Learn more about Crimean Tatars
| Crimean Tatars|
|İsmail Gaspıralı • Noman Çelebicihan • Mustafa Abdülcemil Qırımoğlu|
|Total population||500,000 - 2,000,000|
|Regions with significant populations|| Crimea:|
|Religion|| Sunni Islam <tr>
<th style="background-color:#fee8ab;">Related ethnic groups</th> <td style="background-color:#fff6d9;">other Turkic People
The Crimean Tatars (sg. Qırımtatar, pl. Qırımtatarlar) or Crimeans (sg. Qırım, Qırımlı, pl. Qırımlar, Qırımlılar) are a Turkic-speaking ethnic group originally residing in Crimea. They speak the Crimean Tatar language.
In modern times, in addition to living in Crimea, there is a large diaspora of Crimean Tatars in Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Uzbekistan, Western Europe and North America, as well as small communities in Finland, Lithuania, Russia, Belarus and Poland. (See Crimean Tatar diaspora)
Today, more than 250,000 Crimean Tatars live in Crimea and about 150,000 remain in exile in Central Asia, mainly in Uzbekistan. There is an estimated 5 million people of Crimean origin living in Turkey, descendants of those who emigrated in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In the Dobruja region of Romania and Bulgaria, there are more than 27,000 Crimean Tatars: 24,000 on the Romanian side, and 3,000 on the Bulgarian side.
The Crimean Tatars are descendants of a mix of Turkic - (Bulgars, Khazars, Petchenegs and Kypchaks) as well as non-Turkic (Scythians, Sarmatians, Cimmerians, Alans, Greeks, Goths, Adyghe) peoples who had settled in Eastern Europe as early as the 7th century BC. The earliest non-Turkic populations were assimilated into the Turkic. The current name has been in use since the 13th century when Crimea was occupied by the Mongols (or Tatars, as they were known in Europe and Russia).
The Crimean Tatars are subdivided into three sub-ethnic groups: the Tats (not to be confused with the Tat people) who inhabited the mountainous Crimea before 1944 (about 55%), the Yalıboylus who lived on the southern coast of the peninsula (about 30%), and the Noğays (not to be confused with the Nogai people) - former inhabitants of the Crimean steppe (about 15%). The Tats and Yalıboylus have a Caucasian physical appearance, while the Noğays retain Central Asian characteristics.
The Crimean Tatars emerged as a nation at the time of the Crimean Khanate. The Crimean Khanate was a Turkic-speaking Muslim state which was among the strongest powers in Eastern Europe until the beginning of the 18th century. The Crimean Tatars adopted Islam in the 13th century and thereafter Crimea became one of the centers of Islamic civilization. According to Baron Iosif Igelström, in 1783 there were close to 1600 mosques and religious schools in Crimea. In Bakhchisaray, the khan Meñli I Giray built Zıncırlı Medrese (literally "Chain Madrassah"), an Islamic seminary where one has to bow while entering from its door because of the chain hanging over. This symbolized the Crimean society's respect for learning. Meñli I Giray also constructed a large mosque on the model of Hagia Sophia (which was ruined in 1850s). Later, the khans built a greater palace, Hansaray in Bakhchisaray, which survives until today. Sahib I Giray patronized many scholars and artists in this palace. During the reign of Devlet I Giray the architect Sinan built a mosque, Cuma Cami, in Kezlev.
The slave trade in Crimea dates back to the earliest written history in the area. When the Ottomans and Mongols conquered this area, they legitimized the slave trade by the fact that they were captured during the war. Otherwise it was not legitimate according to Islamic law.
Crimean Tatars were known for frequent devastating raids into Ukraine and Russia. In 1571 they seized and burned Moscow. For a long time, until the early 18th century Crimean Tatars maintained massive slave trade with the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East. One of the most known and important trading ports and slave markets was Kefe. Some researchers estimate that altogether more than 3 million people, predominantly Ukrainians but also Russians, Belarusians and Poles, were captured and enslaved during the time of the Crimean Khanate in what was called "the harvesting of the steppe". A constant threat from Crimean Tatars supported the appearance of cossackdom.
The Crimean Khanate became a protectorate of the Ottoman Empire in 1475, when the Ottoman general Gedik Ahmet paşa conquered the southern coast of Crimea. However, the Ottomans respected the legitimacy of Giray khans to rule in the rest of Crimea and the steppes, because of their Chingizid lineage. The alliance with the Ottomans became an important factor in the survival of the khanate until the 18th century, while its sisters, the Kazan Khanate and the Astrakhan Khanate were destroyed by the increasingly powerful Russian state.
