AskDefine | Define Caucasus

Dictionary Definition



1 the mountain range in Caucasia between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea that forms part of the traditional border between Europe and Asia [syn: Caucasus Mountains]
2 a large region between the Black and Caspian seas; oil is its major resource [syn: Caucasia]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈkɔːkəsəs/


From Scythian kroy-khasis, ice-shining, white with snow. Another possibility is the Pelasgian *kau-, mountain.

Proper noun

  1. A mountain range in West Asia, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, on the territory of Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Usage notes

Usually as the Caucasus but not always (see quot. 1887)


  • 1851: the long and rugged ravines of the Caucasus — Lieutenant Maturin Murray, The Circassian Slave, or The Sultan's Favorite, 1851
  • 1887: Driven with that weak blast which Winter leaves / Closing his palace gates on Caucasus — Walter Savage Landor, Gebir, 1887
  • 1895: Germany, Italy, Spain and Belgium writhed in the throes of Anarchy, while Russia, watching from the Caucasus, stooped and bound them one by one. — Robert W. Chambers, The King In Yellow, 1895


geographic region

Extensive Definition

The Caucasus, also referred to as Caucasia, is a geopolitical, mountain-barrier region located between the two continents of Europe and Asia, or Eurasia, with various altitude highlands and lowlands.
The Caucasus comprises Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and part of Southern Russia (including the disputed territories of Abkhazia, Chechnya, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh).

South Caucasus

The South Caucasus, or Transcaucasus, is a region in south-central Eurasia bordered on the north by Russia, on the west by the Black Sea, on the east by the Caspian Sea, on the southwest by Turkey, and on the south by Iran. The south Caucasus includes the Caucasus Mountains and surrounding lowlands. All of Armenia, Azerbaijan (excluding the northern part of Azerbaijan, which are within North Caucasus) and Georgia (excluding northern part of Georgia which are within North Caucasus) are in South Caucasus. See also: South Caucasus

North Caucasus

The North Caucasus, or Ciscaucasus, is a region in north-central Eurasia and contains the larger majority of the Greater Caucasus Mountain range, also once known as the Major Caucasus mountains. Southwestern Russia, northern Georgia and northern Azerbaijan are included as North Caucasus.


The Caucasus Mountains are commonly reckoned as a dividing line between Asia and Europe, and territories in Caucasia are variably considered to be in one or both continents. The northern portion of the Caucasus is known as the Ciscaucasus and the southern portion as the Transcaucasus. The highest peak in the Caucasus is Mount Elbrus (5,642 m) which, in the western Ciscaucasus in Russia, is generally considered the highest point in Europe.
The Caucasus is one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse regions on Earth. The nation-states that compose the Caucasus today are the post-Soviet states Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The Russian divisions include Krasnodar Krai, Stavropol Krai, and the autonomous republics of Adygea, Kalmykia, Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechnya, and Dagestan. Three territories in the region claim independence but are not acknowledged as nation-states by the international community: Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia.
The Caucasus is an area of great ecological importance. It harbors some 6,400 species of higher plants, 1,600 of which are endemic to the region. Its native animals include leopards, brown bears, wolves, European bison, marals and golden eagles. Among invertebrates, some 1,000 spider species are recorded in the Caucasus. The natural landscape is one of mixed forest, with substantial areas of rocky ground above the treeline. The Caucasus Mountains are also famous for a dog breed, the Caucasian Shepherd Dog (Ovcharka).


see History of the Caucasus The Northern Caucasus has been under Scythian influence in antiquity, while the Southern Caucasus (Caucasian Albania, Colchis) was absorbed into the Persian Empire.
In Modern times, both Southern Caucasus and Northern Caucasus was conquered into the Russian Empire in the 18th century (Caucasian Wars).
Following the end of the Soviet Union, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia became independent in 1991. The Caucasus region is subject to various territorial disputes since the collapse of the Soviet Union, leading to the Nagorno-Karabakh War (1988-1994), the Ossetian-Ingush conflict (1989-1991), the War in Abkhazia (1992–1993), the First Chechen War, 1994–1996 and the Second Chechen War (1999–present).


see Caucasian languages
The largest peoples of the Caucasian language family are Georgians (4,600,000), Chechens (800,000), and Avars (500,000). Georgians are the only Caucasian people that have their own independent state - Georgia, while some other of those peoples possess their republics within the Russian Federation: Adyghe (Adygea), Cherkess (Karachay-Cherkessia), Kabardins (Kabardino-Balkaria), Ingush (Ingushetia), Chechens (Chechnya), while Northeast Caucasian peoples mostly live in Dagestan. Abkhazians live in Abkhazia, which is de facto independent, but de jure is autonomous republic within Georgia.
Today the peoples of the Northern and Southern Caucasus tend to be either Orthodox Christians or Sunni Muslims. There is also a very strong historic prescence of Shia Islam in Azerbaijan, to the east of the region.

In mythology

In Greek mythology, the Caucasus or Kaukasos was one of the pillars supporting the world. Prometheus was chained there by Zeus after Prometheus had presented man with the gift of fire.
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 the famed Medea.


  • 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

External links

Caucasus in Azerbaijani: Qafqaz
Caucasus in Bosnian: Kavkaz
Caucasus in Catalan: Caucas
Caucasus in Czech: Kavkaz
Caucasus in Danish: Kaukasus
Caucasus in German: Kaukasus
Caucasus in Estonian: Kaukaasia
Caucasus in Spanish: Cáucaso
Caucasus in Esperanto: Kaŭkazio
Caucasus in Basque: Kaukaso
Caucasus in Persian: قفقاز
Caucasus in French: Caucase
Caucasus in Galician: Cáucaso
Caucasus in Korean: 카프카스
Caucasus in Armenian: Կովկաս
Caucasus in Ido: Kaukazia
Caucasus in Indonesian: Kaukasus
Caucasus in Italian: Caucaso
Caucasus in Hebrew: קווקז
Caucasus in Georgian: კავკასია
Caucasus in Latin: Caucasus
Caucasus in Dutch: Kaukasus
Caucasus in Japanese: カフカース
Caucasus in Norwegian: Kaukasia
Caucasus in Norwegian Nynorsk: Kaukasia
Caucasus in Occitan (post 1500): Caucàs
Caucasus in Polish: Kaukaz (kraina historyczna)
Caucasus in Portuguese: Cáucaso
Caucasus in Romanian: Caucaz
Caucasus in Russian: Кавказ
Caucasus in Slovenian: Kavkaz
Caucasus in Serbian: Кавказ
Caucasus in Finnish: Kaukasia
Caucasus in Swedish: Kaukasien
Caucasus in Tatar: Qawqaz
Caucasus in Turkish: Kafkasya
Caucasus in Ukrainian: Кавказ
Caucasus in Chinese: 高加索
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