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The Caucasus (), or Caucasia (), is a region spanning
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered ...

Europe
and
Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia covers an area of , about 30% of Earth's total lan ...

Asia
. It is situated between the
Black Sea , with the skyline of Batumi Batumi (; ka, ბათუმი ) is the second largest city of Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country locat ...

Black Sea
and the
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea (also known as Mazandaran Sea, Hyrcanian Ocean, or Khazar Sea), tk, Hazar deňzi, az, Xəzər Dənizi, russian: Каспийское море, script=Latn, fa, دریای مازندران، دریای خزر, script=Latn, tly, ...

Caspian Sea
and mainly occupied by
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is ...

Armenia
,
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan ( az, Azərbaycan Respublikası ), is a country in the Transcaucasia, Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it is boun ...

Azerbaijan
,
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country), a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia * Georgia (U.S. state), one of the states of the United States of America Georgia may also refer to: Historical states and entities * Democratic Republ ...
, and parts of
Southern Russia Southern Russia or the South of Russia (russian: Юг России, ''Yug Rossii'') is a colloquial Colloquialism or colloquial language is the style (sociolinguistics), linguistic style used for casual (informal) communication. It is the most ...
. It is home to the
Caucasus Mountains The Caucasus Mountains, : pronounced * hy, Կովկասյան լեռներ, : pronounced * az, Qafqaz dağları, pronounced * rus, Кавка́зские го́ры, Kavkázskiye góry, kɐfˈkasːkʲɪje ˈɡorɨ * tr, Kafkas Dağla ...

Caucasus Mountains
, including the
Greater Caucasus The Greater Caucasus ( az, Böyük Qafqaz, Бөјүк Гафгаз, بيوک قافقاز; ka, დიდი კავკასიონი, ''Didi K’avk’asioni''; russian: Большой Кавказ, ''Bolshoy Kavkaz'', sometimes translate ...
mountain range, which has historically been considered a
natural barrierA natural barrier refers to a physical feature that protects or hinders travel through or over. Mountain, Mountains, swamp, swamps, desert, deserts and ice field, ice fields are among the clearest examples of natural barriers. River, Rivers are a mo ...
between
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical reg ...

Eastern Europe
and
Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion of the larger geographical region of Asia, as defined by some academics, UN bodies and other institutions. It is almost entirely a part of the Middle East, and includes Anat ...

Western Asia
.
Mount Elbrus Mount Elbrus (russian: Эльбрус, Elbrus, ɪlʲˈbrus; kbd, Ӏуащхьэмахуэ, 'uaşhəmaxuə; krc, Минги тау, Mingi Taw), is the List of elevation extremes by region, highest and List of European ultra-prominent peaks, m ...

Mount Elbrus
in
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
, which rises to , is
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered ...

Europe
's highest mountain and is in the
western part
western part
of the Greater Caucasus mountain range. On the southern side, the
Lesser Caucasus The Lesser Caucasus, also called Caucasus Minor, is the second of the two main mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ran ...
includes the
Javakheti Plateau Javalkheti Plateau ( ka, ჯავახეთის პლატო) is a volcanic plateau A volcanic plateau is a plateau produced by volcanic activity. There are two main types: lava plateaus and pyroclastic plateaus. Lava plateau Lava plat ...
and grows into the Armenian highlands, part of which is located in
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
. The Caucasus region is divided into the
North Caucasus The North Caucasus ( ady, Темыр Къафкъас, Temır Qafqas; kbd, Ишхъэрэ Къаукъаз, İṩxhərə Qauqaz; ce, Къилбаседа Кавказ, Q̇ilbaseda Kavkaz; rus, Северный Кавказ, r=Severnyy Ka ...
and
South Caucasus Transcaucasia, also known as the South Caucasus, is a geographical region on the border of Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the region of the European continent between Western Europe and Asia. There is no consistent definition of the precise ...
, although the
Western Caucasus The Western Caucasus is a western region of the Caucasus The Caucasus (), or Caucasia (), is a region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and mainly occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia (country), Georgia, and parts of Southern Russi ...

Western Caucasus
also exists as a distinct geographic space within the North Caucasus. The Greater Caucasus mountain range in the north is mostly shared by
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
and Georgia as well as the northernmost parts of Azerbaijan. The Lesser Caucasus mountain range in the south is occupied by several independent states, namely mostly by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, but also extending to parts of northeastern Turkey, northern
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
and the
self-proclaimedSelf-proclaimed describes a legal title that is recognized by the declaring person but not necessarily by any recognized legal authority. It can be the status of a noble title or the status of a nation. The term is used informally for anyone declarin ...
Republic of Artsakh Artsakh, officially the Republic of Artsakh (; hy, Արցախի Հանրապետություն, Artsakhi Hanrapetutyun), formerly the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, NKR (; russian: Нагорно-Карабахская Республика, ...
. The region is known for its linguistic diversity: aside from
Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent and the Iranian Plateau. Some European languages of ...
and
Turkic Turkic may refer to: * anything related to the country of Turkey * Turkic languages, a language family of at least thirty-five documented languages ** Turkic alphabets (disambiguation) ** Turkish language, the most widely spoken Turkic language * T ...

Turkic
languages, the
Kartvelian
Kartvelian
, Northwest Caucasian, and
Northeast Caucasian The Northeast Caucasian languages, also called East Caucasian or Nakh-Daghestanian languages, is a family of languages In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth ...
language families A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed of glyphs to inscribe the original soun ...

language families
are
indigenous Indigenous may refer to: *Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are culturally distinct ethnic groups who are native to a particular place. The term ' ...
to the area.


Origin of the name

Pliny the Elder #REDIRECT Pliny the Elder#REDIRECT Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/2479), called Pliny the Elder (), was a Roman author, a naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, ...

