Map highlighting the historical region of Meskheti in Georgia
Meskheti (Georgian: მესხეთი), also known as Samtskhe (Georgian: სამცხე), is in a mountainous area of Moschia in southwestern Georgia. The ancient Georgian tribes of Meskhi (or Moschi) and Mosiniks were the indigenous population of this region. A majority of the modern Georgian population (Meskhs) of Meskheti are descendants of these ancient tribes. The Mosiniks (or Mossynoeci) were one of the inventors of iron metallurgy. In the 2nd millennium-4th century BC Meskheti was a part of the Georgian Kingdom of Diaokhi, in the 4th century BC-6th century AD - part of the Kingdom of Iberia. In the 10th-15th centuries this region was a part of the united Georgian Kingdom. In the 16th century Meskheti was occupied and annexed by the Ottoman Empire. In 1829-1917 the region was a part of Tbilisi Governorate (Tiflisskaia Gubernia), in 1918-1921 part of the Democratic Republic of Georgia, and in 1921-1990 part of the Georgian SSR. Now part of the Samtskhe-Javakheti region, together with Javakheti and Tori.
Meskhetian Turks are the former Turkish inhabitants of the Meskheti region of Georgia along the border with Turkey. They were deported to Central Asia during November 15–25, 1944 by Joseph Stalin and settled within Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Of the 120,000 forcibly deported in cattle-trucks a total of 10,000 perished. Today they are dispersed over a number of other countries of the former Soviet Union. There are 500,000 to 700,000 Meskhetian Turks in exile in Azerbaijan and Central Asia. Most Meskhetian Turks are Sunni Hanafi Muslims and a minority Twelver Shiite Muslims.
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