Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain of northwestern Iraq, northeastern Syria and southeastern Turkey, in the northern Middle East. After the early Muslim conquests of the mid-7th century, the region has been known by the traditional Arabic name of al-Jazira and the Syriac variant Gāzartā or Gozarto; the Euphrates and Tigris rivers transform Mesopotamia into an island, as they are joined together at the Shatt al-Arab in the Basra Governorate of Iraq, their sources in eastern Turkey are in close proximity. The region extends south from the mountains of Anatolia, east from the hills on the left bank of the Euphrates river, west from the mountains on the right bank of the Tigris river and includes the Sinjar plain, it extends down the Euphrates to Hīt. The Khabur runs for over 400 km across the plain, from Turkey in the north, feeding into the Euphrates; the major settlements are Deir ez-Zor, Raqqa, al-Hasakah, Diyarbakır and Qamishli. The western, Syrian part, is contiguous with the Syrian al-Hasakah Governorate and is described as "Syria's breadbasket".
The eastern, Iraqi part and extends beyond the Iraqi Nineveh Governorate. In the north it includes the Turkish provinces of Şanlıurfa and parts of Diyarbakır Province; this area now has large swaths controlled by Rojava. The name al-Jazira has been used since the 7th century AD by Islamic sources to refer to the northern section of Mesopotamia, which together with the Sawād, made up al-‘arāq; the name means "island", at one time referred to the land between the two rivers, which in Aramaic is Bit Nahren. The name could be restricted to the Sinjar plain coming down from the Sinjar Mountains, or expanded to embrace the entire plateau east of the coastal ranges. In pre-Abbasid times the western and eastern boundaries seem to have fluctuated, sometimes including what is now northern Syria to the west and Adiabene in the east. Al-Jazira is characterised as an outwash or alluvial plain, quite distinct from the Syrian Desert and lower-lying central Mesopotamia; the region has several parts to it. In the northwest is one of the largest salt flats in the world, Sabkhat al-Jabbul.
Further south, extending from Mosul to near Basra is a sandy desert not unlike the Empty Quarter. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries the region has been plagued by drought. Al-Jazirah is important archeologically; this is the area where the earliest signs of agriculture and domestication of animals have been found, thus the starting point leading to civilization and the modern world. Al-Jazirah includes the mountain Karaca Dağ in southern Turkey, where the closest relative to modern wheat still grows wild. At several sites we can see a continuous occupation from a hunter-gathering lifestyle to an economy based on growing wheat and legumes from around 9000 BC. Domestication of goats and sheep followed within a few generations, but didn't become widespread for more than a millennium. Weaving and pottery followed about two thousand years later. From Al-Jazirah the idea of farming along with the domesticated seeds spread first to the rest of the Levant and to North-Africa and eastwards through Mesopotamia all the way to present-day Pakistan.
Earlier archeologists worked on the assumption that agriculture was a prerequisite to a sedentary lifestyle, but excavations in Israel and Lebanon surprised science by showing that a sedentary lifestyle came before agriculture. Further surprises followed in the 1990s with the spectacular finds of the megalithic structures at Göbekli Tepe in south-eastern Turkey; the earliest of these ritual buildings are from before 9000 BC—over five thousand years older than Stonehenge—and thus the absolute oldest known megalithic structures anywhere. As far as we know today no well-established farming societies existed at the time. Farming seemed to be still experimental and only a smallish supplement to continued hunting and gathering. So either were sedentary hunter-gatherers rich enough and many enough to organize and execute such large communal building projects, or well-established agricultural societies existed much further back than hitherto known. After all, Göbekli Tepe lies just 32 km from Karaca Dağ.
