The Chechens in Turkey

The Google Map shows only Chechen villages and not other centres of Chechen population in Turkey. For instance, there are many Chechens in cities such as Istanbul, Kayseri and Sivas – these are not marked on the map.

The Chechens in the big cities have mostly arrived as a consequence of the recent conflicts of 1994-1996 and 1999-2009, in which the Russian state has tried repeatedly and violently to crush Chechen nationalism. Chechens have been displaced across Europe as well as Russia and Turkey and a significant percentage of the total Chechen population now lives in diaspora.

However, a proportion of the city-dwellers in Turkey are migrants from the villages which are the main subject of the map.

The Chechen villages in Turkey date from the C19th (many from the 1860s) and were settled by refugees – generally known as muhajir or muhacir – from the Russian conquest of the north Caucasus (the Caucasian War). The villages are mostly small (with typical populations of 100 to 300 persons), traditional and agricultural, with only basic facilities. This is the background to the rural-to-urban drift, as the younger generation is pulled out of the native communities by economic want and lack of opportunity. The villagers are Chechen-speaking as well as being Turkophone (schooling in Turkey being in Turkish) and, of course, are Sunni Muslim.