The Ottoman-Russian War of 1768-1774 resulted with the defeat of the Ottomans, and according to the Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji (1774) signed after the war, Crimea became independent and Ottomans renounced their political right to protect the Crimean Khanate. Russia violated the treaty and annexed the Crimean Khanate in 1783. After the annexation, under pressure of Slavic colonization, Crimean Tatar began to abandon their homes and move to the Ottoman Empire in continuing waves of emigration. Particularly, the Crimean War of 1853-1856, the laws of 1860-63 and the Ottoman-Russian War of 1877-1878 caused an exodus of the Crimean Tatars. Some researchers estimate that one million Crimeans had to abandon their homeland in the 19th century. Many Crimean Tatars perished in the process of emigration, including those who drowned while crossing the Black Sea. Today the descendants of these Crimeans form the Crimean Tatar diaspora in Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.
İsmail Gaspıralı (1851-1914) was a renowned Crimean Tatar intellectual, whose efforts laid the foundation for the modernization of Muslim culture and the emergence of the Crimean Tatar national identity. The bilingual Crimean Tatar-Russian newspaper Terciman-Perevodchik he published in 1883-1914, functioned as a school through which a national consciousness and modern thinking emerged among the whole Turkic-speaking population of the Russian Empire. His New Method (Usul-ü Cedid) schools, numbered 350 across the Crimean peninsula raised a new Crimean Tatar elite. This new elite, which included Noman Çelebicihan and Cafer Seydamet proclaimed the first democratic republic in the Islamic world named the Crimean People's Republic in December 26, 1917. However, this republic was short-lived and destroyed by the Bolsheviks in January 1918.
During World War II, the entire Crimean Tatar population in Crimea fell victim to Stalin's oppressive policies. Although a great number of Crimean Tatar men served in the Red Army and took part in the partizan movement in Crimea during the war, the existence of the Tatar Legion in the Nazi army and the collaboration of Crimean Tatar religious and political leaders with Hitler during the German occupation of Crimea provided the Soviets with a pretext for accusing the whole Crimean Tatar population of being Nazi collaborators. Modern researchers also point to the fact that a further reason was the geopolitical position of Crimea where Crimean Tatars were perceived as a threat. This belief is based in part on an analogy with numerous other cases of deportations of non-Russians from boundary territories (see, e.g., Involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union), as well as the fact that other non-Russian populations, such as Greeks, Armenians and Bulgarians have also been removed from Crimea.
All Crimean Tatars were deported en masse, in a form of collective punishment, on 18 May 1944 as special settlers to Uzbek SSR and other distant parts of the Soviet Union. The decree "On Crimean Tatars" describes the resettlement as a very humane procedure. The reality described by the victims in their memoirs was different. 46.3% of the resettled population died of diseases and malnutrition. This event is called Sürgün in the Crimean Tatar language.
Although a 1967 Soviet decree removed the charges against Crimean Tatars, the Soviet government did nothing to facilitate their resettlement in Crimea and to make reparations for lost lives and confiscated property.
Today, more than 250,000 Crimean Tatars have returned to their homeland, struggling to re-establish their lives and reclaim their national and cultural rights against many social and economic obstacles.
Mustafa Abdülcemil Qırımoğlu is the political leader of the Crimean Tatars and the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People. They endorsed and supported Viktor Yushchenko in the Ukrainian presidential election, 2004.
 See also
- Crimean Tatar diaspora
- Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic
- Autonomous Republic of Crimea
- Crimean Khanate
- List of Crimean Tatars
- Giray Dynasty
- Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq or (Augier) Ghislain de Busbecq - Austrian ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century whose account of meeting Crimean Tartars includes a rudimentary account of their language, see Crimean Gothic language
- State Defense Committee Decree No. 5859ss: On Crimean Tatars (See also Three answers to the Decree No. 5859ss)
- Fisher, Alan W. 1978. The Crimean Tatars. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press. (ISBN 0-8179-6661-7)
- Fisher, Alan W. 1998. Between Russians, Ottomans and Turks: Crimea and Crimean Tatars (Istanbul: Isis Press, 1998). (ISBN 975-428-126-2)
- Robert Conquest. 1970. The Nation Killers: The Soviet Deportation of Nationalities (London: MacMillan). (ISBN 0-333-10575-3)
- Alexander Nekrich. 1978. The Punished Peoples: The Deportation and Fate of Soviet Minorities at the End of the Second World War (New York: W. W. Norton). (ISBN 0-393-00068-0)
 External links
- Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People
- Crimean Youth Site
- Former Palace of the Crimean Khans
- International Committee for Crimea
- Crimean Tatars by H. B. Paksoy
- Ismail Bey Gaspirali
- UNDP Crimea Integration and Development Programme
- Crimea-L mailing list
- Crimean Tatar Home Page
- Crimean Tatars
- Crimean Tatars of Romaniaar:تتار القرم
ca:Tàtar de Crimea (poble) de:Krimtataren es:Tártaros de Crimea fr:Tatars de Crimée it:Tatari di Crimea nl:Krimtataren ro:Tătarii crimeeni ru:Крымские татары sv:Krimtatarer tt:Qırım Tatarları tr:Kırım Tatarları uk:Кримські татари