The questions raised by Göbekli Tepe have led to intense and creative discussions among archeologists of the Middle East. Excavations at Göbekli Tepe continues, only about 5 percent has been revealed so far. Sumerians are theorized to have evolved from the Samarra culture of northern Mesopotamia. Upper Mesopotamia is the heartland of ancient Assyria, founded circa the 25th century BC. From the late 24th Century BC it was part of the Akkadian Empire, separated into three eras: Old Assyrian Empire, Middle Assyrian Empire, Neo Assyrian Empire; the Uruk period existed from the protohistoric Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age period in Mesopotamia, including a section of the upper region. The region fell to the Assyrians' southern brethren, the Babylonians in 605 BC, from 539 BC it became part of the Achaemenid Empire. From 323 BC, it was ruled by the Greek Seleucid Empire, the Greeks corrupting the name to Syria, which they applied to Aram, it fell to the Parthians and Romans and was renamed Assyria by both.
The area was still known as Asōri
The Khazars were a semi-nomadic Turkic people with a confederation of Turkic-speaking tribes that in the late 6th century CE established a major commercial empire covering the southeastern section of modern European Russia. The Khazars created what for its duration was the most powerful polity to emerge from the break-up of the Western Turkic Khaganate. Astride a major artery of commerce between Eastern Europe and Southwestern Asia, Khazaria became one of the foremost trading emporia of the medieval world, commanding the western marches of the Silk Road and playing a key commercial role as a crossroad between China, the Middle East and Kievan Rus'. For some three centuries the Khazars dominated the vast area extending from the Volga-Don steppes to the eastern Crimea and the northern Caucasus. Khazaria long served as a buffer state between the Byzantine Empire and both the nomads of the northern steppes and the Umayyad Caliphate, after serving as Byzantium's proxy against the Sasanian Persian empire.
The alliance was dropped around 900. Byzantium began to encourage the Alans to attack Khazaria and weaken its hold on Crimea and the Caucasus, while seeking to obtain an entente with the rising Rus' power to the north, which it aspired to convert to Christianity. Between 965 and 969, the Kievan Rus' ruler Sviatoslav I of Kiev conquered the capital Atil and destroyed the Khazar state. Determining the origins and nature of the Khazars is bound with theories of their languages, but it is a matter of intricate difficulty since no indigenous records in the Khazar language survive, the state was polyglot and polyethnic; the native religion of the Khazars is thought to have been Tengrism, like that of the North Caucasian Huns and other Turkic peoples. The polyethnic populace of the Khazar Khaganate appears to have been a multiconfessional mosaic of pagan, Jewish and Muslim worshippers; the ruling elite of the Khazars was said by Judah Halevi and Abraham ibn Daud to have converted to Rabbinic Judaism in the 8th century, but the scope of the conversion within the Khazar Khanate remains uncertain.
Proposals of Khazar origins have been made regarding the Bukharan Jews, the Muslim Kumyks, the Cossacks of the Don region, the Turkic-speaking Krymchaks and their Crimean neighbours the Karaites to the Moldavian Csángós, the Mountain Jews and others. In the late 19th century, a theory emerged that the core of today's Ashkenazi Jews descended from a hypothetical Khazarian Jewish diaspora who had migrated westward from modern Russia and Ukraine into modern France and Germany; this theory still finds occasional support. The theory is sometimes associated with anti-Zionism. Gyula Németh, following Zoltán Gombocz, derived Xazar from a hypothetical *Qasar reflecting a Turkic root qaz- being an hypothetical velar variant of Common Turkic kez-. In the fragmentary Tes and Terkhin inscriptions of the Uyğur empire the form'Qasar' is attested, though uncertainty remains whether this represents a personal or tribal name other hypotheses emerged. Louis Bazin derived it from Turkic qas- on the basis of its phonetic similarity to the Uyğur tribal name, Qasar.
