History of the Greeks of Pontus

In the 8th century BC the Greeks started colonizing the coastline of Asia Minor and continued establishing their settlements inland. Pontus, the region in the south of the Black Sea, was one of the areas that was inhabited by the Greeks. The first recorded settlement is Sinopi, a city-metropolis that expanded its domination to all coastal regions of the Black Sea establishing, thus, other renowned cities. Asia Minor’s cultural and social values have been shaped by the Greeks, who kept them alive thanks to their significant cultural heritage.

There are many notable Pontian Greeks throughout history such as Diogenes, the philosopher from Sinopi (412-323 BC), Strabo, the geographer from Amasya (63 BC- 24 AD), George of Trebizond, the scholar (1395-1473), and Bissarion of Trebizond (1403-1472), the bishop and scholar.

In 1914 the Greek population of Asia Minor was estimated at about 2,5 million people. From 1913 until 1922 they were turned into victims of violence mainly through forced deportations and massacres. During these 8 years (1914-1922) at least 751.000 Greeks, of which 353.000 Pontian Greeks, were slaughtered, executed or died of starvation, couldn’t survive the labor battalions and their inhumane treatment. More than 1,7 million Greeks of Asia Minor fled hastily in order to survive. Most of those, 1,4 million Greeks, were forced to leave Asia Minor due to the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), which designated a compulsory population exchange.

Greece welcomed the Greek refugees of Asia Minor (as well as 90.000 Armenian refugees). However, the country lacked in infrastructure and welfare because of the wars that it had been involved in. As a result, a great part of those refugees had to emigrate once again. Nowadays Greeks of Asia Minor and their descendants live mainly in Northern Greece but also all over the world.