As a divide between Europe and Asia, the Caucasus has two major regions—North Caucasia and Transcaucasia. North Caucasia, in Russia and composed mainly of plain (steppe) areas, begins at the Manych Depression and rises to the south, where it runs into the main mountain range, the Caucasus Mts. This is a series of chains running northwest-southeast, including Mt. Elbrus (18,481 ft/5,633 m), the Dykh-Tau (17,050 ft/5,197 m), the Koshtan-Tau (16,850 ft/5,134 m), and Mt. Kazbek (16,541 ft/5,042 m). The Caucasus Mts. are crossed by several passes, notably the Mamison and the Daryal, and by the Georgian Military Road and the Ossetian Military Road, which connect North Caucasia with the second major section, Transcaucasia. This region includes the southern slopes of the Caucasus Mts. and the depressions that link them with the Armenian plateau. The beauty of the Caucasus is much celebrated in Russian literature, most notably in Pushkin's poem "Captive of the Caucasus," Lermontov's novel A Hero of Our Time, and Tolstoy's novels The Cossacks and Hadji Murad.
North Caucasia, part of Russia, includes the Adygey Republic, Chechnya, the Dagestan Republic, Ingushetia, the Kabardino-Balkar Republic, the Karachay-Cherkess Republic, Krasnodar Territory, North Ossetia-Alania (see Ossetia), Stavropol Territory, and parts of Kalmykia and the Rostov region. Transcaucasia includes Georgia (including Abkhazia, the Adjarian Autonomous Republic, and South Ossetia), Azerbaijan (including the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and Nagorno-Karabakh), and Armenia.
Major cities in the Caucasus are Bakı, Yerevan, Grozny, Vladikavkaz (formerly Ordzhonikidze), Tbilisi, Krasnodar, Novorossiysk, Batumi, Ganja (formerly Kirovabad), and Kumayri (formerly Leninakan).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.