András Róna-Tas connects it with the Pahlavi transcription of the Roman title Caesar. D. M. Dunlop tried to link the Chinese term for "Khazars" to one of the tribal names of the Uyğur Toquz Oğuz, namely the Gésà; the objections are that Uyğur Gesa/Qasar was not a tribal name but rather the surname of the chief of the 思结 Sijie tribe of the Toquz Oğuz, that in Middle Chinese the ethnonym "Khazars", always prefaced with the word Tūjué, is transcribed with characters different from those used to render the Qa- in the Uyğur word'Qasar'. After their conversion it is reported that they adopted the Hebrew script, it is that, though speaking a Türkic language, the Khazar chancellery under Judaism corresponded in Hebrew. In Expositio in Matthaeum Evangelistam, Gazari Khazars, are referred to as the Hunnic people living in the lands of Gog and Magog and said to be circumcised and omnem Judaismum observat, observing all the laws of Judaism. While the Khazar language went extinct centuries ago, modern Turkic languages still refer to the Caspian Sea as the "Khazar Sea".
Determining the origins and nature of the Khazars is bound with theories of their languages, but it is a matter of intricate difficulty, since no indigenous records in the Khazar language survive, the state was polyglot and polyethnic. Whereas the royal or ruling elite spoke an eastern variety of Shaz Turkic, the subject tribes appear to have spoken varieties of Lir Turkic, such as Oğuric, a language variously identified with Bulğaric and Hunnish. One method for tracing their origins consists in analysis of the possible etymologies behind the ethnonym "Khazar"; the tribes that were to comprise the Khazar empire were not an ethnic union, but a congeries of steppe nomads and peoples who came to be subordinated, subscribed to a core Turkic leadership. Many Turkic groups, such as the Oğuric peoples, including Šarağurs, Oğurs, Onoğurs, Bulğars who earlier formed part of the Tiĕlè confederation, are attested quite early, having been drive
Diyarbakır is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey and is considered the unofficial capital of Northern Kurdistan.. Situated on the banks of the Tigris River, it is the administrative capital of the Diyarbakır Province, it is the third-largest city in Turkey's Southeastern Anatolia Region, after Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep. It has been a focal point of the conflict between the Turkish state and various Kurdish insurgent groups; the name Diyarbakır is inscribed as Amed on the sheath of a sword from the Assyrian period, the same name was used in other contemporary Syriac and Arabic works. The Romans and Byzantines called the city Amida. Another medieval use of the term as Amit is found in Empire of Trebizond official documents in 1358. Among the Artukid and Akkoyunlu it was known as "Black Amid" for the dark color of its walls, while in the Zafername, or eulogies in praise of military victories, it is called "Black Fortress". In the Book of Dede Korkut and some other Turkish works it appears as Kara Hamid.
Following the Arab conquests in the seventh century, the Arab Bakr tribe settled in this region, which became known as the Diyar Bakr. In 1937, Atatürk visited Diyarbekir and, after expressing uncertainty on the exact etymology of the city, ordered that it be renamed "Diyarbakır", which means "land of copper" in Turkish after the abundant resources of copper around the city; the earliest reference to the city comes from Assyrian records which identify it as being the capital of the Aramean kingdom of Bit-Zamani. In the ninth century BC, the city joined a rebellion against the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III; the city was reduced to being a province of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. From 189 BCE to 384 CE, the region to the east and south of present Diyarbakır came under the rule of the Hellenistic kingdom of Corduene; the Romans colonized the city and named it Amida, after the earlier name Amid. During the Roman rule, the first city walls were constructed in 297; the greater walls were built as per the command of the Roman emperor Constantius II.
The Romans were succeeded by the Muslim Arabs. It was the leader of the Arab Bekr tribe, Bekr Bin Vail, who named the city Diyar Bakr, meaning "the country of Bakr", i.e. Arabs. After a few centuries, Diyarbakır came under the Ottoman Empire and earned the status of the capital of a large province; the city became the base of army troops. Diyarbakır faced turbulence in the 20th century with the onset of World War I; the majority of the city's Assyrian and Armenian population were massacred and deported during the Assyrian Genocide & Armenian Genocide in 1915. In 1925, armed Kurdish groups rose in the Sheikh Said rebellion against the newly established secular government of the Republic of Turkey with the aim to revive the Islamic caliphate and sultanate, but were defeated by Turkish forces; the area around Diyarbakır has been inhabited by humans from the stone age with tools from that period having been discovered in the nearby Hilar cave complex. The pre-pottery neolithic B settlement of Çayönü dates to over 10,000 years ago and its excavated remains are on display at the Diyarbakır Museum.
Another important site is Girikihaciyan Tumulus in Eğil. The first major civilization to establish themselves in the region of what is now Diyarbakır were the Hurrian kingdom of the Mitanni; the city was first mentioned by Assyrian texts as the capital of a Semitic kingdom. It was ruled by a succession of nearly every polity that controlled Upper Mesopotamia, including the Arameans, Urartu, Achaemenid Persians, Medes and Parthians; the Roman Republic gained control of the city in 66 BC, by which stage it was named "Amida". In 359, Shapur II of Persia captured Amida after a siege of 73 days, vividly described by the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus. Syriac Christianity took hold in the region between the 1st and 4th centuries AD amongst the Assyrians of the city; the earliest documented bishop of Amida was Simeon of the Assyrian Church of the East, who took part in the First Council of Nicaea in 325, on behalf of the Assyrians. Maras was at the First Council of Constantinople in 381. In the next century, Saint Acacius of Amida was noted for having sold the church's gold and silver vessels to ransom and assist Persian prisoners of war.
Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II divided the Roman province of Mesopotamia into two, made Amida the capital of Mesopotamia Prima, thereby the metropolitan see for all the province's bishoprics. A 6th-century Notitia Episcopatuum indicates as suffragans of Amida the sees of Martyropolis, Belabitene, Sophene, Kitharis and Zeugma; the Annuario Pontificio adds Dadima. The names of several of the successors of Acacius are known; the last whose orthodoxy is certain is Cyriacus, a participant in the Second Council of Constantinople. Many bishops of the Byzantine Empire fled in the face of the Persian invasion of the early 7th century, with a resultant spread of the Jacobite Church, Michael the Syrian gives a list of Jacobite bishops of Amida down to the 13th century. At some stage, Amida became; the bishops who held the see in 1650 and 1681 were in communion with the Holy See, in 1727 Peter
Anatolia known as Asia Minor, Asian Turkey, the Anatolian peninsula or the Anatolian plateau, is the westernmost protrusion of Asia, which makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region is bounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Armenian Highlands to the east and the Aegean Sea to the west; the Sea of Marmara forms a connection between the Black and Aegean Seas through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits and separates Anatolia from Thrace on the European mainland. The eastern border of Anatolia is traditionally held to be a line between the Gulf of Alexandretta and the Black Sea, bounded by the Armenian Highland to the east and Mesopotamia to the southeast. Thus, traditionally Anatolia is the territory that comprises the western two-thirds of the Asian part of Turkey. Nowadays, Anatolia is often considered to be synonymous with Asian Turkey, which comprises the entire country. By some definitions, the area called the Armenian highlands lies beyond the boundary of the Anatolian plateau.
The official name of this inland region is the Eastern Anatolia Region. The ancient inhabitants of Anatolia spoke the now-extinct Anatolian languages, which were replaced by the Greek language starting from classical antiquity and during the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods. Major Anatolian languages included Hittite and Lydian among other more poorly attested relatives; the Turkification of Anatolia began under the Seljuk Empire in the late 11th century and continued under the Ottoman Empire between the late 13th and early 20th centuries. However, various non-Turkic languages continue to be spoken by minorities in Anatolia today, including Kurdish, Neo-Aramaic, Arabic, Laz and Greek. Other ancient peoples in the region included Galatians, Assyrians, Cimmerians, as well as Ionian and Aeolian Greeks. Traditionally, Anatolia is considered to extend in the east to an indefinite line running from the Gulf of Alexandretta to the Black Sea, coterminous with the Anatolian Plateau; this traditional geographical definition is used, for example, in the latest edition of Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary, Under this definition, Anatolia is bounded to the east by the Armenian Highlands, the Euphrates before that river bends to the southeast to enter Mesopotamia.
