(since 2008, in exile )
(since 2008, in exile )
(since 1994, in exile )
UTC+02:00 , UTC+03:00 , UTC+03:30 , UTC+4:00 , UTC+04:30
The CAUCASUS /ˈkɔːkəsəs/ or CAUCASIA /kɔːˈkeɪʒə/ is a
region situated at the border of
Eastern Europe and
Western Asia ,
situated between the
Black Sea and the
Caspian Sea . It is home to the
Caucasus Mountains , which contain Europe's highest mountain, Mount
Elbrus , 5,642 metres (18,510 ft), located on the west of the Greater
Caucasus mountain range. The
Greater Caucasus acts as a natural
Europe from Southwest Asia, the latter including
Caucasus region is separated between northern and southern parts
North Caucasus and
Transcaucasus , respectively. The Greater
Caucasus range in the north is within the Russian Federation , while
Lesser Caucasus to the south is divided between several
independent states, namely Georgia ,
Azerbaijan . The
Transcaucasus extends eastwards to the
Caspian Sea and northwestern
Iran , and extends westwards into northeastern
The region is known for its linguistic diversity: aside from
Indo-European and Turkic languages, the Kartvelian , Northwest
Caucasian , and
Northeast Caucasian families are indigenous to the
* 1 Toponymy
* 1.1 Endonyms and exonyms
* 2 Political geography
* 3 Demographics
* 4 History
* 4.1 Prehistory
* 4.2 Antiquity
* 4.3 Middle Ages
* 4.4 Modern period
* 4.5 Mythology
* 5 Ecology
Energy and mineral resources
* 7 Tourism
* 8 Sport
* 9 Cuisine
* 10 See also
* 11 References
* 12 Sources
* 13 Further reading
* 14 External links
Pliny the Elder 's Natural History (77–79 AD) derives the name of
Caucasus from Scythian kroy-khasis ("ice-shining, white with
snow"). German linguist
Paul Kretschmer notes that the Latvian word
Kruvesis also means "ice".
In the Tale of Past Years (1113 AD), it is stated that Old East
Slavic Кавкасийскыѣ горы (Kavkasijskyě gory) came
Ancient Greek Καύκασος (Kafkasos), 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
According to German philologists Otto Schrader and Alfons A. Nehring,
Ancient Greek word Καύκασος (Kafkasos) is connected to
Gothic Hauhs ("high") as well as Lithuanian Kaũkas ("hillock") and
Kaukarà ("hill, top"). British linguist Adrian Room points out that
Kau- also means "mountain" in Pelasgian .
Transcaucasus region and southern
Dagestan were the furthest
points of Persian Parthian and later Sasanian expansions, with areas
to the north of the
Greater Caucasus range practically impregnable.
Mount Qaf , the world's highest mountain that ancient
Iranian lore shrouded in mystery, was said to be situated in this
region, making the
Caucasus the highest limit of the world.
It was also noted that in Nakh Ков гас (Kov gas) means "gateway
ENDONYMS AND EXONYMS
The modern name for the region is usually similar in the many
languages, and is generally between KAVKAZ and KAWKAZ.
* Abkhaz : Кавказ Kavkaz
* Adyghe : Къаукъаз/с Kʺaukʺaz/s
* Albanian : Kaukazi
* Azerbaijani : Qafqaz
* Arabic : القوقاز al-Qawqāz
* Armenian : Կովկաս Kovkas
* Avar : Кавказ Kawkaz
* Chechen : Кавказ Kavkaz
* Georgian : კავკასია K'avk'asia
* German : Kaukasien
* Greek : Καύκασος Káfkasos
* Ingush : Кавказ Kawkaz
* Karachay-Balkar : Кавказ Kavkaz
* Kurdish : Qefqasya/Qefqas
* Lak : Ккавкказ Kkawkkaz
* Lezgian : Къавкъаз K'awk'az
* Ossetian : Кавказ Kavkaz
* Persian : قفقاز Qafqāz
* Russian : Кавказ Kavkaz
* Turkish : Kafkaslar/Kafkasya
* Ukrainian : Кавказ Kavkaz
North Caucasus is also known as the Ciscaucasus, and the South
Caucasus is commonly known as the
Transcaucasus . Political map
Caucasus region (2008)
The Ciscaucasus contains most of the
Greater Caucasus mountain range.