Pliny the Elder
's ''
Natural History Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, and plants, in their natural environment, leaning more towards observational than experimental methods of study. A person who studies natural history ...
'' (77–79 AD) derives the name of the Caucasus from
Scythian The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a member of the sky, earth, and water hieroglyphs. A ...
''kroy-khasis'' ("ice-shining, white with snow"). German linguist
Paul KretschmerPaul Kretschmer (2 May 1866 – 9 March 1956) was a German linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed ...
notes that the Latvian word ''Kruvesis'' also means "ice". In the '' Tale of Past Years'' (1113 AD), it is stated that
Old East Slavic Old East Slavic (traditionally also: Old Russian, be, старажытнаруская мова; russian: древнерусский язык; uk, давньоруська мова) was a language used during the 10th–15th centuries by East ...
Кавкасийскыѣ горы (''Kavkasijskyě gory'') came from
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
Καύκασος (''Kaúkasos''; later Greek pronunciation ''Káfkasos'')), which, according to M. A. Yuyukin, is a compound word that can be interpreted as the "Seagull's Mountain" (καύ-: καύαξ, καύηξ, ηκος ο, κήξ, κηϋξ "a kind of seagull" + the reconstructed *κάσος η "mountain" or "rock" richly attested both in place and personal names). In Georgian tradition, the term Caucasus is derived from
Caucas 350px, Togarmah, Thargamos and his sons.The order of the figures from left to right is: Movakan, Bardos, Kartlos, Hayk, Haos, Lekos, Thargamos, Caucas, Egros. An opening folio of the Georgian Chronicles (Vakhtang VI of Kartli, Vakhtangiseuli redacti ...
( ka, კავკასოსი ''Kawḳasosi''), the son of the Biblical
Togarmah Togarmah (Hebrew language, Hebrew: ) is a figure in the "table of nations" in Genesis 10, the list of descendants of Noah that represents the peoples known to the Hebrew people, ancient Hebrews. Togarmah is among the descendants of Japheth and is ...
and legendary forefather of
Nakh peoples The Nakh peoples, today partly also known as Vainakh peoples (Chechen/Ingush: , apparently derived from Chechen language, Chechen , Ingush language, Ingush "our people"; also Chechen-Ingush), are a group of Peoples of the Caucasus, Caucasian pe ...
. According to
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
philologists Philology is the study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed o ...
Otto Schrader and Alfons A. Nehring, the Ancient Greek word Καύκασος (''Kaukasos'') is connected to
Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes **Gothic language, an extinct East Germanic language spoken by the Goths **Crimean Gothic, the Gothic language spoken by ...
''Hauhs'' ("high") as well as
Lithuanian Lithuanian may refer to: * Lithuanians Lithuanians ( lt, lietuviai, singular ''lietuvis/lietuvė'') are a Balts, Baltic ethnic group. They are native to Lithuania, where they number around 2,561,300 people. Another million or more make up the Lith ...
''Kaũkas'' ("hillock") and ''Kaukarà'' ("hill, top"). British linguist Adrian Room points out that ''Kau-'' also means "mountain" in
Pelasgian The name Pelasgians ( grc, Πελασγοί, ''Pelasgoí'', singular: Πελασγός, ''Pelasgós'') was used by classical Greek writers to refer either to the ancestors of the Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllin ...
.


Toponymy

The term ''Caucasus'' is not only used for the mountains themselves but also includes Ciscaucasia (which is part of the
Russian Federation Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, largest country in the world, covering over , and encom ...

Russian Federation
) and
Transcaucasia The South Caucasus, also known as Transcaucasia, is a geographical region on the border of Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because the term ...
. According to
Alexander Mikaberidze Alexander Mikaberidze ( ka, ალექსანდრე მიქაბერიძე; born 27 January 1978) is a Georgian lawyer, author and historian who specializes in Napoleonic studies. He is a full professor of history and social scien ...
, Transcaucasia is a "Russo-centric" term. The
Transcaucasus Transcaucasia, also known as the South Caucasus, is a geographical region on the border of Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the region of the European continent between Western Europe and Asia. There is no consistent definition of the precise ...
region and
Dagestan village of Grar File:Сулакский каньон.jpg, Kara-Koysu River Canyon Dagestan (; russian: Дагеста́н), officially the Republic of Dagestan (russian: Респу́блика Дагеста́н), is a republics of Russia, rep ...

Dagestan
were the furthest points of and later
Sasanian The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians ( Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭𐭱𐭲𐭥𐭩 '' Ērānshahr''), and called the Neo-Persian Empire by historians, was the last Persian imperial dynasty bef ...

Sasanian
expansions, with areas to the north of the
Greater Caucasus The Greater Caucasus ( az, Böyük Qafqaz, Бөјүк Гафгаз, بيوک قافقاز; ka, დიდი კავკასიონი, ''Didi K’avk’asioni''; russian: Большой Кавказ, ''Bolshoy Kavkaz'', sometimes translate ...
range practically impregnable. The mythological
Mount Qaf Mount Qaf, or Qaf-Kuh, also spelled Cafcuh and Kafkuh ( fa, قاف‌کوه), or Jabal Qaf, also spelled Djebel Qaf ( ar, جبل قاف), or ''Koh-i-Qaf'', also spelled ''Koh-Qaf'' and ''Kuh-i-Qaf'' or ''Kuh-e Qaf'' ( fa, کوہ قاف) is a legend ...
, the world's highest mountain that ancient Iranian lore shrouded in mystery, was said to be situated in this region. The region is also one of the candidates for the location of
Airyanem Vaejah (; ; ; , 'expanse of the Aryans Aryan or Arya (, Indo-Iranian *''arya'') is a term originally used as an ethnocultural self-designation by Indo-Iranians Indo-Iranian peoples, also known as Indo-Iranic peoples by scholars, and sometimes a ...
, the apparent homeland of the Iranians of
Zoroaster Zoroaster (, ; el, Ζωροάστρης, ''Zōroastrēs''), also known as Zarathustra (, ; ae, , ''Zaraθuštra''), Zarathushtra Spitama or Ashu Zarathushtra (Modern fa, زرتشت, ''Zartosht''), was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer t ...

Zoroaster
. In
Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its endonym Pārsīk or Pārsīg (𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪) in its later form, is a Western Middle Iranian language which became the literary language of the Sasanian Empire. For some time after the Sasan ...
sources of the Sasanian era, the Caucasus range was referred to as ''Kaf Kof''. The term resurfaced in Iranian tradition later on in a variant form when
Ferdowsi Abul-Qâsem Ferdowsi Tusi, also Firdawsi ( fa, ; c. 940–1019/1025), or just Ferdowsi ( ) was a Persians, Persian poet and the author of ''Shahnameh'' ("Book of Kings"), which is one of the world's longest epic poetry, epic poems created by a ...

Ferdowsi
, in his ''
Shahnameh The ''Shahnameh'' or ''Shahnama'' ( fa, شاهنامه, Šāhnāme ; ) is a long epic poem written by the Persian literature, Persian poet Ferdowsi for Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni between c. 977 and 1010 CE and is the national epic of Greater Iran ...
'', referred to the Caucasus mountains as ''Kōh-i Kāf''. "Most of the modern names of the Caucasus originate from the Greek ''Kaukasos'' (Lat., ''Caucasus'') and the Middle Persian ''Kaf Kof''". "The earliest etymon" of the name Caucasus comes from ''Kaz-kaz'', the
Hittite Hittite may refer to: * Hittites, ancient Anatolian people ** Hittite language, the earliest-attested Indo-European language ** Hittite grammar ** Hittite phonology ** Hittite cuneiform ** Hittite inscriptions ** Hittite laws ** Hittite religion ** ...
designation of the "inhabitants of the southern coast of the
Black Sea , with the skyline of Batumi Batumi (; ka, ბათუმი ) is the second largest city of Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country locat ...

