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Ethnography of Bessarabia

Dinu Poştarencu Evoluţia demografică a oraşelor basarabene Ón prima jumătate a secolului al XIX-lea

Ethnographic map of Bessarabia (1907 year)


According to the census of 1897 year from 1935 412 persons were 92,8%  - native of Bessarabia (local - 87,3%, from others districts - 5,5 %), 5,8% were the natives of others districts and 1,4% were ones of  others states. The newcomers were mainly from Podolsky, Hersonsky,  Kievsky, Volynsky districts. Among the foreigners were the subjects of  Austria-Hungary (69,1%), Romania (10,8%), Greece (7%), Turkey (5,%%),  Germany (3,4%), Bulgaria (1,7%), France (0,5%).

In ethnographical case the population of Bessarabia was very diverse one:

Moldavians settled not only Moldavia, Bessarabia, but the parts of  Podolsky and Hersonsky districts and partially Ecaterrinoslavsky  district that were in the neighborhood with Bessarabia.

 The settlement of Small Russians was from the part of Galitsy. They  lived (by solid mass - we would probably say " together") at the north in Hotin district and partly at the  south in Akkerman, Ismail and Bendery districts. The Southern Small Russians settlers appeared after uniting Bessarabia to Russia in the year 1812 . The Northern ones are perhaps native population of Bessarabia from the period of "ulich tribes". Earlier they were named "raiks" or "raileans" because during Turkish domination they settled " the raia" of Hotin district. Small Russians of the south Bessarabia are the settlers for the  greater part from Northern Bessarabia, for the another part was from different district. In the center of Akkerman district lived Small Russians .  They were the ancestors of "Zaporojtsy". In 1775 after destroing of The Sech some of "zaporojtsy" went to Turks (on the river Dnepr to The Dunai one. During The Turkish war of 1778-91 "zaporojtsy" (you could use: favored - meaning liked; or supported - meaning helped) the Turks and against Russians; but in the beginning of the war of 1806-1812 they began to move on Russian side to Bessarabia. In 1807 year they formed one detachment with the name of  "Ustidunmaiskoie" contingent. During the war of 1828 year "zaporoztsy" and different "burlaky" formed two regiments named "Dunaiskoie" Cossack detachment that was settled in Akkerman district.

In Moldavia Jews first appeared during the Roman government (1393-1394) and in the beginning of XVI century they intensively moved from Poland and Romania. On the whole they lived in the towns and villages. Most of the Jews settled after The Declaration of 1818 promised them some privileges. Karaims lived in the towns; professed Judaism and spoke in Tatarian language.

ALLA CHASTINA Archival documents relating to Jewish roots in Moldova (former Bessarabia)

On the whole Great Russians lived in the towns, often uniting by their language not by their nationality. There were the men with old rites (lipovans); who for the most part were descendants of peasants escaped from Bessarabia from different districts because of landowners and that political system. and also retired military men. I am unsure of thisт sentence: recruitment) and... The most of them were in Ismail, Soroky, Bendery districts.

Bulgarians began to settle in Bessarabia in XVIII century, then soon  The Russian-Turkish war began in 1806-1812 years  in the complement others "zadunaisky' settlers.  They professed The Orthodoxy. The center of Bulgarian settlements was the town Bolgrad (Tabak) of Ismail district.

Germans as the settlers from Varshavian Duchy appeared in The Southern Bessarabia during 1813-1816. The Germans who settled in those colonies came from different districts of Germany (Bavaria, Baden and etc.).

Bessarabian "gagauzy" went from Balcan peninsula and settlers were among "zadunaisky" settlers. They professed the Orthodoxy, but spoke in the Turkish language. The center of their settlement was the village Komrat of Bendery district.

In Moldavia The Romans appeared very a long time ago, in the beginning of XV century. Most of them were in Kishinev, Beltsy, Orheev districts.

Most of the Poles lived in Kishinev and Bendery.

Among Armenians, the most of them were distinguished as Armenians-grigorians (Akkerman, Kishinev, Ismail). Armenians-Catholics moved from Poland in the beginning XIX century. The Armenians-grigorians lived in Moldavia from the times of Alexander The Kind, in Akkerman they appeared in the 1331 year, spoke in Turkish and Russian.

The Greeks appeared a long time ago, during Herodot (Akkerman). Then they appeared in Bessarabia from Turkey with Fanariot rulers as officials and relatives. Soon many from them purchased big villages  and soon they mixed with local Moldavian nobility. The most of  them were in Ismail, Cagul and Reny.

In Bessarabia The Albanians appeared in 1809-1810 among "zadunaisky" settlers and they had lived in the village Karakurt of  Ismail district . That was in unique settlement of Bessarabia and all  Russian Empire.

The Swiss Frenchmen were settled in the year 1824 in the colony Shabo near  Akkerman.

For the most part The Czechmen went from Tavrichesky and Poltavsky districts. Some of them accepted The Orthodoxy. 

L.S. Berg. Population of Bessarabia. Ethnography and size of the population. Petrograd, 1923.


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