The Elbrus Region is the border area between two countries - the Russian Federation and the Republic of Georgia. Kabardino-Balkaria, as part of Russia, and the historic province of Svanetia in Georgia face each other across the Main Caucasian ridge. In spite of the territorial proximity of the Caucasian peoples, their development took place in certain isolation due to he mountainous terrain.
Kabardino-Balkaria is a member of the Russian Federation, lying in the center of the Greater Caucasus, and occupies its highest section and adjacent plains. In an area of 12400 sq.km, mountains occupy 70% of the territory. The population is 768,000 (1990), comprising Kabardinians, Balkarians and Russians. The capital is Nalchik.
Kabardinians ethnically belong to the group of Northern Caucasian peoples. Their Kabardino-Cherkess tongue belongs to the Iberian-Caucasian languages of the Indo-European language family. The written language is based on Cyrillic.
Balkarians are related to Turkic peoples and speak a Turkic type of language. Their written language is also based on Cyrillic.
Both Kabardinians and Balkarians are mostly Muslims (Sunnites).