Black Sea
". It was also noted that in Nakh Ков гас (''Kov gas'') means "gateway to steppe".


Endonyms and exonyms

The modern name for the region is usually similar in many languages, and is generally between ''Kavkaz'' and ''Kawkaz''. * ab, Кавказ ''Kavkaz'' * ady, Къаукъаз/с ''Kʺaukʺaz/s'' * ar, القوقاز ''al-Qawqāz'' * hy, Կովկաս ''Kovkas'' * av, Кавказ ''Kawkaz'' * az, Qafqaz * ce, Кавказ ''Kawkaz'' * ka, კავკასია ''K'avk'asia'' *german: Kaukasien * gr, Καύκασος ''Káfkasos'' * inh, Кавказ ''Kawkaz'' * krc, Кавказ ''Kavkaz'' * kum, Къавкъаз ''Qawqaz'' * ku, Qefqasya/Qefqas * lbe, Ккавкказ ''Kkawkkaz'' * lez, Къавкъаз ''K'awk'az'' * xmf, კავკაცია ''K'avk'acia'' * os, Кавказ ''Kavkaz'' * fa, قفقاز ''Qafqāz'' *russian: Кавказ ''Kavkaz'' * rut, Qawqaz ''Kavkaz'' * tr, Kafkas/Kafkasya * uk, Кавказ ''Kavkaz''


Political geography

The
North Caucasus The North Caucasus ( ady, Темыр Къафкъас, Temır Qafqas; kbd, Ишхъэрэ Къаукъаз, İṩxhərə Qauqaz; ce, Къилбаседа Кавказ, Q̇ilbaseda Kavkaz; rus, Северный Кавказ, r=Severnyy Ka ...
region is known as the ''Ciscaucasus'', whereas the South Caucasus region is commonly known as the ''
Transcaucasus Transcaucasia, also known as the South Caucasus, is a geographical region on the border of Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the region of the European continent between Western Europe and Asia. There is no consistent definition of the precise ...
''. The Ciscaucasus contains most of the
Greater Caucasus The Greater Caucasus ( az, Böyük Qafqaz, Бөјүк Гафгаз, بيوک قافقاز; ka, დიდი კავკასიონი, ''Didi K’avk’asioni''; russian: Большой Кавказ, ''Bolshoy Kavkaz'', sometimes translate ...
mountain range. It consists of
Southern Russia Southern Russia or the South of Russia (russian: Юг России, ''Yug Rossii'') is a colloquial Colloquialism or colloquial language is the style (sociolinguistics), linguistic style used for casual (informal) communication. It is the most ...
, mainly the
North Caucasian Federal District North Caucasian Federal District (russian: Се́веро-Кавка́зский федера́льный о́круг, ''Severo-Kavkazsky federalny okrug'') is one of the eight federal districts of Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Росси ...
's autonomous republics, and the northernmost parts of
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country), a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia * Georgia (U.S. state), one of the states of the United States of America Georgia may also refer to: Historical states and entities * Democratic Republ ...
and
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan ( az, Azərbaycan Respublikası ), is a country in the Transcaucasia, Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it is boun ...

Azerbaijan
. The Ciscaucasus lies between the
Black Sea , with the skyline of Batumi Batumi (; ka, ბათუმი ) is the second largest city of Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country locat ...

Black Sea
to its west, the
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea (also known as Mazandaran Sea, Hyrcanian Ocean, or Khazar Sea), tk, Hazar deňzi, az, Xəzər Dənizi, russian: Каспийское море, script=Latn, fa, دریای مازندران، دریای خزر, script=Latn, tly, ...

Caspian Sea
to its east, and borders the
Southern Federal District The Southern Federal District ( rus, Ю́жный федера́льный о́круг, Yuzhny federalny okrug, ˈjuʐnɨj fʲɪdʲɪˈralʲnɨj ˈokrʊk) is one of the federal districts of Russia, eight federal districts of Russia. Its territor ...

Southern Federal District
to its north. The two are collectively referred to as "Southern Russia". The
Transcaucasus Transcaucasia, also known as the South Caucasus, is a geographical region on the border of Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the region of the European continent between Western Europe and Asia. There is no consistent definition of the precise ...
borders the Greater Caucasus range and
Southern Russia Southern Russia or the South of Russia (russian: Юг России, ''Yug Rossii'') is a colloquial Colloquialism or colloquial language is the style (sociolinguistics), linguistic style used for casual (informal) communication. It is the most ...
to its north, the Black Sea and
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
to its west, the Caspian Sea to its east, and
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
to its south. It contains the
Lesser Caucasus The Lesser Caucasus, also called Caucasus Minor, is the second of the two main mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ran ...
mountain range and surrounding lowlands. All of
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is ...

Armenia
, Azerbaijan (excluding the northernmost parts) and Georgia (excluding the northernmost parts) are in the South Caucasus. The watershed along the
Greater Caucasus The Greater Caucasus ( az, Böyük Qafqaz, Бөјүк Гафгаз, بيوک قافقاز; ka, დიდი კავკასიონი, ''Didi K’avk’asioni''; russian: Большой Кавказ, ''Bolshoy Kavkaz'', sometimes translate ...
range is considered by some sources to be the dividing line between
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered ...

Europe
and
Southwest Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to t ...
. According to that, the highest peak in the Caucasus,
Mount Elbrus Mount Elbrus (russian: Эльбрус, Elbrus, ɪlʲˈbrus; kbd, Ӏуащхьэмахуэ, 'uaşhəmaxuə; krc, Минги тау, Mingi Taw), is the List of elevation extremes by region, highest and List of European ultra-prominent peaks, m ...

Mount Elbrus
(5,642 meters) located in western Ciscaucasus, is considered as the highest point in Europe. The Kuma-Manych Depression, the geologic depression that divides the Russian Plain from the North Caucasus foreland is often regarded by classical and non-British sources as the natural and historical boundary between Europe and Asia. Another opinion is that the rivers
KuraKura may refer to: Places * Kura, Iran (disambiguation) * Kura Island, Azerbaijan * Kura, Nigeria, a Local Government Area of Kano State * Kura (Caspian Sea), a river in Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan * Kura (Russia), a river in Russia * Kura ...
and
Rioni The Rioni ( ka, რიონი, ; , ) is the main river of western Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country located at the intersection of Eastern ...

