Caucasus Mountains

Caucasus Mountains

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The Caucasus Mountains is a mountain system
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

 in Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

 between the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 and the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 in the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 region ( ).

The Caucasus Mountains includes:
  • the Greater Caucasus
    Greater Caucasus
    Greater Caucasus , sometimes translated as "Caucasus Major", "Big Caucasus" or "Large Caucasus") is the major mountain range of the Caucasus Mountains....

     Mountain Range and
  • the Lesser Caucasus
    Lesser Caucasus
    Lesser Caucasus is one of the two main mountain ranges of Caucasus mountains, of length about 600 km....

     Mountains.


The Greater Caucasus Range extends from the Caucasian Natural Reserve
Western Caucasus
The Western Caucasus is a western region of the Caucasus in Southern Russia, extending from the Black Sea to Mount Elbrus.-World Heritage Site:...

 in the vicinity of Sochi
Sochi
Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, situated just north of Russia's border with the de facto independent republic of Abkhazia, on the Black Sea coast. Greater Sochi sprawls for along the shores of the Black Sea near the Caucasus Mountains...

 on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea, generally trending east-southeast and reaching nearly to Baku
Baku
Baku , sometimes spelled as Baki or Bakou, is the capital and largest city of Azerbaijan, as well as the largest city on the Caspian Sea and of the Caucasus region. It is located on the southern shore of the Absheron Peninsula, which projects into the Caspian Sea. The city consists of two principal...

 on the Caspian Sea, while the Lesser Caucasus runs parallel to the greater range, at a distance averaging about 100 km (62.1 mi) south. The Meskheti Range
Meskheti Range
Meskheti Range is a part of the Lesser Caucasus mountain range in Meskheti region, in southwestern Georgia....

 is a part of the Lesser Caucasus system. The Greater and Lesser Caucasus ranges are connected by the Likhi Range
Likhi Range
Likhi Range or Surami Range is a mountain range in Georgia, a part of the Caucasus mountains. It connects the Greater Caucasus and Lesser Caucasus ranges....

, which separates the Kolkhida Lowland from the Kura-Aras Lowland
Kura-Aras Lowland
The Kura-Aras Lowland, Kura-Aras Depression or Kura-Aras Basin is a vast depression in central-southern Azerbaijan defined by the valleys of the Kura River and Aras River. It is situated by the West shore of the Caspian Sea and is part of the Aral-Caspian Depression...

. In the southeast are the Talysh Mountains
Talysh Mountains
Talysh Mountains is a mountain chain in northwestern Iran, and southeastern Republic of Azerbaijan in the northwest section of the Elburz Mountains, extending southeastward from the Lankaran Lowland in southeast Azerbaijan to the lower part of the Sefid Rud in northwest Iran...

. The Lesser Caucasus and the Armenian Highland
Armenian Highland
The Armenian Highland is the central-most and highest of three land-locked plateaus that together form the northern sector of the Middle East...

 constitute the Transcaucasian Highland. The highest peak in the Caucasus range is Mount Elbrus
Mount Elbrus
Mount Elbrus is an inactive volcano located in the western Caucasus mountain range, in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia, Russia, near the border of Georgia. Mt. Elbrus's peak is the highest in the Caucasus, in Russia...

 in the Greater Caucasus, which rises to a height of 5642 metres (18,510.5 ft) above sea level. Mountains near Sochi will host part of the 2014 Winter Olympics
2014 Winter Olympics
The 2014 Winter Olympics, officially the XXII Olympic Winter Games, or the 22nd Winter Olympics, is a major international multi-sport event scheduled to be celebrated from 7 to 23 February 2014, in Sochi, Russia with some events held in the resort town of Krasnaya Polyana. Both the Olympic and...

.

Geology


The Caucasus Mountains formed largely as the result of a tectonic
Plate tectonics
Plate tectonics is a scientific theory that describes the large scale motions of Earth's lithosphere...

 plate collision between the Arabian plate
Arabian Plate
The Arabian Plate is one of three tectonic plates which have been moving northward over millions of years and colliding with the Eurasian Plate...

 moving northward with respect to the Eurasian plate
Eurasian Plate
The Eurasian Plate is a tectonic plate which includes most of the continent of Eurasia , with the notable exceptions of the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian subcontinent, and the area east of the Chersky Range in East Siberia...

. The entire region is regularly subjected to strong earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

s from this activity. The Lesser Caucasus Mountains on the other hand, is largely of volcanic origin. The Javakheti Volcanic Plateau in Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 and the surrounding volcanic ranges which extend well into central Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 are some of the youngest features of the region.

