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Varto is located in Turkey
Coordinates: 39°10′10″N 41°27′15″E / 39.16944°N 41.45417°E / 39.16944; 41.45417Coordinates: 39°10′10″N 41°27′15″E / 39.16944°N 41.45417°E / 39.16944; 41.45417
Country Turkey
 • MayorÜlkü Karaaslan (HDP)
 • KaymakamMehmet Nuri Çetin
 • District1,365.44 km2 (527.20 sq mi)
1,650 m (5,410 ft)
 • Urban
 • District
 • District density25/km2 (64/sq mi)
Post code

Varto (Zazaki & Kurmanji: "Gımgım"; Medieval Greek: Barzanissa) is a town in eastern Turkey. The inhabitants are primarily Kurdish Zaza and Kurmanj.

The population of Varto city is around 13,000 with another 17,000 living in the villages. In summer Varto and its villages are filled by expatriates that swell the total population well past the 75,000 mark.

The largest population from Varto in Europe is in Berlin, Germany.

The elected mayor, Sabite Ekinci (BDP), was arrested on 9 November 2016 on charges of "being a member of a terrorist organization" and removed from her duty. Kaymakam Mehmet Nuri Çetin was appointed as trustee in her stead.[3][4]

The former mayor of Varto, Demir Celik, a pharmacist, is chairman of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).


Some 150,200 Armenians were living in the district of Varto in 1914, including 600 in the town of Varto. 8 churches, 3 monasteries and 5 schools catered to them.[5] In June 1915 during the Armenian Genocide, a great number of Varto's Armenian were massacred in the valley of Newala Ask.[6]

Varto was the site of major fighting during the Sheikh Said rebellion in 1924, and the site of the 1966 earthquake that killed nearly 3,000 people.

In the 1990s Varto was one of the hotbeds of Kurdish militancy led by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Although the city did not see ongoing battles, it was the hometown of many fighters and leading PKK commanders. The Turkish military garrison stationed in the city is surrounded by barbed wire and sandbags. The garrison patrols the city in armored personnel carriers (cars), though there was no fighting in or around the city since the 1990s until August 2015 when fighting between Turkish security forces and PKK began again. Most Kirmancki Zazaki language speakers are Alevis, whereas most Kurmanci Kurdish language speakers are Sunnis. The communities had a separate and quiet existence until the 1980s. The last three decades have seen significant intermarriage, partially aided by the advance of Kurdish nationalism[citation needed]. Varto consists of the main city and 99 villages.


  1. ^ "Area of regions (including lakes), km²". Regional Statistics Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. 2002. Retrieved 2013-03-05.
  2. ^ "Population of province/district centers and towns/villages by districts - 2012". Address Based Population Registration System (ABPRS) Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. Retrieved 2013-02-27.
  3. ^ "Varto belediyesine Kaymakam atandı". NTV. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  4. ^
  5. ^ de Bellaigue, Christopher (2010). Rebel Land: Unraveling the Riddle of History in a Turkish Town. p. 85.
  6. ^ Thomas, De Waal. Great Catastrophe: Armenians and Turks in the Shadow of Genocide. p. 243.

Further reading[edit]

  • De Bellaigue, Christopher, Rebel Land: Among Turkey's Forgotten Peoples. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.

External links[edit]