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Ethno-Linguistic groups in the Caucasus region 2009
The village of Tindi, in Dagestan, in the late 1890s.
The photograph was taken by M. de Déchy

This article deals with the various ethnic groups inhabiting the Caucasus region. There are more than50 ethnic groups living in the region.

Peoples speaking Caucasian languages

Peoples of Caucasus that speak languages that belong to the Caucasian language family are divided into two groups — North Caucasian and South Caucasian:

The largest peoples of the Caucasian language family in Caucasia are Azerbaijanis (8,700,000), Chechens (800,000), Kabardins (600,000) and Avars (500,000); however, the largest people of Caucassian language in diaspora in more than 40 countries (such as Jordanmarker, Turkeymarker, the countries of Europe, Syriamarker, United Statesmarker) - outside Caucasia - are the Circassians with about 3,000,000-4,000,000 speakers.Georgians are the only Caucasian people that have their own independent state — Georgiamarker. Abkhazia was only recognized by Russian Federation, Hamas, Venezuela and the President of Nicaragua, while Democratic states support territorial integrity of Georgia. Other Caucasian peoples possess their republics within the Russian Federationmarker: Adyghe (Adygeamarker), Cherkess (Karachay-Cherkessiamarker), Kabardins (Kabardino-Balkaria), Ingush (Ingushetiamarker), Chechens (Chechnyamarker), while Northeast Caucasian peoples mostly live in Dagestanmarker.

Image:Traditional dress, mtshketoba.jpg|Georgians in their traditional costumes called chokhaImage:TL019520.jpg|Georgian prima ballerina Nino AnaniashviliImage:Pyotr Bagration portrait.jpg | Pyotr Bagration, a famous RussianGeorgian generalImage:Georgischer Priester.jpg|Georgian orthodox priest in Mtskheta, GeorgiaImage:Circassian Warrior.jpg | Circassian warriorImage:Lakian girl 1883.jpg | Lak girl (1883 photograph)Image:Prokudin-Gorskii-44.jpg | Dagestanimarker couple in traditional dress (circa 1907 to 1915)Image:Chechenchildren.jpg|Chechen children in Pankisi

Peoples speaking Altaic languages

Peoples of Caucasus that speak languages that belong to the Altaic language family:

The largest of the Altaic-speaking peoples on Caucasus are Azerbaijani (8,700,000), who live primarily in Iranmarker and Azerbaijanmarker, but also in Georgiamarker, Dagestanmarker and Armeniamarker (before 1991). Other Altaic-speakers live in their autonomous republics within Russian Federationmarker: Karachays (Karachay-Cherkessiamarker), Balkars (Kabardino-Balkaria), Kalmyks (Kalmykiamarker), while Kumyks and Nogais live in Dagestanmarker.

Image:Azeri 7.jpg | Performing Azeri musicians.Image:1403-84.jpg | An Azeri woman from Bakumarker (19th century).Image:Gfdfgd.jpg | Karachay patriarchs in the 19th century.Image:Kalmyk Brides and Grooms.jpg | Kalmyks.Image:Az girl karabakh.jpg | Late nineteenth to early twentieth-century Azeri girl from Shushamarker.Image:132 610 taghiyev.jpg | Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev, a leading Azeri industrialist and philanthropist.Image:Sattar Khan.jpg | Sattar Khan was a major Azeri revolutionary figure in Iran.Image:Emin bey.jpg | Mammed Amin Rasulzade was a Azeri politician and founding father of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.

Peoples speaking Indo-European languages

Peoples of Caucasus that speak languages that belong to the Indo-European language family:

Armenians number 3,215,800 in their native Armeniamarker, though approximately 8 million live outside the republic, forming the Armenian diaspora. Elsewhere in the region, they reside in Nagorno-Karabakh (which is de facto independent, but de jure is part of Azerbaijan), Georgiamarker (primarily Samtskhe-Javakhetimarker, Adjara, and Abkhaziamarker), and the Russian North Caucasus. The Ossetians live in North Ossetia-Alaniamarker (autonomous republic within Russia) and in South Ossetiamarker, which is de facto independent, but de jure is part of Georgia. The Yazidi Kurds reside in the western areas of Armeniamarker, mostly in the Aragatsotnmarker marz. An autonomous Kurdish region was created in 1923 in Soviet Azerbaijan but was later abolished in 1929. Pontic Greeks reside in Armenia (Lori Provincemarker, especially in Alaverdimarker) and Georgia (Kvemo Kartlimarker, Adjara, and Abkhazia). Russians mostly live in the Russian North Caucasus and their largest concentration is in Stavropol Krai, Krasnodar Krai, and in Adygeamarker.