There are large hydrocarbon
Hydrocarbon
In organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons from which one hydrogen atom has been removed are functional groups, called hydrocarbyls....

 reserves in the area especially near the Caspian Sea.

Notable peaks


Europe's highest mountain is usually listed as Mount Elbrus
Mount Elbrus
Mount Elbrus is an inactive volcano located in the western Caucasus mountain range, in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia, Russia, near the border of Georgia. Mt. Elbrus's peak is the highest in the Caucasus, in Russia...

 5642 m (18,510.5 ft), in the Caucasus Mountains, though in a few sources, Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc or Monte Bianco , meaning "White Mountain", is the highest mountain in the Alps, Western Europe and the European Union. It rises above sea level and is ranked 11th in the world in topographic prominence...

 4810 m (15,780.8 ft), in the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 is listed. The Caucasus Mountains are generally considered as in both Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. In fact, the main Greater Caucasus
Greater Caucasus
Greater Caucasus , sometimes translated as "Caucasus Major", "Big Caucasus" or "Large Caucasus") is the major mountain range of the Caucasus Mountains....

 range is the most common definition for the continental divide
Continent
A continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, with seven regions commonly regarded as continents—they are : Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.Plate tectonics is...

. For a detailed history of the Asia-Europe definition, see Boundaries between continents. While clearly not a scientific definition, most mountain climbers consider Mt. Elbrus to be the highest mountain in Europe.

The table below lists some of the highest peaks of the Caucasus. With the exception of Shkhara
Shkhara
Shkhara , is the highest point in the nation of Georgia. Located in the Svaneti region along the Russian frontier, Shkhara lies north of the city of Kutaisi, Georgia's second largest city. The summit lies in the central part of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range, to the south-east of Mount...

, the heights are taken from Soviet 1:50,000 mapping. There are higher and more prominent, but nameless, peaks than some of the peaks included below.

!Peak Name !! Elevation (m) !! Prominence (m) !! Country
|-
| Elbrus >
5,641 4,741 Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...


>-
|Dykh-Tau
Dykh-Tau
Dykh-Tau or Dykhtau , is a mountain located in Kabardino-Balkaria, Russia; its peak stands about north of the border with Georgia.The mountain is the second highest of the Caucasus Mountains, after Mount Elbrus.-Access:...

 
5,205 2,002 Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...


>-
| Shkhara
Shkhara
Shkhara , is the highest point in the nation of Georgia. Located in the Svaneti region along the Russian frontier, Shkhara lies north of the city of Kutaisi, Georgia's second largest city. The summit lies in the central part of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range, to the south-east of Mount...

 
5,201 1,365 Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

/Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...


>-
|Koshtan-Tau
Koshtan-Tau
Koshtan-Tau , is the highest peak of the Koshtan massif of the central Caucasus Mountains in the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic of Russia, near the border with Georgia.-References:...

 
5,152 822 Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...


>-
|Janga
Janga
Dzhangi-Tau or Jangi-Tau is a summit in the central part of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range. It lies on the border of Svaneti and Kabardino-Balkaria . The elevation of the mountain is above sea level. The slopes of the mountain are heavily glaciated. They are most famous for the dormant...

 (Jangi-Tau
Janga
Dzhangi-Tau or Jangi-Tau is a summit in the central part of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range. It lies on the border of Svaneti and Kabardino-Balkaria . The elevation of the mountain is above sea level. The slopes of the mountain are heavily glaciated. They are most famous for the dormant...

)
5,059 300 Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

/Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...


>-
|Kazbek 
5,047 2,353 Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

/Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...


>-
|Pushkin
5,033 110 Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

/Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...


>-
|Katyn-Tau 
4,979 240 Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

/Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...


>-
|Gistola
Gistola
Gistola is a peak in the central part of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range in Svaneti, Georgia. The elevation of the mountain is above sea level. The mountain is made up of paleozoic granites. The slopes of Gistola are covered with ice.- References :...

 
4,860 Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...


>-
|Shota Rustaveli
Shota Rustaveli Peak
Shota Rustaveli is a mountain in the central part of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range, straddling the border of Svaneti and Kabardino-Balkaria . The elevation of the mountain is 4,860 meters . Shota Rustaveli is generally considered to be the 9th highest peak of the Caucasus...

 
4,860 c.50 Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

/Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...


>-
|Tetnuldi 
4,858 672 Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...


>-
|Mount Bazardüzü 
4,466 Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...


