Russia's Periphery: Caucasus (Caucasia)

The Caucasia is situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and mainly occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia. This region spines Europe and Asia. 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.

The Mount Elbrus is located in Russia and rises to 5,642 meters (18,510 ft). It is the Europe's highest mountain and is in the western part of the Greater Caucasus mountain range. On the southern side, the Lesser Caucasus includes the Javakheti Plateau and grows into the Armenian highlands, part of which is located in Turkey.


The Caucasus region is divided into the North Caucasus and South Caucasus, although the Western Caucasus also exists as a distinct geographic space within the North Caucasus. 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 self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh. The region is known for its linguistic diversity: aside from Indo-European and Turkic languages, the Kartvelian, Northwest Caucasian, and Northeast Caucasian language families are indigenous to the area.

Greater Caucasus

The Greater Caucasus  also called as "Caucasus Major", "Big Caucasus" or "Large Caucasus") is the major mountain range of the Caucasus Mountains. The range stretches for about 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) from west-northwest to east-southeast, between the Taman Peninsula of the Black Sea to the Absheron Peninsula of the Caspian Sea: from the Western Caucasus in the vicinity of Sochi on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea and reaching nearly to Baku on the Caspian.

The range is separated into three parts:

Europe - Asia Boundary

The watershed of the Caucasus is also considered by some to be the boundary between Eastern Europe and Western Asia. The European part north of the watershed is known as Ciscaucasia; the Asiatic part to the south as Transcaucasia, which is dominated by the Lesser Caucasus mountain range and whose western portion converges with Eastern Anatolia.

The border of Russia with Georgia and Azerbaijan runs along most of the Caucasus' length. The Georgian Military Road (Darial Gorge) and Trans-Caucasus Highway traverse this mountain range at altitudes of up to 3,000 metres (9,800 ft).

Great Caucasus

The range is separated into three parts:

  • The Western Caucasus, between the Black Sea and Mount Elbrus

  • The Central Caucasus, between Mount Elbrus and Mount Kazbek

  • The Eastern Caucasus, between Mount Kazbek and the Caspian Sea

Transcaucasia = South Caucasian

The South Caucasus, also known as Transcaucasia, is a geographical region on the border of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, straddling the southern Caucasus Mountains. The South Caucasus roughly corresponds to modern ArmeniaGeorgia, and Azerbaijan, which are sometimes collectively known as the Caucasian States. The total area of these countries measures about 186,100 square kilometres (71,850 square miles). The South Caucasus and the North Caucasus together comprise the larger Caucasus geographical region that divides Eurasia.

Western Caucasia

The Western Caucasus is a western region of the Caucasus in Southern Russia, extending from the Black Sea to Mount Elbrus.

North Caucasia = Ciscaucasia

The North Caucasus is the northern part of the Caucasus region between the Sea of Azov and Black Sea on the west and the Caspian Sea on the east, in Russia. Geographically, the Northern Caucasus (territory north of the Greater Caucasus range) includes the Russian republics and krais of the North Caucasus. As part of the Russian Federation, the Northern Caucasus region is included in the North Caucasian and Southern Federal Districts and consists of Krasnodar KraiStavropol Krai, and the constituent republics, approximately from west to east: the Republic of AdygeaKarachay-CherkessiaKabardino-BalkariaNorth Ossetia–AlaniaIngushetiaChechnyaRepublic of Dagestan, and to the north: Kalmykia.