🤩 Discover new information from across the web

Caucasus

Region in Eurasia bordered on the south by Iran, on the southwest by Turkey, on the west by the Black Sea, on the east by the Caspian Sea, and on the north by Russia

Top 10 Caucasus related articles

Coordinates: 42°15′40″N 44°07′16″E / 42.26111°N 44.12111°E / 42.26111; 44.12111

Caucasus
Topography of the Caucasus
Countries[1][2]
Related areas
Partially recognized or unrecognized countries
Autonomous republics and federal regions
DemonymCaucasian
Time ZonesUTC+02:00, UTC+03:00, UTC+03:30, UTC+04:00, UTC+04:30
Highest mountainElbrus (5,642 m)

The Caucasus (/ˈkɔːkəsəs/), or Caucasia[3][4] (/kɔːˈkʒə/), is a region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and mainly occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia. It is home to the Caucasus Mountains, including the Greater Caucasus mountain range, which has historically been considered a natural barrier between Eastern Europe and Western Asia.[5]

Europe's highest mountain, Mount Elbrus, at 5,642 metres (18,510 ft) is in the west part of the Greater Caucasus mountain range.[6] On the southern side, the Lesser Caucasus includes the Javakheti Plateau and grows into the Armenian highlands, part of which is located in Turkey.[7]

The Caucasus region is separated into two parts, which fall into two continents, the North Caucasus of Russia (Ciscaucasia) in Europe, and the South Caucasus (Transcaucasia) in Asia, respectively. The Greater Caucasus mountain range in the north is mostly shared by 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 and the unrecognised Artsakh Republic.

The region is known for its linguistic diversity:[8] aside from Indo-European and Turkic languages, the Kartvelian, Northwest Caucasian, and Northeast Caucasian language families are indigenous to the area.

Caucasus Intro articles: 42

Origin of the name

The term Caucasus is derived from Caucas (Georgian: კავკასოსი Kawḳasosi) the son of the Biblical Togarmah and legendary forefather of Nakh peoples. According to Leonti Mroveli, the 11th-century Georgian chronicler, the word Caucasian is derived from the Vainakh ancestor Kavkas.[9] "The Vainakhs are the ancient natives of the Caucasus. It is noteworthy, that according to the genealogical table drawn up by Leonti Mroveli, the legendary forefather of the Vainakhs was "Kavkas", hence the name Kavkasians, one of the ethnicons met in the ancient Georgian written sources, signifying the ancestors of the Chechens and Ingush. As appears from the above, the Vainakhs, at least by name, are presented as the most "Caucasian" people of all the Caucasians (Caucasus - Kavkas - Kavkasians) in the Georgian historical tradition."[10][11]

Caucasus Origin of the name articles: 7

Toponymy

The term Caucasus is not only used for the mountains themselves but also includes Ciscaucasia (which is part of the Russian Federation) and Transcaucasia.[12] According to Alexander Mikaberidze, Transcaucasia is a "Russo-centric" term.[13]

Pliny the Elder's Natural History (77–79 AD) derives the name of the Caucasus from Scythian kroy-khasis ("ice-shining, white with snow").[14] German linguist Paul Kretschmer notes that the Latvian word Kruvesis also means "ice".[15][16]

In the Tale of Past Years (1113 AD), it is stated that Old East Slavic Кавкасийскыѣ горы (Kavkasijskyě gory) came from Ancient Greek Καύκασος (Kaúkasos; later Greek pronunciation Káfkasos)),[17] 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).[18]

According to German philologists Otto Schrader and Alfons A. Nehring, the Ancient Greek word Καύκασος (Kaukasos) is connected to Gothic Hauhs ("high") as well as Lithuanian Kaũkas ("hillock") and Kaukarà ("hill, top").[17][19] British linguist Adrian Room points out that Kau- also means "mountain" in Pelasgian.[20]

The Transcaucasus region and Dagestan were the furthest points of Parthian and later Sasanian expansions, with areas to the north of the Greater Caucasus range practically impregnable. The mythological Mount Qaf, 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, the apparent homeland of the Iranians of Zoroaster. In Middle Persian sources of the Sasanian era, the Caucasus range was referred to as Kaf Kof.[21] The term resurfaced in Iranian tradition later on in a variant form when Ferdowsi, in his Shahnameh, referred to the Caucasus mountains as Kōh-i Kāf.[21] "Most of the modern names of the Caucasus originate from the Greek Kaukasos (Lat., Caucasus) and the Middle Persian Kaf Kof".[21]

"The earliest etymon" of the name Caucasus comes from Kaz-kaz, the Hittite designation of the "inhabitants of the southern coast of the Black Sea".[21]

It was also noted that in Nakh Ков гас (Kov gas) means "gateway to steppe".[22]

Endonyms and exonyms

The modern name for the region is usually similar in many languages, and is generally between Kavkaz and Kawkaz.

Caucasus Toponymy articles: 51

Political geography

The North Caucasus region is known as the Ciscaucasus, whereas the South Caucasus region is commonly known as the Transcaucasus.

