«Like a sweet song of my Land, I love you, Сaucasus...»
It may be impossible to describe the veritable charms and splendid landscapes of the Caucasus without mentioning the nature of Karachay-Cherkess Republic. This land is really out of ordinary: alpine meadows, cliffy mountains and deep gorges restraining wayward mountain streams that never knew obstacles in their path for ages. This beauty is crowned by the celestial Elbrus, the highest peak of the Caucasus that floats in the sky seen from each corner of the Republic, glittering like a diamond diadem of splendor and beauty. It seems that times have no power on this fantastic and fabulous creature of nature, but on the contrary, by all means preserves and replenishes its charm and unique originality. Silver dawns replace the golden-crimson sunsets day by day, year after year, from century to century, inspiring artists and poets of all times to great creations. In this sequence of days there is no place for the vanity of the world, for the global problems of civilization; everything here is eternal, primeval and natural. Springs of water of life breaking through the thick thousand-year-old stone walls, sources of curative mineral water welling right from under feet — everything disposes to the peace of mind and soul, to self-restoration and to longevity of inhabitants.
Now a graceful eagle rose high above a bottomless canyon and... hovered, proud, independent, resembling in something the temper of the people living in this part of the world. The mild climate of the area combined with a large number of sunny days, favors a rapid growth of meadows' green carpet and raises the black soils' fertility giving bumper crops of fruit trees, forest berries, mushrooms.
Mountain resorts, such as Teberda, Dombay, Arkhyz became the favorite place of rest and rehabilitation for countless tourists coming from all over the world and willing to retire into the primeval splendor of mountains, to go skiing and snowboarding on the slopes of the famous Caucasian chain. Having visited this place once, seen all the beauty and uniqueness of nature, you will be eager to return again and again. And each time hospitable people will meet you cordially and treat you as the dearest and the most welcome guest. You'll be offered to quench you after the journey's thirst with magic ayran (local sour milk beverage) and, of course, to taste traditional freshly baked hychin (a sort of meat pie), it's simply impossible to resist their aroma. Welcome to the unique hospitable Karachay-Cherkessia!
I've seen far away through the mist,
Covered with snow, glittering like diamond
hoary steadfast Caucasus:
And I remained with light heart,
Don't know why.
Mikhail Lermontov. Interlinear translation
The Karachay-Cherkess Republic (KChR) is located in the North-West Caucasus. The Republic's southern border with Georgia and Abkhazia runs along the Main Caucasian ridge, in the West the KChR borders with Krasnodar region, in the North and North-East — with cities-resorts of Caucasian Mineral Waters (Stavropol region) and in the East — with Kabardino-Balkaria. One cannot but mention that Karachay-Cherkessia is the neighbor of Sochi, world-famous capital of the upcoming Olympic games‑2014.
A total of 419 large and small rivers with more than 4,000 km of total length spring from the mountainous part of the Republic forming the basins of the Black, Azov and Caspian seas,
The prevailing relief of the Republic is mountainous (about 80%). Foremost ridges of the Bolshoy Kavkaz (Greater Caucasus Mts) are stretched in the Northern part of the Republic. In the South, from the upper reaches of the river Malaya Laba, range the Watershed and Lateral ridges of the Greater Caucasus, reaching heights of up to 4,000 m. The highest peak of the Caucasus — Mount Elbrus — is situated on the border with Kabardino-Balkaria. The Black Sea coast can be reached by Marukha and Klukhor passes. The Rocky and Pasture ranges stretch to the North of KChR. The Republic possesses vast woodlands of fine wood and wonderful sub-alpine and alpine meadows which are mostly located in its mountainous part.
The Karachay-Cherkess Republic is included into the North-Caucasian Federal District of the Russian Federation. The Republic has its own Constitution, flag, national emblem and anthem. Territory: 14277, 0 sq. km. Administrative centre: the city of Cherkessk founded in 1804 and located in Ciscaucasia on the right bank of the river Kuban.
Year of foundation. On January 12, 1922 the CPSU Central Executive Committee decreed formation of the United Karachay-Cherkess Autonomous region. Then, according to the Law of the Russian Federation dated July 3, 1991, the autonomous region was transformed into the Karachay-Cherkess Soviet Socialist Republic within the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic. In December 1992, in order to improve the constitutional law, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia became the Karachay-Cherkess Republic within the Russian Federation.
The Republic consists of 2 urban districts and 10 municipal districts, including 4 cities (Cherkessk, Karachaevsk, Ust-Dzheguta and Teberda), 7 settlements of urban type, 138 settlements of rural type and 83 villages.
The State power in the Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia is exercised by the Head of the Republic, the people's Assembly (Parliament), the Republican Government and the courts.