>-
|Mount Shahdagh
Mount Shahdagh
Mount Shahdagh is a mountain peak of the Greater Caucasus range, located in Qusar rayon of Azerbaijan, close to the border with Russia. The elevation of the peak is 4,243 metres above the sea level. Prehistoric cave dwellings have been discovered at the base of the mountain indicating habitation...

 
4,243 Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...


>-
| Aragats 
4,090 2,143


See also: List of the most prominent mountains in the Caucasus

Climate


The climate of the Caucasus varies both vertically (according to elevation) and horizontally (by latitude and location). Temperature generally decreases as elevation rises. Average annual temperature in Sukhumi
Sukhumi
Sukhumi is the capital of Abkhazia, a disputed region on the Black Sea coast. The city suffered heavily during the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict in the early 1990s.-Naming:...

, Abkhazia
Abkhazia
Abkhazia is a disputed political entity on the eastern coast of the Black Sea and the south-western flank of the Caucasus.Abkhazia considers itself an independent state, called the Republic of Abkhazia or Apsny...

 at sea level is 15 degrees Celsius while on the slopes of Mt. Kazbek at an elevation of 3700 metres, average annual temperature falls to -6.1 degrees Celsius. The northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range are 3 degrees (Celsius) colder than the southern slopes. The highlands of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains in Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, and Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 are marked by sharp temperature contrasts between the summer and winter months due to a more continental climate.

Precipitation increases from east to west in most areas. Elevation plays an important role in the Caucasus and mountains generally receive higher amounts of precipitation than low-lying areas. The northeastern regions (Dagestan
Dagestan
The Republic of Dagestan is a federal subject of Russia, located in the North Caucasus region. Its capital and the largest city is Makhachkala, located at the center of Dagestan on the Caspian Sea...

) and the southern portions of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains are the driest. The absolute minimum annual precipitation is 250 mm (9.84 in) in the northeastern Caspian Depression
Caspian Depression
Caspian Depression or Pricaspian/Peri-Caspian Depression/Lowland is a low-lying flatland region encompassing the northern part of the Caspian Sea, the largest enclosed body of water on Earth. It is the larger northern part of the wider Aral-Caspian Depression around the Aral and Caspian seas.The...

. Western parts of the Caucasus Mountains are marked by high amounts of precipitation. The southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range receive higher amounts of precipitation than the northern slopes. Annual precipitation in the Western Caucasus ranges from 1000 to 4000 mm (39.4 to 157.5 ) while in the Eastern and Northern Caucasus (Chechnya
Chechnya
The Chechen Republic , commonly referred to as Chechnya , also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria , is a federal subject of Russia . It is located in the southeastern part of Europe in the Northern Caucasus mountains. The capital of the republic is the city of Grozny...

, Ingushetia
Ingushetia
The Republic of Ingushetia is a federal subject of Russia , located in the North Caucasus region with its capital at Magas. In terms of area, the republic is the smallest of Russia's federal subjects except for the two federal cities, Moscow and Saint Petersburg...

, Kabardino-Balkaria
Kabardino-Balkaria
The Kabardino-Balkar Republic , or Kabardino-Balkaria , is a federal subject of Russia located in the North Caucasus. Population: -Geography:The republic is situated in the North Caucasus mountains, with plains in the northern part....

, Ossetia
Ossetia
Ossetia Ossetic: Ир, Ирыстон Ir, Iryston; Russian: Осетия, Osetiya; Georgian: ოსეთი, Oset'i) is an ethnolinguistic region located on both sides of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, largely inhabited by the Ossetians. The Ossetian language is part of the Eastern Iranian branch of the Indo-European...

, Kakheti
Kakheti
Kakheti is a historical province in Eastern Georgia inhabited by Kakhetians who speak a local dialect of Georgian. It is bordered by the small mountainous province of Tusheti and the Greater Caucasus mountain range to the north, Russian Federation to the Northeast, Azerbaijan to the Southeast, and...

, Kartli
Kartli
Kartli is a historical region in central-to-eastern Georgia traversed by the river Mtkvari , on which Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, is situated. Known to the Classical authors as Iberia, Kartli played a crucial role in ethnic and political consolidation of the Georgians in the Middle Ages...

, etc.) precipitation ranges from 600 to 1800 mm (23.6 to 70.9 ). The absolute maximum annual precipitation is 4100 mm (161.42 in) around the Mt. Mtirala area which lies on the Meskheti Range
Meskheti Range
Meskheti Range is a part of the Lesser Caucasus mountain range in Meskheti region, in southwestern Georgia....

 in Ajaria. The precipitation of the Lesser Caucasus Mountain Range (Southern Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

, Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, western Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

), not including the Meskheti Range
Meskheti Range
Meskheti Range is a part of the Lesser Caucasus mountain range in Meskheti region, in southwestern Georgia....

