Ethnic Composition of Crimea
Over the centuries, various ethnic groups inhabited the Crimean peninsula, now a part of Ukraine. Among the earliest settlers were the ancient Greeks who established colonies on the coast, and eventually the seaports became under the control of the Romans, Byzantines, and Genoese. Other inhabitants of Crimea included Jews, Karaims, Turkic groups such as Khazars and Kipchaks, and Eastern Europeans. The Crimean Tatars have lived on the peninsula for more than seven centuries. They are the descendants of Tatars who moved west with the Mongols in the 13th century and other Turkic groups who had settled earlier in the region. At the time of the Russian annexation of Crimea in 1783, the Crimean Tatars constituted the dominant ethnic group. The Slavic population on the peninsula increased steadily in the last two centuries, the Russians now forming the majority. With the 1944 deportation of the entire Crimean Tatar population by Soviet authorities, it appeared that the Turkic element in Crimea was completely eliminated. However, there are now approximately 275,000 Crimean Tatars living in Crimea, having returned to their homeland from the places of exile in Central Asia.
The demographic data presented in the following two tables have been compiled from a variety of sources. The first table, Tatar Population in Crimea (1793-1994), shows the fluctuations in Crimean Tatar population over the last two hundred years.
The second table, Ethnic Composition of Crimea (1793-1989), includes available census figures on various ethnic groups.
We would like to emphasize that this is by no means an exhaustive compilation but merely a guide to further study on population of Crimea. Obtained from different sources available to us, the data may not be consistent and census figures not necessarily reliable, as Alevtina Sedochenko's review of an article has shown. The tables may be revised, as we come across additional population statistics relating to Crimea. A short bibliography of relevant sources is included at the end of References.
Inci Bowman ( email@example.com )
Valeri Kalabugin ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Alevtina Sedochenko ( email@example.com )
12 August 1999
***The population statistics for Estonians were provided by the Ethnography Museum of Crimea, 18 Pushkin Street, Simferopol. The figures for other years are: 2176 (1897); 2377 (1921); 2084 (1926); 10048 (1979). Here, the figures in parantheses correspond to years.
In addition to the above references, the following sources may be helpful in a demographic study of Crimea: Akiner, Shirin. Islamic People of the Soviet Union. London and New York: KPI, 1986.
Allworth, Edward (ed). Tatars of the Crimea: Their Struggle for Survival. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1988.
Conquest, Robert. The Nation Killers: The Soviet Deportation of Nationalities. London: Macmillan, 1970.
Fisher, Alan W. The Russian Annexation of Crimea. 1772-1783. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970.
Guboglo M.N. and Chervonnaia S.M. Krymsko-Tatarskoe Natsionalnoe Dvizhenie, Volumes 1-2, 1992.
Markevich, A.I. Pereseleniya Krymskikh Tatar v Turtsiyu v svyazi s dvizheniyem naseleniya v Krymu. [Migrations of the Crimean Tatars to Turkey in Connection with the Population Transfer in Crimea.] Izvestiya AN SSSR, Otdel gumanitarnykh nauk (Transactions of the Acad. Sci. of USSR, Section of Humanitarian Sciences), 1928, 4-7.
Pirie, Paul. National Identity and Politics in Southern and Eastern Ukraine. Europe-Asia Studies 48-7, 1996.
Pohl, J. Otto. Ethnic Cleansing in the USSR, 1937-1949. Westport, CT.: Greenwood Press, 1999.
Sheehy, Anna. The Crimean Tatars, Volga Germans and Meschetians: Soviet Treatment of Some National Minorities. London: Minority Rights Group, #6, 1971.
Vozgrin V.E. Istoricheskie Sud'by Krymskikh Tatar. Moscow: Mysl', 1992.
Wilson, Andrew. The Crimean Tatars London: International Alert, 1994.
Yaremchuk V.D. and Bezverkhii V.B. Tatary v Ukraine. Ukrainskii Istoricheskii Journal, 5: 18-29, 1994.
This mini-project evolved from a discussion about population of Crimea on CRIMEA-L, an Internet discussion group. Ms. Bowman lives in Washington, D.C.; Mr. Kalabugin in Tallinn, Estonia; and Ms. Sedochenko in Kiev, Ukraine. They have never met or talked personally, but communicated simply via the Internet!
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