The flag of Karachay-Cherkess Republic is tricoloured having three horizontal and equal stripes: the upper is light-blue, the medium is green and the lower is red. In the middle of the green zone a bright circle is drawn with the sun rising from behind the mountains. The colors of the flag represent peace and good will, fertility and richness of the land, wisdom and indissoluble bonds of brotherhood between peoples living in the Republic.
The national emblem of the Republic has a round heraldic form. The background is yellow; it symbolizes the sunny Karachay-Cherkessia. In the center is the silhouette of Elbrus that means eternity, power and grandeur. The blue circle is a symbol of the eternal sky and blue water. The emblem is entwined from two sides by branches and flowers of rhododendron which is one of the most specific high-mountain plants. It symbolizes peace, health, cleanliness. The lower part of the emblem has the form of a cup which symbolizes local hospitality.
Population: number and composition. According to the results of the all-Russia population census of 2010, there are 477859 inhabitants in the Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia. Nationalities are: Karachay — 194324 pers. (41.0%), Russian — 150025 pers. (31.6%), Cossack –465 pers. (0.1%), Circassian — 56466 pers. (11.9%), Abazin — 36919 pers. (7.8%), Nogai — 15654 pers. (3.3%), Osset — 3142 pers. (0.7%), Armenian — 2737 pers. (0.6%), Ukrainian –1990 pers. (0.4%), other nationalities — 13103 pers. (2.7%).
The State languages are Russian, Karachay, Abazin, Nogai and Circassian. Telecasting and radiocasting are carried on, newspapers and magazines are published in these languages.
Religion. A large part of the population of the Republic is Sunni Muslims. The rest professes the orthodox religion. The Republic actively constructs new religious facilities: St. Nicholas Cathedral in the centre of Cherkessk and one of the largest mosques in the North Caucasus.
History. Traces of mankind's stay found on the territory of present Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia belong to the Stone Age (Mousterian culture). Flint tools of this period were found near Cherkessk at the mouth of the river Ovetchka. Prehistoric peoples living in this rich ore-bearing area, as far as mastering iron, formed original upper-kuban culture, also called kobanian culture. From that time comes the tradition of weapons and armor manufacturing which are out of ordinary for their strength and the richness of carved and inlay decoration.
In the first Millennium BC, the Northern part of actual Karachay-Cherkessia was populated by Scythian-Sarmatians, and the South — by Colchians. In the IV–VIII centuries Alan people settled in the mountain gorges of the Kuban. At the end of the first millennium A. D., the land of Karachay-Cherkessia was a part of the Alan state.
The Alans managed to overcome tribal differences and created a Union of the Alan and local Caucasian tribes, which became the basis for the creation of the Central Ciscaucasian feudal state, which existed until the XIII century. There are some architectural monuments of that time: Zelenchuk, Sentin, Shaonin Christian churches, Arkhyz settlement of X–XII centuries.
The sights of the Republic are: Teberda nature reserve; mountainous area Arkhyz; ski resort Dombay (Dombai glade, Belalakaya); Mount Elbrus; Museum of tourism and mountaineering (Teberda); Polovtsian statue «The Holder of the Cup»; the stone of Karcha, who was the leader and re-founder of the ancient state «Bisil Karachay» (United Karachay);
religious buildings Sentin temple (the first half of the X century), Shoanin temple (the first half of the X century), Zelenchuk or Nizhny-Arkhyz temples (X century); Nizhny-Arkhyz settlement (XII century).
In the current year of 2012 photographs from space discovered more than 200 vestiges of ancient buildings located on the Gum-Bashi pass. To explore the area an archeological expedition was organized headed by Kantarovich A., deputy chief of the Archeology Department of the Moscow State University; T. Mishina, researcher of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Sabina Reinhold, archaeologist caucasiologist of the Department of Eurasian German Institute of archeology (with a group of post-graduate students and scientists); Belinsky A., head of the Stavropol enterprise «Heritage», Historical Sciences PHD.
Archaeologists worked for more than a month, excavating a 150x100m area. Excavations were successful: they found walls of a multi-room housing. The entrance with staircase was situated on the East side of the housing and the floors of one the of the roomswas covered with flat stone slabs. The walls about 1.5 m‑high were made of large stone blocks put in armored system. A farm courtyard was situated next to the living quarters on the North-Eastern side. Archeologists also found a lot of bovine bones, wild animals' bones, as well as remains of ancient kiln coals. Researchers, having compared these ancient housing with actual residential buildings of the village Hurzuk, revealed many technologies common in construction.
According to the radiocarbon dating this vestige belongs to the Bronze Age, the previous period of the Iron Age. Similar dry masonry technique and multi-room structure found in the village Arkhyz, reveals the ethno-cultural ties between local tribes from the ancient age to the early middle ages.