Map of the Caucasus in 2021

The Ciscaucasus contains most of the Greater Caucasus mountain range. It consists of Southern Russia, mainly the North Caucasian Federal District's autonomous republics, and the northernmost parts of Georgia and Azerbaijan. The Ciscaucasus lies between the Black Sea to its west, the Caspian Sea to its east, and borders the Southern Federal District to its north. The two Federal Districts are collectively referred to as "Southern Russia".

The 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 Armenia, 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 Europe and Southwest Asia. The highest peak in the Caucasus is Mount Elbrus (5,642 meters) located in western Ciscaucasus, and is 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 and Abkhazia), Azerbaijan (including Nakhchivan), Armenia, and the Russian Federation. The Russian divisions include Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia–Alania, Kabardino–Balkaria, Karachay–Cherkessia, Adygea, Krasnodar Krai and Stavropol Krai, in clockwise order.

Three territories in the region claim independence but are recognized as such by only a handful of entities: Artsakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Abkhazia and South Ossetia are largely recognized by the world community as part of Georgia,[23][24] and Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan.

General statistics of South Caucasian states

Armenia Azerbaijan Georgia Total
Coat of arms N/A
Flag N/A
Capital Yerevan Baku Tbilisi N/A
Independence N/A
Political system Parliamentary republic Semi-presidential republic Parliamentary republic N/A
Parliament Azgayin Zhoghov Milli Majlis Parlamenti N/A
Current President Armen Sarkissian Ilham Aliyev Salome Zourabichvili N/A
Population (2020) 2,956,900 10,027,874 3,716,858 16,701,632
Area 29,743 km2 (11,484 sq mi) 86,600 km2 (33,400 sq mi) 69,700 km2 (26,900 sq mi) 186,043 km2 (71,832 sq mi)
Density 101.5/km2 (263/sq mi) 115/km2 (300/sq mi) 53.5/km2 (139/sq mi) 90/km2 (230/sq mi)
Water area % 4.71% 1.6% 3.2%
GDP (nominal) total (2019) $13.444 billion $47.171 billion $15.925 billion $76.540 billion
GDP (nominal) per capita (2019) $4,528 $4,689 $4,289 $4,571
Military budget (2020) $634 million $2.267 billion $290 million $3.191 billion
Gini Index 34.4 (2018) 26.60 (2005) 36.4 (2018) N/A
HDI 0.760 (High) 0.754 (High) 0.786 (High) N/A
Internet TLD .am .az .ge N/A
Calling code +374 +994 +995 N/A

Caucasus Political geography articles: 43

Demographics

Population pyramids of the Caucasian countries
Population pyramid of Armenia, 2016
Population pyramid of Georgia, 2016
Population pyramid of Azerbaijan, 2016
Ethno-linguistic groups in the Caucasus region in 2014[25]

The region has many different languages and language families. There are more than 50 ethnic groups living in the region.[26] No fewer than three language families are unique to the area. In addition, Indo-European languages, such as East Slavic, Armenian and Ossetian, and Turkic languages, such as Azerbaijani, Kumyk language and Karachay–Balkar, are spoken in the area. Russian is used as a lingua franca most notably in the North Caucasus.

The peoples of the northern and southern Caucasus mostly are Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Eastern Orthodox Christians or Armenian Christians.

Caucasus Demographics articles: 6

History

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.[27][28] At the beginning of the 19th century, the Russian Empire conquered the territory from Qajar Iran.[27]

Prehistory

Petroglyphs in Gobustan, Azerbaijan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dating back to 10,000 BC

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.

The site yields the earliest unequivocal evidence for the presence of early humans outside the African continent;[29] and the Dmanisi skulls are the five oldest hominins ever found outside Africa.

Antiquity

Kura–Araxes culture 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 (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 Tigranes the Great, the Kingdom of Armenia included 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 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 Lazicum.[30] The next 600 years was marked by a conflict between Rome and Sassanid Empire for the control of the region. In western Georgia the eastern Roman rule lasted until the Middle Ages.[31]

Middle Ages

Kingdom of Georgia at the peak of its might, early 13th century.

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.[32]

In the 10th century, the Alans (proto-Ossetians)[33] 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.

During the Middle Ages Bagratid Armenia, Kingdom of Tashir-Dzoraget, Kingdom of Syunik and Principality of Khachen organized local Armenian population facing multiple threats after the fall of antique Kingdom of Armenia. Caucasian Albania maintained close ties with 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.[34]

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 was conquered by the Ottomans, Mongols, local kingdoms and khanates, as well as, once again, Iran.

Modern period

Circassian strike on a Russian military fort in the Caucasus, 1840

Up to and 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.[35] 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.[36][37]

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.[38][39]

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.[40] During the 1920 Turkish–Armenian War, 60,000 to 98,000 Armenian civilians were estimated to have been killed by the Turkish army.[41]

In the 1940s, around 480,000 Chechens and Ingush, 120,000 KarachayBalkars 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.[42]

Georgian Civil War and the War in Abkhazia in August–October 1993

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 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 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 which is believed to surround the known world. It is the battlefield of Saoshyant and the nest of the Simurgh.

The 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 King Aeëtes of Colchis.

Caucasus History articles: 115