One of the 21 autonomous republics of Russia, in the Caucasus Mountains, between Karachay-Cherkessia and North Ossetia - Alania. To the south it touches Georgia. The capital is Nal'chik (in Russian and Balkar; Kabardian name Nalshyk); its area is 12 500 km2; and the population is 800 000.

The lowland Kabardian people are Circassian, speaking a North-West Caucasian language, and the mountain-dwelling Balkar or Malkar are Turkic (related to the neighbouring Karachay). A Kabardian region was formed in the USSR in 1921 and united with the Balkar region in 1922 (part of the Mountain Federation ASSR until 1925). The combined unit became an ASSR in 1936, and an autonomous republic in 1991 after the breakup of the Soviet Union. The recent presidents of Kabardino-Balkaria have been Valery Kokov (1992-2005) and Arsen Kanokov (2005- ). The official name is Qeberdej-Balqer in Kabardian and Qabarty-Malqar in Balkar.

The flag is a horizontal tricolor of light blue, white, and green, with an emblem in a disk on the central stripe: light blue sky above white mountains on green land. The two ethnic groups also use their own flags, as there has been a certain amount of separatist agitation. The Kabardians use something vaguely resembling the USA flag, but four green and three white stripes, with the canton having four yellow stars on light blue. The Balkars use horizontal light blue, white, and light blue, with a red star on a red-edged yellow disk in the centre.

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