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1730 map
1849 map
Two European maps of the Ottoman Empire. The first map describes the provinces as "Beylerbeyliks", whereas the second describes them as "Pashaliks"

Eyalets (Ottoman Turkish: ایالت Turkish pronunciation: [ejaːˈlet]) were a primary administrative division of the Ottoman Empire.

From 1453 to the beginning of the nineteenth century the Ottoman local government was loosely structured.[1] The Empire was at first divided into provinces called eyalets, presided over by a Pasha of three Tails.[1] The Grand Vizier was responsible for nominating all the high officers of State, both in the capital and the provinces.[1] Between 1861 and 1866, these Eyalets were abolished, and the territory was divided for administrative purposes into Vilayets.[1]

The eyalets were subdivided into districts called livas or sanjaks, each of which was under the charge of a Pasha of one tail, with the title of Mira-lira, or Sanjak-bey.[2] These provinces were usually called pashalics by Europeans.[2] The pasha was invested with powers of absolute government within his province, being the chief of both the military and financial departments, as well as police and criminal justice.[2]

At official functions, the order of precedence was Egypt, Baghdad, Abyssinia, Buda, Anatolia, "Mera'ish", and the Capitan Pasha in Asia and Buda, Egypt, Abyssinia, Baghdad, and Rumelia in Europe, with the remainder arranged according to the chronological order of their conquest.[3]


The term eyalet is sometimes translated province or governorate. Depending on the rank of the governor, they were also sometimes known as pashaliks (governed by a pasha), beylerbeyliks (governed by a bey or beylerbey), and kapudanliks (governed by a kapudan).

Pashaluk or Pashalik (Turkish: paşalık) is the abstract word derived from pasha, denoting the quality, office or jurisdiction of a pasha or the territory administered by him. In European sources, the word "pashalic" generally referred to the eyalets.[2]

Eyalet (also pashalic or beglerbeglic) was the territory of office of a beylerbeyi, and was further subdivided in sanjaks.[4] Toward the end of the 16th century, beglerbegiliks began to be known as eyalets.[5] The term 'eyalet' began to be applied to the largest administrative unit of the Ottoman Empire instead of beglerbegilik from the 1590s onward, and it continued to be used until 1867.[5]


Murad I instituted the great division of the sultanate into two beylerbeyiliks of Rumelia and Anatolia, in circa 1365.[6] With the eastward expansion of Bayezid’s realms in the 1390s, a third eyalet, Rûm Eyalet, came into existence, with Amasya its chief town. This became the seat of government of Bayezid’s youngest son, Mehmed I, and was to remain a residence of princely governors until the 16th century.[7]

In 1395, Bayezid I executed the last Shishmanid Tsar of Bulgaria, and annexed his realm to Rumelia Eyalet. In 1461, Mehmed II expelled the last of the Isfendyarid dynasty from Sinop, awarding him lands near Bursa in exchange for his hereditary territory. The Isfendyarid principality became a district of Anatolia Eyalet.[7] In 1468, Karaman Eyalet was established, following the annexation of the formerly independent principality of Karaman; Mehmed II appointed his son Mustafa as governor of the new eyalet, with his seat at Konya.[7]

The 16th century saw the greatest increase in the number of eyalets, largely through the conquests of Selim I and Süleyman I, which created the need to incorporate the new territory into the structure of the Empire, and partly through the reorganisation of existing territory.[7] A list dated 1527 shows eight eyalets, with Egypt, Damascus, Diyarbekir and Kurdistan added to the original four. The last eyalet, however, did not survive as an administrative entity. Süleyman’s conquests in eastern Turkey, Iraq and Hungary also resulted in the creation of new eyalets.[7]

