Bassoraii, Or Basra, a town of Asiatic Turkey, in the eyalet of Bagdad, on the right bank of the Shat-el-Arab, about 70 m. from its mouth in the Persian gulf; pop. reduced by wars, pestilences, and inundations from 150,000 about 1750 to not much over 4,000 in 1872. It is still an important commercial and maritime station. The soil of the surrounding country is fertile, but few articles are cultivated except dates, of which immense quantities are sent to Persia and India. Horses are also exported. Copper, once exported, is at present imported, as well as coffee, indigo, rice, spices, and timber. The English Tigris and Euphrates company have had a station here since 1862. Old Bassorah, the ruins of which are 8 m. S. W. of the present town, was celebrated as the chief emporium of the caliphs of Bagdad. One of the first Mohammedan learned schools was founded here in the 4th century, and the town was called Kubhet-el-Islam (the cupola of Islam). In the middle of the 12th century it had already begun to decline, the poet Edrisi relating that he found its "7,000" mosques deserted.
The present town dates from the 17th century, and was desolated in the 18th by wars between the Turks and the Persians. It was occupied from 1832 to 1840 by the Egyptians.