It is home to the Caucasus Mountains, which contain Europe's highest mountain, Mount Elbrus, Şablon:Convert. Politically, the Caucasus region is separated between northern and southern parts. The southern parts consist of independent sovereign states, and the northern parts are under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation.
- 1 Name
- 2 Political geography
- 3 Demographics
- 4 History
- 5 Ecology
- 6 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 (AD 77–79) derives the name of the Caucasus from Scythian kroy-khasis ("ice-shining, white with snow").<ref>"Natural History," book six, chap. XVII</ref> German linguist Paul Kretschmer notes that the Latvian word Kruvesis also means "ice".<ref>Şablon:Cite journal</ref><ref>Şablon:Cite journal</ref>
In the Tale of Past Years, it is stated that Old East Slavic Кавкасийскыѣ горы (Kavkasijskyě gory) came from Ancient Greek Καύκασος (Kafkasos),<ref name="ReferenceA"/> 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.)<ref>Şablon:Cite conference</ref>
According to German philologists Otto Schrader and Alfons A. Nehring, the Ancient Greek word Καύκασος (Kafkasos) is connected to Gothic Hauhs ("high") as well as Lithuanian Kaũkas ("hillock") and Kaukarà ("hill, top").<ref>Şablon:Cite book</ref><ref name="ReferenceA">Şablon:Cite encyclopedia</ref>
The South Caucasus region and southern Dagestan were the furthest points of Persian expansions, with areas to the north of Caucasus Mountains practically impregnable. The mythological mountain of Qaf, the world's highest mountain that ancient lore shrouded in mystery, was said to be situated in this region, making the Caucasus the limit of the world. Therefore, the Caucasus might be associated with the legendary mountain.
It was also noted that Nakh Ков гIас (Kov gas) means "gateway to steppe"<ref>Bolatojha J. "Древняя родина Кавкасов [The Ancient Homeland of the Caucasus]", p. 49, 2006.</ref>
Some modern endonyms and exonyms
The modern name of the region are usually similar in many languages:
- Şablon:Lang-ab Kavkaz
- Şablon:Lang-ady Kʺaukʺaz/s
- Şablon:Lang-ar al-Qawqāz
- Şablon:Lang-hy Kovkas
- Şablon:Lang-av Kawkaz
- Şablon:Lang-ce Kavkaz
- Şablon:Lang-ka K'avk'asia
- Şablon:Lang-gr Káfkasos
- Şablon:Lang-inh Kawkaz
- Şablon:Lang-krc Kavkaz
- Şablon:Lang-lbe Kkawkkaz
- Şablon:Lang-lez K'awk'az
- Şablon:Lang-os Kavkaz
- Şablon:Lang-fa Qafqāz
- Şablon:Lang-ru Kavkaz
- Şablon:Lang-uk Kavkaz
The Ciscaucasus contains the larger majority of the Greater Caucasus Mountain range, also known as the Major Caucasus mountains. It includes Southwestern Russia and northern parts of Georgia and Azerbaijan.
The Transcaucasus is bordered on the north by Russia, on the west by the Black Sea and Turkey, on the east by the Caspian Sea, and on the south by Iran. It includes the Caucasus Mountains and surrounding lowlands. All of Armenia, Azerbaijan (excluding the northern parts) and Georgia (excluding the northern parts) are in South Caucasus.
The main Greater Caucasus range is generally perceived to be the dividing line between Asia and Europe. The highest peak in the Caucasus is Mount Elbrus (5,642 m) in the western Ciscaucasus in Russia, and is generally considered as the highest point in Europe.
The Caucasus is one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse regions on Earth. The nation states that comprise the Caucasus today are the post-Soviet states Georgia (including Adjara), Armenia, and Azerbaijan (including Nakhchivan). Three territories in the region claim independence but are recognized as such by only a handful or by no independent states: Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Abkhazia and South Ossetia are recognised by the majority of independent states as part of Georgia, and Nagorno-Karabakh is recognised as part of Azerbaijan. The Russian divisions include Krasnodar Krai, Stavropol Krai, and the autonomous republics of Adygea, Karachay–Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechnya, and Dagestan.