The most important thing is: this sensational discovery represents a scientific confirmation of the fact that the «Kuban culture» manifestations are also available on the territory of modern Karachay-Cherkess Republic.
Special attention should be paid to the paradise of Karachay-Cherkessia — «The Honey Waterfalls». They are located in the valley of the river Alikonovka, close to the city of Kislovodsk. Cascades of crystal-clear water rushing down from the height of about two dozen meters create an extraordinary performance. The famous film «Headless Horseman» was shot in this place. All necessary conditions of comfortable living and active rest are created for tourists; there is also an ethnic museum.
The recreational tourism complex «Mara» is a new all-season mountain tourist destination (2300 m above sea level). It is situated at the heights of Gum Bashi pass, in 54 km distance from Kislovodsk. Tourists can enjoy a beautiful panorama of the Greater Caucasus peaks, and especially the magnificent Mount Elbrus. Wooden houses, cafes, rope tow cable way, snowmobile and/or horse rent are at tourists' disposal to make their rest unforgettable. In near future it is planned to construct trout ponds, gyms... and other facilities to satisfy tourists coming from different parts of the country.
The climate in the Republic is temperate; winters are short, summers are warm and long. The average temperature in January is +3.2 °C; in July +20.6 °C. Minimum altitude: 400m. Maximum altitude: 5642m (the Western top of Mount Elbrus).
Nature and ecology. Situated on the territory of Karachay-Cherkess Republic, the Teberda state biosphere nature reserve constitutes a part of the Caucasus state biosphere reserve included in the specially protected eco-resort region of the Russian Federation — Caucasian Mineral Waters. It counts 9 reserves, 74 nature monuments.
Basins of rivers, lakes, reservoirs: the Republic is rich in water resources. There are about 130 high-mountain lakes of glacial origin, a number of mountain waterfalls as well as 172 small and big rivers. The largest rivers are: the Kuban, Bolshoi and Maly Zelenchuk, Urup, and Laba. The Great Stavropol canal, which is the source of water for the neighboring Stavropol region, is fed by Karachay-Cherkess rivers.
Mineral waters are one of the most important recreational resources of the Republic. More than 200 mineral springs and wells are inspected for their welfare effects. There are more than 20 mineral springs only in the basin of the river Ullu-Hurzuk, many of them thermal, and are used in the climatic therapy. In the basin of the river Makhar there are several sources, which are located in the immediate vicinity of the Karachay-Cherkess State University recreation center. Numerous mineral springs of various chemical composition are concentrated in the basins of the right tributaries of the rivers Kuban, Hudes, Jalan-Kol and Indish. The famous source Маra (Kurman Narzan) is situated 8 km to the East of the city of Karachaevsk on the left bank of the river Mara.
On the right bank of the Kuban, below the village of Krasnogorsk, there are other three sources. The most popular of them is the Myrzamek-Achy source. There are also mineral sources in the upper reaches of the river Duut. The most popular are Djamagat Narzans in Teberda. There are also mineral water sources in the village of Dombai, in the basin of the river Urup and Big Laba, in total there are 32 different types of medical sources. The abundance of useful mineral springs of different composition and medical purpose make this region attractive at all times, both for tourists and for business people from all over the world.
Economy. The main industrial potential of the Republic consists of 602 enterprises, 545 of them relate to the processing industries, and 57 enterprises — to the extraction of mineral resources.
The leading branches of Karachay-Cherkess industry are automotive industry, production of construction materials, food and food-processing, chemical and petrochemical industries, non-ferrous metallurgy.
In the framework of the XI International forum «Sochi‑2012» the Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia submitted 27 investment projects to a total amount of 145 billion roubles. These projects concern agriculture, construction materials production, tourism, hydropower industry and mineral resources exploitation. The key projects are the construction of year-round ski resort «Arkhyz» forming a part of Northern Caucasus tourism cluster, and the construction of a shoe factory in Cherkessk. Realization of these projects will significantly increase employment rate and improve the well-being of the population.
The republican industry demonstrates stable development results. In this connection positive results can be mentioned in the integration of local enterprises with the most important companies of Russia. A stable production process is progressing, salaries are of a high level, and social problems are being solved. The following enterprises can be cited as examples: the mining-processing plant «Urup» entered in the Ural ore mining company (UMMC), the world largest supplier of non-ferrous metals and profiled steel; or else JSC «Kavkazcement» which is now part of the largest Russian holding company JSC «EuroCementGroup». The agricultural enterprise «Yuzhny» (Moscow), the largest in Europe, works successfully on the territory of the Republic.
