Western Caucasus (1999)

Back to index

The Western Caucasus, extending over 275,000 ha of the extreme western end of the Caucasus mountains and located 50 km north-east of the Black Sea, is one of the few large mountain areas of Europe that has not experienced significant human impact. Its subalpine and alpine pastures have only been grazed by wild animals, and its extensive tracts of undisturbed mountain forests, extending from the lowlands to the subalpine zone, are unique in Europe. The site has a great diversity of ecosystems, with important endemic plants and wildlife, and is the place of origin and reintroduction of the mountain subspecies of the European bison. 

Russia 1973. Wildlife in the Caucasus. European Bison. Russia 1973. Wildlife in the Caucasus. Caucasian Snow Cock.

Of the two principal chains within the Caucasus, the most northerly range has a number of peaks higher than about 4570 m (15,000 ft) above sea level. Elbrus, which has an altitude of 5642 m (18,510 ft), is the highest peak in Europe. Other notable peaks include Dykh-Tau, 5,204 m (17,073 ft); Koshtan-Tau, 5,144 m (16,876 ft); and Kazbek, 5,037 m (16,526 ft). The highest peaks of the western chain are about 3660 m (12,000 ft) above sea level. Geologically, the Caucasus Mountains belong to a system that extends from southeastern Europe into Asia. The mountains are composed of granite and crystalline rock. Some volcanic formations and many glaciers are found throughout the range. 

Russia 1986. Caucasus. Mount Elbrus. Russia 1986. Caucasus. Mount Kazbek. Russia 1986. Mounts Donguz Orun and Nakra Tau.

Caucasus Mountains stretches through Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and southwest Russia, and are considered a boundary between Europe and Asia. The range extends for about 1200 km (about 750 mi) from the Abseron Peninsula on the southwestern shore of the Caspian Sea to the mouth of the Kuban’ River on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea. The western region is drained by the Kuban’ River and the eastern portion by the Kura River. 

Russia 1976. Caucasian Flowers. Safflower. Russia 1976. Caucasian Flowers. Anemone. Russia 1976. Caucasian Flowers. Columbine. Russia 1976. Caucasian Flowers. Fritillaries.

The uplifting of the northern chain was begun during the Jurassic period. The western chain dates from the Tertiary period. Of the few practicable routes through the range, one of the most important is a Georgian military highway from Vladikavkaz, Russia, on the northern side, to Tbilisi, Georgia, on the southern side. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in Russia (on this web site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Russia-section, for further information on such sites. 

Back to index

Revised 21 jul 2006  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
All Rights Reserved