To the southeast, it is bounded by the ranges that separate it from the Orontes valley in Syria and the Mesopotamian plain. Following the Armenian genocide, Ottoman Armenia was renamed "Eastern Anatolia" by the newly established Turkish government. Vazken Davidian terms the expanded use of "Anatolia" to apply to territory referred to as Armenia an "ahistorical imposition", notes that a growing body of literature is uncomfortable with referring to the Ottoman East as "Eastern Anatolia". Most archeological sources consider the boundary of Anatolia to be Turkey's eastern border; the highest mountains in "Eastern Anatolia" are Mount Ararat. The Euphrates, Araxes and Murat rivers connect the Armenian plateau to the South Caucasus and the Upper Euphrates Valley. Along with the Çoruh, these rivers are the longest in "Eastern Anatolia"; the oldest known reference to Anatolia – as “Land of the Hatti” – appears on Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets from the period of the Akkadian Empire. The first recorded name the Greeks used for the Anatolian peninsula, Ἀσία echoed the name of the Assuwa league in western Anatolia.
As the name "Asia" broadened its scope to apply to other areas east of the Mediterranean, Greeks in Late Antiquity came to use the name Μικρὰ Ἀσία or Asia Minor, meaning "Lesser Asia" to refer to present-day Anatolia. The English-language name Anatolia itself derives from the Greek ἀνατολή meaning “the East” or more “sunrise”; the precise reference of this term has varied over time originally referring to the Aeolian and Dorian colonies on the west coast of Asia Minor. In the Byzantine Empire, the Anatolic Theme was a theme covering the western and central parts of Turkey's present-day Central Anatolia Region; the term "Anatolia" is Medieval Latin. The modern Turkish form of Anatolia, derives from the Greek name Aνατολή; the Russian male name Anatoly and the French Anatole share the same linguistic origin. The term "Anatolia" referred to a northwestern Byzantine province. By the 12th century Europeans had started referring to Anatolia as Turchia, it has also been called "Asia Minor". In earlier times, it was called" Rûm" by the Seljuqs.
During the era of the Ottoman Empire mapmakers outside the Empire referred to the mountainous plateau in eastern Anatolia as Armenia. Other contemporary sources called the same area Kurdistan. Geographers have variously used the terms east Anatolian plateau and Armenian plateau to refer to the region, although the territory encompassed by each term overlaps with the other. According to archaeologist Lori Khatchadourian this difference in terminology "primarily result from the shifting political fortunes and cultural trajectories of the region since the nineteenth century."Turkey's First Geography Congress in 1941 created two regions to the east of the Gulf of Iskenderun-Black Sea line named the Eastern Anatolia Region and the Southeastern Anatolia Region, the former corresponding to the weste
Arabic is a Central Semitic language that first emerged in Iron Age northwestern Arabia and is now the lingua franca of the Arab world. It is named after the Arabs, a term used to describe peoples living in the area bounded by Mesopotamia in the east and the Anti-Lebanon mountains in the west, in northwestern Arabia, in the Sinai Peninsula. Arabic is classified as a macrolanguage comprising 30 modern varieties, including its standard form, Modern Standard Arabic, derived from Classical Arabic; as the modern written language, Modern Standard Arabic is taught in schools and universities, is used to varying degrees in workplaces and the media. The two formal varieties are grouped together as Literary Arabic, the official language of 26 states, the liturgical language of the religion of Islam, since the Quran and Hadith were written in Arabic. Modern Standard Arabic follows the grammatical standards of Classical Arabic, uses much of the same vocabulary. However, it has discarded some grammatical constructions and vocabulary that no longer have any counterpart in the spoken varieties, has adopted certain new constructions and vocabulary from the spoken varieties.