The former principality of Dulkadir became the Dulkadir Eyalet at some time after its annexation in 1522. After the Iranian campaign of 1533–6, the new eyalets of Erzurum, Van, Sharazor and Baghdad guarded the frontier with Iran.[7] In 1541 came the creation of Budin Eyalet from part of the old Kingdom of Hungary.[7] The Eyalet of the Archipelago was created by Süleyman I especially for Hayreddin Barbarossa in 1533, by detaching districts from the shores and islands of the Aegean which had previously been part of the eyalets of Rumelia and Anatolia, and uniting them as an independent eyalet.[7]

In 1580 Bosnia, previously a district of Rumelia, became an eyalet in its own right, presumably in view of its strategically important position on the border with the Habsburgs. Similar considerations led to the creation of the Kanije Eyalet from the districts adjoining this border fortress, which had fallen to the Ottomans in 1600. In the same period, the annexation of the Rumelian districts on the lower Danube and the Black Sea coast, and their addition to territories between the Danube and the Dniepr along the Black Sea, created the Silistra Eyalet. At the same time, on the south-eastern shore of the Black Sea, Trebizond Eyalet came into being. The purpose of this reorganisation, and especially the creation of the eyalet of Özi was presumably to improve the defences of the Black Sea ports against the Cossacks.[7]

By 1609, according to the list of Ayn Ali, there were 32 eyalets. Some of these, such as Tripoli, Cyprus or Tunis, were the spoils of conquest. Others, however, were the products of administrative division.[7]

In 1795, the government launched a major reorganization of the provincial administration, with a law decreeing that there would be 28 provinces, each to be governed by a vizer. These were Adana, Aleppo, Anatolia, Baghdad, Basra, Bosnia, Childir, Crete, Damascus, Diyarbekir, Egypt, Erzurum, Habesh, Karaman, Kars, Dulkadir, the Archipelago, Morea, Mosul, Rakka, Rumelia, Sayda, Sharazor, Silistra, Sivas, Trebizond, Tripoli, Van. In practice, however, central control remained weak, and beylerbeyis continued to rule some provinces, instead of vizers.[8]


The beglerbegiliks where the timar system was not applied, such as Abyssinia, Algers, Egypt, Baghdad, Basra and Lahsa, were more autonomous than the others. Instead of collecting provincial revenues through sipahis, the beglerbegi transferred fixed annuals sums to Istanbul, known as the salyane.[5]

By 1500, the four central eyalets of the Empire, Rumelia, Anatolia, Rum and Karaman, were under direct rule. Wallachia, Moldavia and the Khanate of the Crimea, territories which Mehmed II had brought under his suzerainty, remained in the control of native dynasties tributary to the Sultan. So, too, did the Kingdom of Hungary after the battle of Mohács in 1526.[7]


Diyâr-ı Bekr


From the mid-14th century until the late 16th century, only one new beylerbeylik (Karaman) was established.

Disappeared before 1609

The eyalets that existed before 1609 but disappeared include the following:[9]

Province Name Ottoman Turkish Name and Transliteration (Modern Turkish) Existed for
Abkhazia Abhazya  ? years (1578–?) also called Sukhum [Sohumkale] or Georgia [Gürcistan] and included Mingrelia and Imeretia as well as modern Abkhazia – nominally annexed but never fully conquered
Akhaltsikhe Ahıska  ? years (1603–?) either split from or coextensive with Samtskhe
Dagestan Dağıstan  ? years (1578–?) also called Demirkapı – assigned a serdar [chief] rather than a beylerbeyi
Dmanisi Tumanis  ? years (1584–?)
Ganja Gence 16 years (1588–1604)
Gori Gori  ? years (1588–?) probably replaced Tiflis after 1586
Győr Yanık 04 years (1594–1598)
Kakheti Kaheti  ? years (1578–?) Kakhetian king was appointed hereditary bey
Lazistan  ? years (1574–?)
Lorri Lori  ? years (1584–?)
Moldavia Boğdan 01 year (1595 only) the rest of the time Moldavia was a separate autonomous province
Nakhichevan Nahçivan 01 year (1603 only) possibly never separate from Yerevan[9]
Poti Faş  ? years (1579–?) may have also been another name for Trabzon
Sanaa San'a 02 years (1567–1569) temporary division of Yemen
Shemakha Şamahı 01 year (1583 only) may have also been another name for Shervan
Szigetvár Zigetvar 04 years (1596–1600) later transferred to Kanizsa
Shervan Şirvan 26 years (1578–1604) overseen by a serdar [chief] rather than a beylerbeyi
Tabriz Tebriz 18 years (1585–1603)
Tiflis Tiflis 08 years (1578–1586) probably replaced by Gori after 1586
Wallachia Eflak 01 year (1595 only) the rest of the time Wallachia was a separate autonomous province
Yerevan Erivan 21 years (1583–1604) sometimes also included Van
Zabid Zebit 02 years (1567–1569) temporary division of Yemen

