Samsun (Greek Σαμψούς Sampsus or Σαμψούντα Sampsounta) is a city in northern Turkey, on the coast of the Black Sea, with a population of 396,900 as of 2004. It is the capital city of Samsun Province and an important port. Samsun was founded as the colony Amisos (alternative spelling Amisus) by settlers from Miletus in the 7th century BC. It was later a part of the Pontus realm.
Samsun is situated between two river deltas which jut into the Black Sea. It is located at the end of an ancient route from Cappadocia: the Amisos of antiquity lay on the headland northwest of the modern city. To Samsun's west, lies the Kızılırmak ("Red River", the Halys of antiquity), one of the longest rivers in Anatolia and its fertile delta. To the east, lie the Yeşilırmak ("Green River", the Iris of antiquity) and its delta.
Samsun's ideal combination of fertile ground and shallow waters has attracted numerous trade interests. Greek colonists settled in the 6th century BC and established a flourishing trade relationship with the ancient peoples of Anatolia. At that time, Samsun was part of the Greek colony of Amisus. In the 3rd century BC, Samsun came under the expanded rule of the Kingdom of Pontus. The Kingdom of Pontus had been part of the empire of Alexander the Great. However, the empire was fractured soon after Alexander's death in the 4th century BC. At its height, the kingdom controlled the north of central Anatolia and mercantile towns on the northern Black Sea shores.
It became part of the Roman Empire in 47 BC, and the Byzantine Empire after the division of the Roman Empire. In 1200 Samsun was captured by the Seljuks, to be later replaced by the İlhanlılar. Samsun was incorporated into the network of Genoese trading posts and was taken by the Ottomans in the beginning of the 15th century. Before leaving, the Genoese razed the town.
Samsun was the city where Mustafa Kemal initiated the Turkish War of Independence, on 19 May, 1919, touching off the second pogrom against the Pontian Greeks. May 19th is both celebrated as a national day in Turkey and a day of commemoration of the Pontus massacre in Greece.
At the time, the population of the city was 35,000 with just over half that number being Greeks. It was the second largest city in the Pontus region after Trapezus.