The Caucasus: An Introduction

The Caucasus: An Introduction

The Caucasus: An Introduction

The Caucasus: An Introduction


The Caucasus is one of the most complicated regions in the world: with many different peoples and political units, differing religious allegiances, and frequent conflicts, and where historically major world powers have clashed with each other. Until now there has been no single book for those wishing to learn about this complex region. This book fills the gap, providing a clear, comprehensive introduction to the Caucasus, which is suitable for all readers. It covers the geography; the historical development of the region; economics; politics and government; population; religion and society; culture and traditions; alongside its conflicts and international relations. Written throughout in an accessible style, it requires no prior knowledge of the Caucasus. The book will be invaluable for those researching specific issues, as well as for readers needing a thorough introduction to the region.


Dedicated to my dear friend Kureysh Nalgiyev (23.02.1972–23.09.2005)

In 1999 I became involved with the Caucasus for the first time in my life. It would not only lead to a major change in my career path, it would also inflict a change on my way of thinking and my view of the world. In the following years, several visits to the region and research initiatives followed each other at a great pace. During my trips I experienced both positive moments, such as friendship and the beauty of the culture and the environment, as well as shocking events, such as the brutal assassination of Kureysh Nalgiyev, my guard and more importantly my close friend in Ingushetia.

My biggest disappointment in those initial years was the absence of any book that could give a basic introduction to newcomers to the region in a structured manner. There are definitely many books on the history, conflicts, population and economy of the Caucasus, but none combine and link the fundamental knowledge into a whole without confusing its reader even more. It is my strongest belief that, in order to come up with credible and valuable theories and conceptual frameworks, one should always be able to back this up with data and concrete knowledge of the real situation. Those who are looking for analysis or results of new research will be disappointed, as this is not my aim at all.

Based on my frustration and on the words of one of my lecturers – ‘If there is no such book, then why don’t you just write it yourself?’ – I embarked in early 2001 on a task which for the following eight years would be one of my hobbies and personal challenges.

I hope this book will not just provide factual information, but will help the reader to understand the Caucasus a bit better so that they can experience the same fascination for the region as I do.

Frederik Coene Veurne, 25 January 2009 . . .

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