Laz people in Turkey

The Laz people in Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye Lazları, Laz: ლაზეფე თურქონაშე Lazepe Turkonaşe) refers to an ethnic group who are native to eastern Black Sea coast of southwestern Georgia, and their descendants. Most Laz people today live in Turkey, but the Laz minority group has no official status in Turkey. Their number today is estimated at 2,250,000.[1]

Laz people in Turkey
Türkiye Lazları
ლაზეფე თურქონაშე (Lazepe Turkonaşe)
Total population
Estimates vary
Regions with significant populations
native in parts of Artvin and Rize,
internal immigrants in Marmara Region
Laz, Turkish
Sunni Islam


In the census of 1965, 26,007 Turkish citizens spoke Laz as mother language. Proportionally, they were most numerous in Artvin (5.8%), Rize (2.0%) and Sakarya (0.7%). 3,943 of these could only speak Laz. Another 55,158 spoke Laz as their second language.


The Turkish public sometimes uses the name "Laz" generally to refer to all inhabitants of Turkey's Black Sea provinces east of Samsun, and the word is often associated with certain social stereotypes.[2] However, the Laz themselves are increasingly keen to differentiate themselves from other inhabitants of these regions. Also, the non-Laz does not want to be called "Laz", preferring to be called Karadenizli [3] ("from the Black Sea region"). The Laz language (Lazca in Turkish) is a Kartvelian language, also known as South Caucasian, unrelated to the Black Sea dialect of Turkish language.[4]


  1. ^ The Uses and Abuses of History, Margaret MacMillan Google Books
  2. ^ Sevan Nisanyan, "Black Sea", Istanbul, 1990, p35.
  3. ^ "People of Black Sea Region". Archived from the original on 2010-02-10. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  4. ^ "Orientation - Laz". Retrieved 2014-04-20.
Laz people

The Laz people or Lazi (Laz: Lazi, ლაზი; Georgian: ლაზი, lazi; or ჭანი, ch'ani; Turkish: Laz) are an indigenous Kartvelian-speaking ethnic group inhabiting the Black Sea coastal regions of Turkey and Georgia.Estimates of the total population of the Laz people today vary drastically, with numbers as low as 45,000 to as high as 1.6 million people, with the majority living in northeast Turkey. The Laz speak the Laz language, a member of the same Kartvelian language family as Georgian, Svan, and Mingrelian. The Laz language is classified as endangered by UNESCO, with an estimated 130,000 to 150,000 speakers in 2001.

Zan languages

The Zan languages, or Zanuri (Georgian: ზანური ენები), are a branch of the Kartvelian languages constituted by the Mingrelian and Laz languages. Some linguists consider both to be members dialects of the same, Zan, language. However, Mingrelian and Laz are not completely mutually intelligible, though speakers of one language can recognize many words of the other.

The term Zan comes from the Greco-Roman name of one of the chief Colchian tribes, which is almost identical to the name given to the Mingrelians by the Svans (a northwestern Kartvelian group). Georgian linguist Akaki Shanidze proposed the name "Colchian" for Zan.

Ethnic groups

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