Coat of arms of the Russian Federation


The highest peak: Elbrus
Height of the top: 5642 m

Caucasus Mountains - a mountain system between Black, The Azov и The Caspian Sea. It is divided into two mountain systems: the Great Caucasus and the Lesser Caucasus. The Caucasus is often divided into the North Caucasus and Transcaucasia, the border between which is held along the Main, or Watershed, ridge of the Greater Caucasus, which occupies a central position in the mountain system. The Greater Caucasus extends more than 1100 km from the north-west to the southeast, from the Anapa and Taman peninsula to the Absheron Peninsula on the Caspian coast, close to Baku. Maximum width of the Great Caucasus reaches in the region of the Elbrus meridian (up to 180 km). In the axial part is the Main Caucasian (or Watershed) Range, to the north of which a number of parallel ranges (mountain chains), including a monoclinic (cuestaic) character (see the Greater Caucasus) extend. The southern slope of the Greater Caucasus is mostly composed of the kulis ridges adjacent to the Main Caucasian Range. Traditionally, the Greater Caucasus is divided into 3 parts: the Western Caucasus (from the Black Sea to Elbrus), the Central Caucasus (from Elbrus to Kazbek) and the Eastern Caucasus (from Kazbek to the Caspian Sea).


The most famous peaks - Elbrus (5642 m) and Kazbek (5033 m) are covered with eternal snows and glaciers. The Greater Caucasus is a region with a large modern glaciation. The total number of glaciers is about 2 050, the area occupied by them is about 1 400 km2. More than half of the glaciation of the Greater Caucasus is concentrated in the Central Caucasus (50% of the number and 70% of the area of ​​glaciation). The major centers of glaciation are Mount Elbrus and the Bezengi wall (with the Bezengi glacier, 17 km). From the northern foot of the Greater Caucasus to the Kumo-Manych depression, Ciscaucasia extends with vast plains and hills. To the south of the Greater Caucasus are the Colchis and Kura-Araks lowlands, the Inner Kartli Plain and the Alazan-Avtora valley [the Kura depression, within which the Alazan-Avtora valley and the Kura-Araks lowland lie]. In the southeastern Caucasus - Talysh Mountains (high up to 2477 m) with the adjacent Lenkoran Lowland. In the middle and in the west of the southern part of the Caucasus is the Transcaucasian Highlands, which consists of the ridges of the Lesser Caucasus and the Armenian Highlands (Aragats, 4090 m). The small Caucasus connects with the Greater Caucasus Likhsky range, in the west it is separated from it by the Colchis lowland, in the east - by the Kura depression. The length is about 600 km, the height is up to 3724 m. The mountains near Sochi - Achishkho, Aibga, Chigush (Chugush, 3238 m), Pseashkho and others (the resort area Krasnaya Polyana) will host the Winter Olympic Games 2014.


The Caucasus is a folded mountains with some volcanic activity that formed like the Alps in the Tertiary period (about 28,49-23,8 million years ago). The mountains consist, among other things, of granite and gneiss, and contain oil and natural gas fields. Estimated reserves: up to 200 billion barrels. Oil. (For comparison, in Saudi Arabia, the country with the world's largest oil reserve, estimated at 260 billion barrels.) From the geophysical point of view, the Caucasus forms a wide deformation zone, which is part of the belt of collision of continental plates from the Alps to the Himalayas. The architectonics of the region is formed by the movement of the Arabian plate to the north on the Eurasian plate. Pressed by the African plate, it moves every year by about a few centimeters. Therefore, at the end of the 20th century large earthquakes occurred in the Caucasus with an intensity from 6,5 to 7 points, which had catastrophic consequences for the population and the economy in the region. More than 25 thousand people were killed in Spitak in Armenia 7 December 1988, about 20 thousand were injured and approximately 515 thousand were left homeless. The Greater Caucasus is a grand folded mountain region that occurred on the site of the Mesozoic geosyncline due to the Alpine folding. In its core there are Precambrian, Paleozoic and Triassic rocks, which are successively surrounded by Jurassic, Cretaceous, Paleogene and Neogene deposits. In the middle part of the Caucasus, ancient rocks come to the surface.

Geographical location

There is no clear agreement on whether the Caucasus mountains are part of Europe or Asia. Depending on the approach, the highest mountain in Europe is, respectively, either Mount Elbrus (5642 m), or Mont Blanc (4810 m) in the Alps, on the Italian-French border. The Caucasian mountains are in the center of the Eurasian plate between Europe and Asia. The ancient Greeks saw the Bosphorus and the Caucasus Mountains as the border of Europe. Later this opinion was changed several times for political reasons. During the migration and the Middle Ages, the Bosphorus and the Don River were divided into two continents. The border was determined by the Swedish officer and geographer Philip Johann von Stratenberg who proposed a border running through the tops of the Urals, and then down the Embe River to the Caspian coast, before passing through the Kumo-Manych depression, located at 300 km north of the Caucasus Mountains . In 1730, this course was approved by the Russian Tsar, and has since been accepted by many scholars. According to this definition, the mountains are part of Asia and, according to this view, the highest mountain in Europe is Mont Blanc. On the other hand, La Grande Encyclopedie clearly defines the border of Europe and Asia, to the south of both Caucasian ridges. Elbrus and Kazbek are European mountains by this definition.

Fauna and flora

In addition to widespread wild animals, wild boars, chamois, mountain goats, and golden eagles are also found. In addition, wild bears still meet. Extremely rare is the Caucasian leopard (Panthera pardus ciscaucasica), which was rediscovered only in 2003 year. In the historical period there were also Asian lions and Caspian tigers, but soon after the birth of Christ were completely eradicated. The subspecies of the European bison, the Caucasian bison, died out at 1925 year. The last specimen of the Caucasian moose was killed in 1810 year. In the Caucasus, there are a lot of species of invertebrate animals, for example, about 1000 species of spiders have been confirmed theretofore.

In the Caucasus, 6350 species of flowering plants, including 1600 local species. 17 species of mountain plants originated in the Caucasus. Giant Borshevik, which is considered in Europe as a neophyte of predatory species, comes from this region. It was imported into 1890 as an ornamental plant in Europe. The biodiversity of the Caucasus is falling at an alarming rate. Mountain region from the point of view of nature conservation is one of the 25 most vulnerable regions on Earth.


The Caucasus Mountains have a diverse landscape, which mainly varies vertically and depends on the distance from large water bodies. The region contains biomes, ranging from subtropical low-level swamps and glacier forests (Western and Central Caucasus) to high-mountain semi-deserts, steppes and alpine meadows in the south (mainly Armenia and Azerbaijan). On the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus, oak, hornbeam, maple and ash are common at lower altitudes, and birch and pine forests dominate the heights. Some of the lowest areas and slopes are covered with steppes and meadows. On the slopes of the North-Western Greater Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, etc.) also contain spruce and fir forests. In the highland zone (about 2000 meters above sea level) forests prevail. The permafrost (glacier) usually starts at about an altitude of 2800-3000 meters. On the south-eastern slope of the Greater Caucasus, beech, oak, maple, hornbeam and ash are common. Beech forests, as a rule, dominate at high altitudes. In the south-western slope of the Greater Caucasus, oak, beech, chestnut, hornbeam and elm are distributed at lower altitudes, coniferous and mixed forests (spruce, fir and beech) - at high altitudes. The permafrost starts at an altitude of 3000-3500 meters.


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