Islam in the North Caucasus

The main Caucasus range, which extends over 600 miles northwestward from the shores of the Caspian to the Black Sea, rises to 18,471 feet in Mount Elbruz in Balkaria. It represents a formidable barrier to travel and transport, especially at its western end, where the first through road along the coast was constructed after World War II. The only practical central route through the mountains is up the valley of the Terek into the Daryal Gorge and over the Jvari Pass from where the Georgian Military Highway leads down the valley of the Aragvi to Tbilisi. The region to the south of the crest of the mountains is termed Transcaucasia and consists today of the three independent republics of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The lands on the northern side of the mountains--the North Caucasus--have continued after the collapse of the Soviet Union to form part of the Russian Republic.


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