Good results are shown by the majority of the food industry enterprises. Such enterprises as JSC «Kavkaz-meat», LLC «Mercury», JSC «Mukomol», LLC «Saturn», LLC «Icecream factory», LLC «Visma — Arkhyz», JSC «Karachay brewery», LLC «Confectionary «Dahanago», JSC «Corporation KAMOS», JSC «South-Milk» are well known in the Republic and far outside.
New industries are in the course of construction. LLC «Bumfa groups», a papermaking company, is among enterprises possessing the highest rate of growth in the Republic. There are also productions of nonwoven materials — padding polyester (LLC «Selena»); production of metal-and-plastic windows and doors. One of the structure forming industries of the Republic is the production of construction materials. It is one of the leading industries considering the volume of manufactured products. The quality of construction materials and structures, which the Republic can deliver to the construction materials market, is not inferior to the average quality in Russia and at the same time their prices are lower than in Central regions of Russia and in the North Caucasus. The Republic has large volumes of ore and nonmetallic materials; these raw-materials represent a sure base for the development of the construction materials industry. There are explored deposits of copper, zinc, tungsten, complex ores, coal, plaster, facing and construction stone (marble, serpentinite), silicate and building sands, refractory, haydite and brick clays, mineral paints (red lead), construction and process lime, gravel. Negotiations on the construction of new cement, plaster and brick factories are currently in the course.
An important competitive advantage of Karachay-Cherkessia that distinguishes it from other Russian regions is the richness and variety of mineral and drinking water, as well as of ecologically clean glacial water and thermal springs. In this field the Republic is the undisputed leader in the Russian Federation. Nowadays there is a tendency of bottled water consumption growth, both in Russia and throughout the world. This fact gives an opportunity to consider that the market of bottled water has huge potential.
Energy. The energy industry of the Republic shows a successful development. In order to use the potential of rivers as fully as possible, together with the Karachay-Cherkess branch of JSC «MRSK-Northern Caucasus" and the Karachay-Cherkess branch of JSC «RusHydro», three variants of the KChR electric network development were elaborated to ensure reliable power supply and high power generation by Zelenchuk hydroelectric power station. This work resulted in the inclusion of the HVL‑330 kV «Zelenchuk Hydroelectric power station" in the General Plan of electric power industry facilities construction in the Southern Federal district up to the year 2020, approved by the decree of the Russian Federation Government no. 215 dtd 22.02.2008.
Tourism. One of the main competitive advantages of the Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia, distinguishing it both from other regions of Russia and from leading European countries, is a unique natural tourist-recreation and sanatorium complex. In this regard, tourism is one of the major factors of the future growth of the republican economy and the most important strategic resource. Famous mountain resorts Dombay, Teberda and Arkhyz constitute the basis of the republican tourism potential. When we speak of these resorts surrounded by mountain peaks, we immediately recall the words of the Caucasian mountain climber Potocki, who stated as far back as at the beginning of the 20‑th century: «One who goes to the mountains attracted by their original beauty, ennobles his soul there, refines his emotions, increases physical strength, expands his power of observation and enriches his mind with knowledge. Mountains teach independence, build character; and nowhere else a person feel so cheerful and independent as on the tops of the mountains, in the bosom of the beautiful nature, away from everyday bustle and daily cares. In the contemplation of the surrounding wondrous landscape an exhausted man with frayed nerves feels renewed, relaxing the body and the soul, and re-finds poetic mood, may be, lost long ago.» So do we, we'll take today a bit of rest from daily cares, we'll ennoble our souls, and enjoy, even in absentia, wonderful views, and re-find, perhaps, the sense of beauty and of the eternal lost long ago.
Teberda. This city is famous not only for beautiful views, but is a climatic and balneological resort, known for its miraculous healing properties. The city is located among high snow-covered mountains. Clean dry air, abundance of solar radiation, warm summer and frostless winter, permanent air purification by mountain-valley winds are main medical factors of the resort, which are successfully used for many decades, give good results of rehabilitation and restoration. All this represent almost ideal conditions for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis, for rehabilitation of the nervous system and the treatment of some types of heart disease. Spa hotels built for these purposes possess sophisticated medical equipment and use the latest achievements of medicine.
Arkhyz. To the West of Teberda, at the confluence of mountain rivers Kizgich, Psysh, Sofia and Arkhyz, the village of Arkhyz is situated. The name of this village, translated as «beautiful girl», speaks for itself. The village is surrounded by high mountains: black underneath because of dark coniferous forests covering them, and blindingly white at the top due to snow and glaciers. Dry, warm winter, summer with little rain, calm, windless days lavishly insolated, surprisingly clean alpine air saturated with the aroma of mountain forests, mineral springs with chalybeate waters — all this makes Arkhyz a famous Alpine climatic resort.
