Today, more than half of Armenia’s urban population lives in Yerevan, whose population exceeds one million. But this concentration is a relatively new phenomenon without recent historic precedent. Just over a century ago, at the time of the 1897 census of the Russian Empire, the Armenian urban population was much more spread out.
The largest was Tiflis (Tbilisi) with some 47,000 Armenians. This accounted for more than third of all Tiflis residents of the time and Tiflis was the ninth largest city of the Russian empire. Today’s Tbilisi Armenian population is about the same in size, but it now accounts for less than five percent of the city total.
The second largest Armenian city in 1897 was Alexandropol, the present-day Gyumri, with 21,000 Armenians. Gyumri’s population today is estimated at 116,000, nearly all Armenians.
Baku had the third largest population – 19,000 of total population of 112,000. Today, only a handful of Armenians are left, all living under non-Armenian identities.
Shusha had 14,000 Armenians – today there are about 4,500. And, finally, Erivan was the fifth largest with 12,500 Armenians.
Remarkably, only about a century ago Shusha had a larger population than Erivan, and half a century before – larger population than Baku.
The remaining major Armenian population centers included:
Of some 227,000 Armenians living in cities of the Russian empire, about 80,000 lived in what is now Georgia, about 60,000 in whats is now Armenia and Artsakh, 43,000 in what is now Azerbaijan, 25,000 in what is now Turkey and 19,000 in what is now Russian Federation.