Rioni
mark this border, or even that of the river Aras. The Caucasus is one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse regions on Earth. The
nation state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (news ...
s that comprise the Caucasus today are the
post-Soviet states The post-Soviet states, also known as the former Soviet Union (FSU), the former Soviet Republics and in Russia as the near abroad (russian: links=no, ближнее зарубежье, blizhneye zarubezhye), are the 15 sovereign state A sovere ...
Georgia (including
Adjara Adjara ( ka, აჭარა ''Ač’ara'' ) or Adjaria, officially known as the Autonomous Republic of Adjara ( ka, აჭარის ავტონომიური რესპუბლიკა ''Ač’aris Avt’onomiuri Resp’ublik’a'' ) ...

Adjara
and
Abkhazia Abkhazia, , ka, აფხაზეთი, , rus, Абха́зия, r=Abkhaziya, p=ɐˈpxazʲɪjə xmf, აბჟუა, or , ( or ) is a partially recognized state in the South Caucasus Transcaucasia, also known as the South Caucasus, ...

Abkhazia
), Azerbaijan (including
NakhchivanNakhchivan ( az, Naxçıvan) or Nakhichevan (russian: Нахичевань) may refer to: * Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, an exclave of Azerbaijan ** Nakhchivan (city), the capital city * Nakhichevan Eyalet, a possible eyalet of the Ottoman Empire ...
),
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is ...

Armenia
, and the Russian Federation. The Russian divisions include
Dagestan village of Grar File:Сулакский каньон.jpg, Kara-Koysu River Canyon Dagestan (; russian: Дагеста́н), officially the Republic of Dagestan (russian: Респу́блика Дагеста́н), is a republics of Russia, rep ...

Dagestan
,
Chechnya Chechnya (russian: Чечня́; ce, Нохчийчоь, Noxçiyçö), officially the Chechen Republic; ce, Нохчийн Республика, Noxçiyn Respublika , is a constituent republic A constituent state is a state entity that co ...

Chechnya
,
Ingushetia Ingushetia (; russian: Ингуше́тия), officially the Republic of Ingushetia (russian: Респу́блика Ингуше́тия; Ingush: Гӏалгӏай Мохк), is a republic A republic () is a form of government A go ...

Ingushetia
, , , ,
Adygea The Republic of Adygea (; rus, Респу́блика Адыге́я, p=ɐdɨˈɡʲejə, r=Respublika Adygeya; ady, Адыгэ Республик, ''Adygæ Respublik''), also known as the Adyghe Republic, is a republic A republic () is a ...

Adygea
,
Krasnodar Krai Krasnodar Krai (russian: Краснода́рский край, r=Krasnodarsky kray, p=krəsnɐˈdarskʲɪj kraj) is a federal subjects of Russia, federal subject of Russia (a krai), located in the North Caucasus region in Southern Russia and ad ...
and
Stavropol Krai Stavropol Krai (russian: Ставропо́льский край, r=Stavropolsky kray, p=stəvrɐˈpolʲskʲɪj kraj) is a federal subjects of Russia, federal subject (a krai) of Russia. It is geographically located in the North Caucasus region in ...
, in clockwise order. Three territories in the region claim independence but are recognized as such by only a handful of entities: ,
Abkhazia Abkhazia, , ka, აფხაზეთი, , rus, Абха́зия, r=Abkhaziya, p=ɐˈpxazʲɪjə xmf, აბჟუა, or , ( or ) is a partially recognized state in the South Caucasus Transcaucasia, also known as the South Caucasus, ...

Abkhazia
and
South Ossetia South Ossetia (, less commonly ), officially the Republic of South Ossetia – the State of Alania, or the Tskhinvali Region, is a ''de facto'' state in the South Caucasus. It has an officially stated population of just over 53,000 people, who ...
. Abkhazia and South Ossetia are largely recognized by the world community as part of Georgia, and as part of Azerbaijan.


General statistics of South Caucasian states


Demographics

The region has many different languages and language families. There are more than 50 ethnic groups living in the region. No fewer than three language families are unique to the area. In addition, Indo-European languages, such as
East Slavic East Slavic may refer to: * East Slavic languages, one of three branches of the Slavic languages * East Slavs, a subgroup of Slavic peoples who speak the East Slavic languages See also

* Old East Slavic, a language used during the 10th–15th ...
,
Armenian Armenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Armenia, a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia * Armenians, the national people of Armenia, or people of Armenian descent ** Armenian language, the Indo-European language spoken ...
and Ossetian, and
Turkic languages The Turkic languages are a language family of at least 35 documented languages, spoken by the Turkic peoples of Eurasia from Eastern Europe and Southern Europe to Central Asia, East Asia, North Asia (Siberia), and Western Asia. The Turkic langu ...

Turkic languages
, such as
Azerbaijani Azerbaijani may refer to: * Something of, or related to Azerbaijan * Azerbaijanis * Azerbaijani language See also

* Azerbaijan (disambiguation) * Azeri (disambiguation) * Azerbaijani cuisine * Culture of Azerbaijan * {{Disambig Language a ...
,
Kumyk language Kumyk (къумукъ тил,L. S. Levitskaya, "Kumyk language", in ''Languages of the world. Turkic languages'' (1997). (in Russian) qumuq til, قموق تيل) is a Turkic language The Turkic languages are a language family A language ...
and Karachay–Balkar, are spoken in the area.
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
is used as a ''
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect The term dialect (from , , from the word , 'disco ...
'' most notably in the North Caucasus. The peoples of the northern and southern Caucasus mostly are
Shia Muslims Shia Islam or Shi'ism is one of the two main branches of Islam Islam (;There are ten pronunciations of ''Islam'' in English, differing in whether the first or second syllable has the stress, whether the ''s'' is or , and whether the ...
,
Sunni Muslims Sunni Islam () is by far the largest Islamic schools and branches, branch of Islam, followed by 85–90% of the world's Muslims. Its name comes from the word ''Sunnah'', referring to the behaviour of Muhammad. The differences between Sunni and ...
,
Eastern Orthodox Christians The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a Communion ( ...
or Armenian Christians.


History

Located on the peripheries of
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia an ...

Turkey
,
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
, and
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
, the region has been an arena for political, military, religious, and cultural rivalries and expansionism for centuries. Throughout its history, the Caucasus was usually incorporated into the
Iranian world Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia ...

