The incredible diversity of the Caucasus

Here is a great map showing the linguistic diversity of the Caucasus region:

CaucasusLayout_rev

Since this is only a map of the languages/ethnic groups, it doesn’t show the different religious groups of the region(mostly Christian and Muslim of various sects). Some ethnic groups are even divided by religion.

The Caucasus has long been a volatile region, similar to the Balkans. Also like the Balkans it is incredibly diverse and is also a frontier region of Europe. Unlike the Balkans, the Caucasus has so many languages that are non-Indo-European and are isolated and unique to the region(kind of like the Basques in Spain). The Caucasus mountains form something of an informal border between Europe and Asia/The Middle East – to the north is Europe, to the south is the Middle East.

Tolstoy’s last novel, Hadji Murat, was about the wars between imperial Russia and the Chechens and other Caucasian peoples. Much more recently, after the fall of the Soviet Union, for nearly two decades there was an almost non-stop war between the Russian Federation and separatists in the semi-autonomous Chechen republic. Though it is no longer a full blown war, there are still occasional skirmishes and attacks in the hilly areas of Chechnya.

The Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin(his real surname was Dzhugashvili) was an ethnic Georgian who was born and raised in Georgia, one of the larger Caucasian ethnic groups. Among his many crimes, he also killed and relocated many Chechens en masse when he lead the Soviet Union.

While we are on the subject of mass murderers, I wonder why anyone would want to name their son after a brutal mass murderer like Timurlane.

I’m glad the cops finally caught one of the guys responsible for that horrific bombing in Boston. It helps to understand the part of the world they are from, to understand their motives, but this in no way exonerates them from responsibility. My heart goes out to all their victims, and the victims’ families.

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3 responses to “The incredible diversity of the Caucasus

  1. I agree that nothing will ever absolve them from the atrocities committed. The more we learn, of the world around us; hopefully the better chance we will have to extend a hand of peace. Thank you for this post. I love maps that compare languages. So very many, no wonder we struggle to communicate. Guess we could all just smile at one another!

  2. Thank you for this. So much of the discussion regarding the Boston bombers has been pure speculation– I learned more about this part of the world from your post than I have from watching the news for weeks. (I guess that’s what I get for relying upon the mainstream media, but it’s been hard not to watch since Marathon Day).

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