Karaims in Europe

Up to the data collected during the ethnostatistic investigation in Lithuania there were 257 Karaim people living in 1997. The biggest group ot them were the residents of Vilnius (138), others lived in Trakai (65), in Panevezys (31), in Kaunas (4). Since the last decade these numbers might have changed a little, however, the general share of Karaim people in Lithuanian society stays rather the same – Karaims make the smallest ethno-confessional minority in Lithuania. Every year the community is organizing a Karaim language school, different conferences and other international events as well as produces promotional materials, documentaries, booklets, collaborates with international press, etc. A children group presenting Karaim dances and songs called ‘Sanduhac’ (A Nightingale) leads its exhaustive activities.

In Poland nowadays there are about 126 Karaim people living. Mostly in Warsaw (41), in Wroclaw (55), in Pomorze region (26). Despite various citizenships which was a result of the history moving the borders of different European states, Karaim people living today in Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine and Russia make up one ethno-confessional group. In modern Poland a Karaim NGO is acting which publishes a quarterly ‘Awazymyz’ (Our voice), organizes the activities for a children group called ‘Dostlar’ (The Friends) as well as different international events and conferences.

The Karaim population in modern Ukraine consists of appr. 800 people. They mostly live in Kiyev, in Western Ukraine (Luck, Galic) and in the Crimea (cities like Simferopol, Eupatoria, Feodosia, Bachcisaraj and other). There are several Karaim NGOs and their associations active in the Ukraine which are organized up to the geographical locations of the respective communities. The city of Eupatoria with two kenesas is one of the most important Karaim cultural centres in the Ukraine. There are several Karaim periodicals being published as well as archeological camps with the relevance of the Karaim history and conferences organized in the Ukraine.

In the Russian Federation today live about 500 Karaims dispersed in different cities like Moscow, Sankt Petersburg, Charkov, Tula, etc. There are also some Karaim NGOs leading their activities in various geographical locations. Several books as well as series of Karaim encyclopedia are being published in today’s Russian Federation.

During the late centuries in Europe a small Karaim émigré community was formed with its highest density been in France at the beginning of the 20th century. Up till now there are some of their descendants still living in France. A new wave of modern Karaim emigration is not numerous at all – several persons have left their native places for the USA, UK, Estonia.