Armenian Diaspora Communities
For centuries the Armenian nation has been a unique bridge between the east and the west. Due to the loss of Armenian statehood and numerous foreign invasions, Armenian communities have formed in neighboring countries and regions since the Middle Ages. As a result of the Armenian Genocide, hundreds of thousands of survivors found refuge in various parts of the world, forming what is known today as the "traditional Armenian Diaspora." The Diaspora further expanded due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the ensuing economic and regional turmoil.
Today, an estimated 7 million Armenians live in more than 100 countries around the world. There are dozens of pan-Armenian and spiritual organizations, hundreds of community and patriotic groups, around 1,000 daily and weekly schools, scientific and educational institutions, sports and cultural associations, charities, and socio-political entities actively working in the Diaspora. The Diaspora is diverse and complex, spread through 24 time zones, living in countries with different political systems, languages, and cultural traditions. Each community adds to the vibrant makeup of the Armenian nation.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE COMMUNITIES
According to historical records, the first Armenians arrived in Albania in 1913. The number increased with the arrival of survivors of the Armenian Genocide, who came primarily via Greece and Syria to escape prosecution. In 1922-1924 during King Zogu’s reign around 30 to 50 Armenian families were accommodated in Albania, in fact, an Armenian, Dr. Poturlian (Mokini) served as King Zogu's personal doctor.
The Armenian community of Argentina was formed at the beginning of the 20th century as a result of the 1909 massacres in Adana organized by Turkish authorities. By 1914 about 2000 Armenians lived in Argentina. Between 1922-1930 survivors of the Armenian Genocide from Cilicia and Izmir expanded the community.
Armenians have been living in Austria since the Middle Ages however, the Armenian community was formed in the 17th to 18th centuries. In 1683, during the Battle of Vienna when the Polish King Jan Sobieski and his troops came to the aid of the Austrians, there was a Polish-Armenian brigade in King’s troops, which stood out in the battle.
Armenian-Belarusian relations date back to the 20th century, during the revolutionary movement in Belarus. Alexander Myasnikyan made a great contribution as the Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) (1919), then the Deputy Chairman of the People's Council of the USSR and People's Commissar of Military Affairs. In 1944, Marshal Hovhannes Baghramyan commanded the 1st Baltic Front during the liberation of Belarus. He also headed the 3rd Belarusian front in April 1945.
According to some sources, Armenians settled in Belgium in the Middle Ages, but Armenian communities were formed primarily as a result of the Armenian Genocide from 1915 to 1923, and in the 1990s after the fall of the USSR. At present, the number of Armenians in the country is estimated at 25,000, most of whom are immigrants from Armenia.
According to various sources, Armenians have settled in Brazil since the 1890s when individual Armenian families from Constantinople and the provinces of Western Armenia crossed the ocean and began to live in the eastern regions of Brazil. In the second half of the 19th century, Armenians began to move to other countries, including the Americas due to the daily persecution and massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. However, the formation of the Brazilian-Armenian community took place in 1920-1926, when large groups of Armenians mainly from Cilicia, settled in São Paulo.
Armenians originally settled in Bulgaria in the 5th to 7th centuries. The current community was formed mainly in the late 19th century and early 20th century with survivors from the Hamidian massacres and the Armenian Genocide, in addition to Armenians who moved from Armenia more recently. Today, there are about 30,000 Armenians living in Bulgaria, where they are considered a national minority.
Armenians began settling in Canada in the late 19th century. Prior to World War I, their settlement was primarily driven by the situation of Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire, the movement of Armenians from the United States, industrial development in Canada, and the need for labor.
The Armenian community of Chile was formed in the 1920s and 1930s, with survivors of the Armenian Genocide. By World War II there were over 100 Armenians living in Chile, mostly in Santiago. In the 1950's Armenians began migrating to Chile from Greece, Turkey, Palestine, as well as from the Near and the Middle East.
Armenians were first mentioned in China during the 2nd century as merchants exporting silk and other goods. Small Armenian communities were established after the first Mongol invasion (at the beginning of the 13th century) when a part of the thousands of captive Armenians was settled in the northern regions of China. Later they settled in coastal cities, especially in Canton (present-day Guangzhou), where they built a church in 1307.
Armenians began to settle in Cuba at the beginning of the 20th century, as a result of the Armenian Genocide, they were predominantly refugees from Western Armenia and Constantinople. During the 1920s through the 1940s, there were about 500 Armenians living in Cuba, concentrated in the cities of Havana, Las Tunas, and Villa Holguin.
