The Republic of Dagestan was founded on January 20, 1921. As a subject of the Russian Federation it is a part of the Southern Federal District. With territory area of 50 300 sq. km it is populated by 2 711 700 citizens. The Republic borders with Stavropol Krai in the north-west, the Republic of Kalmykia in the north, the Chechen Republic in the west, Georgia in the south-west and Azerbaijan in the south. Major religion is Islam.
The capital city is Makhachkala populated by 465 900 citizens. Makhachkala is 1594 km far from Moscow and is in the same time zone.
The city was founded in 1844 as a Russian military fortification Petrovskoye, however among local mountain dwellers it is known under a Kumyk name of Anzhi-Qala — «a fortress of soil». In 13 years the settlement received a city status and a name of Port-Petrovsk based on a legend that during the Persian campaign of 1722 it was here that the camp site of the Peter the Great army was located. The current name of Makhachkala the city received in 1921 after Magomed (Makhach) Ali-Dakhadaev (1882-1918) — the famous Dagestani revolutionist.
The city stretches along the Caspian Sea shore on a narrow strip of Primorskaya Plain for over 70 km. It is inhabited by representatives of over 60 Dagestan and the former Soviet Union nationalities; hence the city is a smooth blend of the Muslim and Russian European cultures. The entrance arch to the City park is decorated with national style ornaments, so as the central Jama Masjid (Friday mosque) of Makhachkala. There are a lot of one- and two-storey buildings of a dark-yellow limestone in the city center erected here in the period of the XIX-XX centuries. The genuinely picturesque «narrow mountain» Targitau towers over the city. There is a Tarki settlement on top of it with three mosques and an observation post of Burnaya fortress (1821).
Makhachkala is distinguished among coastal and balneal resorts. The bases of its therapeutic treatment are mineral waters and sulphide silt peloids of saline lakes (Makhachkalinsky, Big and Small Turali). Targitau mountain (5-6 km of Makhachkala) is famous for its fresh and mineral water springs. The temperature of the thermal water at the north foot of the mountain reaches +100C. There is a balneal resort Talgi that stands 18 km to the south-west of Makhachkala. The city beach is available from June through October with the average sea water temperature +22+24C in June-August.
Another city worth visiting for its rich history is Derbent, which is the southmost city of the Russian Federation and probably the oldest (population 109 000 people). First settlements on this territory appeared in the early Bronze Age — late 4th century B.C.; and the first written record about «Caspian Gates» — the earliest known name of the settlement — dates back to the VI century A.D. It was mentioned by an ancient Greek geographer Hecataeus of Miletus.
Derbent is known for its beautiful narrow streets of the Old town and the central point of attraction for any guided tour is Naryn-Kala fortress over 2 500 years old and a shah’s palace that tops the city. Marco Polo, Afanasy Nikitin, Alexandre Dumas and Peter the Great admired the city. The Sasanian Fortress reveals a magnificent view of the city while in its museum you could see paintings where ancient Derbent is captured.
At the Northern bus-station of Derbent you could board a regular bus that would take you to Akhty aul (mountain village), which is the largest aul of the Southern Dagestan (populated by 13 000 people) and one of largest culture centres of the Republic. Thus, the first Dagestani professional drama theater appeared in Akhty in 1906. The settlement is elevated at 1054 m. A stone staircase behind the Friday mosque Sharvili leads to an observation area that reveals a gorgeous view of the city and Samurskaya valley. Remains of the ancient Shah-Bani fortress that is known since the Mongol epoch were found here in the early XX century. Akhty has many attractions related to Sharvili — a local Lezgin epos hero and defender of people. Hence, every year on June 30 Akhty celebrates the Day of Sharvili. During the Festival you could listen to ethnic ensembles, watch traditional sports competitions and, of course, enjoy the famous Lezginka. Anybody is welcome to take a week’s course of Lezginka that starts any day.
In the Turkic language Dagestan means «country of mountains». Up to 30 Dagestan peaks exceed 4000 m while the highest summit — Bazardyuzi Mountain stands 4466 m high. The most interesting regions of the Republic for sport tourism are found in Inner Dagestan (Gimrinsky Range etc.)
One of the most beautiful waterfalls in Dagestan is located close to Huchni settlement. Various sources give various heights of fall ranging from 16 to 40 meters. It falls over two benches. You could climb from the bottom to the very top and enjoy the view of falling water or jump into the lake formed at the foot of the waterfall. Another attraction is a fortress that stands high above the Rubas River 4 km far from Huchni. It was built in the XVII century and is covered by many local legends.
Almost a full year through the weather in Dagestan is fine and sunny and only in late autumn and early winter it changes for dull. During long and hot summers daytime temperatures at foothills and along the coastal plain reach +35+40C while occasional thunderstorms occur up in the mountains. Autumns are warm and dry and only November brings lengthy rains. First autumn frosts along the coastal line happen in the second half of November, however at foothills and up in the mountains they occur within the first decade of October. It feels like the winter descends from the mountains and loses its power on the way. High in the mountains it is frosty and snow stays for a long time. Along the coastal line and at mountain foothills snow blanket is scanty and unstable and cold days are followed by long-lasting thaws.
For more detailed information on the Republic, please refer to Internet resources of governmental authorities of the constituent entity of the Russian Federation.