Far to the East the landscape is dominated by Mount Elbrus. On the Northern slopes of the Main ridge you can see the blindingly white glaciers at any season of the year. Only one of them, the Great glacier Sofia, throws nine waterfalls in the hundred-meter precipice. The area of Arkhyz has also more than 75 lakes. The biggest and the most beautiful of them is located under the top Kelbashi. Small icebergs, broken off from the surrounding glaciers, show up white on its smooth blue even in summer.
Actually a large-scale project of a year-round mountain resort «Arkhyz» is realized in the area. The project of development of the ski resort of world level «Arkhyz» is one of the largest investment projects of Russian business in the North Caucasus. It is a pilot project of North Caucasus tourism cluster.
Today the first 860 m long chairlift and two ski slopes with ski lifts are already put into operation. Five hotels of overall 700 places, administrative buildings and depots are in construction in the first village-resort «Arkhyz‑1650». By the end of 2012 all communal infrastructure — power supply, gas, water, sewage, roads, emergency and rescue stations — will have been already available.
The concept of development of the resort «Arkhyz» was adopted in 2007. The main investor of the project is CJSC «Sinara Group». The project is realized with an active support of the Vice-Premier of the Government of RF and the Plenipotentiary representative of the Russian President in the North-West Federal district Mr. A. Khloponin, and the authorities of Karachay-Cherkessia together with JSC «Resorts of the North Caucasus», and with the participation of Vnesheconombank and the Corporation of North Caucasus development.
The realization of the project «Arkhyz» envisages construction of four tourist villages of 24,000 tourists of capacity, a network of 54 lifts (cap.: 45,000 tourists per day) and arrangement of alpine skiing tracks of various difficulty (total length: more than 260 km). According to estimations, when the full design capacity is reached, the tourist flow in Arkhyz will exceed 500 thousand people per year. The concept of a mountain-skiing complex provides for the creation of a developed resort infrastructure necessary for full healing and family rest: theme parks, active recreation zones, hotels, trade centers, services and entertainment, public catering enterprises. Ski slopes of various difficulty will be arranged, an integrated system of cable roads will be organized to connect different zones of activity. The evaluation total amount of investments into the infrastructure will attain 80 billion roubles.
Dombay. In the very heart of the mountains, in the closed kettle situated at the altitude of more than 1600 m where the rivers Amanauz, Alibek and Dombay-Ulgen interflow, there is Dombay glade well-known in the whole world. The name of Dombay (in Karachay the word «dommay» means «aurochs») comes from the name of one of the rivers. The blue sky, lavish sun and the snowcapped peaks, what else does a man need to feel alone with nature. The nature itself promotes healing and health strengthening: favourable climate, clean air filled with pine aroma, blooming alpine meadows and a large number of sunny days. Summer in Dombay is not hot; winter is snowy what attracts skiing-lovers. The mellow season is autumn. One of the oldest Russia ski resort is situated here. The nature itself creates all the conditions to enjoy skiing and snowboarding. Actually in Dombay there are five chairlift stations, a pendulum lifter and tow-lifts; ski slopes are widened, and the village of Dombay is in the course of beautification. Launched a few years ago, the new mountain lift is the most modern and the longest in Russia. About 500 thousand people annually visit Dombay. The popularity of heliskiing is nowadays increasing, and skiers are taken to the mountain slopes by helicopters. Those who want to feel «above mountains», can go in for hang-gliding or paragliding.
Discussing issues of socio-economic development of Karachay-Cherkessia with the Head of the Republic Rashid Temrezov, V. V. Putin gave special importance to the development of the North Caucusus resorts . According to the President, the most essential thing in stiff competitive environment is to keep high level of services.
Teberda reserve. On the territory of the Republic there is Teberda nature reserve which is part of the Caucasus one. Teberda biosphere reserve is situated on the Northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus ridge. The nature reserve was founded in 1936, and occupies an area of 85 thousand hectares. The relief is mountainous, the highest peak is Dombai-Ulgen reaching 4042 м. The main river is Teberda, the valley of which still has traces of ancient glaciers. There are 151 lakes of glacial origin in the reserve; the largest of them is Lake Blue Ullu-Murudgi. The reserve is famous for about 1100 species of plants growing here, and 272 of which are Caucasus endemics; 21 species are recorded in The Red Book of Russia. There are 47 species of mammals, including the Caucasian deer, Caucasian brown bear, lynx, forest cat, rock chicken, Caucasian least weasel, and one of the most valuable species — the Caucasian ibex and chamois. There are also 202 species of birds, including hobby and snowcock. The most common of fish is trout. Teberda reserve is a protected scientific-research and ecological-educational centre of Federal significance. In 1994 the reserve was awarded with the Diploma of the Council of Europe of 1st degree. In 1997, the reserve received the status of biosphere.
