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The tiny Armenian minority, estimated at 40,000 in 1995, also is a remnant of a once-larger community. Before World War I, some 1.5 million Armenians lived in eastern Anatolia. Starting in the late nineteenth century, intergroup tensions prompted the emigration of possibly as many as 100,000 Armenians in the 1890s. In 1915 the Ottoman government ordered all Armenians deported from eastern Anatolia; at least 600,000 of the Armenians, who numbered up to 2 million, died during a forced march southward during the winter of 1915-16. Armenians believe--and Turks deny--that the catastrophe that befell their community was the result of atrocities committed by Turkish soldiers following government directives. Armenians outside Turkey refer to the deaths of 1915-16 as an instance of genocide, and over the years various Armenian political groups have sought to avenge the tragedy by carrying out terrorist attacks against Turkish diplomats and officials abroad (see Armenian Terrorism, ch. 5).
Most Armenians living in Turkey are concentrated in and around Istanbul. Like the Greeks, they are bankers and merchants with extensive international contacts. The Armenians support their own newspapers and schools. They are intensely attached to their Christian faith and their identity as Armenians rather than Turks. In addition, they have relatives in the Armenian diaspora throughout the world. The establishment of an independent Armenia on Turkey's eastern border following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 was a source of ethnic pride for the Armenians of Turkey. However, Armenia's conflict with Turkic Azerbaijan, combined with the jingoistic support of Azerbaijan in the Turkish media, has raised apprehensions among the Armenian minority about their future status in Turkey.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress