According to legend, when God was creating the Earth, he carried all the mountains in a bag in order to distribute them across the land. The Devil, seeing this, slit a hole in the bottom of the bag and all the mountains fell in one area between the Black Sea and Caspian. So God made that land the one place in the World where the Devil would not be able to penetrate and make its people evil, since life would be hard enough for them as it is.
As a divide between Europe and Asia, the Caucasus has two major regions – the North Caucasus and the South or Transcaucasus. The North Caucasus, composed mainly of plain (steppe) areas, begins at the Manych Depression and rises to the south, where it runs into the main mountain range, the Caucasian Mountains. This is a series of chains running northwest-southeast, including Mount Elbrus (5,642 m), and Mount Kazbek (5,047 m).
The Circassians are a native people of the Caucasus where they have lived since time immemorial. They speak a unique language that includes almost all sounds a human can pronounce. They have developed a fascinating culture that reflects the beauty, bravery and mystery of the Caucasian mountains.
The Northern Caucasus, which is separated from the centers of the world civilizations by steep offshoots of the Caucasus Mountains, the vastnesses of the Caspian and Black Seas and the Great Steppe, already at the early stage of the human history, became one of the brightest seats of ancient culture.
The deportation of the Circassians from their homeland in the mid-19th century is one of the most tragic events in human history. During the long war of resistance against the Tsarist invasion that started in the 18th century, the Circassians gradually withdrawn towards the highlands, and a large number of them had been forced to migrate to the Ottoman lands.
The Circassians began arriving in Anatolia and the Middle East in the 14th century as a result of gradual and sporadic contacts with various kingdoms and dynasties in the region. After the conquest of Istanbul (Constantinople) by the Ottomans in 1453, the population of the Circassians tended to increase in the Ottoman Empire, especially in the ruling circles in Istanbul.
Known as the Mountain of Tongues, the Caucasus is home to a large number of languages. There are three language families indigenous to the Caucasus:
The Diaspora Circassians are organized around cultural associations and foundations to protect and to develop their unique language and culture.
Parts or summaries of the following studies have been used in the texts presented here. We thank the authors for their interest and research on the Circassians and the Caucasus.