Its consists of Southern
Russia , mainly the North Caucasian Federal
District 's autonomous republics, and the northernmost parts of
Azerbaijan to its south. The Ciscaucasus lies between the
Black Sea and
Caspian Sea to its west and east, respectively; and
Southern Federal District
Southern Federal District to its north. The two Federal
Districts are collectively referred to as "Southern Russia."
Transcaucasus borders the
Greater Caucasus range and Southern
Russia to its north, the
Black Sea and
Turkey to its west, the Caspian
Sea to its east, and
Iran to its south. It contains the Lesser
Caucasus mountain range and surrounding lowlands. All of
Azerbaijan (excluding the northernmost parts) and Georgia (excluding
the northernmost parts) are in the South Caucasus.
The watershed along the
Greater Caucasus range is generally perceived
to be the dividing line between
Southwest Asia . The
highest peak in the
Mount Elbrus (5,642 meters) located in
western Ciscaucasus, and is considered as the highest point in Europe.
Caucasus is one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse
regions on Earth. The nation states that comprise the
are the post-Soviet states Georgia (including
Adjara ), Azerbaijan
(including Nakhchivan ), Armenia, and the Russian Federation. The
Russian divisions include
Ingushetia , North
Krasnodar Krai and
Stavropol Krai , in clockwise order.
Three territories in the region claim independence but are recognised
as such by only a handful or by no independent
UN countries :
South Ossetia .
Abkhazia and South
Ossetia are recognised by the majority of countries as part of
Georgia, and Nagorno–Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan.
Chechnya 's capital
Armenia 's capital
Georgia 's capital
Azerbaijan 's capital
Ethno-linguistic groups in the
Caucasus region Main article:
Peoples of the Caucasus Further information: Languages of the
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 Armenian and Ossetian , and Turkic
languages , such as Azerbaijani and Karachay–Balkar , are spoken in
the area. Russian is used as a lingua franca most notably in the North
The peoples of the northern and southern
Caucasus tend to be either
Sunni Muslims ,
Eastern Orthodox Christians and
Armenian Christians .
Twelver Shi\'ism has many adherents in the southeastern part of the
Azerbaijan which extends into Iran.
History of the Caucasus
Located on the peripheries of
Iran , and
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 . At the
beginning of the 19th century, the
Russian Empire conquered the
territory from Qajar
Petroglyphs in Gobustan ,
Azerbaijan , dating back to 10,000 BC.
It is a
World Heritage Site .
The territory of the
Caucasus region was inhabited by Homo erectus
Paleolithic Era . In 1991, early human (that is, hominin)
fossils dating back 1.8 million years were found at the Dmanisi
archaeological site in Georgia. Scientists now classify the assemblage
of fossil skeletons as the subspecies
Homo erectus georgicus
Homo erectus georgicus .
The site yields the earliest unequivocal evidence for presence of
early humans outside the African continent; and the Dmanisi skulls
are the five oldest hominins ever found outside
Africa , thereby
doubling the presumed age of the human migration outside the
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Ashurbanipal (669–627 BC) the boundaries of the Assyrian
Empire reached as far as the
Caucasus Mountains. Later ancient
kingdoms of the region included
Armenia , Albania ,
Colchis and Iberia
, among others. These kingdoms were later incorporated into various
Iranian empires, including Media , the
Achaemenid Empire ,
Sassanid Empire , who would altogether rule the
many hundreds of years. In 95–55 BC under the reign of Armenian king
Tigranes the Great
Tigranes the Great , the Kingdom of
Armenia became an empire,
growing to include: Kingdom of Armenia, vassals Iberia, Albania,
Nabataean kingdom , and
Judea . By the time of the first century BC,
Zoroastrianism 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 ,
and later Byzantium , the latter would invade the region several
times, although it was never able to hold the region.
Kingdom of Georgia at the peak of its might, early 13th century.
