One of the 21 autonomous republics of Russia, in the Caucasus Mountains, bordering Georgia in the south and Kabardino-Balkaria to the east. The capital is Cherkessk (called Batalpashinsk before 1939); the area is about 14 000 km2; and the population is around 400 000.

The Karachay are around half the population, and the Cherkess and Abaza people are minorities. The Karachay are a Turkic-speaking group, and the Cherkess are Circassian, speaking a North-West Caucasian language. The Karachay are close to the Balkar and the Cherkess are close to the Kabardians of neighbouring Kabardino-Balkaria and to the Adyge of Adygea.

The area became part of Russia in 1828, and after the Russian Revolution it first became part of the Mountain Federation ASSR. In 1922 it became a distinct Karachay-Cherkess autonomous region; in 1924 (or 1926?) the two parts were separated until 1936. They were accused of collaboration with the Germans in 1944 and autonomy was abolished: this lasted until 1957, when the autonomous oblast was restored. With the fall of the Soviet Union it upped itself to full autonomous republic status in 1990.

These have been its presidents in the recent period:
Vladimir Khubiyev 1992-1999
Igor Ivanov 1999
Valentin Vlasov 1999
Vladimir Semyonov 1999-2003
Mustafa Batdyev 2003-

The flag is a horizontal tricolor of blue, green, and red, with a central disk emblem featuring a sun over mountains. The two peoples also have their own flags: the Karachay use a ring of eight red stars on yellow; and the Cherkess use twelve red stars above three red arrows on yellow, which is the same except for colour as that of nearby Adygea. It was designed by a Scot in the nineteenth century.

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