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The Pontic-Caspian steppe is the vast steppeland stretching from the north of the Black Seamarker (called Pontus Euxinus in antiquity) as far as the east of the Caspian Seamarker, from western Ukrainemarker across the Southern Federal District and the Volga Federal District of Russiamarker to western Kazakhstanmarker, forming part of the larger Eurasian steppe, adjacent to the Kazakh steppe to the east. The area corresponds to Scythia and Sarmatia of Classical antiquity. Across several millennia the steppe was used by numerous tribes of nomadic horsemen, many of which went on to conquer lands in the settled regions of Europe and in western and southern Asia. It was finally brought under the control of a sedentary people by the Russian Empiremarker in the 16th to 18th centuries.

The term Ponto-Caspian region is used in biogeography for plants and animals of these steppes, and animals from the Black, Caspian and Azovmarker seas. Genetic research has identified this region as the most probable place where horses were first domesticated.

Geography and ecology

The Pontic steppe covers an area of , extending from eastern Romaniamarker across southern Moldovamarker, Ukrainemarker, Russiamarker and northwestern Kazakhstanmarker to the Ural Mountainsmarker. The Pontic steppe is bounded by the East European forest steppe to the north, a transitional zone of mixed grasslands and temperate broadleaf and mixed forests. To the south, the Pontic steppe extends to the Black Sea, excepting the Crimeanmarker and western Caucasus mountains' border with the sea, where the Crimean Submediterranean forest complex defines the southern edge of the steppes. The steppe extends to the western shore of the Caspian Sea in the Dagestanmarker region of Russia, but the drier Caspian lowland desert lies between the Pontic steppe and the northwestern and northern shores of the Caspian. The Kazakh Steppe bounds the Pontic steppe on the southeast.

The Ponto-Caspian seas are the remains of the Turgai Sea, an extension of the Paratethys which extended south and east of the Urals and covering much of today's West Siberian Plain in the Mesozoic and Cenozoic.

Prehistoric cultures

Historical peoples and nations

Much of the steppe has excellent soil and it is a major grain-producing region.

See also

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