As the Arsacid dynasty of
Armenia (an eponymous branch of the Arsacid
Parthia ) was the first nation to adopt Christianity as
state religion (in 301 AD), and
Caucasian Albania and Georgia had
become Christian entities, Christianity began to overtake
Zoroastrianism and pagan beliefs. With the
Muslim conquest of Persia ,
large parts of the region came under the rule of the
Arabs , and Islam
penetrated into the region. In the 10th century, the Alans
Ossetians ) founded the Kingdom of
Alania , that flourished in
Northern Caucasus , roughly in the location of latter-day
Circassia and modern
North Ossetia–Alania , until its destruction by
Mongol invasion in 1238–39. In the 12th century, the Georgian
David the Builder drove the Muslims out from
Caucasus and made
Kingdom of Georgia a strong regional power. In 1194–1204
Georgian 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
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 region would later be conquered by the Ottomans
Mongols , local kingdoms and khanates, as well as, once again, Iran
In the 10th century, the
Ossetians ) founded the
Alania in the Northern Caucasus. It was destroyed by the
Mongol invasion in 1238–39. Parts of the Southern Caucasus, on the
other hand, were under the political domination of Arab rulers for a
while. In the 12th century, Georgian king
David the Builder drove the
Arabs out of the region and made the
Kingdom of Georgia a strong
regional power. In 1194–1204 Georgian 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
Caucasus region. As a result of her military campaigns and the
temporary fall of the
Byzantine Empire in 1204, Georgia became one of
the strongest Christian states, encompassing most of the southern
Caucasus in addition to northeastern Anatolia. The region would later
be conquered by the
Iran as well as local
kingdoms and khanates.
Etchmiadzin Cathedral in Armenia, original building completed in 303
AD, a religious centre of
Armenia . It is a
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Georgia, original building completed in
the 4th century. It was a religious centre of monarchical Georgia . It
World Heritage Site .
Caucasus caftan , 8-10th century, from the region of Alania
Up to including the early 19th century, the
Southern Caucasus and
Dagestan all formed part of the 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
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
which the indigenous peoples of this region, mostly
Circassians , were
expelled from their homeland and forced to move primarily to the
In the 1940s, around 480,000
Chechens and Ingush , 120,000 Karachay
Meskhetian Turks , thousands of
Kalmyks , and 200,000
Kurds in Nakchivan and
Caucasus Germans were deported en masse to
Asia and Siberia. About a quarter of them died.
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 rule (
Transcaucasian SFSR ) from 12 March 1922 to 5 December
1936. Following the dissolution of the
Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia ,
Armenia became independent nations.
The region has been subject to various territorial disputes since the
collapse of the Soviet Union, leading to the Nagorno-Karabakh War
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 .
Greek mythology the Caucasus, or Kaukasos, was one of the pillars
supporting the world. After presenting man with the gift of fire,
Amirani in 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.
Persian mythology the
Caucasus might be associated with the mythic
Mount Qaf which is believed to surround the known world. It is the
Saoshyant and the nest of the
The Roman poet
Scythia and depicted it as a
cold and stony mountain which was the abode of personified hunger. The
Jason sailed to the west coast of the
Caucasus in pursuit
Golden Fleece , and there met
Medea , a daughter of King
View of the
Caucasus Mountains in
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 endemic to the
region. Its wildlife includes Persian leopards , brown bears , wolves
, bison , 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 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 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
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 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
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
Caucasus has many economically important minerals and energy
resources, such as alunite , gold , chromium , copper , iron ore ,
mercury , manganese , molybdenum , lead , tungsten , uranium , zinc ,
oil , natural gas , and coal (both hard and brown ).
Caucasian Riviera ,
Sochi , and
RusSki Gorki Jumping Center in Krasnaya Polyana ,
2014 Winter Olympics
2014 Winter Olympics venue,
Krasnaya Polyana — a popular centre of mountain skiing and a
2015 European Games
2015 European Games venue. The first in the history of the European
Games to be held in
Azerbaijan Grand Prix venue. The first in the history of the Formula
One to be held in
* Mountain roundabout
* Rosa Hutor
Shahdag Winter Complex in
* Geography portal
Khanates of the Caucasus
* Culture of
* Culture of
* Culture of
Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations
Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations
Eurasian Economic Union
Eurasian Economic Union
* Transcontinental nations
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to CAUCASUS .
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for CAUCASUS .
* Ethnographic map of Caucasus
* Articles and Photography on Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) from UK
Photojournalist Russell Pollard
* Information 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
* United Nations Environment Programme map: