International Committee for Crimea



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 never met or talked personally, but communicated simply via the Internet! We are keeping this short report, which dates from August 1999, on the ICC Web site because it is an example of online cooperation in the early days of the Internet. It was an exciting time. See also the Update from 16 August 2020 at the end. -- Inci Bowman.

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.

Tatar Population in Crimea (1793-1994)
Year 1793 (1) 1802 (2) 1862 (9) 1923 (3) 1939 (4) 1944 1970 (6) 1989 (7) 1991 (7) 1994 (7)
Crimean Tatars 171,751 140,000 180,052 150,000 218,179 0 6,479 38,000 142,200 260,000

The second table, Ethnic Composition of Crimea (1793-1989), includes available census figures on various ethnic groups.

Ethnic Composition of Crimea (1793-1989)
Ethnic Group 1793 (1) 1863 (2) 1923 (3) 1939 (4) 1959 (5) 1970 (6) 1989 (8)
Armenians * na 12,000 12,873 na 3,091 na
Belarussians na na na na 21,672 39,793 50,045
Bulgarians * 17,704 12,000 15,353 na na na
Chuvashes na na na na na 2,453 na
Crimean Tatars 171,751 na 150,000 218,179 na 6,479 38,365
Estonians *** na na na 1,900 na na 898
Germans * na 40,000 51,299 na na na
Greeks * na na 20,652 na na na
Jews na na 50,000 65,452 26,374 25,614 17,371
Karaims na na na na na 1,553 na
Moldavians na na na na na 3,456 na
Mordovians na na na na na 3,179 na
Poles na na na na na 6,038 na
Russians 10,831 29,246 306,000 558,481 858,273 1,220,484 1,629,542
Ukrainians na 7,797 ** 154,120 267,659 480,733 625,919
Other na na na 28,076 na na na
TOTAL na 196,873 623,000 1,126,385 1,201,517 1,813,502 na
na - not available

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
Valeri Kalabugin
Alevtina Sedochenko

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.


  1. Alan Fisher, The Crimean Tatars. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1978, pp. 79-80.
    The figures are derived from: P.S. Pallas, Travels through the Southern Provinces of the Russian Empire in the Years 1793 and 1794. London, 1812, vol. 2, pp. 343-44.
    * The total number of non-Russian Christians was given as 11,688 (6,220 males and 5,346 females), including 122 Christian clergy.
    The total number of Crimean Tatars (171,751) included Muslim slaves and Nogay Tatars. In addition to the 10,831 Russian colonists and settlers, there were 5,803 Cossacks.
  2. A. R. Andreyev, Istoriya Kryma: Kratkoye opisaniye proshlogo Krymskogo poluostrova. [History of Crimea: A Brief Description of the Past of the Crimean Peninsula.] Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Mezhregional'nyi Tsentr otraslevoy informatiki Gosatomnadzora Rossii, 1997, pp. 196, 200-202.

    The figures are derived from: Spiski naselennykh mest Rossiyskoy imperii: Tavrisheskaya guberniya. [Lists of Settlements of the Russian Empire: Province of Tavria. Central Statistical Committee of the Ministry of Interior.] St. Petersburg: Tsentral'nyy Statistisheskiy Komitet Ministerstva Vnutrennikh Del, 1865.

  3. Fisher, The Crimean Tatars, p. 138.

    The figures are derived from: S.A. Gamalov, Natsional'nye men'shinstva kryma, Krym 2, no. 4 (1927), p. 187.

    ** The total number 306,000 included Russians and Ukrainians.

  4. Unver Sel, Kirim ve Kirim Turkleri. Ankara: Kirim Dergisi, 1997, pp. 37-38.
  5. Itogi vsesoyuznoy perepisi naseleniya 1959 goda : Ukrainskaya SSR. [Results of the 1959 all-Union Population Census : Ukraine.] Moscow : Gosstatizdat CSU SSSR, 1963, p. 178.
  6. Itogi vsesoyuznoy perepisi naseleniya 1970 goda: Vol.IV, Natsional'nyy sostav Naseleniya SSSR. [Results of the 1970 all-Union Population Census : Vol.IV, Ethnic Composition of the Population of the USSR.] Moscow : Statistika, 1973, p. 180.
  7. Andrew Wilson, Politics in and aroud Crimea: A Difficult Homecoming. In: The Tatars of Crimea: Return to the Homeland, Edward A. Allworth (ed.). Durham and London: Duke Univesiry Press, 1998, p. 282.
  8. V.P. Dyulichev, Rasskazy po Istorii Kryma [Essays on the History of the Crimea]. Simferopol, 1997, p. 4.
    The following source which includes population statistics for Ukraine may also be useful:
    Sbornik analiticheskih dokladov po materialam perepisi naseleniya 1989 g.
    [Collection of Analytic Reports on the USSR Census, 1989] Moscow, 1992.

    Accordingly, the 1989 figures for various ethnic groups in Ukraine are: Armenians, 54,000; Belarussians, 440,000; Bulgarians, 234,000; Germans, 38,000; Greeks, 99,000; Moldavians, 325,000; and Poles, 219,000.

  9. Amet Seit-Abdulla-oglu Ozenbasli, Kirim Fadjiasi: Saylama eserler. [Crimean Tragedy. Selected Works]. Edited by Ismail Asan-oglu Kerim. Simferopol, 1997. [1st. ed., 1926.], pp. 127-29. The figure is derived from: Tavrida vilayeti evrak mahzeni Arhiv statistik komitesinden nomeri 6, sene 1863.


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.

UPDATE: 16 August 2020

The following table is taken from the following source: The Crimea Question: Identity, Transition, and Conflict by Gwendolyn Sasse. Harvard University Press, 2007, p. 275.

Crimean Population, 1897-2001