, varies from 300-800 mm (31.5 in) annually.

The Caucasus Mountains are known for the high amount of snowfall, although many regions which are not located along the windward slopes do not receive nearly as much snow. This is especially true for the Lesser Caucasus Mountains which are somewhat isolated from the moist influences coming in from the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 and receive considerably less precipitation (in the form of snow) than the Greater Caucasus Mountains. The average winter snow cover of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains ranges from 10 to 30 cm (3.9 to 11.8 ). The Greater Caucasus Mountains (especially the southwestern slopes) are marked by heavy snowfall. Avalanches which are common from November-April.

Snow cover in several regions (Svaneti
Svaneti
Svaneti is a historic province in Georgia, in the northwestern part of the country. It is inhabited by the Svans, a geographic subgroup of the Georgians.- Geography :...

 and northern Abkhazia
Abkhazia
Abkhazia is a disputed political entity on the eastern coast of the Black Sea and the south-western flank of the Caucasus.Abkhazia considers itself an independent state, called the Republic of Abkhazia or Apsny...

) may reach 5 metres (16 ft). The Mt. Achishkho region, which is the snowiest place in the Caucasus, often records snow depths of 7 m (23 ft).

Landscape



The Caucasus Mountains have a varied landscape which mainly changes vertically and according to the distance from large bodies of water. The region contains biomes ranging from subtropical low-land marshes/forests to glaciers (Western and Central Caucasus) as well as highland semideserts/steppe
Steppe
In physical geography, steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes...

s and alpine meadows in the south (mainly Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 and Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

).

The northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains are covered by oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

, hornbeam
Hornbeam
Hornbeams are relatively small hardwood trees in the genus Carpinus . Though some botanists grouped them with the hazels and hop-hornbeams in a segregate family, Corylaceae, modern botanists place the hornbeams in the birch subfamily Coryloideae...

, maple
Maple
Acer is a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maple.Maples are variously classified in a family of their own, the Aceraceae, or together with the Hippocastanaceae included in the family Sapindaceae. Modern classifications, including the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system, favour inclusion in...

, and ash
Ash tree
Fraxinus is a genus flowering plants in the olive and lilac family, Oleaceae. It contains 45-65 species of usually medium to large trees, mostly deciduous though a few subtropical species are evergreen. The tree's common English name, ash, goes back to the Old English æsc, while the generic name...

 forests at lower elevations while birch
Birch
Birch is a tree or shrub of the genus Betula , in the family Betulaceae, closely related to the beech/oak family, Fagaceae. The Betula genus contains 30–60 known taxa...

 and pine
Pine
Pines are trees in the genus Pinus ,in the family Pinaceae. They make up the monotypic subfamily Pinoideae. There are about 115 species of pine, although different authorities accept between 105 and 125 species.-Etymology:...

 forests take over at higher elevations. Some of the lowest locations/slopes of the region are covered by steppes and grasslands. The slopes of the Northwestern Greater Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkaria
Kabardino-Balkaria
The Kabardino-Balkar Republic , or Kabardino-Balkaria , is a federal subject of Russia located in the North Caucasus. Population: -Geography:The republic is situated in the North Caucasus mountains, with plains in the northern part....

, Cherkessia, etc.) also contain spruce
Spruce
A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea , a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the Family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal regions of the earth. Spruces are large trees, from tall when mature, and can be distinguished by their whorled branches and conical...

 and fir
Fir
Firs are a genus of 48–55 species of evergreen conifers in the family Pinaceae. They are found through much of North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, occurring in mountains over most of the range...

 forests. The alpine
Alpine climate
Alpine climate is the average weather for a region above the tree line. This climate is also referred to as mountain climate or highland climate....

 zone replaces the forest around 2,000 metres above sea level. The permafrost/glacier
Glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

 line generally starts around 2,800-3,000 metres. The south-eastern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains are covered by beech
Beech
Beech is a genus of ten species of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America.-Habit:...

, oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

, maple
Maple
Acer is a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maple.Maples are variously classified in a family of their own, the Aceraceae, or together with the Hippocastanaceae included in the family Sapindaceae. Modern classifications, including the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system, favour inclusion in...

