The city is built around a small bay on the Black Sea coast, on a narrow strip of flat land between the sea and the mountains behind. The coastal strip is being expanded with landfill and the city is growing up the steep hillsides away from the coast. Rize enjoys a mild, extremely wet climate, vulnerable to storms coming off the Black Sea and therefore the surrounding countryside is rich with vegetation and is attracting more and more visitors every year.
Rize is a center for processing and shipping the tea grown in the surrounding area. Tea was introduced in the region in the 1940’s and 1950’s, changing the region’s destiny, which was deperately poor until then. The city has a tea research institute founded in 1958 and tea gardens are the main sight in the town’s panoramic view. Tea and kiwifruit plants are even planted in gardens around the town. The secondary activity is fishing. Rize is linked by road with Trabzon (41 miles [66 km] west), Hopa (55 miles [88 km] east, on the Georgian border, and Erzurum (north). The nearest airport is in Trabzon.
Rize is a quiet town, a typical Turkish provincial capital with little in the way of night life or enetertainment. However the border with Georgia has been open since the early 90’s, the Black Sea coast road has been widened and Rize is now wealthier than in previous decades; there are more cars in the streets, higher buildings on the sea front, and some places for young people to go are opening up now. The visitors to the surrounding countryside also contribute to the economy of the town.
The economic structure of Rize is based primarily around its geographic location. Rize is a very mountainous city, making industrial development difficult and impractical. Given the lack of air and rail transit, most goods have to travel by truck or ship, which makes exporting and importing more difficult. Rize’s primary trading partner is Trazbon, the most developed city of northeast Black Sea region. Rize’s main exports are agriculturally based; tea and kiwi fruit are among its most popular commodities.