Kabardino-Balkar Republic (kăbˌərdēˈnō-bălkârˈ) [key] or Kabardino-Balkaria, constituent republic (1990 est. pop. 760,000), c.4,800 sq mi (12,400 sq km), SE European Russia, in the northern part of the Caucasus Mts. Nalchik is the capital. The area is a largely unsettled, roadless mountain wilderness. The population—Kabards, Balkars, Russians, and Ukrainians—is concentrated in the narrow gorges of the streams flowing into the Terek River. The Kabards speak a Caucasian language and are Muslims (Sunni); the Balkars speak a Turkic language. Kabards and Balkars make up 57% of the population; Russians make up 30%. Livestock and poultry are raised, and wheat, corn, hemp, and fruit are grown. Much of the republic's industry is related to agricultural processing. Lumbering and mining are also important.
The Kabards were known in the 9th cent. They occupied the land in the foothills of the central Caucasus between the 13th and 15th cent. It is not known when the Balkars settled. They have a mixed Black Bulgar, Alan, and Cuman heritage. The Kabard area became a Muscovite protectorate in 1557. Its annexation by Russia began with the treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji (1774) and was completed in 1827. The area was organized as an region in 1922 and became an autonomous republic in 1936. In 1944 the Balkars, accused of collaborating with the Germans, were deported, and their area, the upper Baksan valley, was ceded to the Georgian SSR. The area was then renamed Kabardinian Autonomous SSR. In 1957, their exile having been ended, the Balkars began to return and the area assumed its old name. Karbardino-Balkar became a full republic in 1991, and was a signatory to the Mar. 31, 1992, treaty that created the Russian Federation (see Russia). In 2005 the violence in nearby Chechnya spilled over into the republic when militants with ties to the Chechen rebels mounted coordinated attacks in Nalchik.