Alessandro Vincenzi


Gagaúz Yerí is a tiny autonomous region in southern Moldova, ethnically Turkish, which converted from Islam to Orthodox Christianity. The main spoken languages are Gagauz and, especially amongst youth, Russian that is taught in school. Their origin is a mystery. One hypothesis is that Gagauz people come from Oghuz Turks that migrated to Balkans before being relocated by Russians in southern Bassarabia in the first half of the XIX Century. Gagauzia declared its independence in 1991 (even thought it has never been recognized) and in 1994 it got from the Parliament of Moldova the status of external self-determination. Sheep are 3 or 4 times more than the inhabitants, which gives an idea on what their economy is based on: livestock breeding and agriculture (wine and sunflower oil). It is one of the poorest regions of Moldova where Comrat, the capital and the biggest city, has 20 thousand inhabitants. In general the younger generation doesn’t want to live the life of their parents (mainly farmers and shepherds) and many of them move to Russia looking for jobs. This makes the Gagauz culture in danger with the risk that it might disappear.

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