Ethnocultural Resources Of Rural Settlement Environment Of The Republic Of Crimea


The relevance of the research is determined by the need to optimize the conditions for the development of rural settlement environment in the regions of the Russian Federation. The urgency of priority solutions to the problems that have accumulated in this area is determined by their scale, which is reflected in all Federal national projects currently being implemented. Using the example of the Republic of Crimea, the article analyzes such an important resource for the development of rural settlements as the ethnic composition of the population, the importance of which for Russian regions can hardly be overestimated. The article uses data from official statistics, specialized reference books, and field materials of the authors obtained during ethnographic expeditions in the Republic of Crimea in 2019. Our study is the first known experience of analyzing the ethnic composition of the rural population of Crimea at the level of all existing (at the time of the 2014 census) localities. We got a complete picture of the ethnocultural landscape from the point of view of the ethnic settlement of the rural population and highlighted the features of the studied processes. The main conclusions of the study include such main characteristics of the object under study as the continuing multi-ethnicity of the rural population as a whole and increasing ethnic mixing in rural localities; a combination of trends in intra-ethnic solidarity and inter-ethnic integration; and generally positive prospects for the development of the ethnocultural landscape;

Keywords: Crimea, rural population, settlement environment, ethnodemography, ethnocultural landscape


People reproduce cultural values in a specific time and space. In the sociobiological evolution of mankind, important qualitative changes were associated with the transition to settled lifestyle; from this moment, a certain way of life began to be developed, contributing to the emergence and development of new elements of material and non-material culture, which over time acquired variable characteristics (ethnic characteristics). Economic specialization and socio-economic development led to the division of the settlement environment into urban and rural parts, each of which is necessary and fulfils its role in human society. In Russia – a country where the village has traditionally served as the basis of all life-sustaining activity, even at the current level of urbanization, the role of the rural settlement environment does not decrease, it requires constant attention, which actualizes the implementation of scientific projects aimed at identifying development problems and finding ways to solve them optimally.

Problem Statement

The development of the rural settlement environment is determined by many circumstances, among which the ethnic factor plays an important role. In the village, ethnicity is reproduced and developed, flows into the city, where it gains innovation and returns to the village for further transformations. Therefore, it is rightfully to consider the rural environment as a source of ethnocultural resources, on the condition of which further national development depends. By ethnocultural resources, we understand, first of all, the multi-ethnic population of regions that have created over the centuries and continue to create material and immaterial cultural heritage monuments in the form of artifacts of their own culture and the results of inter-ethnic interaction.

Research Questions

The main subject of research is the settlement environment of the multi-ethnic population as part of the ethnocultural resource of rural development (as exemplified by the Republic of Crimea). The importance of studying this aspect is recognized in both domestic and foreign science. In Russian studies, taking into account the importance of the ethnic component for the peoples of the country, the topic is developed especially thoroughly. A large-scale research project was implemented by a group of researchers in the Volga-Ural region (Danilko, 2010; Korostelev, 2010; Popova, 2010). From the latest research, a comprehensive approach to the study of the object on the territory of the Baikal region is worth considering (Tsydypova, 2018). Ethnocultural problems related to the settlement environment are systematically developed by the authors of this article (Stolyarova et al., 2016). In foreign studies, the state of the settlement environment is closely linked to the problem of preserving cultural heritage (Amit-Cohen & Sofer, 2016; Prompayur & Chairattananon, 2016; Rodzi et al., 2013). It emphasizes the relevance and importance of cultural heritage not only as an economic resource for development in modern conditions but also as a long-term universal potential in the implementation of intergenerational transmission of immaterial values (Kordel, 2016; Petronela, 2016).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to identify the dynamics and ethnic features of rural settlement in the Republic of Crimea as an important resource for the settlement environment development.

Research Methods

The tasks set and the sources used (primarily official statistics and field materials of the authors) determined the methodology and procedure of the study. The methodological principles of the sciences that study ethnic groups – anthropology, ethnology and related disciplinesformed the basis for the development of the problem. Statistical analysis methods were used to describe the ethnodemographic situation.


The Crimean Peninsula, due to a number of factors of natural-geographical, historical, trade and economic character, belongs to the oldest civilizational centers of the oecumene. For centuries, migration flows passed through Crimea in all directions, containing various ethnic components, each of them made a contribution into the settlement map of the region. The rich ethnic history of the Peninsula is clearly reflected in the modern picture of settlement, where each ethnic fragment, on the one hand, stands out sharply against the general background, and on the other – is firmly embedded in the ethnocultural mosaic of centuries-old common history and traditions of cohabitation. Crimea is one of the rare territorial entities where none of the ethnic groups can claim the exclusive rights of a "native" or indigenous community. We can only talk about an earlier or later settlement. This feature is clearly reflected in the self-consciousness of modern Crimea residents of various nationalities and is recorded by ethnosociological methods.

