A Caucasian people largely resident in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan. Along with the closely-related Lezghins the Tabasarans are among the oldest-recorded inhabitants of the Caucasus region, first mentioned in the 5th century. Like most other Dagestanis they abandoned their animist beliefs and adopted Islam in the 8th and 9th centuries, although traditional practices are still wide-spread. The 80,000-strong Tabasaran community remains largely agriculturally based, with activity following the general Dagestani pattern-livestock in the high-lands, cultivation in the few lower areas. Tabasaran is one of Dagestan's nine indigenous languages to have a literary tradition. It has been transcribed in Cyrillic since 1938.
Capital city of Estonia and a major Baltic port, situated on the northern Bay of Tallinn, on the Gulf of Finland. Population: 420,500 (1997 estimate).
In 1219 King Waldemar of Denmark conquered Toompea (Dome Hill), the hill fortress at what is now the centre of Tallinn. Sold to the Teutonic Knights of Germany in 1347, Tallinn prospered as a member of the Hanseatic League as the building of what is now the old town was completed. After two centuries of Swedish rule, Estonia was annexed in 1710 by Russia, which established Tallinn as a naval base for its Baltic fleet. It became a major industrial centre, a railway link to St Petersburg was established, and by 1917 the Tallinn population had increased to 160,000, largely due to the influx of Russian labourers.
Tallinn was the capital of independent Estonia from 1919 until its occupation by the Soviet Union in 1940. During German occupation from 1941 much of the old town architecture was destroyed. Tallinn was the Soviet capital of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic from 1944 until the country regained independence in 1991. Edgar Savisaar has been Mayor of Tallinn since 13 December 2001.