Agriculture. The agro-industrial complex of the Republic is specialized in dairy and meat livestock farming, cereal crops, potatoes, vegetables, sugar beet, as well as the poultry industry. The key position in the agro-industrial complex of the Republic belongs to the small forms of enterprises which are mainly specialized in production of livestock products (milk and meat) and in crop production (potatoes, vegetables). Natural food base of the Republic is represented by alpine pastures of high natural productivity of grass (including 235 endemic plants), which make possible to obtain 1100–1200 grams of daily weight gain of young cattle (and in case of the intensive fattening till 1400–1500 grams) forming moreover an exceptional taste and «marbling» of meat. A special pride is the world famous Karachay fat-tail sheep. The meat of this breed has a special taste and doesn't contain cholesterol.
For the last years the program of meat cattle breeding development has been in the course of realization. The program stipulates the progressive replacement of the existing stock by pedigree cattle. The farms of the Republic received on a competitive basis several thousand heads of cows Aberdeen-Angus race. Breeding reproduction stations will be created on the basis of these farms.
Science. Education. Culture. In Karachay-Cherkess Republic there are 11 higher educational institutions (including branches), numerous public
institutions of culture, 4 national theatres (M. Akov Circassian Republican drama theatre, Karachay drama theatre, Russian theatre of drama and comedy, Abaza drama theatre), a Philharmonic hall, schools of arts, 8 museums (including branches), libraries etc. Dance culture is represented by the Karachay-Cherkess State ensemble of dance «Elbrus», student dance group «Shohluk» and folk ensemble «Cholpan».
An important indicator of the republican science flourishing is the fruitful activity of such institutions as the «Karachay-Cherkess Honor order Institute of humanitarian research» under the Government of the Republic. Its purpose is to ensure the scientific development of national languages, folklore, literature, history, archeology, ethnography, social and political issues, in a word, to preserve national values, cultural and historical heritage, as well as to develop the national sociology in all-Russian context. The main priority is given to the development of fundamental historical-philological science forming the basis of school or university education and constituting in general the key condition of culture development. The Institute of humanitarian research works on preserving the best spiritual traditions of the peoples living in the Republic and in the whole Russian Fatherland. Furthermore, there is a scientific laboratory of pedagogical and ethno-cultural research in the sphere of education, a branch of U. Aliev Karachay-Cherkess state University, and the Republican Institute of teachers training. Today these institutions bring a considerable contribution to the development of various branches of republican science and economy.
It is pleasant to note that in the Republic, together with research establishments, there is a non-commercial institution of higher professional education Imam Abu Hanif Institute of theology and religious studies, established in 1993. This Institute was created for the purpose of developing education, science, spirituality and culture of the peoples of the Russian Federation. One of the main tasks of the Institute is to satisfy needs of the society for qualified specialists in the field of theology and of the Arabic language; to form students' civic position, their ability to work and to live in the conditions of modern civilization. The Institute functions with the assistance of non-commercial charitable «Fund for support of Islamic culture, science and education». This Institute is not the only one in the Republic. Since 2010, about 70 children per year study in the Karachay-Cherkess Republican Madrasah (boarding school). They live in a comfortable hostel and learn the basics of traditional Islam and in parallel study in the secondary school of the village of Uchkeken. According to the Principal of the madrasah Erkenov Muhammad Hajji, the children receive a religious and moral education, and in addition, attend the courses of «Hafiz», i. e. the reciting of the Qur'an by heart. The madrasah has a highly qualified teaching staff; all the teachers have been trained in Turkey.
The folk applied art of the peoples of Karachay-Cherkessia has historical, artistic and aesthetic value. These are masterpieces of gold embroidery, forging and stone-cutting art with rich ornamental forms and perfect artistic expression, manufacturing of carved wooden utensils, stamping and application on the skin, wood carving, weaving of mats from cheegrass, etc...
Folklore. Folklore is characterized by the richness and diversity of forms: legends, historical, industrial, heroic, satirical, love and lullaby songs, fairy tales, proverbs and sayings. Traditional choreography is also rich and varied. Along with all-Caucasian dances there are also ritual Karachay-Balkar dances such as gollu, sandrak, tepene, tegerek and others. Ancient Karachay dances have syncretic nature, when the dance is closely linked with the song, music, drama, prayer. Traditional musical instruments are reed pipe, 2‑string violin and 3‑stringed plucked instrument, rattle of plane tree planks, doul and accordion. The central place in Circassians folklore is occupied by such genres as the Nart epos, legends on all-Adygei subjects, the art of narrators and singers «djeguako», lamentation songs, labour and humorous songs. Traditional musical instruments are shitchapshina (violin), bjamey (flute), phatsych (a percussion instrument) and a variety of tambourines which are played with hands or sticks. The accordion has its roots from Germany; it is played mainly by women, while others by men.
