Akko

Akko (ăkˈō) [key] or Acre āˈkər, äˈ–, Fr. Saint-Jean d'Acre, Arab. Acca, city (1994 pop. 45,300), NW Israel, a port on the Bay of Haifa (an arm of the Mediterranean Sea). Its manufactures include iron and steel, chemicals, and textiles. The city was captured (A.D. 638) by the Arabs, who developed its natural harbor. In 1104 it was captured in the First Crusade and was held by Christians until 1187, when it was taken by Saladin. In the Third Crusade it was won back (1191) by Guy of Lusignan, Richard I of England, and Philip II of France, who gave it to the Knights Hospitalers (the Knights of St. John, hence its French name). For the next century it was the center of the Christian possessions in the Holy Land. Its surrender and virtual destruction by the Saracens in 1291 marked the decline of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Crusades. Akko was taken by the Ottoman Turks in 1517 and was revived in the late 18th cent. under Dahir al-Umar, the local Ottoman ruler. In 1799, Ottoman forces, with the aid of Great Britain, withstood a 61-day siege by Napoleon I. The city was taken in 1832 by Ibrahim Pasha for Muhammad Ali of Egypt, but European and Ottoman forces won it back for the Ottoman Empire in 1840. British troops captured the city in 1918. Akko was assigned to the Arabs in the 1948 partition of Palestine, but it was captured by Israeli forces in the Arab-Israeli war of that year. By the 1990s its population was about three fourths Jewish and one fourth Arab. The city is a popular tourist site. Landmarks include an ancient citadel, walled fortifications, the al-Jazzar mosque, and several churches dating from the Crusades.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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