Geography of the Soviet Union:
Caucasus Mountains

Caucasus; source is
Caucasus Mountains in Georgia

The Caucasus Mountains (like the Ural Mountains to the northeast) are usually considered the dividing line between Asia and Europe, with the northern region of the Caucasus in Europe; and the southern (Trans-Caucasus) in Asia--so technically you can consider the mountains themselves as either part of Asia or part of Europe. The region is divided between Russia, Turkey, Iran, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and bounded on the west by the Black Sea and on the east by the Caspian Sea. Three territories in the region claim independence but are not generally recognized: Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia (See below).

The mountains formed over twenty million years when the Arabian tectonic plate collided with the Eurasian plate. I found it interesting that the Caucasus Mountains are technically considered to be a continuation of the Himalayas. The entire Caucasus region is prone to strong earthquakes. The highest peak is Mount Elbrus (18,510 ft.) which is considered the highest point in Europe.

The climate of the Caucasus varies according to elevation and latitude location. For example, average temperature decreases as elevation rises. The same thing with precipitation, which increases with elevation. There is also more precipitation, including snowfall, on the western slopes of the mountains from the influence of the Black Sea.

Mt. Elbrus; source is
Mt. Elbrus, highest point in the Caucasus, is a long-dormant volcano.

Blue Bar

Russians were aware of the Caucasus as early as the reign of Ivan IV in the sixteenth century, but only under Catherine the Great was a calculated move into the region made (under the Viceroy of the Caucasus, Grigorii Potemkin). Shortly thereafter, Georgia (predominantly Christian) requested protection from Muslims to the south, and it was annexed into the Russian Empire in 1801. Since Russia had to maintain communications across the Caucasus Mountains with Georgia, hostilities broke out between the Russians and the mountain peoples of the Caucasus. It took Russia into the 1860s to finally subdue resistance from the guerrillas.

In the last twenty years, there has been a renewed outbreak of hostilities in different regions of the Caucasus. Some background reasons for those hostilities.

These are some of the recent problems.

Caucasus language map; source is