for trekking holidays in Turkey. Macahel Valley on the Georgian border, is another popular location for walking holidays. Papart forest in Savsat. Genciyan Hill in Savsat, overlooks the border and the Binboga lakes.
The lakes of Savsat and Borchka and the crater lake of Kuyruklu. The Çoruh River is excellent for rafting and championships have been held here. There are a number of Georgian churches in the valleys of Yusufeli. Bilbilan Yaylasi - a typical Turkish high meadow.
Savangin pre-historical cave with an inscription written unknown or unsolved alphabet.
The population of Artvin, the capital town is 24354.