Iranian world
. At the beginning of the 19th century, the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . commonly referred to as Imperial Russia, was a historical that extended across and from 1721, succeeding the following the that ended the . The Empire lasted until the was proclaimed by the that took power after the ...
conquered the territory from
Qajar Iran Qajar Iran (), also referred to as Qajar Persia, the Qajar Empire, '. officially the Sublime State of Iran ( fa, دولت علیّه ایران ') and also known then as the Guarded Domains of Iran ( fa, ممالک محروسه ایران '), ...
.


Prehistory

The territory of the Caucasus region was inhabited by Homo erectus since the
Paleolithic Era The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek palaios - old, lithos - stone), is a period in prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history ...
. In 1991, early human (that is, hominin) fossils dating back 1.8 million years were found at the in Georgia. Scientists now classify the assemblage of fossil skeletons as the subspecies '' Homo erectus georgicus''. The site yields the earliest unequivocal evidence for the presence of early humans outside the African continent; and the Dmanisi skulls are the five oldest
hominins The Hominini form a taxonomic tribe of the subfamily Homininae Homininae (), also called "African hominids" or "African apes", is a subfamily of Hominidae. It includes two tribes, with their extant as well as extinct species: 1) the tribe H ...
ever found outside
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
.


Antiquity

Kura–Araxes culture The Kura–Araxes culture, also named Kur–Araz culture, or the Early Transcaucasian culture was a civilization that existed from about 4000 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end; in some locatio ...
from about 4000 BC until about 2000 BC enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km, and mostly encompassed, on modern-day territories, the Southern Caucasus (except western Georgia), northwestern Iran, the northeastern Caucasus, eastern Turkey, and as far as Syria. Under
Ashurbanipal Ashurbanipal, also spelled Assurbanipal, Asshurbanipal and Asurbanipal (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo up Chiswick_Press.html"_;"title="Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press">Coat_of_arms_of_the_Chiswick_Press_ A_logo_(abbrevi ...
(669–627 BC), the boundaries of the
Assyrian Empire Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria Assyria () ( akk, 𒀸𒋩, syc, ܐܬܘܪ or ), also at times called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamian kingdom and empire of the Ancient Near East that existed as a state from perhaps as early as the 25 ...
reached as far as the Caucasus Mountains. Later ancient kingdoms of the region included
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is ...

Armenia
,
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a par ...

Albania
,
Colchis In pre-Hellenistic The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium The Battle of Actium ...

Colchis
and
Iberia The Iberian Peninsula , ** * Aragonese language, Aragonese and Occitan language, Occitan: ''Peninsula Iberica'' ** ** * french: Péninsule Ibérique * mwl, Península Eibérica * eu, Iberiar penintsula also known as Iberia, is a penin ...
, among others. These kingdoms were later incorporated into various
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
ian empires, including
Media Media may refer to: Physical means Communication * Media (communication), tools used to deliver information or data ** Advertising media, various media, content, buying and placement for advertising ** Broadcast media, communications deliv ...
, the
Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and offi ...

Achaemenid Empire
,
Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and offici ...

Parthia
, and the
Sassanid Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians ( Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭𐭱𐭲𐭥𐭩 '' Ērānshahr''), and called the Neo-Persian Empire by historians, was the last Persian imperial dynasty bef ...
, who would altogether rule the Caucasus for many hundreds of years. In 95–55 BC, under the reign of Armenian king
Tigranes the Great Tigranes II, more commonly known as Tigranes the Great ( hy, Տիգրան Մեծ, ''Tigran Mets''; grc, Τιγράνης ὁ Μέγας ''Tigránes ho Mégas''; la, Tigranes Magnus) (140 – 55 BC) was King of Kingdom of Armenia (ant ...
, the
Kingdom of ArmeniaKingdom of Armenia may refer to: *Kingdom of Armenia (antiquity), also known as Artaxiad or Arsacid Armenia, 380 BC to AD 387/428 *Kingdom of Armenia (Middle Ages), also known as Bagratid Armenia, AD 885 to 1045 Other ancient Armenian kingdoms *Satr ...
included Kingdom of Armenia, vassals Iberia, Albania, Parthia,
Atropatene Atropatene ( peo, Ātṛpātakāna; grc, Aτροπατηνή), also known as Media Atropatene, was an ancient kingdom established in by the Persian satrap Atropates. The kingdom, centered in present-day northern Iran, was ruled by Atropates' d ...
,
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
,
Cappadocia Cappadocia (; also ''Capadocia''; tr, Kapadokya, grc, label=Ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past events
,
Cilicia Cilicia (); el, Κιλικία, ''Kilikía''; Middle Persian: ''klkyʾy'' (''Klikiyā''), Parthian language, Parthian: ''kylkyʾ'' (''Kilikiyā''), tr, Kilikya). is a geo-cultural region in southern Turkey, extending inland from the northeastern ...

Cilicia
,
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
,
Nabataean kingdom The Nabataean Kingdom ( ar, المملكة النبطية, al-Mamlakah an-Nabaṭiyyah), also named Nabatea (), was a political state of the Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233 The international standard a ...
, and
Judea Judea or Judaea ( or ; from he, יהודה, Hebrew language#Modern Hebrew, Standard ''Yəhūda'', Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian ''Yehūḏā''; el, Ἰουδαία, ; la, Iūdaea) is the ancient, historic, Biblical Hebrew, contemporaneous ...

Judea
. By the time of the first century BC,
Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an Iranian religions, Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian peoples, Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster (also known as ''Za ...
had become the dominant religion of the region; however, the region would go through two other religious transformations. Owing to the strong rivalry between Persia and
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
, and later
Byzantium Byzantium () or Byzantion ( grc-gre, Βυζάντιον) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark A ...

Byzantium
. The Romans first arrived in the region in the 1st century BC with the annexation of the kingdom of Colchis, which was later turned into the province of . The next 600 years was marked by a
conflict Conflict may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''Conflict'' (1936 film), an American boxing film starring John Wayne * ''Conflict'' (1938 film), a French drama film directed by Léonide Moguy * ''Conflict'' (1945 film), ...
between Rome and
Sassanid Empire The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians ( Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭𐭱𐭲𐭥𐭩 '' Ērānshahr''), and called the Neo-Persian Empire by historians, was the last Persian imperial dynasty bef ...

Sassanid Empire
for the control of the region. In western Georgia the eastern Roman rule lasted until the Middle Ages.


