Saturday, April 25, 2015

Mythbusting About Colombia's Armenia

Quindio, Armenia today. Not named after the original Armenia. (Photo: Skyscraper City)
There's a belief floating around, which I've read on some websites, that the Colombian city of
A location map of Armenia,
Armenia received its name in honor of the victims of the Armenian genocide, which started exactly 100 years ago, during which the Ottoman Turks massacred as many as 1.5 million people.

While the historical story is moving, it appears to be false. In fact, Armenia, in Quindio Department, received its name in the 1880s or '90s, decades before the genocide took place in the Ottoman Empire. In that era, it was fashionable in Colombia to give places biblical names. Armenia was the world's first nation to adopt Christianity as its national religion, in 301 A.D.

However, the Armenians are a long-suffering people. And, as a Christian minority in the declining Ottoman Empire, they had suffered many previous persecutions and even massacres. So it is possible that Colombia's Armenia was named after a previous massacre of Armenians.

Coat of arms of Armenia,
Neither did Colombia's Armenia receive its name because of immigrants from the Eurasian Armenia. While there are reports of a few Armenian settlers in the region, there was no significant immigration of Armenians into Colombia's Armenia.

After the Ottoman Empire's disintegration during World War I, Armenia was briefly an independent nation, before being swallowed up by the Soviet Union. It finally gained lasting independence in 1991, after the Soviet disintegration. Today, it is a parliamentary republic with an authoritarian government.

Many call the massacres of 1915 the 20th Century's first genocide. While planning the genocide of the Jews, Gypsies, communists and others, Adolf Hitler reportedly asked 'Who remembers the Armenians?'

Today, it seems, much of the world does remember the Armenians - but the Turkish government stubbornly refuses to acknowledge a genocide which the nearly all serious historians do agree happened. Sadly, too, U.S. presidents have not used the word 'genocide' so as not to damage relations with their Turkish ally.

In February, Turkey's increasingly authoritarian Erdogan visited Bogotá to talk about trade. Colombian Pres. Santos, who wants the whole world to pay attention to human rights violations in his country, didn't mention human rights violations in Turkey, past or present.

Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Turks during the 1915 genocide.
For lots more information on this topic, see: El nombre Armenia en Colombia, which is where I got the info for this blogpost.

Flag of the nation of Armenia.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Éireann said...

Its Armenia, Quindio and not Armenia, Quindoa.

Miguel said...

Thanks for the correction.


Matthew Giraldo said...

Is in city Armenia real Armenians from country Armenia?
You'd help me a lot if give me any information about my question
Thank you for advance
My email !

Miguel said...

Hi Matthew,

Not as far as I've ever heard. I haven't heard of any Armenian immigration to Colombia, although most likely a few came. But it is always possible that the town got its name from an Armenian storekeeper who set up shop there centuries ago. Mike