, hornbeam
Hornbeam
Hornbeams are relatively small hardwood trees in the genus Carpinus . Though some botanists grouped them with the hazels and hop-hornbeams in a segregate family, Corylaceae, modern botanists place the hornbeams in the birch subfamily Coryloideae...

, and ash forests. Beech
Beech
Beech is a genus of ten species of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America.-Habit:...

 forests tend to dominate in higher locations. The south-western slopes of the Greater Caucasus are covered by Colchian
Colchis
In ancient geography, Colchis or Kolkhis was an ancient Georgian state kingdom and region in Western Georgia, which played an important role in the ethnic and cultural formation of the Georgian nation.The Kingdom of Colchis contributed significantly to the development of medieval Georgian...

 forests (oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

, buxus
Buxus
Buxus is a genus of about 70 species in the family Buxaceae. Common names include box or boxwood ....

, beech
Beech
Beech is a genus of ten species of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America.-Habit:...

, chestnut
Chestnut
Chestnut , some species called chinkapin or chinquapin, is a genus of eight or nine species of deciduous trees and shrubs in the beech family Fagaceae, native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The name also refers to the edible nuts they produce.-Species:The chestnut belongs to the...

, hornbeam
Hornbeam
Hornbeams are relatively small hardwood trees in the genus Carpinus . Though some botanists grouped them with the hazels and hop-hornbeams in a segregate family, Corylaceae, modern botanists place the hornbeams in the birch subfamily Coryloideae...

, elm
Elm
Elms are deciduous and semi-deciduous trees comprising the genus Ulmus in the plant family Ulmaceae. The dozens of species are found in temperate and tropical-montane regions of North America and Eurasia, ranging southward into Indonesia. Elms are components of many kinds of natural forests...

) at lower elevations with coniferous and mixed forests (spruce
Spruce
A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea , a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the Family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal regions of the earth. Spruces are large trees, from tall when mature, and can be distinguished by their whorled branches and conical...

, fir
Fir
Firs are a genus of 48–55 species of evergreen conifers in the family Pinaceae. They are found through much of North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, occurring in mountains over most of the range...

 and beech
Beech
Beech is a genus of ten species of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America.-Habit:...

) taking over at higher elevations. The alpine zone on the southern slopes may extend up to 2,800 metres above sea level while the glacier
Glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

/snow line starts from 3,000-3,500 metres.
The northern and western slopes of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains are characterized both by Colchian
Colchis
In ancient geography, Colchis or Kolkhis was an ancient Georgian state kingdom and region in Western Georgia, which played an important role in the ethnic and cultural formation of the Georgian nation.The Kingdom of Colchis contributed significantly to the development of medieval Georgian...

 and other deciduous
Deciduous
Deciduous means "falling off at maturity" or "tending to fall off", and is typically used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally, and to the shedding of other plant structures such as petals after flowering or fruit when ripe...

 forests at lower elevations while mixed and coniferous forests (mainly spruce
Spruce
A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea , a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the Family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal regions of the earth. Spruces are large trees, from tall when mature, and can be distinguished by their whorled branches and conical...

 and fir
Fir
Firs are a genus of 48–55 species of evergreen conifers in the family Pinaceae. They are found through much of North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, occurring in mountains over most of the range...

) dominate at higher elevations. Beech
Beech
Beech is a genus of ten species of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America.-Habit:...

 forests are also common at higher elevations. The southern slopes of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains are largely covered by grasslands and steppes up to an elevation of 2,500 metres. The highest areas of the region contain alpine grasslands as well. Volcanic and other rock formations are common throughout the region. The volcanic zone extends over a large area from southern Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 into Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 and southwestern Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

. Some of the prominent peaks of the region include Mt. Aragats, Didi Abuli
Didi Abuli
Didi Abuli is the highest peak of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains in the nation of Georgia. The mountain is located in the Abul-Samsari Range at an elevation of above sea level....

, Samsari, and others. The area is characterized by volcanic plateau
Volcanic plateau
A volcanic plateau is a plateau produced by volcanic activity. There are two main types: lava plateaus and pyroclastic plateaus.-Lava plateau:...

s, lava flows, volcanic lakes, volcanic cone
Volcanic cone
Volcanic cones are among the simplest volcanic formations. They are built by ejecta from a volcanic vent, piling up around the vent in the shape of a cone with a central crater. Volcanic cones are of different types, depending upon the nature and size of the fragments ejected during the eruption...

s and other features. The Lesser Caucasus Mountains lack the type of glaciers/glacial features that are common on the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range.

Further reading

  • Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus By Svante E. Cornell

External links