Meskhetians - Orientation

Identification. The traditional homeland of the Meskhetians is in south-southwestern Georgia, to the south of the Meskhetian mountain ridge. This is a highland region, with a temperate-cold climate quite different from the subtropical conditions in the Georgian lowlands. Agriculture and other aspects of the culture reflect the ecological niche in which the Meskhetians lived.

Location and Demography. A compact population of Meskhetians, presently numbering around 500,000, inhabited that region of Georgia until the 1940s. In November 1944, as part of the Stalinist policy of deportation, the Meskhetian ethnic group was denounced as "enemies of the Soviet people," forced to leave Transcaucasia, and resettled in Central Asia (mostly in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kirghizia) without the right to change their places of residence or leave their territory of resettlement. The entire population, inhabiting over 200 villages in southern Georgia (115,500 people, plus 40,000 who were at that time serving at the front), was deported.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Meskhetian language is classified in the Oghuzic Subgroup of the Turkic Family.

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