South Caucasus

South Caucasus


thumb|250px|Administrative_map_of_Caucasus in USSR, 1952-1991.] The South Caucasus is a mountainous, geopolitical area of south-central Eurasia, also referred to as Transcaucasia, or "The Transcaucasus". More specifically, the South Caucasus area spans the southern portion of the Caucasus Mountains and its lowlands, lying between the two continents of Europe and Asia and extending from the southern part of the Greater Caucasus Mountain range of southwestern Russia and going southerly to the Turkish and Armenian borders, travelling between the Black and Caspian Seas. The area includes the southern part of the Greater Caucasus Mountain range, the entire Lesser Caucusus Mountain range, the Colchis Lowlands and Kura-Aras Lowlands, the Talysh Mountains, the Lenkoran Lowlands, and the Javakheti-Armenian Uplands. "The Transcaucasus", or South Caucasus area, is a part of the entire Caucasus geographical region that essentially divides the Eurasian transcontinent into two.

All of Armenia is in Transcaucasia; the majority of Georgia and Azerbaijan, including the exclave of Naxçivan, fall within this area. The countries of the region are producers of oil, manganese ore, tea, citrus fruits, and wine.

In Western languages, the terms "Transcaucasus" and "Transcaucasia" are translations of the Russian "zakavkazie" meaning "the area beyond the Caucasus Mountains", i.e., as seen from the Russian capital (analogous to the Roman terms Transalpine and Transpadania). The region remains one of the most complicated in the post-Soviet area, and comprises three heavily disputed areas – Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, and Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan.


Located on the peripheries of Armenia, Turkey, and Russia, the region has been an arena for political, military, religious, and cultural rivalries and expansionism for centuries. Throughout its history, the Caucasus was usually incorporated into the Iranian world. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Russian Empire conquered the territory from the Qajars. [ [ Thorez, Pierre. "Caucasus." "Encyclopaedia Iranica". June 2, 2007] ]

Ancient kingdoms of the region included Armenia, Albania, and Iberia, among others. These kingdoms were later incorporated into various empires, including Media, Achaemenid Empire, Parthian Empire, and Sassanid Empire. By this time, Zoroastrianism had become the dominant religion of the region; however, the region would go through two other religious transformations. Owing to the rivalry between Persia and Rome, and later Byzantium, the latter would invade the region several times, although never being able to hold it. However, because Armenia had become a Christian entity, Christianity began to overtake Zoroastrianism. With the Islamic conquest of Persia, the region came under the rule of the Arabs and Islam spread throughout the region. The region would later be conquered by the Seljuks, Mongols, local kingdoms and khanates, as well as, once again, Persia, until its conquest by Russia.

The region was unified as a single political entity twice – during the Russian Civil War (Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic) from 9 April 1918 to 26 May 1918, and under the Soviet rule (Transcaucasian SFSR) from 12 March 1922 to 5 December 1936.

The area of Transcaucasia, in particular where modern day Georgia and Armenia are located, is one of the native areas of the wine producing vines "vitis vinifera". Some experts speculate that this may be the birthplace of wine production. [ Hugh Johnson "Vintage: The Story of Wine" pg 15 Simon & Schuster 1989 ] Archeological excavation and carbon dating of grape pips from the area have dated back to 7000-5000BC. [ Ibid. pg 17 ]

See also

* Caucasus
* North Caucasus (Ciscaucasia)
* Ibero-Caucasian languages
* Peoples of the Caucasus


ources and references

* [ Transcaucasia (The Columbia Encyclopedia article)]

External links

* [ Caucasian Review of International Affairs - an academic journal on the South Caucasus]

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