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Armenians in Georgia

Armenians in Georgia (Armenian: Վիրահայեր Virahayer) are Armenian people living within the country of Georgia. The Armenian community is mostly concentrated in the capital Tbilisi, Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia and Samtskhe-Javakheti region. Official Georgian statistics put the Armenians in Samtskhe-Javakheti at about 54% of the population. In Abkhazia, Armenians are the third biggest ethnic group in the region after the Georgians and the Abkhazian majority.

The presence of Armenians in Georgia was described since late antiquity in the works of medieval Armenian historians and chroniclers, such as Movses Khorenatsi, Ghazar Parpetsi, Pavstos Buzand, and others. A large wave of Armenian settlers in the country's capital city of Tbilisi took place in the 12th-13th centuries, especially after 1122, in the aftermath of liberation of the Caucasus from Seljuk Turks by Georgian and Armenian forces under the leadership of King David IV and Tamar of Georgia.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Armenian merchants, including famous jewelers and oil industrialists invested heavily in business in Georgia and helped build trading houses, cultural centers, schools and churches. The number of Armenians increased progressively such that by the early 19th century, the Armenians far outnumbered Georgians in the capital city of Tbilisi. Tbilisi became a veritable cultural center for Eastern Armenians ("arevelahayer", commonly called Russian-Armenians "rusahayer") just like Istanbul in Turkey became cultural center for the Western Armenians ("arevmedahayer", commonly called Turkish-Armenians "turkahayer" at the time).

As a result of the struggles of the Russian Empire with the Ottomans and its conquest of the Caucasus over the Qajar Iran, the Russian authorities found themselves able to settle Christian Armenian and Greek refugees in the area after 1828, following the ratified Treaty of Turkmenchay with Qajar Iran of 1828, and the Treaty of Adrianople with Ottoman Turkey of 1829.



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