Historical Context

Kurdistan is an ethnographic region in Western Asia, where Kurds make up absolute majority (in some parts relative majority). Kurdistan is situated approximately between the latitude 45º and 34º North and longitude 40º and 48º East, stretching from east to west for around 1.000km, and from north to south 250-400km. The total area is 450.000km2.

Historically and geographically, Kurds dwell in Western Asia from ancient times and are considered as the predominant ethnic majority. They are the largest ethnic group in the Middle East, who do not have their own country.

The territory of Kurdistan is divided between 4 countries: Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. It does not have specific natural borders; that is why the following geopolitical terms emerged: Turkish (North) Kurdistan, Syrian (Northwest) Kurdistan, Iraqi (South) Kurdistan and Iranian (Eastern) Kurdistan.

Right now, the nominal capitals of Kurdistan are the following: Erbil of Southern (Iraqi) Kurdistan, Diyarbakir of Northern (Turkish) Kurdistan, Sanandaj of Eastern (Iranian) Kurdistan and Al-Qamishli of Western (Syrian) Kurdistan.

Kurds are Iranian-speaking people. In the world, there are more than 40 million Kurds. The major part of Kurds lives in Turkey, forming the biggest ethnic minority in the country of more than 20 million. In Iran, there are more than 11 million Kurds; in Iraq 7 million or less; in Syria 3 million or less.

The vast majority of Kurds does not consider the geographical division of Kurdistan rightful and perceive Kurdistan as one entity; that is why problems in one part of Kurdistan rapidly find reaction in the other parts.

Besides Kurds, Azerbaijanis, Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Persians, Turks and Turkmens live in the territory. Before the mid of XX century, many Jews lived in the territory; later they immigrated to Israel. Armenians made up a large part of the eastern regions of Turkish Kurdistan before XX century; however, they were destroyed at the end of XIX century and in the beginning of XX century (Massacres of Armenians in 1894-1915, the Massacre in Cilicia and the Genocide of Armenians). Currently this territory is populated mainly by Kurds.


Christian Context

Religious palette of Kurds is very diverse. Majority of Kurds who live in the north and in the west is Sunni Muslim. Shia Muslims live mostly in the south and in the east. Kurdish Muslims honor Sufism much, considering it as the doctrine of eternal wisdom. Besides Muslims, there are representatives of other religions in Kurdistan: Yezidis, Christians-monophysites, Zoroastrians, etc. In the Middle East, Kurds, compared with other people are far more tolerant toward other confessions.

Kurdish Christians are called with Arabic word ‘‘Mesihi’’. One must not confuse them with other Christian communities living in that territory, such as Assyrians, Armenians or Georgians. Today the number of Kurdish Christians is unknown. According to approximate estimates, their number reaches to tens of thousands. Kurdish Christians belong to different Churches: the Syrian Catholic, the Syrian Orthodox, the Assyrian Eastern Church, the Armenian Catholic and the Chaldean Catholic Churches.