Eyalets in 1609

Conquests of Selim I and Suleyman I in the 16th century required an increase in administrative units. By the end of the latter half of the century there were as many as 42 eyalets, as the beylerbeyliks came to be known. The chart below shows the administrative situation as of 1609.

Province Name Ottoman Turkish Name and Transliteration (Modern Turkish) Existed for
Abyssinia Habeş 313 years (1554–1867) Included areas on both sides of the Red Sea. Also called "Mecca and Medina"
Adana Eyalet آضنه Ażana (Adana) 257 years (1608–1865)
Archipelago جزایر بحر سفید Cezayir-i Bahr-i Sefid 329 years (1535–1864) Domain of the Kapudan Pasha (Lord Admiral); Also called Denizi or Denizli, later Vilayet of the Archipelago
Aleppo Eyalet حلب Ḥaleb (Halep) 330 years (1534–1864)
Algiers Eyalet جزایر غرب Cezâyîr-i Ġarb (Cezayir Garp, Cezayir) 313 years (1517–1830)
Anatolia Eyalet Anadolu 462 years (1365–1827) With Rumelia, one of the original two eyalets
Baghdad Eyalet بغداد Baġdâd (Bağdat) 326 years (1535–1861)
Basra Eyalet بصره Baṣra (Basra) 324 years (1538-1862)
Bosnia Eyalet Bosna 284 years (1580–1864)
Buda Budin 145 years (1541–1686)
Cyprus قبرص Ḳıbrıṣ (Kıbrıs) 092 years (1571-1660; 1745-1748)
Diyarbekir Eyalet دیار بكر Diyârbekir (Diyarbakır) 145 years (1541–1686)
Eger Eyalet اكر Egir (Eğri) 065 years (1596–1661)
Egypt Eyalet مصر Mıṣır (Mısır) 350 years (1517–1867)
Erzurum Eyalet Erzurum 334 years (1533–1867)
Al-Hasa Eyalet Lahsa 110 years (1560–1670) Seldom directly ruled
Kefe (Theodosia) كفه Kefe 206 years (1568–1774)
Kanizsa Eyalet Kanije 086 years (1600–1686)
Karaman Eyalet Karaman 381 years (1483–1864)
Kars Eyalet Kars 295 years (1580–1875) Bounded to Erzurum Eyalet in 1875.
Maraş Maraş, Dulkadır 342 years (1522–1864)
Mosul Eyalet Musul 329 years (1535–1864)
Ar-Raqqah Rakka 278 years (1586–1864)
Rumelia Rumeli 502 years (1365–1867) With Anatolia, one of the original two eyalets
Samtskhe Çıldır 267 years (1578–1845) Also called Meskheti, later possibly coextensive with Akhaltsikhe (Ahıska) Province. Most of eyalet passed to Russia in 1829. Remained parts of eyalet bounded to Erzurum in 1845.
Sharazor Şehrizor 132 years (1554–1686) Also Shahrizor, Sheherizul, or Kirkuk. In 1830, this eyalet bounded to Mosul province as Kirkuk sanjak.
Silistria Eyalet Silistre 271 years (1593–1864) Later sometimes called Ochakiv (Özi); First beylerbeyi was the Crimean khan
Eyalet of Sivas Sivas 466 years (1398–1864)
Syria شام Şam 348 years (1517–1865)
Temeşvar Eyalet Tımışvar (Temeşvar) 164 years (1552–1716)
Trebizond Eyalet, Lazistan Trabzon 403 years (1461–1864)
Tripoli Eyalet (Tripoli-in-the-East) طرابلس شام Trablus-ı Şam (Trablusşam) 285 years (1579–1864)
Tripolitania Eyalet (Tripoli-in-the-West) طرابلس غرب Trablus-ı Garb (Trablusgarp) 313 years (1551-1864)
Tunis Eyalet Tunus 340 years (1524–1864)
Van Eyalet وان Van 316 years (1548–1864)
Yemen Eyalet یمن Yemen 142 years (1517–1636; 1849–1872)


