The Armenian Diaspora includes the Armenian communities, who live beyond The Republic of Armenia and Artsakh. The total number of Armenians all over the world consists of about 13mln people. The number of the Armenian Diaspora is nearly 8-9 mln. During many years, the migration of Armenians and other nations is based on 3 main factors: economic, religious and political, which have always been under the persecution and pressure of foreign authorities, only in the absence of independent state.
In the 3rd and 4th centuries, the huge migration of Armenians to Iran took place during the reign of kings Sasanian Artashir 1st and Shapuh 2nd. The Byzantine policy was the consistent one in the time, when Armenians had to migrate to the West, especially to the Balkans- Thrace, Macedonia etc. Their existence in the high levels of Byzantine state was the reason of Armenian Aristocracy and Military migrations, and they expanded to the establishment of Macedonian and Armenian dynasties(867-1057).
The Armenian migration had large sizes mainly in 7- 14th centuries, when the Armenians had to migrate to Syria, Mesopotamia, Crimea, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Kievian Russia, seacoast zones of Asia Minor, because of some nomadic nations’ forays (Arabians, Seljuks, Mongols).
The massive migration of Armenians to Kilikia was a significant event in the Armenian history. It was expanded in the 10-11th centuries, when large number of governmental families with their retainers, and some commanders with their troops moved to Kilikia, because of the invasion of Seljuks. After some time, the Armenians not only had a dominant position in different spheres, but also established a government, then The Armenian Kingdom, and the Holiness of The Armenian Apostolic Church soon was removed to Sis (before 1441). Although, after the fall of The Kilikian Armenian kingdom (1375), a great number of Armenians migrated to Italy, Syria, France etc. The activities of Armenians in Kilikia had a continuation later (even till 1921), and Armenians considered Kilikia to be an important part of their homeland.
In the Middle ages the spread of Armenian in different countries was based on the fact, that since the 16th century Armenian merchants had been one of the main organizers of the trade between East-West. Their occupation extended from India, Persia to Portugal and France, and the Armenians who settled in the southern parts of Russia (Astrakhan, New Nakhijevan etc.), had their role in the establishment of Russian- Persian trade relationship. They’ve built many trade companies in those places, thus, some new Armenian communities have been formed due to them.
In the Armenian history the invasion of Seljuk Turks and other troops was a fateful one, which being established in that region, contributed to creating of the own country. Near the Ottoman Empire- in Europe and Asia, the Turks began persecuting the locals, Christians (Armenians, Greeks, Bulgarians etc.). In that period, Armenians had to migrate not only from Armenia, but also from the places invaded by Turks, where they had been settled in the previous times. In 1475, after the capture of Crimea, a huge number of Armenians migrated to Russia, Poland etc. In the 16-17th centuries, Persian kings, especially Abbas the 1st deported hundreds of Armenians to Persia, where they established new cities (New Jugha) and added more Armenian communities in order to develop the country’s economic condition.
In 1826-1829, after the victorious wars of Russia, the resettlement of Armenians in Eastern Armenia started. Russia organized immigration of Armenians (nearly 150.000) to Eastern Armenia , who were under the Turkish and Persian domination, and the intention was to develop and gain trustworthy population in the Armenian regions, which joined Russia- Yerevan and Nakhijevan khanates. Due to it, the number of Armenians increased, Eastern Armenia became their uniting center.
In the eve of World War 1st, the Armenians’ activities living in these countries (Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, India, Russia, France, Bulgaria, USA etc) were organized and regulated by a whole system of regional institutions- churches, charitable, educational, patriotic, political and other organizations. Constantinople and Tiflis were the most concentrated ones, as they were the cultural, political and financial centers of Eastern and Western Armenians. Some of the large cultural centers of migration were Smyrna, Moscow, Venice, Baku, Kolkata.
During World War 1st, The Ottoman Empire was trying to put the Armenians under pressure, and put an end to the international efforts of solving the Armenian issue. For this occasion, in 1915 in Western Armenia, as a result of their organized genocide and exile, almost 1.5mln Armenians were killed. After the war (1918), Armenians started returning to homeland, firstly to Kilikia. Although, in 1921 France took its troops from Kilikia, gave it to Turkey, and Armenians had only one solution, they eventually left Kilikia. To add, this phenomenon was the the first one in the history (1915-1922), that Armenians vanished from their familiar places- Western Armenia and Kilikia and they settled beyond the borders of Eastern Armenia. Unfortunately, those immigrants and their descendents are still denied to return to their homeland. Thus, they started to settle in different countries of the world. And a new word like Diaspora originated, which refers to the Armenians living abroad.
The Armenian Diaspora is the follower of The Armenian Apostolic Church. But there’re also Catholics and Protestants, especially Gospels and Orthodox Armenians.
Now, there’re Armenian communities in Russia (nearly 2,3 mln), USA (1,5 mln), Georgia (350k), France(900k), Iran (120 k), Syria (150k), Lebanon (250k), Argentina (135 k), Canada (till 100k), Turkey (75-80 k). In recent years the number of Armenian communities has increased in the following countries Uzbekistan (75k), Ukraine (130k), Australia (60k), Brazil (44k), Germany (50-60 k), Spain (50k), Great Britain (19k), Bulgaria (30k), Rumania (3k), Greece (35k), Egypt (9k),Cyprus (4k), , Uruguay (19k), Venezuela (4k), Sweden (8k),Switzerland (7k), Kuwait (5k), UAE (3 հզ),Իտալիայում (3 k), Netherlands (7k), Ethiopia and other countries.
Since 2008, there has been The Ministry of Diaspora in the Republic of Armenia, which a national body. Its mission is to realize Armenia- Diaspora cooperation, develop and organize national uniting programs, arrange educational and cultural activities, preserve and spread cultural inheritance, contributes to the repatriation, organizes pilgrimage for the Diaspora youngsters etc.
Translated by Christy Manukyan
The group ” Genealogy “, gathering 6 Armenians from the Republic of Armenia and Diaspora, on Eurovision with song “Don`t deny”, remembering 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
Face The Shadow - Don`t deny