THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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Since the 14th Century two Turkish nationalities – Tatars and Karaims – have been living in Lithuania. From linguistic and ethno genetic points of view they belong to the oldest Turkish tribes - Kipchaks. This ethnonym (Kipchak) for the first time was mentioned in historical chronicles of Central Asia in the 1st millennium BC. Anthropologically ancient Kipchaks were very close to Siberia inhabitants Dinlins, who lived on both sides of the Sajan Mountains in Tuva and the northern part of Gob. In 5th century BC Kipchaks lived in the West of Mongolia, in 3rd century BC they were conquered by Huns. Since the 6 - 8 centuries, when the first nomadic Turkish empires were founded, the Kipchak’s fate is closely connected with the history and migration of the Middle Asia tribes. In Turkish literature they are known as Kipchaks. The history of Karaims is connected with Lithuania since 1397-1398. According to the tradition, The Great Duke of Lithuania Vytautas, after one of the marches to the Golden Horde steppes, had to bring from the Crimea several hundred Karaims and settle them in the Great Duchy of Lithuania. Transference of several hundred Karaim families and several thousand Tatars was not done once. It was in connection with the state policy of The Great Duchy to inhabit the empty areas, build towns and castles and to develop trade and economic life. Initially, Karaims were settled in Trakai between the two castles of The Great Duke, present Karaim Street. Later they were found living in Biržai, Naujamiestis, Pasvalys and Panevėžys. However, Trakai has always been the community's administrative and spiritual centre for Karaims in Lithuania, nowadays more and more also for Karaims throughout the world.
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