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Thread: Caucasus series

  1. #16
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    Re: Caucasus series

    So, I looked up Akaurta, Dry, because I thought Gulu is a strange name for a Georgian. And lo and behold, that village of ~1000 people is in a part of Georgia that's near Azerbaijan and is 85% ethnic Azeri (as is Gulu, most likely). Look at our cross-cultural learning!


  2. #17

    Re: Caucasus series

    Quote Originally Posted by mmmm8 View Post
    Very close to Armenian food. The main differences between the two, off the top of my head are (1) oil money; (2) religious influences; (3) Azerbaijan is a little closer culturally to Iran; (4) They might go to war again.
    Funny that their culinary traditions are so close. Those two are the biggest enemies in the entire region. Most Azeris (ca 60%) live in Iran and both countries follow Shia Islam so no surprise of them being culturally close. Interestingly Armenia is friendly with Iran as well and their citizens could visit each other's country without a visa. A lot of Iranians take advantage of it to come to party in a culturally much more liberal Yerevan.
    Roger forever

  3. #18

    Re: Caucasus series

    And talking about Azerbaijanis in Georgia here is another useful map.



    It's the largest ethnic minority in Georgia (ca 7% overall, now more than Armenians). Notice that several of the districts with majority Azerbaijanis border Armenia not Azerbaijan.
    Roger forever

  4. #19
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    Re: Caucasus series

    I'm surprised Russians aren't one of the bigger ethnic minorities in Georgia


  5. #20

    Re: Caucasus series

    Quote Originally Posted by mmmm8 View Post
    I'm surprised Russians aren't one of the bigger ethnic minorities in Georgia
    They used to be, but a vast majority has emigrated during the last 25 years due to economic situation being on average better in Russia plus all the ethnic tensions at times. In any case they were relatively recent urban dwellers (no Russian speaking villages). Here is a map on a relatively recent situation (not sure which year). According to the latest data only ca 25,000 are left in Georgia (not counting Abkhazia and South Ossetia albeit not much there either other than army).



    Legend:
    > 5%
    3-5%
    2-3%
    1-2%
    0,5-1%
    < 0,5%
    Last edited by suliso; 02-18-2017 at 01:11 PM.
    Roger forever

  6. #21

    Re: Caucasus series

    I must say that this thread is a very nice idea.
    Meet again we do, old foe...

  7. #22

    Re: Caucasus series

    Next entry coming during the weekend when I'll have a bit more free time
    Roger forever

  8. #23

    Re: Caucasus series

    Having started this series with Georgia (thanks to all other contributors) I’m now moving to Armenia, their southern neighbors. While the history of Georgia is not short of complications that of Armenia is even more so given that they’ve been right between 2-3 powerful empires for most of the recorded history. There as Georgia has never been significantly bigger than now Armenia most certainly has. In fact the current state is only a tiny part of territories they once used to inhabit. Also while Georgians are more known to the history as fierce warriors and until recently were rarely encountered outside their country Armenians have been famous as traders for a very long time akin to Jews or Greeks. There has been an Armenian quarter in Jerusalem for well over 1000 years.
    First with some basic facts in the post below…
    Last edited by suliso; 02-18-2017 at 12:55 PM.
    Roger forever

  9. #24

    Re: Caucasus series

    The native name of Armenia is Hayk’ or Hayastan and just like in the case of Georgia the name we are familiar with is of Persian origin



    Basic geography:

    - 29,743 sq km (41,200 including Nagorno Karabakh), 3.0 million inhabitants
    - South of Georgia so geographically more firmly in the Middle East
    - Bordered by Georgia in the north, Azerbaijan in the east and the southwest, Turkey in the west and Iran in the south. Completely landlocked.
    - Largest city and the capital is Yerevan
    - Highest point 4,090 m (13,419 ft)

    Principal historical facts:

