Rize is the capital city of the Rize Province in northeast Turkey on the Black Sea coastline. The city is situated around a small bay on the Black Sea coast on a narrow strip of flat land between the sea and the mountains that rise behind it. This coastal strip is being extended by landfills with the effect of the city growing up the steep hillsides away from the coast. Rize is a center for the processing and shipping of the tea grown in the surrounding areas. Tea was introduced in the region in the 1940s and 1950s, changing the economy of the region, which was quite poor prior to the introduction of this new economic factor. The city is home to a tea research institute founded in 1958 and the tea gardens add charm to the panorama of the city. Secondary to the production of tea as an economic factor, is commercial fishing. Rize is linked by road with Trabzon lying 41 miles or 66 kilometers to the west, Hopa at 55 miles or 88 kilometers to the east near the Georgian border. Notable mountain peaks in this mountainous region are Kaçkar - 3.937 meters, Barut - 3.251 meters, Ziglat - 3.511 meters, Verçenik - 3.711 meters and Hipot - 3.560 meters.
Rize has always been a quiet town with little in the way of night life or entertainment. However with the advent of the border with Georgia being open since the early 1990's, the Black Sea coastal road has been widened and Rize is now wealthier than in previous decades. There are more and newer cars on the roads, higher buildings on the sea front, and new places for young people to go are now opening up. The increasing number of visitors to the surrounding countryside is also contributing to the growth of the economy. The economic structure of Rize is impacted strongly by its geographic location. Being a very mountainous city, it makes industrial development difficult and impractical, and in addition the lack of air and rail transit means most goods have to travel by truck or ship, which makes import-export more difficult. Currently the primary trading partner of the city is Trabzon, the largest and most developed city of the north east Black Sea region. Trabzon is also te location of the closest major airport in the area.
Rize has a borderline oceanic/humid subtropical climate like most of the eastern Black Sea coast of Turkey. It offers warm summers and cool winters with snowfall quite common between the months of December and March. Rize and its surrounds in the eastern part of the Black Sea coast has the highest precipitation in western Asia, with an annual precipitation averaging around 2,500 millimetres or 100 inches, including heavy rainfall year round but mainly in late autumn from October to December. The Black Sea coast receives the largest amount of precipitation in Turkey and is the only region of Turkey that receives this high precipitation throughout the year. The water temperature, just like in the entire Turkish Black Sea coast, is always cool and fluctuates between 8 and 20°C or 46 and 68°F throughout the year. Rize enjoys a mild, extremely wet climate and is vulnerable to storms coming off the Black Sea, but the surrounding countryside is rich with vegetation and natural beauty and is attracting more and more visitors every year. Rize University was founded in 2006 and brings additional stimulous to the economy.
The first historical mention of Rize in written form is made by Arrianus in a work named Periplo (Ships Voyage) from 131-132 BC. In this written account the author records how the governor of Cappadocia conducted an inspection tour of the Eastern Black Sea territories that were part of his jurisdiction, first visiting the eastern Anatolian frontier garrisons before pushing on to the Black Sea coast near the Trabzon region. These days Rize has been the birthplace of several contemporary political figures such as the current prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Mesut Yılmaz, former prime minister, Köksal Toptan, politician and speaker of parliament and İsmail Bilen, a politician and former general secretary of the communist party of Turkey (TKP).
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