A special attention should be paid to the Karachay-Cherkess State Ensemble of dance «Elbrus». It was created in 1988. The Ensemble «Elbrus» is the first professional choreographic collective of the Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia; it creates, carefully preserves and develops musical and dance traditions of the peoples of Karachay-Cherkessia and Northern Caucasus. Today the ensemble's repertoire includes about 20 dances reflecting the culture and art of all indigenous peoples living in the multinational Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia and in the North Caucasus. Performances of the group captivate spectators' attention from the first minutes. The Ensemble «Elbrus» is justly called «visit card» of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic. Thanks to bright, colorful concert programs, unequalled skill of the dancers and musicians, «Elbrus» has got wide popularity and earned the spectators' love in Russia as well as abroad. Each performance, wherever it was, arouses admiration of spectators and is accompanied by a thunder of applause.
The skill of the team is confirmed by numerous awards, «Elbrus» is laureate of many regional and all-Russian festivals and contests. The ensemble won impressive success also at the international level; «Elbrus» is a winner of the II International folklore contest, which took place in France. In 1997, the group was awarded with the Grand Prize of the 17th International festival of folklore in Zaragoza (Spain). In July 2001, the ensemble «Elbrus» has successfully represented Russia in Bursa (Turkey), becoming the prize-winner of the First award of the 40‑th International contest of folk dance «Altyn Karagoz».
In November 2007, the State dance ensemble of the Republic participated in the 9‑th Festival of Russian arts and cinema in Nice (France).
The company is constituted by the best and the most talented dancers of the Republic; and what is more, the staff is multinational: among them are Russians, Abazins, Circassians, Kabardinians, Karachays, Balkars, Ossetians and many others. All of them have great love and devotion to the choreographic art. Every day they sharpen and improve their skills in the course of long and exhausting rehearsals. Despite all the complexity of the profession, the dancers do not stop on obtained results and do not limit the repertoire. Well-educated, versatile artists, familiar with all types of dance are able to embody the national character in any artistic image. Many of them were awarded with titles of People's artists of Republic, Honored artists of Karachay-Cherkess Republic, of North Ossetia-Alania and Ingushetia. This wonderful team is led by the Honored Artist of the Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia Bayramkulov Ismail Pilalovich, a man having been devoted to the art of dance for more than 40 years.
Many good words can be said about the ensemble of accordion players «Hars» of the children's musical school № 3 (village of Pervomayskoye), recognized «Exemplary children team of artistic creativity». The team is still young, but could already become known far beyond the Republic: the ensemble is laureate of the International contest-festival «Splashes of talents», held in the summer 2012 in the city of Tuapse. The soloist of the ensemble A. Chotchaeva became the winner in the nomination «instrumental music». In February 2012, the ensemble became the winner of the Winners Cup of the international competition of scenic art «Edelweiss». It is a pleasure to say that in the frame of the national qualifying contest «Towards Olympics», the ensemble «Hars» is recognized the best team and is recommended to welcome the participants in the greeting ceremony during the forthcoming Olympic Games in Sochi 2014.
The Republic has a lot of renowned talents. One of them is Zaur Aliyev, a 13‑year-old schoolboy and the youngest Honored artist of the Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia. He made his debut on the famous stage of the Mariinsky theatre. He performed the part of tsarevich Fyodor in the opera «Boris Godunov» by Mussorgsky. A teenager on such an illustrious stage is an event not only for the young artist himself, but also for the oldest and distinguished theater. Zaur has many diplomas and among them is the diploma «Gifted children of Russia».
It is worth noting the role of the Republican cultural and natural Museum-reserve in preservation and multiplication of the cultural wealth and in conservation of historical and cultural heritage of the peoples of Karachay-Cherkessia. This cultural institution combines a number of unique monuments: the Museum-monument to the defenders of the passes of Caucasus, the historical district of the city of Cherkessk, Nizhny-Arkhyz historical-archaeological and architectural complex, Humara settlement (VII–VIII centuries), Shaonin temple (X century), Sentin temple (X century), the complex of Savior-Transfiguration monastery, the tower «Adiuh» with the settlement of the VII–VIII centuries and others (a total of 11 sights).
Sport. In the Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia there are 3 sports societies, 16 national federations and associations of sports, 36 children's sports schools, 7 sports schools of Olympic reserve and 1 school of sporting proficiency, a basketball club and a football club.