Middle Ages

As the
Arsacid dynasty of Armenia The Arsacid dynasty or Arshakuni ( hy, wikt:Արշակունի, Արշակունի ''Arshakuni''), ruled the Kingdom of Armenia (antiquity), Kingdom of Armenia from 12 to 428. The dynasty was a branch of the Parthian Empire, Arsacid dynasty of Pa ...
(an eponymous branch of the
Arsacid dynasty of Parthia The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Iran The history of Iran, which was commonly known until the mid-20th century as Persia in the Western world, is intertw ...
) was the first nation to adopt Christianity as
state religion A state religion (also called an established religion or official religion) is a religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether ...
(in 301 AD), and
Caucasian Albania Caucasian Albania is a modern exonym for a former state located in ancient times in the Caucasus: mostly in what is now Azerbaijan (where both of its capitals were located). The modern endonyms for the area are ''Aghwank'' and ''Aluank'', among t ...

Caucasian Albania
and
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country), a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia * Georgia (U.S. state), one of the states of the United States of America Georgia may also refer to: Historical states and entities * Democratic Republ ...
had become Christian entities,
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
began to overtake
Zoroastrianism Zoroastrianism or Mazdayasna is an Iranian religions, Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest continuously-practiced organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian peoples, Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster (also known as ''Za ...
and pagan beliefs. With the
Muslim conquest of Persia The Muslim conquest of Persia, also known as the Arab conquest of Iran, was carried out by the Rashidun Caliphate The Rashidun Caliphate ( ar, اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلرَّاشِدَةُ, ') was the first of the four major caliphat ...
, large parts of the region came under the rule of the
Arabs The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technica ...

Arabs
, and
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
penetrated into the region. In the 10th century, the
Alans The Alans or Alāns (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...

Alans
(proto-
Ossetians The Ossetians or Ossetes (, ; os, ир, ирæттæ, , дигорӕ, дигорӕнттӕ, ), are an Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, ...

Ossetians
)Аланы
Great Soviet Encyclopedia The ''Great Soviet Encyclopedia'' (GSE; ) is one of the largest Russian-language encyclopedias, published in the Soviet Union from 1926 to 1990. After 2002, the encyclopedia's data was partially included into the later ''Bolshaya Rossiyskaya en ...
founded the Kingdom of
Alania Alania was a medieval kingdom of the Iranian Alans (proto-Ossetians) that flourished in the Northern Caucasus, roughly in the location of latter-day Circassia Circassia (; ady, Адыгэ Хэку, lit=Circassian Homeland) is a former country ...
, that flourished in the
Northern Caucasus The North Caucasus ( ady, Темыр Къафкъас, Temır Qafqas; kbd, Ишхъэрэ Къаукъаз, İṩxhərə Qauqaz; ce, Къилбаседа Кавказ, Q̇ilbaseda Kavkaz; rus, Северный Кавказ, r=Severnyy Kav ...
, roughly in the location of latter-day
Circassia Circassia (; also known in some sources with the distorted Latinization Cherkessia; ady, Адыгэ Хэку, Адыгей, lit=, translit=Adıgə Xəku, Adıgey; ; ) was a country and historical region in the along the northeast shore of the Bl ...

Circassia
and modern
North Ossetia–Alania North is one of the four compass points The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydros ...
, until its destruction by the
Mongol invasion The Mongol invasions and conquests took place during the 13th and 14th centuries, creating history's largest contiguous empire - The Mongol Empire, which by 1300 covered large parts of Eurasia. Historians regard the Mongol devastation as one of ...
in 1238–39. During the Middle Ages
Bagratid Armenia The Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia, also known as Bagratid Armenia ( xcl, Բագրատունեաց Հայաստան, ''Bagratuneats Hayastan'' or Բագրատունիների թագավորութիւն, ''Bagratunineri t’agavorut’iwn'', "kingdo ...
,
Kingdom of Tashir-Dzoraget Kingdom of Tashir-Dzoraget ( hy, Տաշիր-Ձորագետի Թագավորություն ''Tashir-Dzorageti t'agavorut'yun''), alternatively known as the Kingdom of Lori or Kiurikian Kingdom by later historians, was a medieval Armenians, Armenian ...
,
Kingdom of Syunik Kingdom of Syunik ( hy, Սյունիքի թագավորություն), also known as the Kingdom of Baghk and sometimes as the Kingdom of Kapan, was a medieval dependent Armenian kingdom
and Principality of Khachen organized local Armenian population facing multiple threats after the fall of antique
Kingdom of ArmeniaKingdom of Armenia may refer to: *Kingdom of Armenia (antiquity), also known as Artaxiad or Arsacid Armenia, 380 BC to AD 387/428 *Kingdom of Armenia (Middle Ages), also known as Bagratid Armenia, AD 885 to 1045 Other ancient Armenian kingdoms *Satr ...
.
Caucasian Albania Caucasian Albania is a modern exonym for a former state located in ancient times in the Caucasus: mostly in what is now Azerbaijan (where both of its capitals were located). The modern endonyms for the area are ''Aghwank'' and ''Aluank'', among t ...

Caucasian Albania
maintained close ties with
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is ...

Armenia
and the Church of Caucasian Albania shared same Christian dogmas with the Armenian Apostolic Church and had a tradition of their Catholicos being ordained through the Patriarch of Armenia. In the 12th century, the Georgian king David the Builder drove the Muslims out from Caucasus and made the Kingdom of Georgia a strong regional power. In 1194–1204 Georgian Tamar of Georgia, Queen Tamar's armies crushed new Seljuk Turkish invasions from the south-east and south and launched several successful campaigns into Seljuk Turkish-controlled Southern Armenia. The Georgian Kingdom continued military campaigns in the Caucasus region. As a result of her military campaigns and the temporary fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1204, Georgia became the strongest Christian state in the whole Near East area, encompassing most of the Caucasus stretching from Northern Iran and Northeastern Turkey to the North Caucasus. The Caucasus region was conquered by the Ottomans, Mongols, local kingdoms and khanates, as well as, once again,
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
. File:Ejmiadzin Cathedral2.jpg, Etchmiadzin Cathedral in Armenia, original building completed in 303 AD, a religious centre of
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is ...

