General information

The Udege are a small minority of the Russian Federation, living in the southern area of the Far East. The population from the pre-revolutionary period to the present day has stayed below two thousand people. Their total number, according to the All-Russian Population Census of 2010, is 1496.

Regarding the language, the Udege belong to the southern subgroup of the Tungus language group of the Altai language family. The language has several dialects and sub-dialects.

Researchers recorded the endonym ude (udehe, udikhe ) in the 19th century for the first time.  It means “forest people” or “people of the forest.” Until the beginning of the 20th century, the Udege had been recorded under the ethnonyms Orochi, Kyakala , and Orochen , as well as the Taz , who were often regarded as the same group as the Udege. The endonym udikhe was introduced as a single name for the people in 1902 by the famous scholar Sergei Brailovsky. He also proved the uniqueness of the Udege and separated them from the Orochi. Later, Vladimir Arsenyev demonstrated the differences between the Udege and the Taz. In the 1930s, the ethnonym Udege , adapted to the Russian pronunciation, became established as the modern name of this ethnic group.

Currently, the Udege live in the Primorsky and Khabarovsk Territories, mainly in the Pozharsky, Krasnoarmeysky, Terneysky, Lazo, and Nanaisky districts and a small number reside in other areas. The villages of Gvasyugi, Krasny Yar, and Agzu are considered national as they are the main places of residence of the Udege people in the Russian Federation.

The Udege can be divided into local groups based on place of residence, such as the Bikin, Iman, Khor, Anyuy, Samarga, Khungar, and Kur-Urma (the Khungar and Kur-Urma groups have disappeared by now).

The largest place of tight residence of the Udege is Krasnoyarovskoye village in the Pozharsky district of the Primorsky Territory. This is the area of the Bikin, and it includes the villages of Krasny Yar, Olon, and Okhotnichiy. The second largest village is Gvasyugi (Lazo district, Khabarovsk Territory), where the Udege Khor group resides. The most remote village of the Samarga group is Agzu, located in the north of the Primorsky Territory on the eastern side of the slope of the Sikhote-Alin. The national villages of the Iman and Anyuy Udege ceased to exist as places of compact residence. The representatives of these groups have scattered among the neighboring villages: the Iman in the Krasnoarmeysky district of the Primorsky Territory, mainly in the villages of Dalniy Kut, Krutoy Yar, Melnichnoe, Vostretsovo, Boguslavets and Novopokrovka. One household still exists in the abandoned village of Ostrovnoye (formerly Sanchikheza). In the Nanaisky district of the Khabarovsk Territory, the Anyuy Udege live in the villages and settlements of Uni, Arsenyevo, and Troitskoye.