Dagestan, the land of the mountains

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We conclude our brief introduction to the Caucasus with the largest Russian province linked to these territories. Dagestan has always been a place that attracts the imagination of many, bewitched by its stories and its incredible mountains.

The land of the mountains

This time we were less imaginative with the choice of the title, simply going to translate the name of this Russian republic. Dagestan comes from the union of the Turkish dağ which means “mountain” and from Persian -stan which means “country”. Precisely to these two populations the country is more than ever linked, passing for a very long time under one empire or another.


The role of these lands will begin to become increasingly important in the Middle Ages, a period in which different faiths will alternate according to the winning populations. First came the Christian Alans, then the Muslim dynasty of the Umayyads, then the Turkish and Jewish Cazars and finally Tamerlane and the Ottomans, with whom the region will become definitively Muslim. Under the Sultanate of Istanbul, in particular, Dagestan will become an integral part of the Islamic world, providing the Sublime Door with some of the fiercest warriors who have ever walked the battlefield.

Anti-Russian resistance

In 1722, however, Tsar Peter the Great began to annex the region to the Russian Empire through the conquest of Derbent. From then on, in 1813, Moscow will take over the country entirely through wars and humiliating agreements with Turkey and Persia. The Dagestans did not give up and organized a strenuous resistance against the imperial forces, forming in 1828 the Imamate of the Caucasus. This small but fearsome state will see in Imam Shamil his most famous and legendary figure, able to resist the Russian advance for a good 25 years, except in the end having to surrender to avoid further unnecessary bloodshed. Very poetic is the fact that he died at the end of his pilgrimage, a wish granted during his exile.

Imam Shamil, legendary leader of the anti-Russian resistance in Chechnya and Dagestan

From then on, the fate of this republic was deeply linked to those of Moscow, although, following the fall of the USSR, there has been a rediscovery of the faith which, as with other related republics, tends to destabilize the region.

3 million inhabitants and 10 ethnic groups

One of the most interesting aspects of the Caucasus region is its ethnic and religious conformation, very rare to find anywhere else on earth. In fact, on these places, many tribes and populations have found refuge and exile from the outside world, cultivating their culture far from external eyes. Because of the geographical conformation, in fact, all this mountain range remains extremely wild and isolated, contributing to the preservation of a vast and varied human heritage.

Avar boy

The most followed faith is undoubtedly Islam, the balance with the Orthodox Church and Judaism, however, has its origins since the dawn of time and is a typical feature of these places. The main ethnic group is that of the Avars, followed by: Dargin, Cumucchi, Lezgini, Laki, Tabarasani, Tati, Azeris, Chechens, Russians and Jews of the Mountains. A land of boundless wealth that expects nothing more than to surprise once again as it has always been done in the past.

Since we are late, the podcast will not be released tomorrow but a book. The podcast is expected to come out on Sunday in both formats anyway. Below we leave you a video of Stefano Tiozzo and his experience in the Caucasus, we found it really interesting. Follow us on our facebook page, Spotify, YouTube,Twitter and Instagram, or on our Telegram channel. Any like, sharing or support is welcome and helps us to dedicate ourselves more and more to our passion: telling the Middle East ..

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