Bitlis (bĭtlĭsˈ) [key], city (1990 pop. 38,130), capital of Bitlis prov., E Turkey, on a tributary of the Tigris River, at c.4,500 ft (1,370 m). Grains, fruit, and tobacco are grown nearby. It was an important caravan center for centuries and was captured by Persians, Arabs, Seljuk Turks, Byzantines, and Ottoman Turks. In the 19th cent. the town had a large Armenian population.