“ Where is Dagestan of yours?”, a mountaineer was asked, he was an Andian, a son of wise and witty people who live high up in the mountains and in fertile valleys. “Above and below an eagle’s wing,” the mountaineer answered.
Rasul Gamzatov - a National Poet of Dagestan
Dagestan means the "Mountain Country" in Turkic as 56% of its total territory is covered with mountain ranges and valleys. Mountain peaks covered with snow all year round impress tourists with their magnificent beauty and calm. Green valleys and meadows, sand seashore and world famous Caucasian hospitality contribute to the growing popularity of the region.
We are here on the Map
Dagestan is situated at the junction of two continents. It is like a tree which has taken root in the soil of both Europe and Asia. Today, Dagestan is not only a colorful exotic mountainous country with beautiful valleys, hills, and cliffs. Dagestan is now a republic with full rights in the Russian Federation and it has three treasures.
The first treasure is the Land: mountains and plains.
World Famous Dagestani Miracle – Dune Sary Koum in the Middle of the Pre -Caspian Plain
The first treasure is the land. The stony land of the mountain folk is their most priceless asset. The life was very hard on it. To be able to grow anything on these stones the mountaineer had to carry earth to them all his life in baskets, in “khurdzuni” (a leather bag) in “papakhas” (a fur hat) and even by the handful. “ May your field be crowded with wheat” is the kindest wish the mountaineer can make.
“ May your field dry up and perish!” is the most terrible curse of the mountaineers. “ I swear by my land” is the strongest oath by a mountaineer. Any damage done to the fields or to the land was punished by the biggest fine. But that was in the past. The modern mountain farmer has learnt to cultivate the land according to the rules of agronomy.
The second treasure is the Water: rivers, lakes and the sea
There is a saying: “The hearth is the heart of the home and the spring is the heart of the aul”. Not for nothing does a mountain curse say: “May the horse of the rider who befouls a spring perish”. Many wells have been dug in memory of brave men who died in battles , many springs bear their names.
The third treasure is the people: their skills and achievements.
These treasures are like three priceless feathers in the wings of Dagestan, and three goldsmiths created the country out of them. The sole owners of these treasures are the people: the farmers, the cattle-breeders, the jewelers, the stonemasons, the scientists, the doctors and the poets.
Dagestan is unique due to a great variety of cultures and peoples, too: more than 30 ethnic groups have been living here from time immemorial on a relatively small territory, forming the united community of peoples who have never waged wars against each other. It is not by mere chance that the land of Mountains is otherwise called the "Mountain of Languages".
Geographically Dagestan is situated at the junction of two continents -Europe and Asia. It is the Eastern section of the North Caucasus and occupies the north-eastern slope of the Caucasian Mountains which gradually go down to the wide lowlands in the north and the Caspian Sea in the east.
Situated between the 41-st and the 45-th degrees of northern latitude Dagestan is the southern most part of the Russian Federation. In the north it borders on the Kalmyk Republic, in the west and north-west – on the Chechen Republic and the Stavropol territory. Dagestan’s neighbours in the south are Georgia and Azerbaijan. On the East it is washed by the Caspian Sea.
The Climate is transitive from sea to continental. Winter is soft; average temperature of January-1C. Summer is very warm , dry; average temperature of July +24 C .
Dagestan occupies an area of 50,000 square kilometres. It stretches for some 400 kilometres from north to south and for 200 kilometres from east to west. Despite the small area it occupies, the landscape of the republic is quite varied ranging from magnificent mountains of central and south Dagestan to the wide plains in the north, which include the semi-arid Nogai steppe.
Lowland Dagestan Foothill Dagestan Highland Dagestan Therefore the whole republic can be roughly divided into three main parts: the Lowland Dagestan, the Foothill Dagestan and the Highland Dagestan. Mountains occupy more than half of the territory of the republic.
The highest points are Mount Bazardyuzi on the border with Azerbaijan and Mount Diklos-Mta on the border with Georgia. In many places the Mountain ranges are cut through by the deep rivers and canyons, the Sulak River Canyon is the deepest.
The main rivers are the Terek, the Samur and the Sulak with its main tributaries: the Avar Koisu, the Andi Koisu, the Kara Koisu and the Kazikumukh Koisu. All of them flow into the Caspian Sea and are important for irrigation purposes and the power-generating sources.
Cherkey Hydropower Station
Gounib Hydropower Station
Industrially significant natural resources are oil, natural gas, copper, ore, sulhpur, quarts sands, mineral fertilizers and different building materials, such as clay, limestone, sandstone, granite, etc.
At present Dagestan is composed of 42 administrative districts, 10 towns and 14 urban-type settlements. Altogether there are about 1000 villages in the Republic. The capital of Dagestan is Makhachkala.
Dagestan, this "museum in the open air", is far from having been studied to the full, its ancient fortresses, manuscripts, and heroic legends still keep many mysteries. But the way of life of the peoples of Dagestan can be undoubtedly called the phenomenon of the "Dagestan civilization".