Created: 3/10/1959

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CKKXRAL OTIELLinQfCE ACWCY Office of Research aad Reporte



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The three small republics which compose Economicie between the high ridge of the Great Caucasus Mountains and the boundary that separates the Soviet Union front Turkey and Iran. Tbe Black and Caspian Seas form the western and eastern boundaries of the region, respectively. The total area of tbe Transcaucaaus3 square miles. Of this Aserbaydzhan, the largest of the three republics,5 square miles; Annsnia, thequare miles; and1 square miles- The physical Geography of the region iB highly varied, including humid subtropical lowlands, dry lowlandigh arid plateau lands, and ruggedand foothills. The cultural and economic geography oi" ths region reflect this diversity. Th? population is eztresiely unevenly distributed ond is cade nucber of asbionaj.ity groups- An agricultural econo:jy prevailuch of the lowland and foothill areas of Tranacaucc.sia. In the bighjjiads and in tbe Baku area, extractive Indus trice eretant; and snnufaaturlng industries are developing inaters of ths rejjicn.

1:hrioundary of theruns ir. generalcrest oft Ckiu-'icvs Sange, iftich stretches cos* TCOtoesoutheast across the isthmus between the/:wo ef thees'<s

aloog thoewt iu elevation, and extencive

areas are glacier covered. mile belt paralleling the crest of the mountains on the south, rugged terrain predominates. The numerous rapid streams that flov out from the mountains cut the south face of the Caucasus Rangeeries of ridges and deep valleysorth-northeast--south-southvest orientation, thus makingor communication parallel to the Caucasus Range extremely difficult. South of the mountain bolt are tuo valleyshe Rion Lovland fronting on the Black Sea and the Kura Lowland facing the Caspian* Both lowlands are roughly triangular in shape, narrowing as they reach inland, and both terminate in the relatively low Suramskiy Range which separates them. The Suramakiy Range connects the Great Caucasus Mountains vith the Little Caucasus fountains and the Armenian highland, an arid, rockydeet in elevation.

The southern slopes of the Caucasus Rangeairly dense forest cover of Juniper, oak, and hornbeam up to an elevation ofeet in the vest. Toward tbe east the foreet cover thins out markedly. Alpine meadows occupy the belt between the tree line end the snow line, which lies00 feet. In the lowlands and foothills, nuch of the nature! vegetation has been cleared to permit use of the land for agriculture. Limited areas of humid subtropical forest with dense undergrowth, howovor, still remain in the Rion Lowland notably around the extensive awacps near the coast- Ifeitural vegetation in the Kura Lowland is sawidoserfc in character, consisting mainly of low bushe3 and grasses. In tha Littlec>untains, scattered

deciduous forests occupy the lover slopes; but low bushes sod grasses predominate at higher elevations and on tbo Armenian Plateau.

The climate of Transcaucasia is generally mild. The main range of the Caucasus shelters too region from cold northern winds, ond the Black and Caspian Seasoderating influence* Precipitation decreases from west to east. Tbo Block Sea coastumid subtropical climate. Winters are mild, with January temperatures averaging fromtosummers arc hot and humid, with heavy rainfall, ranging up toear in tho Batumi area. In the Kura Lowland east of the Suramskiy Range the cUJoate is more continental in character. Winters are relatively warm, but teaa>erotures are lower than in the west and frosts occur occasionally; suasars are very hot and dry. is light, amounting to lessear immediately southwest of Baku. imited area on the Caspian coast around Lenkoran1 the climate is humid subtropical, with precipitation increasing to an average ofear. At the higher elevation of the Armenian Plateau in the south, winters are considerably colder; and January temperature0 average fromto

ndillion people live in the Trans Caucasus Regionaboutillion inillion in Aserbaycdian,illion in Armenia. Population density varies greatly throughout the region, being noticeably affected by differences in both relief and precipitation (see In the Rioa Valley around Kutaisi the density iser square mile, whereas extensive areas on the Armenian highland snd in ths Caucasus Mountains are virtually uninhabited.

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Throughout the Rion Volley, on the elopes of the surrounding uplands, and along the Black Sen coaBt, tlie densities ere highenerallyer square mile. Papulation decreases from vest to east, aa does the precipitation, whereas in the arid Kura Lowland adjacent to tho Caspian Sea the population density reaches ISO inew laolated areas.

