Map of Greeks and Armenians in Turkey, before and after the genocides/expulsions of the 1910s-20s, and consequent demographic growth (via /r/Mapporn).
As I noted before, I can’t think of any other major region where the strategic population balance changed so drastically during the course of the past century.
Around 1914, there were 15.0 million Muslims in the Ottoman Empire, as well as 1.7 million Greeks and 1.1 million Armenians. However, the Muslims included many Arabs; subtracting the Arab regions gives us a Turkish population of 12.7 million.
This compared to a population of 5.3 million in Greece (1910), which may have grown to 5.5 million by 1914. There were 1.2 million Armenians in the Russian Empire (1897). Between 1897 and 1914, Russia’s population increased by 38%, in the Empire as a whole as well as in the Caucasus in particular; assuming that Armenians showed a similar rate of increase, there’d have been around 1.6 million of them at the outbreak of WW1.
So here are the approximate numbers as of 1914:
Turks: 12.7 million
Greeks: 7.2 million
Armenians: 2.8 million
Ratio: 12.7 million Turks to 10.0 million Greeks/Armenians (1:1.3)
Consequently, it’s not an exaggeration to talk of loose demographic parity between Turks and Greeks/Armenians, even without adjusting for perhaps 10% of Muslim “Turks” being Kurds.
Incidentally, this illustrates why Russia’s expansionist plans for the Black Sea during WW1 were no pipedream. It had more than ten times the population of Ottoman Turkey, and its potential Orthodox allies, the Greeks and Armenians, were themselves numerically equivalent to the Turks (especially after subtracting for the Kurds, whose separatist tendencies began in the late 19th century). Russian victory may well have led to a Magna Graecia in the west (as originally envisioned under the Treaty of Sèvres), a Greater Armenia would have constituted a landbridge to the Levant, and the Turks themselves would have been bottled up in the Anatolian heartlands. Just as Turkey was demographically successful relative to its neighbors, conversely, perhaps no other nation was spared so catastrophic a 20th century by the Russian Revolution.
However, the very fact that we today intuitively (but illogically) view this What If as a pipedream even in the context of WW1 testifies to the truth of the statement that population is power.
Fast forward a decade.
There were 1.6 million Armenians in the 1926 Soviet Census (including 743,000 Armenians out of 880,000 in the Armenian SSR). There were about 6.1 million Greeks in Greece in 1927 (6.2 million Greeks in the 1928 Census).
Approximate numbers for 1927:
Turks: 13.3 million
Greeks: 6.2 million
Armenians: 1.7 million
Ratio: 13.3 million Turks to 7.9 million Greeks/Armenians (1:1.7)
Fast forwards a century.
Current population of Turkey is around 81 million, and continues to add a million more per year. It is almost 99.8% Muslim at this point, with just 50,000 Armenians and 3,000 Greeks (Bartholomew I’s flock) remaining as of 2005; it’s no longer worth even counting them. Its Turkish component is at least 65 million, though Kurds make up 10-20% of the population and are increasing their share thanks to higher fertility rates; there may also be as many as 6 million Syrians by the 2020s.
After expanding from 1.4 million in 1950 and reaching 3.3 million in 1989, Armenia’s population has since plummeted to 3.0 million, though much of this has accrued to the ethnic cleansing of Azeris and the departure of Slavic settlers; that said, there is also substantial brain drain – more than 20,000 Armenians become Russian citizens every year, and I assume that many continue leaving for the West via their ties to the diaspora. The population of Greece has expanded much more modestly, from 6.2 million in 1928 to 11.1 million by 2011, before plummeting to 10.8 million by 2017, I assume mostly due to population ageing, prolonged low fertility, and sharply increased brain drain. Both Armenia (93%) and Greece (90%+) remain largely monoethnic states, even if immigration continues to eat away at Greece’s homogeneity.
Approximate numbers for 2017:
Turks: 80.8 million
Greeks: 10.7 million
Armenians: 3.0 million
Ratio: 80.8 million Turks to 13.7 million Greeks/Armenians (1:5.9)
Turkey has more than quintupled its population since the 1920s. In the meantime, Armenians had barely recovered from their genocide before getting hit by the demographic whammy that was the Soviet collapse. Although the Pontic genocide didn’t help, Greece did manage to eke out some meager growth – almost doubling its population – but has since gone into sharp reverse. One that might well be worse than it appears, since the Tsipras administration has been quite keen to welcome refugees despite Greece’s many other problems.
Consequently, during the course of a single century, the Greeks/Armenians went from demographic parity with the Turks to having six times fewer people.
PS. As I also once pointed out, Greece also holds what may be another demographic anti-record: Collapse of its share of the world population in the past 2,500 years. There may have been as many as 10 million Greeks in the Mediterranean in the 4th century BC. This figure was comparable to contemporary China (22 million in ~210 BC – whereas China now has 100x as many people!), and constituted 5% of the world population (today slightly more than 0.1% of the world population).