The region has many different languages and language families. There are more than 50 ethnic groups living in the region.<ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref> No fewer than three language families are unique to the area, but also Indo-European languages, such as Armenian and Ossetic, and Turkic languages, such as Azerbaijani and Karachay–Balkar, are spoken in the area. Russian is used as a common language.
Today the peoples of the Northern and Southern Caucasus tend to be either Eastern Orthodox Christians, Oriental Orthodox Christians, or Sunni Muslims. Shia Islam has had many adherents historically in Azerbaijan, located in the eastern part of the region.
Şablon:Further information Located on the peripheries of Turkey, 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.<ref name=CAUCAIRANICA>Şablon:Cite encyclopedia</ref> At the beginning of the 19th century, the Russian Empire conquered the territory from Qajar Iran.<ref name="CAUCAIRANICA"/>
The territory of the Caucasus region was inhabited by Homo erectus since the 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.<ref>Şablon:Cite news</ref>
The site yields the earliest unequivocal evidence for presence of early humans outside the African continent;<ref>Vekua, A., Lordkipanidze, D., Rightmire, G. P., Agusti, J., Ferring, R., Maisuradze, G., et al. (2002). A new skull of early Homo from Dmanisi, Georgia. Science, 297:85–9.</ref> and the Dmanisi skulls are the five oldest hominins ever found outside Africa, thereby doubling the presumed age of the human migration outside the continent.<ref name=nature>Şablon:Cite journal</ref>
Under 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, Parthia, and the Sassanid Empire, who would altogether rule the Caucasus for many hundreds of years. In 95–55 BC under the reign of Armenian king of kings Tigranes the Great, the Kingdom of Armenia became an empire, growing to include: Kingdom of Armenia, vassals Iberia, Albania, Parthia, Atropatene, Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Cilicia, Syria, 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.
As the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia (an eponymous branch of the Arsacid dynasty of 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.<ref>Şablon:Cite book</ref> In the 10th century, the Alans (proto-Ossetians)<ref name="Great Soviet Encyclopedia">Şablon:Cite web</ref> founded the Kingdom of Alania, that flourished in the Northern Caucasus, roughly in the location of latter-day Circassia and modern North Ossetia–Alania, until its destruction by the Mongol invasion in 1238–39. 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 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 would later be conquered by the Ottomans, Mongols, local kingdoms and khanates, as well as, once again, Iran.
In the 10th century, the Alans (proto-Ossetians)<ref name="Great Soviet Encyclopedia">Şablon:Cite web</ref> founded the Kingdom of Alania in the Northern Caucasus. It was destructed 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 the 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 Ottomans, Mongols, Iran as well as local kingdoms and khanates.
Up to including the early 19th century, the Southern Caucasus and southern 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.<ref>Timothy C. Dowling Russia at War: From the Mongol Conquest to Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Beyond pp 728-730 ABC-CLIO, 2 dec. 2014. ISBN 978-1598849486</ref> 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.<ref>Suny, page 64</ref><ref>Allen F. Chew. "An Atlas of Russian History: Eleven Centuries of Changing Borders", Yale University Press, 1970, p. 74</ref>
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.<ref>Yemelianova, Galina, Islam nationalism and state in the Muslim Caucasus. Caucasus Survey, April 2014. p. 3</ref><ref>Memoirs of Miliutin, "the plan of action decided upon for 1860 was to cleanse [ochistit'] the mountain zone of its indigenous population", per Richmond, W. The Northwest Caucasus: Past, Present, and Future. Routledge. 2008.</ref>
In the 1940s, around 480,000 Chechens and Ingush, 120,000 Karachay–Balkars and Meskhetian Turks, thousands of Kalmyks, and 200,000 Kurds in Nakchivan and Caucasus Germans were deported en masse to Central Asia and Siberia. About a quarter of them died.<ref>Şablon:Cite book</ref>
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 rule (Transcaucasian SFSR) from 12 March 1922 to 5 December 1936. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia, Azerbaijan and 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 (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.
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 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.
The Roman poet Ovid placed 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 King Aeëtes of Colchis.
