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Encyclopedia > Provinces of the Ottoman Empire

This article details the subdivisions of the Ottoman Empire.


The Ottoman Empire was divided into provinces (vilayets, beylerbeyilik eyalets or pashaluks). As time progressed the number of provinces would vary from thirty-six a little over twenty, until many of the provinces were lost during World War I. At the height of its power, the Empire had 29 provinces. The Provinces of Rumili and Anadolu were under the direct rule of the sultan in Istanbul. The remaining 27 provinces were controlled by governor-generals (beylerbeyis).

As well as the provinces there were three tributary states (Khanate of Crimea, Wallachia, and Moldavia) and Transylvania, a principality under the suzerainty of the Porte.

  • Erzerum
  • Van
  • Shehrizor
  • Baghdad
  • Buda
  • Bosnia
  • Kanizsa
  • Özi (Ochakov)
  • Trebizond (Trabzon)
  • Tripoli
  • Cyprus
  • Tunis

After 1861 there also existed the autonomous Province of Lebanon, which had been created as a homeland for the Maronite Christians under European pressure.


The provinces where further divided into administrative divisions known as sanjaks and juridical divisions known as kazas (alternatively kadiluk). The number of sanjaks and kazas per vilayet varied. Some of the smallest and/or most sparsely populated provinces consisted of only one sanjak. Some sanjaks, such as the Sanjak of Jerusalem, were not part of any province.

Sanjaks were further divided into districts (nahiyes), comprising of fiefs. There were three different levels of fiefs: the timar (worth less than 20 000 akçes per year), the zeamet (worth less than 100 000 akçes per year), and the hass (worth more than 100 000 açes per year).

See also

See the article on state organisation of the Ottoman Empire for further information on the structure of power in the provinces.



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