Laz in Georgia

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Mingrelian, also known as the Laz, live off the southeastern edge of the Black Sea in a region known as Lazistan. Today, the area is divided between Turkey and the Republic of Georgia. In Turkey, the Laz live scattered throughout the country, but many have migrated to larger cities for financial and educational reasons. There, they have access to conveniences such as radio and television.

The Laz people of Turkey and Georgia speak two different languages, both of which are unwritten. Although they are closely related, they are not mutually intelligible. Most of the Laz in Turkey also speak the Turkish dialect of their region.

In Turkish folklore, the Laz have a reputation for plundering and piracy. They were notorious as kidnappers, and until the 1800s, they engaged in slave hunts focusing on young children. Today, however, they are respected as industrious, educated, adventurous and trustworthy people.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Laz have earned a living by fishing, farming and raising livestock. The fertile lowland soil of their area enables them to produce crops such as tea and tobacco. From the forests, they also obtain lumber for shipbuilding. Many, in the past and present, have been bakers, cooks and sailors.

A few still lead a semi-nomadic lifestyle, taking their flocks to summer pastures in the mountains. Some also tend orchards, keep bees and hunt to supplement their diets. Since the 1960s, growing tea has become an important industry. Previously, the only bulk export was hazelnuts.

Laz attach great importance to education, sending both girls and boys to school. A large number have become doctors, teachers and engineers. Others have become businessmen and have secured much of the real estate market in Turkey.

In the mountainous areas, Laz live in yayla evi, or "mountain houses." In other parts of Turkey, they live in regular houses or apartment buildings. Their basic diet consists mainly of hamsi (fish), vegetables, and meat.

The traditional clothing of Laz men consists of coarse, tight-fitting brown jackets with loose sleeves, and baggy brown woolen pants tucked into slim knee-high boots. Bandanna-like coverings for their heads are knotted on the side and hang down to the shoulder. Traditionally, the men often carried some type of weapon, even while at work in the fields. These included rifles, pistols, powder horns, daggers, and coils of rope for snagging slaves.

Laz people are noted for their unique dances. Men's dances vary from solemn, calculated footwork to vigorous foot movements while dropping to a crouch. Accompaniment is either by a kemancha (a fiddle held upright on the knee), or by an oboe and a doli (a drum).

What Are Their Beliefs?

At the beginning of the sixth century, Laz were converted to Christianity. However today, in Turkey few of them are still Christian.

In the fifteenth century, the Ottoman Empire conquered the area that is now Turkey. This resulted in the conversion of many Laz to the Sunni branch of Islam. Today, almost all Laz in Turkey profess to be Muslim and are traditionally known for their conservatism in the Islamic faith. Although Turkey is officially open to all religions, people who profess any religion besides Islam are frequently ostracized and are not considered to be true Turks.

What Are Their Needs?

Their need for the gospel is great, but the tools to reach them are few. Urgent prayer must be made if the Laz people in Georgia are to have an opportunity to hear the good news.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to the Laz people in Georgia.
Pray that God will give Laz believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Laz who will boldly declare the gospel.
Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Laz church for the glory of his name.

Scripture Prayers for the Laz, Lazuri in Georgia.


Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Laz, Lazuri
People Name in Country Laz, Lazuri
Natural Name Laz
Pronunciation laz
Alternate Names Laz; Zan
Population this Country 800
Population all Countries 108,000
Total Countries 3
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
People ID 13727
ROP3 Code 106648
ROP25 Code 304637
ROP25 Name Laz
Country Georgia
Region Europe, Eastern and Eurasia
Continent Europe
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Adjara region: a few villages.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Georgia
Region Europe, Eastern and Eurasia
Continent Europe
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Adjara region: a few villages..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
1.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
99.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Laz (800 speakers)
Language Code lzz   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Laz (800 speakers)
Language Code lzz   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Laz

Primary Language:  Laz

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (2018-2020)
Bible-New Testament No
Bible-Complete No
FCBH NT ( Online
YouVersion NT ( Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels Bible Media Group/LUMO
General Faith Comes By Hearing - Bible in text or audio or video Faith Comes by Hearing
General Scripture Earth Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
General YouVersion Bible versions in text and/or audio YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App Android Bible app: Laz YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App iOS Bible app: Laz YouVersion Bibles
Photo Source Daniel James Grace 
Map Source Joshua Project / Global Mapping International  
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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