Armenia
. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. File:Svetitskhoveli Cathedral - Mtskheta – 03.jpg, Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Georgia, original building completed in the 4th century. It was a religious centre of monarchical
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country), a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia * Georgia (U.S. state), one of the states of the United States of America Georgia may also refer to: Historical states and entities * Democratic Republ ...
. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. File:Caftan MET DT1115.jpg, Caftan (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Northwest Caucasus caftan, 8-10th century, from the region of
Alania Alania was a medieval kingdom of the Iranian Alans (proto-Ossetians) that flourished in the Northern Caucasus, roughly in the location of latter-day Circassia Circassia (; ady, Адыгэ Хэку, lit=Circassian Homeland) is a former country ...
. File:Ushguli towers in Svaneti, Georgia.png, Svaneti defensive tower houses File:Şirvanşahlar saray kompleksi.jpg, Palace of the Shirvanshahs, 13-th-15th centuries File:İmamzadə türbəsi (Gəncə) 2.jpg, Imamzadeh (Ganja), Imamzadeh of Ganja, 7th-9th centuries File:Ashura in South Caucasus 19th century. Celebration of Shakhsey-Vakhsey (Persian).jpg, Celebration of Ashura, (Persian:Shakhsey-Vakhsey),19th century File:Street in Shamakhi, 19th century, Azerbaijan.jpg, Shamakhi, 19th century


Modern period

Up to and including the early 19th century, the Southern Caucasus and southern
Dagestan village of Grar File:Сулакский каньон.jpg, Kara-Koysu River Canyon Dagestan (; russian: Дагеста́н), officially the Republic of Dagestan (russian: Респу́блика Дагеста́н), is a republics of Russia, rep ...

Dagestan
all formed part of the Qajar dynasty, Persian Empire. In 1813 and 1828 by the Treaty of Gulistan and the Treaty of Turkmenchay respectively, the Persians were forced to irrevocably cede the Southern Caucasus and Dagestan to Imperial Russia. In the ensuing years after these gains, the Russians took the remaining part of the Southern Caucasus, comprising western Georgia, through several wars from the Ottoman Empire. In the second half of the 19th century, the Russian Empire also conquered the Northern Caucasus. In the aftermath of the Caucasian Wars, an ethnic cleansing of Circassians was performed by Russia in which the indigenous peoples of this region, mostly Circassians, were expelled from their homeland and forced to move primarily to the Ottoman Empire. Having killed and deported most of Armenians of Western Armenia during the Armenian genocide, the Turks intended to eliminate the Armenian population of Eastern Armenia. During the 1920 Turkish–Armenian War, 60,000 to 98,000 Armenian civilians were estimated to have been killed by the Turkish army. In the 1940s, around 480,000 Chechens and Ingush people, Ingush, 120,000 Karachays, Karachay–Balkars and Meskhetian Turks, thousands of Kalmyks, and 200,000 Kurds in Nakchivan and Caucasus Germans were Population transfer in the Soviet Union, deported en masse to Central Asia and Siberia. About a quarter of them died. The Southern Caucasus region was unified as a single political entity twice – during the Russian Civil War (Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic) from 9 April 1918 to 26 May 1918, and under the Soviet Union, Soviet rule (Transcaucasian SFSR) from 12 March 1922 to 5 December 1936. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991,
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country), a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia * Georgia (U.S. state), one of the states of the United States of America Georgia may also refer to: Historical states and entities * Democratic Republ ...
,
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan ( az, Azərbaycan Respublikası ), is a country in the Transcaucasia, Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it is boun ...

Azerbaijan
and
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is ...

Armenia
became independent nations. The region has been subject to various territorial disputes since the collapse of the Soviet Union, leading to the First Nagorno-Karabakh War (1988–1994), the East Prigorodny Conflict (1989–1991), the War in Abkhazia (1992–93), the First Chechen War (1994–1996), the Second Chechen War (1999–2009), and the 2008 South Ossetia War.


Mythology

In Greek mythology, the Caucasus, or Kaukasos, was one of the pillars supporting the world. After presenting man with the gift of fire, Prometheus (or Amirani in the Georgian mythology, Georgian version) was chained there by Zeus, to have his liver eaten daily by an eagle as punishment for defying Zeus' wish to keep the "secret of fire" from humans. In Persian mythology, the Caucasus might be associated with the mythic
Mount Qaf Mount Qaf, or Qaf-Kuh, also spelled Cafcuh and Kafkuh ( fa, قاف‌کوه), or Jabal Qaf, also spelled Djebel Qaf ( ar, جبل قاف), or ''Koh-i-Qaf'', also spelled ''Koh-Qaf'' and ''Kuh-i-Qaf'' or ''Kuh-e Qaf'' ( fa, کوہ قاف) is a legend ...
which is believed to surround the known world. It is the battlefield of Saoshyant and the nest of the Simurgh. The Ancient Rome, Roman poet Ovid placed the Caucasus in Scythia and depicted it as a cold and stony mountain which was the abode of personified hunger. The Greek hero Jason sailed to the west coast of the Caucasus in pursuit of the Golden Fleece, and there met Medea, a daughter of Aeëtes, King Aeëtes of
Colchis In pre-Hellenistic The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium The Battle of Actium ...

Colchis
.


Folklore

The Caucasus has a rich folklore tradition.Rashidvash, pp. 33–34. This tradition has been preserved orally—necessitated by the fact that for most of the languages involved there was no alphabet until the early twentieth century—and only began to be written down in the late nineteenth century. One important tradition is that of the Nart sagas, which tell stories of a race of ancient heroes called the Narts. These sagas include such figures as Satanaya, the mother of the Narts, Sosruquo a shape changer and trickster, Tlepsh a blacksmith god, and Batradz, a mighty hero. The folklore of the Caucasus shows ancient Iranian peoples, Iranian Zoroastrian influence, involve battles with ancient Goths, Huns and Khazars, and contain many connections with ancient Indian, Scandinavians, Norse Scandinavian, and Greek cultures.


Links with Greek mythology

Caucasian folklore contains many links with the myths of the ancient Greeks. There are resemblances between the mother goddess Satanaya and the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite. The story of how the trickster Nart Sosruquo, became invulnerable parallels that of the Greek hero Achilles. The ancient Greek Amazons may be connected to a Caucasian "warrior Forest-Mother, Amaz-an". Caucasian legends include stories involving giants similar to Homer's Polyphemus story. In these stories, the giant is almost always a shepherd, and he is variously a one-eyed rock-throwing cannibal, who lives in a cave (the exit of which is often blocked by a stone), kills the hero's companions, is blinded by a hot stake, and whose flock of animals is stolen by the hero and his men, all motifs which (along with still others) are also found in the Polyphemus story. In one example from
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country), a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia * Georgia (U.S. state), one of the states of the United States of America Georgia may also refer to: Historical states and entities * Democratic Republ ...
, two brothers, who are being held prisoner by a giant one-eyed shepherd called "One-eye", take a spit, heat it up, stab it into the giant's eye, and escape. There are also links with the ancient Greek myth of Prometheus. Many legends, widespread in the Caucasus, contain motifs shared with the Prometheus story. These motifs include: a giant hero, his conflict with God or gods, the stealing of fire and giving it to men, being chained, and being tormented by a bird who pecks at his liver (or heart). The Adyghe people, Adyge/Circassians, Circassian Nart Nasran, the Georgians, Georgian Amirani, the Chechens, Chechen Pkharmat, and the Abkhazians, Abkhazian Abrskil, are examples of such Prometheus-like figures.