Population censuses are the main source for studying ethnodemographic processes. The main feature and a certain difficulty of using this source in Crimea is that the last two censuses were carried out in conditions of the peninsula being a part of different states. In the 2001 census, the population of Crimea was counted within the borders of Ukraine; in 2014, it was counted within the borders of the Russian Federation. However, the question of ethnic self-identification in both censuses was asked in a similar form, and the comparability of the data can be considered fundamentally possible.

It is necessary to mention another important feature related to the recording of the nationality of residents in the census. In all recent censuses of the Crimea population, there are several lines where persons of Tatar nationality are recorded; among them there are Astrakhan Tatars, Siberian Tatars, Kryashens and Mishars, as well as Crimean Tatars and simply "Tatars". At the same time, as follows, for example, from the explanations to the 2014 census form, Crimean Tatars are understood as Tatars with their native Crimean Tatar language, and the second group includes Tatars with any native language other than Crimean Tatar, as well as Bashkir Tatars, Kazan Tatars, Tatar-Bashkirs, and Teptyars. In addition to the above, we note that the typological grounds on which the "Tatars" group was formed were violated. If "Kazan Tatars" is the name of a sub-ethnic group that is typologically similar to the Astrakhan, Siberian Tatars, Kryashens and Mishars, then Bashkir Tatars is a loose definition that denotes any Tatars living in Bashkiria; Tatar – Bashkirs are the designation of persons with dual ethnic self-identification, the practice of fixing which has not been legalized in Russian censuses yet; Teptyars is a special ethnic group of ethnically mixed origin. Adding a language attribute when taking into account ethnic identity also does not seem entirely justified: as you know, recognition of a native language of another nationality does not automatically lead to a change in ethnic identity, and the discrepancy between ethnic identity and the native language in Russian realities is a fairly common phenomenon for most peoples of the country.

It would be unfair to blame only census developers for this situation; such confusion is most likely a reflection of the perceptions of ethnic identity representatives. As the current census practice shows, in all regions of Russia representatives of various groups of Tatars, when asked about nationality, confine themselves to the answer: "Tatar", without specifying (or not knowing) their sub-ethnic, ethno-territorial or other affiliation. Nevertheless, for regions where the Tatar population (in the broadest interpretation of this ethnonym) has always been of historical importance, consideration of these circumstances is important. The Republic of Crimea is one of such regions.

The rural population of Crimea consists of two groups, similar in lifestyle and different in composition. These are the population of rural settlements forming part of urban districts (group 1), and the rural population of 14 municipal districts (group 2). According to the established tradition, reflected in the Republican legislation, the rural population in Crimea includes residents of urban-type settlements, which distinguishes the Republic from other constituent territories of the Russian Federation, including Tatarstan, where the residents of such settlements are included in urban population.

The current rural population of the Republic of Crimea is multi-ethnic: according to the 2014 census, it includes representatives of 113 nationalities. Another 741 people from the rural population have a nationality that is not included in the General list (195 ethnic names are included in it). In addition, 88 nationalities were counted among the rural residents of urban districts (plus 269 people with ethnic names that were not included in the list), and among the villagers of the municipal districts – 108 nationalities (and 472 people with other ethnonyms). In other words, statistically, the rural population of municipal districts in Crimea is more ethnically diverse than in rural localities included in urban districts. This circumstance, undoubtedly, can be included among the features of settlement in the Republic of Crimea, since the general tendency (at least in the Russian regions) is to increase the multi-ethnicity of the population as the settlements approaching the cities.

The ethnic majority in rural areas of Crimea, as well as throughout the Republic as a whole, is formed by three ethnic groups whose language has the regional status of the state one – Russian, Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians.

Russian population in Crimea is the largest, and its share in the rural population is 56.25 % (for the republic as a whole, the share of Russians is 67.9 %, among the urban population – 75.15 %). There are noticeable differences in the proportion of Russians in the rural population, which is included in urban and municipal districts –70.8 % and 53.4 % respectively.

