Sanjak of Alexandretta

Map showing the states of the French Mandate from 1921 to 1922.
Reglement Organique of the Sandjak of Alexandretta, within the State of Syria, 14 May 1930
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The Sanjak of Alexandretta (Turkish: İskenderun Sancağı, French: Sandjak d'Alexandrette, Arabic: لواء الإسكندرونة/ Liwa' Al-Iskandarūna) was a sanjak of the Mandate of Syria composed of two qadaas of the former Aleppo Vilayet (Alexandretta and Antioch, now İskenderun and Antakya) and became autonomous under Article 7 of the 1921 Treaty of Ankara: "A special administrative regime shall be established for the district of Alexandretta. The Turkish inhabitants of this district shall enjoy facility for their cultural development. The Turkish language shall have official recognition".[1] That was because of the presence of Turkic peoples along with Syriacs and Arabs of various religious denominations: Sunni Muslims, Alawites, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholics and Maronites. There were also communities of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Jews and Kurds.

In 1923, Alexandretta was attached to the State of Aleppo, and in 1925, it was attached to the combined State of Syria, still with special administrative status.[2]

The 1936 elections in the sanjak returned two MPs favoring the independence of Syria from France, and this prompted communal riots as well as passionate articles in the Turkish and Syrian press. The sanjak was given autonomy in November 1937 in an arrangement brokered by the League. Under its new statute, the sanjak became 'distinct but not separated' from the French Mandate of Syria on the diplomatic level, linked to both France and Turkey for defence matters.[2]


According to the estimates of the French high commission in 1936, out of a population of 220,000, 46% were Arabs, 39% were Turks, 28% Arabic-speaking Alawites, 11% Armenians, 10% Sunni Arabs, 8% other Christians and 4% were Circassians, Kurds and Jews. Although Turks formed the largest single ethno-religious minority, Arabic speakers including Sunnis, Alawites and Christians were more numerous.[3]

Population of Hatay State in 1936 according to the French census[3]
Ethnic group Inhabitants %
Arabs 101,200 46%
Turks 85,800 39%
Alawis 61,600 28%
Armenians 24,200 11%
Sunni Arabs 22,000 10%
Melkites, Greeks and other Christians 17,600 8%
Circassians, Jews, Kurds 8,800 4%
Total 220,000 100%