Deportation scattered the descendants of Ottoman Armenians around the world. The extent of the Armenian Diaspora increased significantly, though it had existed long before the Armenian Genocide of 1915. It was the small, individual migrations in times immemorial that laid the foundation of the Diaspora.
That’s why today, one could find traces of adventurers, travelers, and merchants dating back to the distant past. In 1672, an Armenian opened the first café in Paris called “la Maison Caova”. In 1835, two brothers built a church in Singapore that stands until today. There are thousands of such examples.
With the commencement of the oppression in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century, migrations of Armenians acquired a whole new character and scope. People have been leaving their homeland, abandoning their homes and even villages and cities. In the 1890s, the first wave of immigrants moved to the US and the UK, while the representatives of high social classes went to France and Russia.
The mass migration of the Armenian refugees began in 1915 after the Genocide and didn’t stop until the 1920s. The refugees have been taking common routes taken by other Armenians. However, in the chaos of those years, chance played a significant role in the survival. Some people were simply lucky to escape and end up in India or Scandinavia.
Nonetheless, the exiled Armenians had three major locations to go: Middle East, Europe, or the Americas. Today, 1.5 million descendants of Ottoman Armenians live in the US (mainly in New York, Boston, and California), Canada, and Argentina. 600 thousand live in the countries of the EU (including 450 thousand in France), 500 thousand in the Middle East (especially in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, and Israel). It should be noted that 50 to 60 thousand Armenians still live in Turkey, albeit they often conceal their true ancestry.
Armenian migration was caused not only by the massacres of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Significant waves of migration also occurred during the Soviet years when Armenia was a Soviet republic. Aside from that, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Nagorno-Karabakh War in the early 1990s also caused major migration of Armenians.
In those years, Armenians mostly moved to neighboring Georgia, Ukraine (including Crimea), and Russia. The blockade of the modern Republic of Armenia by Turkey and Azerbaijan further complicate the demographical crisis in Armenia.
Today, approximately 3 million Armenians live in the Republic of Armenia. 2 million Armenians live in post-Soviet countries, mostly in Russia, which once allowed the Russian president Vladimir Putin to joke in the presence of his Armenian colleague: “Who is the actual president of Armenia, you or me?”
Devoid of statehood for millennia, the Armenian originality demonstrated itself first in the territory of the Ottoman Empire and then in many countries around the world as the waves of the Armenian migration reached them. It turns out that Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, isn’t the real capital of the expansive Armenian community spread all over the world.
Today, this scattered nation has to reunite the spirit with flesh, in other words, their originality with their historical territory.