The second and third places in the rural population are shared by Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians, the difference in the number of which is slightly more than 3.5 thousand people in favor of the Crimean Tatars, the difference in the share is equally insignificant – 18.56 % and 18.17 % of the total rural population, respectively. Note in parentheses that in the cities of Crimea, the situation is different: the share of Ukrainians (14.0 %) is almost three times higher than the share of Crimean Tatars (5.4 %). Differences in the settlement of rural Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians are distinctly observed in groups 1 and 2 of the rural population. Thus, in rural settlements included in urban districts, the share of Crimean Tatars is 6.8 % of the population, while in the villages of municipal districts – 20.9 %. This fact is explained, first of all, by the conditions of repatriation of the Crimean Tatars to their historical homeland, which began en masse in 1989 from Central Asia. It is obvious that as places of compact settlement, local authorities (both in the USSR and in Ukraine) offered them first of all free land in rural settlements. There are no such differences with Ukrainians: their share in the population of group 1 is 17.0 % and in the population of group 2 – 18.2 %.

Representatives of other ethnic groups belong to ethnic minorities. Among them, the most numerous in the composition of the rural population of Crimea are Tatars without precise ethnic identification (over 15 thousand people or 1.7 % of the total number), Belarusians (about 10 thousand people or 1.07 %) and Armenians (about 4 thousand people or 0.4 %). Also, against the background of other ethnic communities, the most numerous in the rural population of group 1 (in descending order) are Azerbaijanis, Moldovans, Poles, Uzbeks, Jews and Koreans (the number of groups is from 285 to 84 people, and the share in the population is from 0.2 % to 0.05 %). In the rural population of group 2, there are Uzbeks (1,896 people, or 0.25 %), Gypsies (1,395 people, or 0.18 %), Azerbaijanis (1,317 people, or 0.17 %) and Koreans (1,314 people, or 0.17 %), Moldovans, Poles and Greeks – 1,183 people, 1,148 people, and 1,102 people (or 0.15 %. 0.15 %, 0.14 %) respectively.

Between the two population censuses of 2001 (Ukrcensus, 2001) and 2014, the share of Russians in the rural population of Crimea increased from 45.8 to 56.2 %, and the share of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians decreased from 21.2 and 27.4 % to just over 18 %. In addition, the number of Russians by 2014, compared to 2001, increased by 46.5 %, Crimean Tatars – by 4 %, and the number of Ukrainians decreased by 20.7 %.

Among ethnic minorities, the number (by 2.5 times) and the share in the population (by 2 times) of Tatars have noticeably increased, and the number (by 20 %) and the share (by 0.5 %) of Belarusians have slightly decreased; in the remaining groups, the dynamics of absolute and relative indicators is insignificant.

The complex ethnic history of Crimea is reflected, among other things, in the settlement of ethnic groups and the structure of rural settlements. If the undoubted difference between rural and urban areas everywhere in Russia is the presence in the former of a compact ethnic settlement with a stable network of one-nation settlements, an entirely different picture has emerged in the Crimea.

When grouping rural villages in Crimea, we used the following approaches to distinguish the categories of "single-national" and "national-mixed" localities: we consider a village to be ethnically homogeneous if there is a dominant group of people of the same nationality, while the share of representatives of each of the other ethnic communities does not exceed 10 % of the number of inhabitants of this village.

Today, only 30 rural localities in Crimea out of 975 (or 3.1 %) – 24 Russian and 6 Crimean Tatar villages-can be classified as "single-national settlements". For comparison, in the Republic of Tatarstan, 84.5 % of the total number of settlements are single-national. At the same time, the population of Russian villages in the Crimea is mainly small: one-third of them is populated by up to 10 people, and two thirds – up to 100 people. Crimean Tatar villages are more populous: three of them have a population of 690 to 818 people, another two – 343 and 204 people, and one – 36 people.

The described situation is even more surprising because for a long time, until the beginning of the Second World War, all the peoples of the Crimea, without exception, were characterized by the desire to settle in mono-ethnic areas, and many of them – for example, Germans, Italians, Greeks, Czechs, Estonians, Swiss, Bulgarians, and Jews – even before the 1917 revolution had pronounced ethnic settlements in the Crimea. Some peoples (for example, the Greeks and Armenians) experienced return migrations but they also returned to their former places of residence when they repopulated the Crimea (Klyachin, 1992). As a result, the population of the vast majority of rural localities in Crimea remained mono-ethnic until the early 1940s; the share of other nationalities was insignificant. The exception was the zone of the South-Eastern coast of the Peninsula, where since ancient times there was a zone of the joint settlement of various ethnic groups (Klyachin, 1992).

It seems that the deportations of the historical peoples of the Peninsula in the middle of the twentieth century played a decisive role in the destruction of the traditional settlement system of ethnic groups in Crimea. Assimilation processes were another factor. This applies, in particular, to ethnic groups such as the Czechs and Estonians, whose numbers in Crimea were clearly insufficient to enter into ethnically homogenous marriages for more than three or four generations. Certainly, we must not forget about the Nazi genocide of Jews and inhabitants of the Crimea in 1941 (the "Crimean Holocaust"). Under current conditions, it is extremely difficult to restore the system of the traditional settlement, so the most developed are ethnically mixed settlements, the share of which in the Crimea is 97%.

