The Vilayets of the Ottoman Empire around 1317 Hijri, 1899 Gregorian A vilayet (; french: vilaïet or vilayet (''eparchia''), eparchy; or Νομαρχία (''nomarchia''), nomarchy * lad|provinsiya or vilayet |group=note) was a first-order administrative division, or province of the later Ottoman Empire, introduced with the promulgation of the Vilayet Law ( tr|Teşkil-i Vilayet Nizamnamesi) of 21 January 1867. The reform was part of the ongoing administrative reforms that were being enacted throughout the empire, and enshrined in the Imperial Edict of 1856. The reform was at first implemented experimentally in the Danube Vilayet, specially formed in 1864 and headed by the leading reformist Midhat Pasha. The reform was gradually implemented, and not until 1884 was it applied to the entirety of the Empire's provinces.


The term is derived from the Arabic word or (). While in Arabic, the word is used to denote a province or region or district without any specific administrative connotation, the Ottomans used it to denote a specific administrative division.

Administrative division

The Ottoman Empire had already begun to modernize its administration and regularize its provinces (eyalets) in the 1840s, but the Vilayet Law extended this to the entire Ottoman territory, with a regularized hierarchy of administrative units: the vilayet, headed by a ''vali'', was subdivided into sub-provinces (''sanjak'' or ''liva'') under a ''mütesarrif'', further into districts (''kaza'' ) under a ''kaimakam'', and into communes (''nahiye'') under a ''müdir''. The ''vali'' was the representative of the Sultan in the vilayet and hence the supreme head of the administration. He was assisted by secretaries in charge of finances (''defterdar''), correspondence and archives (''mektubci''), dealings with foreigners, public works, agriculture and commerce, nominated by the respective ministers. Along with the chief justice (''mufettiş-i hukkam-i Şeri'a''), these officials formed the vilayet's executive council. In addition, there was an elected provincial council of four members, two Muslims and two non-Muslims. The governor of the chief ''sanjak'' (''merkez sanjak''), where the vilayet's capital was located, deputized for the ''vali'' in the latter's absence. A similar structure was replicated in the lower hierarchical levels, with executive and advisory councils drawn from the local administrators and—following long-established practice—the heads of the various local religious communities.


Vilayets of the Ottoman Empire circa 1900:


Vilayets, sanjaks and autonomies, c. 1876

Vilayets, sanjaks and autonomies, circa 1876: * Vilayet of Constantinople * Vilayet of Adrianople: sanjaks of Adrianople (Edirne), Tekirdağ, Gelibolu, Filibe, Sliven. * Vilayet of the Danube: sanjaks of Ruse, Varna, Vidin, Tulcea, Turnovo, Sofia, Niš. * Vilayet of Bosnia: sanjaks of Bosna-Serai, Zvornik, Banja Luka, Travnik, Bebkèh, Novi Pazar. * Vilayet of Herzegovina: sanjaks of Mostar, Gacko. * Vilayet of Salonica: sanjaks of Salonica, Serres, Drama. * Vilayet of Ioannina: sanjaks of Ioannina, Tirhala, Ohrid, Preveze, Berat. * Vilayet of Monastir: sanjaks of Manastir (now Bitola), Prizren, Üsküb, Dibra. * Vilayet of Scutari: sanjak of Scutari. * Vilayet of the Archipelago: sanjaks of Rhodes, Midilli, Sakız, Kos, Cyprus. * Vilayet of Crete: sanjaks of Chania, Rethymno, Candia, Sfakia, Lasithi. * Vilayet of Hudavendigar: sanjaks of Bursa, Izmid, Karasi, Karahisar-i-Sarip, Kütahya. * Vilayet of Aidin: sanjaks of Smyrna (now İzmir), Aydın, Saruhan, Menteşe. * Vilayet of Angora: sanjaks of Angora (now Ankara), Yozgat, Kayseri, Kırşehir. * Vilayet of Konya: sanjaks of Konya, Teke, Hamid, Niğde, Burdur. * Vilayet of Kastamonu: sanjaks of Kastamonu, Boli, Sinop, Çankırı. * Kosovo Vilayet * Vilayet of Trebizond: sanjaks of Trebizond (Trabzon), Gümüşhane, Batumi, Canik. * Vilayet of Sivas: sanjaks of Sivas, Amasya, Karahisar-ı Şarki. * Vilayet of Erzurum: sanjaks of Erzurum, Tchaldir, Bayezit, Kars, Mouch, Erzincan, Van. * Vilayet of Diyarbekir: sanjaks of Diyarbakır, Mamuret-ul-Aziz, Mardin, Siirt, Malatya. * Vilayet of Adana: sanjaks of Adana, Kozan, İçel, Paias. * Vilayet of Syria: sanjaks of Damascus, Hama, Beirut, Tripoli, Hauran, Akka, Belka, Kudus-i-Cherif (Jerusalem). * Vilayet of Aleppo: sanjaks of Aleppo, Maraş, Urfa, Zor. * Vilayet of Baghdad: sanjaks of Baghdad, Mosul, Sharazor, Sulaymaniyah, Dialim, Kerbela, Helleh, Amara. * Vilayet of Basra: sanjaks of Basra, Muntafiq, Najd, Hejaz. * Emirate of Mecca: Mecca, Medina. * Vilayet of Yemen: sanjaks of Sana'a, Hudaydah, Asir, Ta'izz. * Vilayet of Tripolitania: sanjaks of Tripoli, Bengazi, Khoms, Djebal gharbiyeh, Fezzan. * Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate * Principality of Samos * Mount Athos (part of the Sanjak of Salonica)