    - Area of modern Armenia has been populated since at least the early Bronze age
    - The first entity called Armenia established in late 6th century BC
    - The first golden age in the early 1st century BC when it extends from the Black sea to Caspian sea and is the most powerful state directly east of the Roman republic
    - During the next few centuries is at times a Roman, at times Persian vassal state
    - Officially Christian since 301 AD (before Roman empire)
    - During the early Middle ages part of first Sassanid Persia, then Umayyad Caliphate before regaining independence in the 9th century
    - Briefly reconquered by Byzantine empire (1045) before falling to Seljuk (Turkish) empire. An independent Armenian polity (Cilica) established far to the south of today’s Armenia on the shores of the Mediterranean. This state is a strong supporter of Crusaders.
    - Mongols conquer the territory of modern Armenia in 1230 followed by other Central Asian tribes for the next two centuries
    -Since 16tth century Armenian lands were divided between Ottoman and Persian empires
    - Persian part of Armenia (all of the current country) ceded to Russia in 1813 with Western Armenia staying with the Ottoman empire
    - Armenian genocide organized by the Turkish government in 1915-1916 kills estimated 1-1.5 million Armenians virtually wiping out them in their Western lands and sending survivors to exile either in Eastern Armenia or abroad
    - After a brief period of independence and a war with Turkey part of USSR from 1922
    - Independent republic since 1991


    Language and religion:

    - Armenian belongs to a separate branch of Indo European languages thought to be very distantly related to both Greek and Persian.
    - The language is written in their own script introduced in early 5th century AD
    - Ethnically 98% Armenian, 1.2% Yazidi
    - 93% Armenian Apostolic church

    Example of Armenian writing: Հայաստանում ստեղծվել է մի բնապահպանության նախարարությանը եւ ներկայացրել հարկերը օդի եւ ջրի աղտոտման եւ պինդ թափոնների թաղում, որի եկամուտներն օգտագործվում են բնապահպանական գործունեության համար
    Last edited by suliso; 02-18-2017 at 01:12 PM.
    Roger forever

  10. #25

    Re: Caucasus series

    Now a bit more about a recent history of Armenia. That’s quite important for understanding the culture. Here is a map of Armenian populated areas before the genocide. As you can see the current (at the time Russian controlled) territory is only a small part. It is among the oldest Armenian populated areas, though.



    (red current Armenian populated territories, other non-gray colors >50%, 25-50%, <25%)

    As a result of this destruction a large Armenian diaspora was created by survivors in the Western countries as well as in already existing communities in the Middle East (Syria, Lebanon etc). Currently there are up to 2 million people of Armenian descent in Russia, 1-1.5 million in USA, 0.5 million in France with smaller but still sizable communities in many other countries. About 30-40% of all Armenian speakers live in today’s Armenia.


    Another defining event in the recent history of Armenia is Nagorno-Karabakh war (1988-1994) with Azerbaijan. Nagorno-Karabakh during Soviet times was an autonomous republic within Azerbaijan populated mostly by Armenians (very old Armenian lands locals would say). Already during the slow collapse of USSR those folks wanted to be with Armenia instead. To no surprise a war broke out from which Nagorno-Karabakh with a strong support from Armenia proper emerged victorious not only keeping most of Nagorno-Karabakh itself, but also taking extra land between Armenia and their new republic (ca 9% of Azerbaijan).



    NKR stands for Nagorno-Karabakh republic. In theory independent, in practice part of greater Armenia.


    The reason why significantly smaller Armenia beat Azerbaijan is thought to be two fold. First is a strong Russian material support in the latter stages of the war as well as security guarantees against intervention of Turkey (strong supporter of Azerbaijan). And second is that for Azerbaijan it was a matter of pride and ambition there as Armenians were fighting for their own land. Fortunately for everyone the conflict never acquired religious undertones (Azerbaijanis are Shia Muslims).