Much of the new vocabulary is used to denote concepts that have arisen in the post-classical era in modern times. Due to its grounding in Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic is removed over a millennium from everyday speech, construed as a multitude of dialects of this language; these dialects and Modern Standard Arabic are described by some scholars as not mutually comprehensible. The former are acquired in families, while the latter is taught in formal education settings. However, there have been studies reporting some degree of comprehension of stories told in the standard variety among preschool-aged children; the relation between Modern Standard Arabic and these dialects is sometimes compared to that of Latin and vernaculars in medieval and early modern Europe. This view though does not take into account the widespread use of Modern Standard Arabic as a medium of audiovisual communication in today's mass media—a function Latin has never performed. During the Middle Ages, Literary Arabic was a major vehicle of culture in Europe in science and philosophy.
As a result, many European languages have borrowed many words from it. Arabic influence in vocabulary, is seen in European languages Spanish and to a lesser extent Portuguese, Catalan, owing to both the proximity of Christian European and Muslim Arab civilizations and 800 years of Arabic culture and language in the Iberian Peninsula, referred to in Arabic as al-Andalus. Sicilian has about 500 Arabic words as result of Sicily being progressively conquered by Arabs from North Africa, from the mid-9th to mid-10th centuries. Many of these words relate to related activities; the Balkan languages, including Greek and Bulgarian, have acquired a significant number of Arabic words through contact with Ottoman Turkish. Arabic has influenced many languages around the globe throughout its history; some of the most influenced languages are Persian, Spanish, Kashmiri, Bosnian, Bengali, Malay, Indonesian, Punjabi, Assamese, Sindhi and Hausa, some languages in parts of Africa. Conversely, Arabic has borrowed words from other languages, including Greek and Persian in medieval times, contemporary European languages such as English and French in modern times.
Classical Arabic is the liturgical language of 1.8 billion Muslims, Modern Standard Arabic is one of six official languages of the United Nations. All varieties of Arabic combined are spoken by as many as 422 million speakers in the Arab world, making it the fifth most spoken language in the world. Arabic is written with the Arabic alphabet, an abjad script and is written from right to left, although the spoken varieties are sometimes written in ASCII Latin from left to right with no standardized orthography. Arabic is a Central Semitic language related to the Northwest Semitic languages, the Ancient South Arabian languages, various other Semitic languages of Arabia such as Dadanitic; the Semitic languages changed a great deal between Proto-Semitic and the establishment of the Central Semitic languages in grammar. Innovations of the Central Semitic languages—all maintained in Arabic—include: The conversion of the suffix-conjugated stative formation into a past tense; the conversion of the prefix-conjugated preterite-tense formation into a present tense.
The elimination of other prefix-conjugated mood/aspect forms in favor of new moods formed by endings attached to the prefix-conjugation forms. The development of an internal passive. There are several features which Classical Arabic, the modern Arabic varieties, as well as the Safaitic and Hismaic inscriptions share which are unattested in any other Central Semitic language variety, including the Dadanitic and Taymanitic languages of the northern Hejaz; these features are evidence of common descent from Proto-Arabic. The following features can be reconstructed with confidence for Proto-Arabic: negative particles m *mā.
The Caucasus or Caucasia is an area situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and occupied by Russia, Georgia and Armenia. It is home to the Caucasus Mountains, including the Greater Caucasus mountain range, considered a natural barrier between Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Europe's highest mountain, Mount Elbrus, at 5,642 metres is located in the west part of the Greater Caucasus mountain range. On the southern side, the Lesser Caucasus includes the Javakheti Plateau and grows into the Armenian highlands, part of, located in Turkey; the Caucasus region is separated into northern and southern parts – the North Caucasus and Transcaucasus, respectively. The Greater Caucasus mountain range in the north is within the Russian Federation, while the Lesser Caucasus mountain range in the south is occupied by several independent states, namely Georgia, Armenia and the recognised Artsakh Republic; the region is known for its linguistic diversity: aside from Indo-European and Turkic languages, the Kartvelian, Northwest Caucasian, Northeast Caucasian families are indigenous to the area.