The Armenian presence in Cyprus dates back to the sixth century, when the Byzantines deported thousands of Armenians to Cyprus, thereby creating one of the first Armenian communities outside of their historic lands on the island. During the Crusades, when the two kingdoms of Cilicia and Cyprus were ruled by the Lusignan dynasty, both nobles and Armenian warriors settled on the island.
Armenians began to settle in the Czech Republic in the late 20th century, driven largely by the unstable political and economic conditions following the collapse of the USSR. Thus, unlike other Diaspora communities in Europe, the Armenian community in the Czech Republic is made up almost entirely from recent immigrants. Although the community is young, Armenian presence in the Czech Republic dates much further back, in fact, Prague’s very first café U Zlatého Hada was founded in 1714 by the Armenian businessman Georgius Deodatus Damascenus.
Armenians have settled in Denmark since the 1970s primarily migrating from Armenia, Iran, and Iraq, settling in the cities of Copenhagen and Aarhus. Currently, about 3,000 Armenians live in the country. Armenians are heavily involved in careers within healthcare, information technology, culture, and various service sectors, with a large number of intellectuals.
According to historians, Armenians have settled in Egypt since ancient times (4th century BC). Their number increased in the middle of the 7th century when the Arabs who had conquered Egypt did not interfere with the strengthening of the local Armenians. The Egyptian-Armenian community was formed and flourished during the Fatimid era (969-1171), which was conditioned by the development of the Egyptian cities and the friendly policy of the Arab caliphs (khalifas) towards Christians. The number of Armenians also increased during the reign of the Mamluks.
Armenians have lived in Estonia ever since the 19th century, but the community began to form mainly in the 20th century. The first Armenians to go to Estonia were students from the University of Dorpat (now known as Tartu). In the 19th century and until 1918 many Armenians, including prominent Armenian writer, pedagogue, and founder of Eastern Armenian, Khachatur Abovyan, were educated at the university. The Armenian Students' Association "Armenia" operated at the university.
The Armenian-Ethiopian relations are mentioned in the testimonies of the historian Movses Khorenatsi. In the 7th century, due to the Arab persecution, a great number of Armenians emigrated from Syria, Palestine, Egypt to Ethiopia and settled near the present-day city of Dessie. They built the Istifanos Monastery (or St. Stephan Monastery) (it stood until 1527) and established an Armenian settlement, which is known in the Abyssinian chronicle as “Hayk” and “the Armenian island”.
Information about the settlement of Armenians in Finland dates back to the 17th century when New Julfa merchants established trade relations with Scandinavia. However, there were very few permanent residents until the 2000s. The number of Finnish-Armenians is currently around 1,200. They mainly moved from the USSR, the Middle East, Armenia, and partially from Norway. Most live in the cities of Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, Huyvinkya, Kotka, and Porvoo.
Armenians have settled in France since the early Middle Ages. Armenian inscriptions said to date back to the Middle Ages have been found in both the cathedral of Bourges and the church of Tarascon. In the 17th century, an Armenian merchant opened the first café in Paris. A century later, another brought over to France a plant called madder, used to dye clothing. By the dawn of the twentieth century, there were a few thousand merchants, entrepreneurs, and Armenian students residing in France.
The histories of Georgia and Armenia are closely intertwined and relations between the two nations date back centuries. More than 200,000 Armenians currently live in Georgia, (400.000, according to unofficial data) concentrated mainly in Tbilisi, Javakhk, Kvemo Kartli, Batumi, Telavi, Surami, Gori, Bolnis-Khachen and other places.
According to various sources, Armenians settled in Germany in the 14th and 15th centuries, but communities began to form in the late 19th century. The number of Armenians has increased since the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide, World War II, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a result, the population of Armenians grew to its current size of about 50,000-60,000.
Armenians settled in Greece in the 5th-7th century. Today about 30,000 Armenians live in the country, most of whom are descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Armenians are primarily based in Athens, Thessaloniki, Alexandroupolis, Komotini, Kavala, Xanthi, Orestiada, and Didimotikho as well as on the islands of Crete and Kos. The Armenian-Greek community is represented by the rich diversity of Armenians involved in spiritual, cultural, social, and political life.
Information about the Armenian-Indian relations can be found in the works of Xenophon (from 4th to 5th centuries BCE), Zenob Glak (4th century BCE), Movses Khorenatsi (5th century), Procopius of Caesarea (6th century). The first Armenian communities in India were formulated in the 15th -16th centuries; in the 17th-18th centuries, when multiple Iranian-Armenians settled in 20 cities and trading centers of India, the communities became bigger (around 20-25 thousand people).
