Western Armenia

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This article is about the historical region. For the Armenian dialect, see Western Armenian.
The distribution of Armenians in the early 17th century, a few decades after its conquest by the Ottomans, within the current borders of Turkey:[1]
  Armenian majority
  Significant Armenian presence

Western Armenia (Western Armenian: Արեւմտեան Հայաստան, Arevmdian Hayasdan) is a term used to refer to the eastern parts of Turkey (formerly the Ottoman Empire) that are considered by Armenians part of the homeland.[2] Western Armenia, also referred to as Byzantine Armenia, later Turkish Armenia, or Ottoman Armenia is a term coined following the division of Greater Armenia between Byzantine Empire (Western Armenia) and Persia (Eastern Armenia) in 387 AD. It held a significant Armenian population from antiquity to early 20th century, when Armenians were exterminated by the Ottoman government in the Armenian Genocide. The area, formerly known as Turkish Armenia, was conquered by the Ottomans in the 16th century. During the 19th century, the Russian Empire gradually penetrated into the region and conquered most of the Armenian lands of Iran and some parts of Turkish Armenia, such as Kars.

Influenced by the successful campaigns for independence of the Balkan nations, the Armenians began a struggle for independence. Sultan Abdul Hamid II reacted with widespread massacres of Armenians in the 1890s. The Armenians living in their ancestral lands were exterminated during the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and the following years. The over two thousand year[3][4] Armenian presence in the area largely ended and the cultural heritage was mainly destroyed by the Turkish government.[5][6]

Although virtually no Armenians live in the area today (apart from Crypto-Armenians),[citation needed] some Armenian nationalist parties, most notably the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, claim it as part of United Armenia.


Armenia Turkomania on 1810 map

In English, Turkish Armenia and Ottoman Armenia were used until the 1920s.

In Armenian, there are several names for the region. Today, the most common is Արևմտյան Հայաստան Arevmtyan Hayastan in Eastern Armenian (mostly spoken in Armenia, Russia, Georgia, Iran) and Արեւմտեան Հայաստան Arevmdean Hayasdan in Western Armenian (spoken in the Diaspora: US, France, Lebanon, Syria, Argentina, etc.). Archaic names (used before the 1920s) include Տաճկահայաստան Tačkahayastan in Eastern and Daǰkahayasdan in Western Armenian. Also used in the same period were Թուրքահայաստան T'urk'ahayastan or Թրքահայաստան T'rk'ahayastan, both meaning Turkish Armenia.

In Turkish, the literal translation of Western Armenia is Batı Ermenistan, but the region is referred to as Doğu Anadolu (Eastern Anatolia), which is one of the 7 geographical regions of Turkey.

The Kurds, refer to the region as Bakurê Kurdistanê (Northern Kurdistan) as it lies on the north of a greater geographic region called Kurdistan.


The Six Armenian vilayets (provinces) of the Ottoman Empire were defined as Western Armenia.

Ottoman conquest[edit]

After the Turkish-Persian wars of 1623-1639, Western Armenia became part of the Ottoman Empire.[7] Since the Russo-Turkish War, 1828-1829, the term "Western Armenia" has referred to the Armenian-populated historical regions of the Ottoman Empire that remained under Ottoman rule after the eastern part of Armenia was ceded to the Russian Empire.

Western (Ottoman) Armenia consisted of six vilayets (vilâyat-ı sitte) — the vilayets of Erzurum, Van, Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Kharput, and Sivas.[8]

World War I and later years[edit]

Armenian Genocide: map of massacre locations and deportation and extermination centers

Armenian Genocide[edit]

Main article: Armenian Genocide

During the collapse of the Ottoman Empire Western Armenia remained under Turkish rule, and in 1894–96 and 1915 the Ottoman Empire perpetrated systematic massacres and forced deportations of Armenians[9] resulting in the Armenian Genocide. The massive deportation and killings of Armenians began in the spring 1915. On April 24, 1915 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders were deported from Comstantinople. Depending on the sources cited, from 600,000 to 1,800,000 Armenians were killed during this act.

Caucasus Campaign[edit]

The area of Russian occupation of Western Armenia in summer 1916.
Main article: Caucasus Campaign

During the Caucasus Campaign of World War I, the Russian Empire occupied most of the Armenian-populated regions of the Ottoman Empire. A temporary provincial government was established in occupied areas between 1915 and 1918.

The chaos caused by the Russian Revolution of 1917 put a stop to all Russian military operations and Russian forces began to conduct withdrawals.

Current situation[edit]

The modern concept of United Armenia as used by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun).

The fate of Western Armenia — commonly referred to as "The Armenian Question" — is considered a key issue in the modern history of the Armenian people.[10] The first and second congresses of Western Armenians took place in Yerevan in 1917 and 1919. Since 2000, an organizing committee of the congress of heirs of Western Armenians who survived the Armenian Genocide is active in diasporan communities.[11]

Currently, the Republic of Armenia does not have any territorial claims against the Republic of Turkey, although, some political parties such as the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the largest Armenian party in the diaspora, claim the area given to the Republic of Armenia (1918–1920) by US President Woodrow Wilson's arbitral award in 1920, also known as Wilsonian Armenia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ State Committee of the Real Estate Cadastre of the Republic of Armenia (2007). Հայաստանի Ազգային Ատլաս (National Atlas of Armenia), Yerevan: Center of Geodesy and Cartography SNPO, p. 102 see map
  2. ^ Myhill, John (2006). Language, Religion and National Identity in Europe and the Middle East: A historical study. Amsterdam: J. Benjamins. p. 32. ISBN 978-90-272-9351-0. 
  3. ^ Marie-Aude Baronian, Stephan Besser, Yolande Jansen (2007). Diaspora and Memory: Figures of Displacement in Contemporary Literature, Arts and Politics. Rodopi. p. 174. ISBN 9789042021297. 
  4. ^ Shirinian, Lorne (1992). The Republic of Armenia and the rethinking of the North-American Diaspora in literature. E. Mellen Press. p. ix. ISBN 9780773496132. "This date is important, for it marks the beginning of the Armenian Genocide, which destroyed the over two-thousand-year Armenian presence in historical, Western Armenia." 
  5. ^ Hovannisian, Richard G. (2008). The Armenian Genocide: Cultural and Ethical Legacies. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. p. 22. ISBN 9781412835923. 
  6. ^ Jones, Adam (2013). Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction. Routledge. p. 114. ISBN 9781134259816. 
  7. ^ Феодальный строй, Great Soviet Encyclopedia (Russian)
  8. ^ Armenia
  9. ^ Britannica Online: Armenia
  10. ^ Arman J. Kirakossian, British Diplomacy and the Armenian Question, from the 1830s to 1914
  11. ^ WESTERN ARMENIANS ARE PREPARING, A1plus, 16 November, 2007

Further reading[edit]

  • Arman J. Kirakosian, "English Policy towards Western Armenia and Public Opinion in Great Britain (1890-1900)", Yerevan, 1981, 26 p. (in Armenian and Russian).

External links[edit]