Ecology

The Caucasus is an area of great ecological importance. The region is included in the list of 34 world biodiversity hotspots. It harbors some 6400 species of higher plants, 1600 of which are endemism, endemic to the region. Its wildlife includes Persian leopards, brown bears, wolf, wolves, bison, East European red deer, marals, golden eagles and hooded crows. Among invertebrates, some 1000 spider species are recorded in the Caucasus. Most of arthropod biodiversity is concentrated on Great and Lesser Caucasus ranges. The region has a high level of endemism and a number of relict animals and plants, the fact reflecting presence of refugial forests, which survived the Last glacial period, Ice Age in the Caucasus Mountains. The Caucasus forest refugium is the largest throughout the Western Asian (near Eastern) region. The area has multiple representatives of disjunct distribution, disjunct relict groups of plants with the closest relatives in Eastern Asia, southern Europe, and even North America. Over 70 species of forest snails of the region are endemic. Some relict species of vertebrates are Caucasian parsley frog, Caucasian salamander, Robert's snow vole, and Caucasian grouse, and there are almost entirely endemic groups of animals such as lizards of genus ''Darevskia''. In general, species composition of this refugium is quite distinct and differs from that of the other Western Eurasian refugia. The natural landscape is one of Caucasus mixed forests, mixed forest, with substantial areas of rocky ground above the treeline. The Caucasus Mountains are also noted for a dog breed, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog (Rus. Kavkazskaya Ovcharka, Geo. Nagazi). Vincent Evans noted that minke whales have been recorded from the Black Sea.


Energy and mineral resources

The Caucasus has many economically important minerals and energy resources, such as alunite, gold, chromium, copper, iron ore, mercury (element), mercury, manganese, molybdenum, lead, tungsten, uranium, zinc, Petroleum, oil, natural gas, and coal (both hard coal, hard and brown coal, brown).


Tourism


Sport

Krasnaya Polyana, Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, Krasnaya Polyana is a popular centre of mountain skiing and a snowboard venue.
The 2015 European Games is the first in the history of the European Games to be held in
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan ( az, Azərbaycan Respublikası ), is a country in the Transcaucasia, Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it is boun ...

Azerbaijan
. Mountain-skiing complexes include: *Alpika Service Mountain Resort, Alpika-Service *Mountain roundabout *Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort, Rosa Hutor *Tsaghkadzor ski resort, Tsaghkadzor Ski Resort in
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is ...

Armenia
*Shahdag Winter Complex in
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan ( az, Azərbaycan Respublikası ), is a country in the Transcaucasia, Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it is boun ...

Azerbaijan
The 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix (motor racing) was the first in the history of Formula One to be held in
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan ( az, Azərbaycan Respublikası ), is a country in the Transcaucasia, Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it is boun ...

Azerbaijan
. The 2017 World Rugby Under 20 Championship was held in
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country), a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia * Georgia (U.S. state), one of the states of the United States of America Georgia may also refer to: Historical states and entities * Democratic Republ ...
. In 2017 the U-19 Europe Championship (Football) was held in Georgia.


See also

* Caucasian cuisine * Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations * Culture of Armenia * Culture of Azerbaijan * Culture of Georgia (country) * Eastern Partnership * Eurasian Economic Union * Euronest Parliamentary Assembly * Khanates of the Caucasus * Prometheism * Regions of Europe * Transcontinental nations


References


Sources

* Bachvarova, Mary R., ''From Hittite to Homer: The Anatolian Background of Ancient Greek Epic'', Cambridge University Press, 2016. . * * John Colarusso, Colarusso, John, ''Nart Sagas from the Caucasus: Myths and Legends from the Circassians, Abazas, Abkhaz, and Ubykhs'', Princeton University Press, 2002, 2014. . * Cornell, Susan E., ''Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus''. * * Golvin, Ivan, ''The Caucasus''. * Griffin, Nicholas, ''Caucasus: A Journey to the Land Between Christianity and Islam'', University of Chicago Press, 2004. . * Hunt, David, ''Legends of the Caucasus'', Saqi Books, London, 2012. . * Adrienne Mayor, Mayor, Adrienne (2016), "Introduction to the Paperback Edition" in ''Nart Sagas: Ancient Myths and Legends of the Circassians and Abkhazians'', by John Colarusso, Princeton University Press, 2016. . *


Further reading

* Nikolai F. Dubrovin
The history of wars and Russian domination in the Caucasus
(История войны и владычества русских на Кавказе). Sankt-Petersburg, 1871–1888, at Runivers.ru in DjVu and PDF formats. * Gagarin, G. G
Costumes Caucasus
(Костюмы Кавказа). Paris, 1840, at Runivers.ru in DjVu and PDF formats. * Gasimov, Zaur
''The Caucasus''
European History Online, Mainz: Institute of European History, 2011, retrieved: 18 November 2011. * Rostislav A. Fadeev
Sixty years of the Caucasian War
(Шестьдесят лет Кавказской войны). Tiflis, 1860, at Runivers.ru in DjVu format. * Kaziev Shapi. North Caucasus, Caucasian highlanders (Повседневная жизнь горцев Северного Кавказа в XIX в.)
Everyday life of the Caucasian Highlanders. The 19th Century (In the co-authorship with I. Karpeev). "Molodaya Gvardiy" publishers. Moscow, 2003.


External links


''Caucasian Journal''
— a multilingual online journal on South Caucasus
Articles and Photography on Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) from UK Photojournalist Russell PollardInformation for travellers and others about Caucasus and Georgia''Caucasian Review of International Affairs''
an academic journal on the South Caucasus
BBC News: North Caucasus at a glance
8 September 2005
United Nations Environment Programme map: Landcover of the CaucasusUnited Nations Environment Programme map: Population density of the CaucasusFood Security in Caucasus (FAO)
entry in ''Encyclopædia Iranica''
University of Turin-Observatory on CaucasusCircassians Caucasus Web (Turkish)Georgian Biodiversity Database (checklists for ca. 11,000 plant and animal species)WHAT TO SEE IN CAUCASUS MOUNTAINS
{{Authority control Caucasus, Eastern Europe Eurasia Regions of Eurasia Regions of Asia Regions of Europe Western Asia Mountain ranges of Europe