The Caucasus is an area of great ecological importance. The region is included in the list of 34 world biodiversity hotspots.<ref>Zazanashvili N, Sanadiradze G, Bukhnikashvili A, Kandaurov A, Tarkhnishvili D. 2004. Caucasus. In: Mittermaier RA, Gil PG, Hoffmann M, Pilgrim J, Brooks T, Mittermaier CG, Lamoreux J, da Fonseca GAB, eds. Hotspots revisited, Earth's biologically richest and most endangered terrestrial ecoregions. Sierra Madre: CEMEX/Agrupacion Sierra Madre, 148–153</ref><ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref> It harbors some 6400 species of higher plants, 1600 of which are endemic to the region.<ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref> 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.<ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref><ref name=chaladzeetal2014>Şablon:Cite journal</ref> Most of Arthropod biodiversity is concentrated on Great and Lesser Caucasus ranges.<ref name=chaladzeetal2014 /> 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.<ref>van Zeist W, Bottema S. 1991. Late Quaternary vegetation of the Near East. Wiesbaden: Reichert.</ref><ref name=tgm>Şablon:Cite journal</ref> The area has multiple representatives of disjunct relict groups of plants with the closest relatives in Eastern Asia, southern Europe, and even North America.<ref>Milne RI. 2004. "Phylogeny and biogeography of Rhododendron subsection Pontica, a group with a Tertiary relict distribution". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 33: 389–401.</ref><ref>Kikvidze Z, Ohsawa M. 1999. "Adjara, East Mediterranean refuge of Tertiary vegetation". In: Ohsawa M, Wildpret W, Arco MD, eds. Anaga Cloud Forest, a comparative study on evergreen broad-leaved forests and trees of the Canary Islands and Japan. Chiba: Chiba University Publications, 297–315.</ref><ref>Denk T, Frotzler N, Davitashvili N. 2001. "Vegetational patterns and distribution of relict taxa in humid temperate forests and wetlands of Georgia Transcaucasia". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 72: 287–332.</ref> Over 70 species of forest snails of the region are endemic.<ref>Pokryszko B, Cameron R, Mumladze L, Tarkhnishvili D. 2011. "Forest snail faunas from Georgian Transcaucasia: patterns of diversity in a Pleistocene refugium". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 102: 239–250</ref> 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.<ref name=tgm /> 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 (Rus. Kavkazskaya Ovcharka, Geo. Nagazi). Vincent Evans noted that Minke Whales have been recorded from the Black Sea.<ref>The Status of Cetaceans in the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea</ref><ref>Şablon:Cite book</ref><ref name=GreekCetacea>Şablon:Cite journal</ref>
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).
2014 Winter Olympics venue, Sochi, Russia.
Krasnaya Polyana — a popular center of mountain skiing and a snowboard, reputed most "respectable" in Russia.
2015 European Games venue. The first in the history of the European Games to be held in Azerbaijan.
- Khanates of the Caucasus
- Culture of Armenia
- Culture of Azerbaijan
- Culture of Georgia (country)
- Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations
- Eastern Europe
- Eurasian Economic Union
- Islam in Russia
- Transcontinental nations
- Caucasus: A Journey to the Land Between Christianity and Islam, by Nicholas Griffin
- Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus, by Svante E. Cornell
- The Caucasus, by Ivan Golovin
- Şablon:Cite book
- Şablon:Cite book
- Şablon:Cite book
- 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: November 18, 2011.
- Rostislav A. Fadeev. Sixty years of the Caucasian War (Шестьдесят лет Кавказской войны). Tiflis, 1860, at Runivers.ru in DjVu format.
- Kaziev Shapi. Caucasian highlanders (Повседневная жизнь горцев Cеверного 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. ISBN 5-235-02585-7
- 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 Caucasus
- United Nations Environment Programme map: Population density of the Caucasus
- Food Security in Caucasus (FAO)
- Caucasus and Iran entry in Encyclopædia Iranica
- University of Turin-Observatory on Caucasus
- Circassians Caucasus Web (Turkish)
- Georgian Biodiversity Database (checklists for ca. 11,000 plant and animal species)