The term Caucasus is not only used for the mountains themselves but includes Ciscaucasia and Transcaucasia. According to Alexander Mikaberidze, Transcaucasia is a "Russo-centric" term. Pliny the Elder's Natural History derives the name of the Caucasus from Scythian kroy-khasis. German linguist Paul Kretschmer notes that the Latvian word Kruvesis means "ice". In the Tale of Past Years, it is stated that Old East Slavic Кавкасийскыѣ горы came from Ancient Greek Καύκασος ), according to M. A. Yuyukin, is a compound word that can be interpreted as the "Seagull's Mountain" According to German philologists Otto Schrader and Alfons A. Nehring, the Ancient Greek word Καύκασος is connected to Gothic Hauhs as well as Lithuanian Kaũkas and Kaukarà. British linguist Adrian Room points out that Kau- means "mountain" in Pelasgian; the Transcaucasus region and Dagestan were the furthest points of Parthian and Sasanian expansions, with areas to the north of the Greater Caucasus range impregnable. The mythological Mount Qaf, the world's highest mountain that ancient Iranian lore shrouded in mystery, was said to be situated in this region.
In Middle Persian sources of the Sasanian era, the Caucasus range was referred to as Kaf Kof. The term resurfaced in Iranian tradition on in a variant form when Ferdowsi, in his Shahnameh, referred to the Caucasus mountains as Kōh-i Kāf. "Most of the modern names of the Caucasus originate from the Greek Kaukasos and the Middle Persian Kaf Kof"."The earliest etymon" of the name Caucasus comes from Kaz-kaz, the Hittite designation of the "inhabitants of the southern coast of the Black Sea". It was noted that in Nakh Ков гас means "gateway to steppe" The modern name for the region is similar in the many languages, is between Kavkaz and Kawkaz; the North Caucasus region is known as the Ciscaucasus, whereas the South Caucasus region is known as the Transcaucasus. The Ciscaucasus contains most of the Greater Caucasus mountain range, it consists of Southern Russia the North Caucasian Federal District's autonomous republics, the northernmost parts of Georgia and Azerbaijan. The Ciscaucasus lies between the Black Sea to its west, the Caspian Sea to its east, borders the Southern Federal District to its north.
The two Federal Districts are collectively referred to as "Southern Russia." The Transcaucasus borders the Greater Caucasus range and Southern Russia to its north, the Black Sea and Turkey to its west, the Caspian Sea to its east, Iran to its south. It contains surrounding lowlands. All of Armenia and Georgia are in the South Caucasus; the watershed along the Greater Caucasus range is perceived to be the dividing line between Europe and Southwest Asia. The highest peak in the Caucasus is Mount Elbrus located in western Ciscaucasus, is considered as the highest point in Europe; the Caucasus is one of the culturally diverse regions on Earth. The nation states that comprise the Caucasus today are the post-Soviet states Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation; the Russian divisions include Dagestan, Ingushetia, North Ossetia–Alania, Kabardino–Balkaria, Karachay–Cherkessia, Krasnodar Krai and Stavropol Krai, in clockwise order. Three territories in the region claim independence but are recognized as such by only a handful entities: Artsakh and South Ossetia.
Abkhazia and South Ossetia are recognized by the world community as part of Georgia, Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan. The region has language families. There are more than 50 ethnic groups living in the region. No fewer than three language families are unique to the area. In addition, Indo-European languages, such as Armenian and Ossetian, Turkic languages, such as Azerbaijani, Kumyk language and Karachay–Balkar, are spoken in the area. Russian is used as a lingua franca most notably in the North Caucasus; the peoples of the northern and southern Caucasus tend to be either Sunni Muslims, Eastern Orthodox Christians and Armenian Christians. Twelver Shi'