    This conflict has now been “frozen” for the last 22 years. Russia is an even stronger ally of Armenia now however due to oil reserves Azerbaijan has become much wealthier. Without Russia Armenia would be unable to keep up with Azerbaijan in the arms race. A new war is still very much possible albeit I think not imminent. There used to be a sizable number of Armenians living in Azerbaijan and vice versa. Obviously no more…

    Another outcome of the conflict is renewed hostility with Turkey. Both borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey are closed to all traffic. The only way out of the country over land is to the north via Georgia or south via Iran.
    Last edited by suliso; 02-18-2017 at 12:52 PM.
    Roger forever

  11. #26

    Re: Caucasus series

    I wrote that the current form of government in Georgia is a somewhat flawed democracy. By all accounts the situation in Armenia seems to be worse with more corruption, more firm rule by a tiny elite etc. On a paper GDP of Armenia and Georgia doesn’t differ all that much, but in reality Armenia is the least developed of the three independent states in Caucasus.

    The future is somewhat precarious, but not completely hopeless. On the one hand Armenia has two powerful adversaries and no sea access, but on the other hand education is decent and accessible mostly to everyone (Soviet success story) and there is a lot of help from a large and mostly financially successful diaspora. Agriculture is still very important, some small scale industry exists as well. Tourism has taken off to some extent. The potential for that is not quite as high as in Georgia, but mountains are plenty, people love the numerous monasteries and there is also Sevan Lake (largest body of water in Caucasus at elevation of 1,900 m). Iranians from across the border is an important subset of visitors and of course so are the diaspora Armenians. The place is also high on my “want to visit” list!

    You all are probably familiar with few Armenian Americans (Kardashians!!!). In fact -ian is by far the most common ending of Armenian family names. In some names it's spelled -yan instead.

    And on a lighter note here is a contemporary Armenian song. I did not know the singer before doing this research, but I read she is very popular in Armenia. Sounds kind of between Europe and the Middle East, just like the country itself.



    And finally if you know something interesting about Armenia/Armenians go for it. You'll have plenty of time before the next country entry.
    Last edited by suliso; 02-18-2017 at 01:07 PM.
    Roger forever

  12. #27

    Re: Caucasus series

    David Nalbandian is of Armenian descent, just another piece of info. ;-)

    And I know she probably is not representative of the whole, but just a bit of re-enforcement for my believe that there are no women more beautiful than the women of that region.
    Starry starry night

  13. #28
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    Re: Caucasus series

    To elaborate about Nalbandian, you may have noticed he doesn't look like a lot of people from Armenia, and from the region as whole. But there are actually a lot of blonde, blue-eyed ethnic Armenians (and also Georgians and Azerbaijanis, but a higher percentage in Armenia). The theory is that when first settled, Armenia mostly consisted of people of Nordic European descent (I heard people in Azerbaijan claim the same). It raises an interesting point, because... what difference does it make?

    But it's, of course, often a case of internalized ethnic discrimination, as European looks are always considered 'better' and "special." There was a myth in Russia that blonde Armenians were historically part of a higher, more protected class (haven't had any academic literature or any Armenian confirm that).

    In an unrelated tennis story, my first tennis coach was Armenian!


  14. #29

    Re: Caucasus series

    That theory about Armenians originally being of lighter complexion has a high probability of being true. The original steppe nomads were also like that (look at Tatars like Safin). Caucasus has had so many invaders leaving their mark. Mongols in particular would be detrimental to any blondness. In fact Russians also would be even more blond than they already are if Mongols never came.

    Having said that 4m8 is right about a danger of internalized discrimination. Lighter skin is considered "better" in virtually every culture on this planet...
    Last edited by suliso; 02-19-2017 at 02:38 AM.
    Roger forever

  15. #30

    Re: Caucasus series

    Quote Originally Posted by ponchi101 View Post
    And I know she probably is not representative of the whole, but just a bit of re-enforcement for my believe that there are no women more beautiful than the women of that region.
    You'd probably be saying the same about women in Easter Europe or even Central Asia
    Last edited by suliso; 02-19-2017 at 02:37 AM.
    Roger forever

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