The Urum Greeks of Tsalka, Georgia

The Google Map shows the former communities of the Urum Greeks of the Tsalka area of Kvemo Kartli in Georgia. This people is known as the Tsalkalides (in the Greek language) or Urumlar (in Turkish). Given that the Urum Greeks were and are Turkish-speaking, the latter name is probably more appropriate. The community is Greek Orthodox and identifies with the Greek ethnos even when not Grecophone.

The settlements shown on the map are those of the community’s heyday. It emerged by immigration in 1829/1830 following the withdrawal of Russian troops from eastern Anatolia after the Russo-Turkish War of 1828/29, when Christians feared reprisals and were granted permission to settle in Georgia (and elsewhere). It grew throughout the C19th and into the C20th. However, it is now sadly depleted by emigration to Greece and Russia.

The community’s neighbours tended to be Armenians, Azeris and Kurds for the most part, rather than Georgians; there were also Jews and Roma in this district.

In addition to the large number of villages around Tsalka, the map also shows a few communities slightly further afield, such as the former mining village of Opreti to the south and the cluster of villages around Jigrasheni to the east.

Place names given are the current official Georgian name (in transliteration, of course), followed by alternative names used by the Urumlar and others.

For further information, we recommend the Greek- and Russian-language website papounidis.com.