Armenian Diaspora in the Last Hundred Years (1895-1994)

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By the end of the nineteenth century, the Armenian communities outside the Ottoman and Russian empires, with the exception of Iran and Egypt, had either assimilated religiously and culturally, or had lost their economic and political influence and were generally reduced to insignificant clusters in a number of urban centers across the old world. The massacres of 1895-1896 and the anti-Armenian policies of Sultan Abdul-Hamid forced many Armenians to emigrate from Anatolia. Some joined the communities in Europe and the Middle East, others journeyed to the Americas. The Armenian genocide created hundreds of thousands of refugees who eventually settled both in the old and new worlds. Although a significant number repatriated to the Armenian republic in 1918-1919, many, as we have seen, fled in 1920-1921, or were deported by Stalin in 1936-1939. A second wave of approximately 100,000 repatriates arrived in Soviet Armenia in 1945-1948 and a third, much smaller group in 1953-1965. By 1985, however, nearly half of the post-war repatriates had emigrated to the West. Revolutions and civil wars in Asia and North Africa, throughout the four decades following the Second World War, resulted in the diminishing of the Armenian communities there and the growth of the Armenian Diaspora in Europe, Australia, and the Americas.

The historical events of the last one hundred years have thus resulted in a pattern whereby new Armenian immigrants have rejuvenated older diasporas by reviving their Armenian identity. At present Armenians, together with the Jews, are the only significant nationality/religious group which have more members living in the Diaspora than in their own country. It is estimated that out of the more than seven million Armenians in the world barely over three million live in the Armenian republic. Like the Jews, Armenians are to be found in almost every country of the globe. The following brief account will survey those communities, which can be described as being politically or culturally active.

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