Armenian-Iranian relations originated in the first millennium BC and included military, political, economic, and cultural spheres. New Armenian settlements began to emerge in Iran since the 11th century. As a result of the mass deportations, organized by Shah Abbas I (1587-1629), 150-200 thousand people settled in the capital Isfahan and the surrounding provinces.
Armenians have been arriving in Iraq since the 7th-12th centuries, during the Abbasid Caliphate, and have established their communities in Basra and Baghdad. In 1638, after conquering Baghdad, the Ottoman sultan Murad IV granted Armenians the privilege of living in the city, after which the Armenian community was formed. It was one of the traditional and prosperous communities of the Middle East. The first Armenian printing house in Iraq was established by the Tadevosyan brothers in 1874 in Baghdad.
Armenia and Armenians have been in contact with Israel since the earliest times, especially during the reign of Tigran the Great, when the area came under the sovereignty of the Armenian king for a short time. A significant flow of Armenians to the area began in the early centuries of Christianity, and by the 4th century, Armenians had established churches and monasteries in Jerusalem. The Armenian secular community was formed later in the 7th century by Armenian merchants and craftsmen. During the reign of the Cilician Armenian kings, the Armenian community became stronger in Jerusalem, with the number of Armenian increasing in 1894-1896 after the Hamidian massacres, and again in 1915 as a result of the Armenian Genocide.
Although Italy is currently home to an estimated 5,000 thousand Armenians, the ties between Italians and Armenians date back to the Roman era. During the Roman era, the Byzantine Armenian general Narses obtained military authority over Italy from the Emperor Justinian I. The south of Italy and Sicily had long been under Byzantine control by then, so many Armenians were able to follow and settle there; this would explain why Saint Gregory the Illuminator is particularly venerated in Nardo, Naples, and Palermo.
Armenians have carried out large-scale activities in Japan since the middle of the 19th century. Armenians who settled in Japan came mostly from India and were occupied with marine trade. In the 20th century, the number of Armenian merchants in Japan increased thanks to the arrivals of Armenian migrant families from the Middle East, especially, from Iran, Syria, and Lebanon.
While according to official data there are about 25,000 Armenians living in Kazakhstan, unofficial records estimate around 60,000 Armenians. A considerable number live in Almaty, while others are concentrated in the cities of Pavlodar, Kostanay, Aktyubinsk, Karaganda, Aktau, Astana, and Atyrau.
Many Armenians moved to Kuwait from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, and Iran to find work during the mid 20th century. Over time, a well-organized, almost entirely Armenian-speaking community was formed in Kuwait. By the mid-1950s, when the number of Armenians exceeded 1,000, the first community institutions were formed.
According to official data, there were 1,364 Armenians in Kyrgyzstan in 2003. However, unofficial records estimate more than 3,000 Armenians primarily concentrated in the capital, Bishkek. Armenians also lived in the regions of Zuysk, Oshsk, and Jalal Abadsk. They are primarily entrepreneurs, craftsmen, teachers, lecturers, and doctors. In 2004, the Armenian community of Kyrgyzstan increased due to Armenians emigrating from Turkmenistan, however, after 2010 the number of Armenians noticeably declined.
Armenians settled in Latvia in the 19th century and during that time mainly engaged in trade. The number of Armenians increased after World War II when many Armenian soldiers settled in the country. The Armenian community was formed in the 1980s. There are currently 2800 Armenians living in Latvia, mainly in Riga, Liepaja, Jurmala, Elgava, Ventspils, and Daugavpils.
Armenians have lived in the current territory of Lebanon (historically known as Phoenicia) since ancient times (1st century BC), but the flow of Armenians to Lebanon increased during the 17th-18th centuries. At the end of the 19th century, the Lebanese-Armenians belonged to the most advanced strata of the Ottoman Empire’s society.
Armenians have lived in Lithuania since the 13th century, but the modern Armenian community began to form during the 1950s. In the years following World War II, many Armenian servicemen settled in Vilnius, Chiaulia, and Klaipeda. Currently, there are about 1,400 Lithuanian-Armenians living mainly in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Siauliai, and Visaginas.
There never has been a historical Armenian community in Luxembourg. Armenians settled in Luxembourg during the 1990s and 2000s and today consist of about 150. The Armenian community of Luxembourg consists primarily of students or Armenian specialists integrated into the international financial world. Despite the small number, Armenians have established three Armenian organizations and instruct Armenian language courses. There is no Armenian church in Luxembourg.