Overercent of the population of the Tfanscaucasus ls classified as urban. Baku, capital of the Azerbaydahan Republic and tbe center of the oil industry, ia by far the largest urban area of the region. It is the fourth largest city in the Soviet Union,opulationn the city proper and the uuburbs that are administratively subordinate to lt. The capital of the Georgian Republic, Tbiliei, Is the socend largest urban center ol the Tranacaucasus,nhabitanta. It Is the moat Important transportation hub in the region

and on expanding industrial center. Yerevan, the capital of the Armenian

Republic, ranks third,opulation ther cltlea

havenhabitants: ,,


The Trans Caucasusnrge number of nationality groups, some of which nave been given official status through the establishment

of separate administrative units ln the areas where they predominate.

the) ethnic composition of th? thrca union republics, estimated by percent,

is aa follows:

rbaydgji-'inl Tijan Kt^iiic Other




lesser nationality groups ore subordinate to the union republics. In Georgia the Abkhaz inhabit the northveBt corner of the republic and the Adzhars the southwest corner. Both have eutonooous republic (ASSR) status. Toe Southern Ossetiaas or. the south slopes of the Caucasus mountains in north-control Georgia have autonomous oblast (AO) status. Two nationality units are subordinaterfcaydzhan> The Hogorno-Karabakhskaya AO is inhabited predominantly by Araenians - The Nakhichevanskaya ASSRredominantly Azerbaydzhanl area, but it is separated from Azerbaydzhar. proper by the southeast extension of Armenia. Other small nationality groups in tbe Trapscaucasus include Kurds, Talyeh, Svans, and Pshavs. The Russians in the Trans Caucasus area are scattered among the industrial centers, where they serve as administrative officials and technicians.

Extractive industries are of primary importance in theranufacturing industriee based on local reeources havein recent years Oil from the Bakuthe region's chief contribution to tho Soviet eeciscay, althoughoil producing area tberes has recently fallen behindregion, the so-called "Secondcenters of

oil refining in ths Trrtnacsuensus tre Batuai cni Bofet;.. Avong the otherclov.tin in %hz reaicn arc manganese in vhe Chiatura area of

Georgia, coal at Tkvarchsli and Tkibulieorgia, iron ore at Dashkesan in Azerbaydzhan, and copper at Alaverdi and Baffin in Armenia. Copper is smelted and refined at tbe Alaverdi copper works, and heavy industry is being developed in the Tbilisi area. In Rustavi, Just south of Tbilisi, the Transcaucosian Metallurgical Plant, which includes blast furnaces, open-hearth furnaces, and rolling mills, uses the iron from Dashkesan and Georgian coal. One of the large at ferro-alloy works in tbe USSR is located at Zestafoni. It produces an estimatedoercent of the total Soviet output. The sajor power sources in the Region are <l) the group of thermal plants between Baku andhe hydroelectric plants of tho Sevan-Rajtdan Cascade north of Yerevan,he MAogechaur hydroelectric plant.

The agricultural pattern within- the Troos<.'aucasus to extremely diverse, reflecting the wide range in terrain and climatic features of the regica- ourth of the territory of the region io under cultivation, the most extensive cultivated areas being located in the Rion Valley and in the irrigated portions of the Kara Lowland. Tea plantations and citrus groves predominate in tho middle Rion Lowland and In uueh of the Black Sea coastal area. Where tbe lower slopes of the mountains come neartck Sea, however, tobacco and grapes are raised in addition to tea. Extensive vineyordc ore also found northwest of Tbilisi and southwest of Yerevan ond provide tbs basisinemaking and distilling industry. On the lever slopes of the Biouutainche region, cersale are crown for local eonsuwpticn. Cotton, fruii.s, vegetables, find rlcs as* reised ln tha irrigated parts of the

Kara and Araks Volleys. Transcaucasia is the second most important cotton graving region within the Soviet Union. One-third of the Transcaucasuc Region is classified so posture or gross land. The dry, unirrigatedof the lowlands are used for pasture in winter and the alpine meadows in summer. Sheep and cattle ore tha principal types of livestock.

The high and rugged terrain that comprises much of Transcaucasia directly affects the node and direction of transportation. The rivers are either too swift or otherwise unsuited for use as inland waterways. The rail system consistsain line crossing the isthmus from east to vast through the lowlands. arge southern loop extends from Baku southwest to the bcuncery ofS, which it follows to Leninakan, where it turns north again to Join the wain line at Tbilisi. Numerous branch lines also extend short distances north and south of the main line. Leninakan and Dahul'faare connecting points for transborder rail traffic into Turkey and Iran, respectively. The only rail lines extending northward tc the rest of the Soviet Union follow the coasts of the Black and Caspian Seas; no lines cross the Caucasus Range. The main reads of the region have the same general orientation as the rail lines, but two major 'reads cross the middle Caucasus. The Georgian Military Highway connects Tbilisi with Crdahonikidze, and the other road connects Kutaisi with Alsgir. -loth go through passes that are subject to blocking by snow during tho winter. In addition, roads piny an indispensable role lo meting transportation needs in areas that are inaccessible to rail tssosport. Scads areoor, particularly froi uiicsinter through eavSo'


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