The Qarapapaqs or Karapapaks (Azerbaijani: Qarapapaqlar, Tərəkəmələr; Turkish: Karapapaklar) are a Turkoman sub-ethnic group of Azerbaijanis who mainly live in Azerbaijan, Iran, Georgia, and in the northeast of Turkey near the border with Georgia and Armenia, primarily in the provinces of Ardahan (around Lake Çıldır), Kars and Ağri. The exact number for the Qarapapaq population worldwide is unknown but is likely to be in the hundred thousands.
Sometimes referred to as Terekeme or Tarakama (from Arabic: “تراكمة” (Tarākameh), the Arabicbroken plural for Turkmen—a term traditionally used for any Turkic nomadic people, Qarapapaqs are often identified as a sub-ethnic group of Azerbaijanis, even though in the Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary they are sometimes listed as a separate ethnic group. Theories of Qarapapaqs descending from Kumyks (a Turkic ethnic group in Dagestan) have also been brought forward by scholars like Fahrettin Kırzıoğlu and Zeki Velidi Togan. The Terekeme originally populated territories in what is now southern Georgia, northwestern Armenia, southern Dagestan, and central and northwestern Azerbaijan, but almost entirely migrated to Persia and the Ottoman Empire upon Russia‘s conquest of Persia’s territories in the North Caucasus and South Caucasus between 1813 and 1828 during the Russo-Persian War (1804-1813) and the Russo-Persian War (1826-1828). Here they were given the name Karapapakh (“black hat”) by the Anatolians reflecting the element of the Terekeme ethnic outfit that distinguished them from the local population.
Russia’s expansion to Kars (in Eastern Turkey) in 1878 as a result of the Russo-Turkish War led to some Qarapapaq settlements becoming part of Russia once again. With the Russian Revolution and Soviet expansion south in the late 1910s and 1920s, Qarapapaqs became a new nationality group in Soviet Union. Late in the 1930s, the Soviet Union stopped classifying Qarapapaqs as a separate people and in 1944, they were included in the mass deportation of Meskhetian Turks from Georgia to Central Asia.
Even though the Qarapapaqs left in the Caucasus had largely assumed Azeri identity by the mid-20th century and despite lack of record of Qarapapaqs in modern censuses of the South Caucasus states, nowadays small groups may still identify themselves as Qarapapaq or Terekeme in the regions originally inhabited by them. Qarapapaqs are also found in Central Asia where many of them were deported along with the Meskhetian Turks in 1944 during the Stalinistpopulation transfers. The last census to mention Qarapapaqs as a separate ethnic group was the 1926 Soviet census, according to which there were 6,311 of them throughout the South Caucasus.