  • Colin Imber. The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650: The structure of Power. (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.)
  • Halil Inalcik. The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age 1300–1600. Trans. Norman Itzkowitz and Colin Imber. (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1973.)
  • Donald Edgar Pitcher. An Historical Geography of the Ottoman Empire (Leiden, Netherlands: E.J.Brill,1972.)

Established 1609–1683

Province Name Ottoman Turkish Name and Transliteration (Modern Turkish) Existed for
Crete Eyalet Girid 198 years (1669–1867)
Morea Mora 181 years (1620–1687) and (1715–1829) originally part of Aegean Archipelago Province
Podolia Podolya 027 years (1672–1699) overseen by several serdars (marshals) rather than by beylerbeyi (governors)
Sidon Sayda 181 years (1660–1841)
Uyvar Eyalet Uyvar 022 years (1663–1685)
Varad Eyalet Varad 031 years (1661–1692)

Established 1683–1864

Province Name Ottoman Turkish Name and Transliteration (Modern Turkish) Existed for
Eyalet of Adrianople Edirne 38 years (1826–1864)
Monastir Eyalet Monastir 38 years (1826-1864)
Salonica Eyalet Selanik 38 years (1826-1864)
Eyalet of Aidin Aydın 38 years (1826-1864)
Ankara Eyalet Ankara 37 years (1827-1864)
Kastamonu Eyalet Kastamonu 37 years (1827-1864)
Herzegovina Eyalet Hersek 18 years (1833–1851)
Hüdavendigâr Eyalet Hüdavendigâr 26 years (1841-1867)
Karasi Eyalet Karesi 02 years (1845-1847)
Niš Eyalet Niş 18 years (1846–1864)
Vidin Eyalet Vidin 18 years (1846–1864)


See also

  • Subdivisions of the Ottoman Empire


External links

  • Contains a list of eyalets, or 'beglerbei'.
  • Includes a list of provinces or 'beierbei'.
  • With a list of 'beglerbegatus'.
  • With a list of 'beglerbeg' and 'sangiacks'.
  • With a list of 'beglerbeglics'.
  • Includes a list of beglerbegliks and sanjaks.
  • With a list of Eyalets and livas.
  • The appendix includes a list of 'government-generals', sanjaks, and their governors.

Further reading

  • Colin Imber. The Ottoman Empire, 1300-1650: The Structure of Power. (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.)
  • Halil Inalcik. The Ottoman Empire: The Classical Age 1300-1600. Trans. Norman Itzkowitz and Colin Imber. (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1973.)
  • Paul Robert Magocsi. Historical Atlas of Central Europe. (2nd ed.) Seattle, WA, USA: Univ. of Washington Press, 2002)
  • Nouveau Larousse illustré, undated (early 20th century), passim (in French)
  • Donald Edgar Pitcher. An Historical Geography of the Ottoman Empire. (Leiden, Netherlands: E.J.Brill,1972.) (Includes 36 color maps)
  • Westermann, Großer Atlas zur Weltgeschichte (in German) (includes maps)

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