Armenians settled in Malta after the fall of the Kingdom of Cilicia in 1375 when many Armenian knights, nobles, and warriors moved to the island of Malta. Some family graves have been preserved to this day. The Church of the Madonna of Liesse was built in 1620 by Fra Giacomo De Chess du Bellay, Bailiff of Armenia.
The first presence of Armenians in Mexico dates back to the 17th century. There is also historical data, which indicates that Armenians settled in Mexico in the 19th century, before the Armenian Genocide when thousands of immigrants arrived from Europe, including some Armenian families, like the family of Jacobo Jarootian, who was an army general in the 1914 Mexican Revolution.
At the end of the 6th century and the beginning of the 7th century, many Armenians settled on the Balkan Peninsula, including Moldova, as a result of relocations enforced by the Byzantine empire. The flow of Armenians to Moldova continued in later years but became more popular towards the 1060s.
According to some sources, the first Armenian family came to Monaco from France in the late 19th century to establish a textile factory. There is currently a small Armenian community in Monaco with about 100 people, but not all of them hold citizenship. In recent years, a structure representing Armenians was established called the Union of Armenians of Monaco, which is active in organizing various cultural events.
Armenians have lived in Norway since the 1970s. The community was formed mainly by Armenians who emigrated from Armenia, Iran, and Iraq. Most Armenians live in Oslo, and there are small communities in Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim, Vegorshe, and Trom. Currently, the number of Armenians is about 1,500. The Armenian Cultural Association of Norway was established in 1989.
The history of Armenian settlement in Poland dates back to the 14th century. Most Armenians assimilated, but some have been able to preserve their national identity. Currently, there are around 40,000 Armenians in Poland, most of whom are from the Republic of Armenia. They mainly live in Warsaw, Krakow, Glivice, Lodz, Elblonog, Wroclaw and Gdansk.
According to historical data, small groups of Armenians visited Portugal in the 15th and 16th centuries and settled in Porto. Sometime later, the street near St. Peter's Church in the city was called "Armenian Street", but many details are unknown. The second small influx of Armenians in Portugal occurred in the 1920s, however, there are no historical sources mentioning the number of people.
Regional instability at the end of the 20th century caused some Armenians to settle in Qatar, largely due to favorable working conditions. Until 2001, there was no organized community life in Qatar. In recent years, the number of Armenians has grown rapidly, which has created a demand for more community organizations. The Armenian community of Qatar is mainly populated by Armenians from Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
Republic of North Macedonia
Armenians settled in Northern Macedonia in the 17th and 18th centuries, but the community began to form mainly in the 19th and 20th centuries. At present, there is a small community with about 300 Armenians. There are two Armenian community institutions: the Union of Armenians of Macedonia, and a Sunday school with a small number of students.
Romanian-Armenians are considered one of the oldest Armenian communities in Europe. Armenians settled here in the 5th-12th centuries. Their population increased especially after the Armenian Genocide, reaching about 50,000 to 60,000 at one time. However, over the years, the population decreased due to intermarriage and emigration.
Armenian-Russian relations date back to the 11th-12th centuries, during the time of Kievan Russia when there were many large-scale Armenian communities in the capital of Kyiv. The flow of Armenians to Russia increased in the 13th-14th centuries when communities were established in Moscow, Novgorod, Kazan, Astrakhan, the North Caucasus, and elsewhere.
Armenians settled in Serbia in the 17th and 18th centuries, but communities began to form in the 19th and 20th centuries. During that time, Armenians built churches in Belgrade and other surrounding cities, with Mekhitarists of Venice leading the pastors. However, over time the churches have decayed with the last one demolished in 1963 in Novi Sad.
According to some sources, Armenians came to Slovakia in the middle of the 17th century from the historical region of Bessarabia, primarily consisting of traders. The current Armenian community was formed in the 1990s with the involvement of Armenians who moved from the USSR and Armenia.
South African Republic
The first Armenians settled in South Africa in the late 1890s after the Hamidian massacres. According to locals, the site where the Leeu River Dam called Armenia was constructed in 1954 was owned by an Armenian. The Armenian Society of South Africa was established in 1970, it organized a Sunday school (teaching Armenian language, history, and singing) national dance and other groups.
