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Journal number 3 ∘ Mirian Tukhashvili
Population of Kakheti: Dynamics and Ethnic Structure



For the development and implementation of a rational demographic policy, it is of great importance to reveal the regularities of the transformation of the number and structure of the population of Georgia. The object of our research is the population of the Kakheti region, which has undergone significant changes over the past centuries. The article discusses the main trends of population size and ethno-structural changes – issues of the ratio of the Georgian population and diasporas of Georgia, annexed by the Russian Empire, the Soviet Republic and the post-Soviet Kakheti region.

During the considered period, the specific weight of the diasporas in the entire population continuously increased due to the permanent implementation of the intensive immigration policy in Georgia, which was under imperial rule. The same situation was in the population of the Kakheti region, where the contingent of national minorities increased. With active immigration policy, the number of Russian population increased rapidly. In 1926-1939 it became 7.2% of the population of Kakheti. A relatively fast numerical increase of the Armenian diaspora was noted in the 19th century, of the Ossetians - at the beginning of the 20th century.

The most stable increase is characterized by the Muslim population. Thanks to its traditions of high natural increase, the number of Azerbaijanis and Kists increased from 6.4 thousand to 37.5 thousand in 1884-1989, by 2014 their share in the population of Kakheti region became 11.8%.

In the post-Soviet period, significant changes took place in the number and ethnic structure of the population of the Kakheti region. In the period between the population censuses of 1989-2014, it decreased significantly. Both the number of the entire population and diasporas: Armenians 3 times, Russians - 7 times, Ossetians - 4.9 times, Ukrainians - 9.4 times. Diasporas of Muslim Azeris and Kists remained relative stability. In the conditions of a rapid decrease in the number of the population, the tendency of the transition from a poly-ethnic to a bi-ethnic structure was evident in the Kakheti region.

The main reason for the decrease in the number of diasporas is the intensification of emigration processes. It was caused by the collapse of the Georgian economy in the post-Soviet period, ethno-political conflicts and the unprecedented deterioration of living conditions, unemployment, and the deepening of poverty. In addition to this, the intensity of emigration of national minorities was influenced by the fact that a significant part of the diaspora did not know the state language – Georgian and chose to return to their historical and cultural environment, to their homeland. Some emigrated to countries where the standard of living was much higher than in Georgia.

The reduction of diasporas was partly caused by their integration into the Georgian population. In the conditions of long-term coexistence, nationalities culturally close to Georgians: Ossetians, Armenians integrated into the Georgian ethnos. Among them, inter-ethnic marriages were common. There were no inter-ethnic confrontations and ethnic conflicts in the Kakheti region.

According to the 2014 census in the Kakheti region, it was revealed that in terms of religious confession, Christian Orthodoxy (85.7%) and Muslims (12.1%) dominate. The absolute majority of Muslims are Azerbaijanis, Kists, Hundzis and representatives of the older generation of eco-immigrant Georgian Adjarians.

 An important task of the government is to ensure decent socio-cultural development of national minorities in the region of Kakheti, characterized by tolerance; to establish an exemplary respect of the population for their customs; in Case of desire to help them in their civic integration, to create an exemplary environment for humane coexistence of nations.


Keywords: Georgia, diaspora, Kakheti, national minority, ethnic structure, population.

JEL Codes: Q56, R20, R23