Since ancient times, peoples of Karachay-Cherkessia attached great importance to compete. Numerous folk festivals were accompanied by horse races, fancy riding, wrestling of strong men, throwing stones, games of disguised, tug-of-war, weight lifting and other contests. These sports games of ancestors have not lost their relevance today.
Competitions are held on such ancient national kinds of sports as wrestling on belts, this sport became now international. Throwing stones is also a national sport. Wrestling with some distinctive features is a Karachays' national sport and practiced on a mass scale.
One cannot but mention the unique school of arm-wrestling. Although the arm-wrestling appeared officially as a sport only in 1990, among Caucasian peoples this kind of wrestling was very popular from long ago, it was called skanderbek. Arm-wrestlers of Karachay-Cherkessia won more than 80 medals at World-wide and European Championships.
Such sports as skiing, boxing, karate, sambo-wrestling and athletics are also very popular in Karachay-Cherkess Republic. The Republic was made famous by its outstanding sportsmen: Ruslan Sariev — a three-time absolute world champion (arm-wrestling); Rasul Chotchaev — a five-time absolute world champion (arm-wrestling); Dahir Теbuyev — an absolute world champion (arm-wrestling); Timur Chagilov — a two-time world champion (arm wrestling); Eldar Khapayev, Kazim Kuscheterov — an absolute winners of the world Championship (arm wrestling); Albert Saryev — a world champion (free style wrestling); Kurman and Tohtar Temrezov — a world champions (freestyle wrestling); Balaev Меker — a multiple champion of Russia, of the USSR, an absolute winner of the World Cup in France in 1988, an absolute World champion in Germany in 1989, a two-time world champion (parachute sport) who established 17 world records; Akbayev Rinat — a world champion (wrestling on belts); Aznaur Adzhiev — a world champion (freestyle wrestling); Dmitry Vasilenko — an Olympic champion (sport gymnastics); Osman Dzhurtubayev — a world champion (freestyle wrestling); Alibek Akbaev — a world champion (wrestling on belts) and many others.
Some interesting facts. Mount Elbrus has different names in different languages: Mingi Tau (Karachay-Balkarian), Elbrus (Nogai), Askhartau (Kumyk), Dzhin-Padishah (Turkish), Albar (Iranian), Oshkhamakho (Kabardinian), Shatgora (Ancient Russian).
Alibek waterfall, one of the biggest in Dombai (25 meters), appeared in the XXth century. In 1930, the waterfall didn't exist yet; the rock ledge was covered by the Alibek glacier tongue which retreats up to a meter and a half every year.
The Cherkessk -Sukhumi military road, known in ancient times as the Turkish path, connects the Republic through the Klukhorski pass (2781 м) and the Kodori gorge with Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia.It is the shortest way from the Caucasus Mountains to the Black sea.
Karachay breed of horses evolved over many centuries. Horses, adapted to life in mountains, move easily around mountains and rocks. In 1998–1999 these horses were used for the first in the history horse expeditions to Mount Elbrus.
What to bring from Karachay-Cherkessia. A good rest implies unforgettable souvenirs of nice and wholesome time for you, for your friends and relatives. Traditional souvenirs from Karachay-Cherkessia are chasing, products of wood carvers, potters, as well as daggers, metal ware with patterns or engraving. Horns of Caucasian ibex bound round with silver and plated with German silver will become a real decoration of any house! As a gift to your friends you can acquire slices of moss and landscape agate, tender chalcedony, saturated blue and green fluorites and other rocks.
A real find for gourmets is jam of pine cones, of blueberries, of raspberries, a delicious and, what is important, effective against many ailments.
And also, you will be offered warm and elegant sweaters, ponchos, hats, scarves, shawls, and all that can be knitted with needles or crochets from pure wool or goat fluff! Knitted things are surprisingly inexpensive, but the quality is above all praise. No wonder: farmers from Karachay-Cherkessia have won 8 gold, 6 silver and 4 bronze medals at the all-Russian exhibitions of breeding sheep. The quality of the wool speaks for itself. Such a souvenir will remind you of Karachay-Cherkessia for a long time, and above all, with warmth. Do not overlook articles made of felt: mats, blankets and hats. But the main thing is that having been in Karachay-Cherkessia, you will take a good mood, a lot of pleasant impressions and hunger with you to return again and again to this fabulous area of Caucasus. See you in Karachay-Cherkessia!
Though at the dawn of my days,
Oh, southern mountains,
I'm cut off from you by the fate,
To remember forever
You should see them once:
Like a sweet song of my Land,
I love you, Caucasus.
Mikhail Lermontov. Interlinear translation
By Olga Mikhailova, Bilal Appaev