Vilayets and independent sanjaks in 1917

Vilayets and independent sanjaks in 1917:A handbook of Asia Minor
Published 1919 by Naval staff, Intelligence dept. in London. Page 226

Vassals and autonomies

* Eastern Rumelia (Rumeli-i Şarkî): autonomous province (Vilayet in Turkish) (1878–1885); unified with Bulgaria in 1885 * Sanjak of Benghazi (Bingazi Sancağı): autonomous sanjak. Formerly in the vilayet of Tripoli, but after 1875 dependent directly on the ministry of the interior at Constantinople. * Sanjak of Biga (Biga Sancağı) (also called Kale-i Sultaniye) (autonomous sanjak, not a vilayet) * Sanjak of Çatalca (Çatalca Sancağı) (autonomous sanjak, not a vilayet) * Cyprus (Kıbrıs) (island with special status) (Kıbrıs Adası) * Khedivate of Egypt (Mısır) (autonomous khedivate, not a vilayet) (Mısır Hidivliği) * Sanjak of Izmit (İzmid Sancağı) (autonomous sanjak, not a vilayet) * Mutasarrifyya/Sanjak of Jerusalem (Kudüs-i Şerif Mutasarrıflığı): independent and directly linked to the Minister of the Interior in view of its importance to the three major monotheistic religions.Palestine; A Modern History (1978)
by Adulwahab Al Kayyali. Page 1
*Sharifate of Mecca (Mekke Şerifliği) (autonomous sharifate, not a vilayet) *Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate (Cebel-i Lübnan Mutasarrıflığı): sanjak or mutessariflik, dependent directly on the Porte. *Principality of Samos (Sisam Beyliği) (island with special status) *Tunis Eyalet (Tunus Eyaleti) (autonomous eyalet, ruled by hereditary beys)

''Encyclopædia Britannica'' on the late Ottoman administration


File:Turkey in Europe and Greece.jpg|Vilayets of Europe in 1870 File:Gray's New Map of the Countries Surrounding the Black Sea Comprising European Turkey, Southern Russia, Asia Minor, Etc. (inset) The Bosphorus and Vicinity. Copyright, 1877, by O.W. Gray & Son.jpg|Vilayets in 1877 File:Turkey in Europe. (with) The Bosporus & Constantinople. (with) Crete or Candia. By Keith Johnston, F.R.S.E. Keith Johnston's General Atlas. Engraved, Printed, and Published by W. & A.K. Johnston, Edinburgh & London.jpg|Vilayets of Europe in 1893 File:Rand, McNally & Co.'s new 14 x 21 map of Turkey in Asia, Asia Minor. Copyright 1895, by Rand, McNally & Co. (Chicago, 1897).jpg|Vilayets of Asia in 1897 File:Turkey in Asia, 1909.jpg|Vilayets of Asia in 1909 File:Turkey in Europe and the Balkans, 1910.jpg|Vilayets of Europe in 1910 File:W. & A.K. Johnston. Asia Minor. 1911.jpg|Vilayets of Asia in 1911

See also

* Provinces of Turkey * Six vilayets, the Armenian vilayets of the empire * Vilayet Law



Further reading

* - About the Law of the Vilayets

External links

Vilayet Law of 1864, official translation to French
pp. 36–45, in Young, George, ''Corps de droit ottoman; recueil des codes, lois, règlements, ordonnances et actes les plus importants du droit intérieur, et d'études sur le droit coutumier de l'Empire ottoman'', Volume 1, 1905.
Vilayet Law of 1867, in French
in ''Législation ottomane'', published by Gregory Aristarchis and edited by Demetrius Nicolaides, Volume 2 {{Authority control * Category:Subdivisions of the Ottoman Empire