According to some sources, a small number of Armenian communities began to form in Spain during the 18th century in Cadiz, and later after the Armenian Genocide and the First World War, in Madrid. Today, the Armenian community in Spain is the third largest in Western Europe with an estimated population of 40,000-50,000 people.The majority of Armenians in Spain arrived from Armenia in the 1990s and 2000s and mainly settled in the regions of Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia
The Armenian community of Sweden began to form in the 1950s. Most Armenians migrated from Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and eastern Turkey. In the following years, the flow of Armenians to Sweden continued, especially from Iran, and in the last two decades, thousands of Armenians came from Armenia and Syria.
The first known information about Armenians in Switzerland dates back to the 19th century when many young Armenians left for Switzerland to pursue higher education. In 1887, a group of Armenian students, one of whom was a public and political figure, publicist, writer Avetis Nazarbekyan, founded the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party in Geneva.
There has been an Armenian presence in Syria for thousands of years. According to the existing testimonies, Armenians appeared on the territory of historical Syria (Asorik) in the 1st century BC, during the reign of Tigranes the Great. In Syria, coins bearing the name and image of the Armenian king were even issued. The first mention of the Armenian community in Damascus dates back to the 7th century, when the city became the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate. The number of Armenians in Syria began to increase especially in the 9th-11th centuries, as a result of the forced immigration of a considerable number of Armenians to Northern Syria carried out by the Byzantine Empire, then the fall of the Bagratuni kingdom (1045), the Seljuk-Turkish raids (mid-11th century), and, afterwards, the fall of Cilician Armenia (1375) as well. During the rule of the Ottoman Empire, emigrations of Armenians to different northern areas of Syria, with the center of Aleppo, took place for various military-political and economic reasons. Armenians, who settled here before the Genocide, are known as “arman kadim” (old Armenians), who are mainly Catholic, Arab speaking Armenians.
Armenians have made great contributions to the social, political, economic, and cultural fabric of the Ottoman Empire for centuries, and produced countless influential individuals. They have undertaken important government positions in the Turkish royal court, they have been ministers of the Ottoman government, and also deputies of the Ottoman National Assembly (Majilis).
Armenians settled in Ukraine during the early Middle Ages. There was a large Armenian community in Kiev, the capital of ancient Russia. The flow of Armenians to Kiev Russia grew in the 11th century, especially due to tension stemming from the dominance of the Turkish-Seljuks. The Armenian Diaspora community in Ukraine grew during the Soviet era. Since 1988 Armenian non-governmental, cultural, charitable, and youth organizations have been established in Armenian-populated cities and regions of the country. In 1989, the Armenian Union of Kiev was founded. Since the collapse of the USSR, the Armenian community in Ukraine has proliferated. The Union of Armenians of Ukraine was established in 2001. There are currently about 500,000 Armenians living in Ukraine, according to unofficial data.
United Arab Emirates
As early as the 16th century, Armenian merchants were the main organizers of trade between the East and the West in the Gulf region. Armenians have recently settled in the United Arab Emirates in the 1960s predominantly as migrant workers, emigrating from Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Armenia, Russia, countries throughout Europe, the United States and Canada. The flow of Armenians to the UAE gradually increased, and since the 1980s have developed characteristic features. Initially, two Armenian communities were established in the UAE: Sharjah - Dubai (more than 80% of the population lived in the UAE) and Abu Dhabi (20%). Currently, a number of Armenians also live in the Northern Emirates (al-Fujairah, Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm al-Quwain).
United States of America
Armenians have settled in North America since the first decades of the 17th century. The first Armenian to arrive in North America was, John Martin (Hovhannes Martikyan), who arrived in 1618 to grow tobacco. He was followed by two Armenian masters in silkworm breeding from Constantinople who arrived in the country in 1653-1654 at the invitation of the governor of the State of Virginia to develop sericulture.
Armenians began to settle in Uruguay in the early 19th century. Since 1912, a significant number from Marash, Kessab, Ayntap, Zeytun, and Kesaria settled in Montevideo. The community began to form in the 1920s when large groups of Armenian refugees who survived the Armenian Genocide and took asylum in the Middle East, moved to Uruguay.
Uzbekistan host one of the largest Armenian populations in the post-Soviet space. According to official data, there are about 80,000 Armenians living there, 50,000 of whom have Uzbek citizenship. Armenians are mainly concentrated in the cities of Tashkent (50,000) and Samarqand (25,000). There are also Armenian communities in Andijan and Fergana.
Armenians settled in Venezuela at the beginning of the 20th century, after the Armenian Genocide. They migrated to Venezuela from the Middle East, more specifically, from Syria. The community formed in the 1930s. The presence of new workplaces and the big oil reserves gave many Armenians the opportunity to move from Argentina, Cyprus, Greece, and France to Venezuela.