In most mixed villages the population is dominated by Russians: there are 758 such villages in the Republic or 81.2 % of the total number of mixed localities; in 137 (14.7 %) villages Crimean Tatars predominate; in 37 (4 %) – Ukrainians. Settlements with the predominance of the Russian population are evenly distributed in three main variants (in descending order of the number of ethnic groups): with the Russian-Crimean Tatar-Ukrainian population (32 %), with the Russian-Ukrainian population (30 %) and the Russian-Ukrainian-Crimean Tatar population (26.6 %). Crimean Tatar-Russian-Ukrainian settlements (65.3 %) and Crimean Tatar-Russian villages (29.7 %) constitute the majority among the villages with a predominance of Crimean Tatars. There are two variants among the villages with a predominance of Ukrainians: with the Ukrainian-Russian-Crimean Tatar population (48.5 %) and with the Ukrainian-Russian population (37 %). Among the representatives of other ethnic groups, exceeding 10 % of the village population, there are Nogais (in 3 villages), Belarusians, Moldovans (2 settlements); Kumyks, Azerbaijanis, Gagauz, Czechs, Turks (1 village). The number of variants of mixed settlements increases due to ethnically unidentified "Tatars", who on closer examination are overwhelmingly Crimean Tatars, this fact is also confirmed by our field materials. Meanwhile, we consider it improperly to automatically combine all the "Tatars" of the census with the Crimean Tatars.

There are no obvious territorial differences in the placement of various ethnic-mixed villages in municipal districts. In rural settlements included in urban districts, Russians predominate almost everywhere.

This statistical analysis is performed using the classification and typological methods necessary for such studies. The real life of the Crimean rural villages, where dozens of ethnic minority groups live, is much brighter and richer than the figures show. It has already been mentioned that the existing conditions prevent the preservation of ethnic endogamy among small groups, and most of the marriages are inter-ethnic. But even under such circumstances, small ethnic groups tend to support and show their ethnic identity. Representatives of ethnic minorities strive to strengthen close ties with the native ethnic region, which, combined with the measures of state support that exists in the Republic of Crimea, contributes to the effective activities of national-cultural associations.

The received field material shows: when celebrating an international wedding with the participation of ethnic minority representatives, their ethnic flavor is necessarily manifested in the wedding meal, music, song and dance accompaniment of the celebration, a bright detail of the traditional national costume, an expressive fragment of the national rite. Small ethnic communities are polylingual but do not forget their native language; tolerant and legitimate in the context of the multi-confessional environment, but firmly adhere to traditional religions; socially active, participating in national celebrations, but at the same time they develop their own holidays, traditional crafts and trades, strongly promoting them among their neighbours of other ethnicities. It is obvious that the long experience of living in a non-ethnic majority has balanced the main development trends: both intra-ethnic consolidation and inter-ethnic integration.


The analysis of the rural settlement environment of the Republic of Crimea led to the following conclusions.

The modern system of the rural settlement of the Peninsula formed as a result of numerous migrations, repeated colonization, deportations and rehabilitation, political perturbations, can not be considered completely formed; due to undergoing processes that can qualitatively change the situation. In addition to that, most of the peoples inhabiting Crimea are historically formed communities with their own experience of intra- and inter-ethnic communication and development prospects, the core of which is the idea of the Peninsula as a small Homeland. Due to the long-established economic specialization and traditions of inter-ethnic interaction, the situation in Crimea as a whole can be considered favorable for sustainable development. Objectively, this is facilitated by the features that have appeared in the settlement rural environment since the mid-twentieth century. First of all, this is the absolute dominance of ethnically mixed localities in a variety of combinations and variations. The transition from one state-political system to another has confirmed that in Crimea there are no clear preferences in maintaining the exclusive rights of only one of the ethnic communities, which, combined with efforts to restore historical justice to illegally repressed peoples, creates opportunities and prospects for progressive development. Historical experience has shown that ethnic resources are in great demand in these processes and can play a crucial role as a catalyst for future transformations.


Prepared with the financial support of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research project #19-09-00058-OGN "Ethnic and Cultural potential of rural settlements: regional development models (the example of the Republic of Tatarstan and the Republic of Crimea)".


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Rychkova, N. V., Rychkov, S. Y., Fazliev, A. M., & Stolyarova, G. R. (2021). Ethnocultural Resources Of Rural Settlement Environment Of The Republic Of Crimea. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization - ISCKMC 2020, vol 107. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1358-1365). European Publisher.