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Europe > Eastern Europe > Russia > Southern Russia > North Caucasus > Karachay-Cherkessia
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A snowy day at Dombai

Karachay-Cherkessia is a region in the Russian Caucasus bordering Krasnodar Krai to the west, Stavropol Krai to the north, Kabardino-Balkaria to the east, and Georgia to the south.

Cities

  • Cherkessk — this small city is region's capital and largest city, located in the northern lowlands
  • Arkhyz — a small resort town in the southwest surrounded by high peaks, high alpine lakes, and contains an old Alanian church
  • Teberda — a small ski resort town en route to Dombai
  • Ust-Dzheguta — second largest town
  • Zelenchukskaya
  • Karachayevsk
  • Teberda — small town,depedence of Karachayevsk

Other destinations

  • Dombai — the North Caucasus' principal mountain resort

Understand

Bolshoy Zelenchuk River canyon, Zelenchuksky district

Karachay-Cherkessia is named for the Karachay, a Turkic people, and the Cherkess, the group from which "Circassians" get their name.

The region was absorbed by an expanding Russian Empire in the first half of the 19th century. In the 20th, the divide-and-rule tactics of the Stalin era involved weakening resistance by splitting related groups and joining unrelated ones in shared administrative units. As part of this pattern, the Karachay-Cherkessia Autonomous Region was first created in 1922. Several further administrative adjustments and readjustments followed. In 1943 the Karachay people were deported to Central Asia for alleged collaboration with the Nazis. They were allowed back in 1957 and the Karachay-Cherkess autonomous region recreated. Although it has not experienced the levels of violence seen elsewhere in the North Caucasus, the republic lives in the shadow of the troubles which have plagued the region. Russian forces have mounted numerous security operations and reported foiling intended attacks by Islamist militants. Since then, a succession of kleptocratic governments have followed, leaving the precious earnings of it's natural resources into the hands of few people. Today, Karachay-Cherkessia remains poor, especially in Cherkessk, where there has hardly been any economic development in the past few years. Poverty is widespread, and it is more severe than any other region in Russia.

Talk

The Karachay speak Karachay-Balkar, a Turkic language; the Cherkess speak Cherkess, a dialect of Kabardian. Visitors may count their blessings that all are fluent in Russian.

Get in

Get around

See

Itineraries

Do

Eat

Drink

Stay safe

Karachay-Cherkessia is the safest of the republics of the North Caucasus, being most remote from the conflict epicenters. It is still not as safe as the nearby Sochi region in Krasnodar Krai, however; travelers should be vigilant especially against harassment from officials.

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This region travel guide to Karachay-Cherkessia is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!