Image:Yeprem khan.jpg|Yeprem Khan, an Armenian leader during Iran's Constitutional movement.Image:Armenian girl.jpg | Molokan girlsImage:Armenian Musicians.jpg | Armenian folk musiciansImage:Armenian children.jpg | Armenian children at the UN Cup Chess Tournament in 2005Image:Armenian-clergyman.jpg | An Armenian Apostolic clergymanImage:Cosacos de Terek.jpg| Modern Terek CossacksImage:CAEIPDS0.jpg |Yazidi KurdsImage:Ossetian girl 1883.jpg | Ossetian girl (1883 photograph)

Connection to Caucasian race

The indigenous peoples of Caucasus and the region's geographic location — being on the border of Europe and Mideast — lent their name directly to the designation of the white race as "Caucasian".
The term "Caucasian" originated as one of the racial categories developed in the 19th century by people studying craniology. It was derived from the region of the Caucasus mountains.The 18th century German philosopher Christoph Meiners first named the concept of the Caucasian race, but the term was more widely popularized in the 19th century under the name "Varietas Caucasia" by the German scientist and naturalist, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840) who "borrowed the name Caucasian" from Meiners. Blumenbach based the classification of the Caucasian race primarily on skull features, which Blumenbach claimed were optimized by the Caucasian peoples, particularly a single skull from the Caucasia which resembled German skulls. It was from this similarity that he conjectured Europeans having arisen in the Caucasia. Blumenbach wrote about the "primeval" Caucasian race which he believed was "the oldest race of man" and the "first variety of humankind".

Caucasian variety — I have taken the name of this variety from Mount Caucasus, both because its neighborhood, and especially its southern slope, produces the most beautiful race of men, I mean the Georgian; and because all physiological reasons converge to this, that in that region, if anywhere, it seems we ought with the greatest probability to place the autochthones (birth place) of mankind

In 1915, French diplomat and man of letters Arthur de Gobineau popularized ideas about race: "I must say, once and for all, that I understand by white men the members of those races which are also called Caucasian… [these] white races… had their first settlement in the Caucasus."

The Caucasus was historically an area of fascination for Europeans. Myths of the Caucasus featured Prometheus and Jason and the Argonauts. Greek mythology considered women from the Caucasus to have magical powers., such as Medea of Jason and the Argonauts fame. In Greek mythology, this area was thought of as a kind of hell since Zeus imprisoned many Titans who opposed him (e.g. Prometheus) there. In this sense, these Titans were banished outside the civilized world to an area inhabited by Colchians.


  • Mile Nedeljković, Leksikon naroda sveta, Belgrademarker, 2001.


  1. Caucasian peoples, Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. Radio Netherlands Worldwide retrieved 02.10.2009/
  3. NiqnaQ hamas recognises south ossetia and abkhazia Retrieved 01.10.2009
  4. Euronews Chavez recognises Abkhazia and South Ossetia 10/09/09 19:09 CET
  5. NY Times Nicaragua recognizes independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia Retrieved: 01.10.2009
  6. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, University of Pennsylvania
  7. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, The anthropological treatises of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, translated by Thomas Bendyshe. 1865. November 2, 2006. [1]
  8. Gossett, Thomas F. New Edition Race The History of an Idea in America, New York:Oxford University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-19-509778-5 p. 38
  9. Blumenbach, De generis humani varietate nativa (3rd ed. 1795), trans. Bendyshe (1865). Quoted e.g. in Arthur Keith, Blumenbach's Centenary, Man, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (1940).
  10. Caucasus, Historical Notes [2]
  11. Painter, Nell Irvin. Yale University. "Why White People are Called Caucasian?" 2003. September 27, 2007. [3]
  12. (Ovid, Metamorphoses V 830-845)

See also

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