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Stavropol and Krasnodar provinces (krai) lie in southern Russia just north of the Caucasus Mountains.1 Consequently, the region is also referred to as the North Caucasus. Both provinces are famous for their tourist facilities and sanatoria, such as Pyatigorsk in Stavropol and Sochi on the Black Sea in Krasnodar, as well as for their agricultural wealth, especially wheat.

In the late eighteenth century, the Russian empire began to make serious inroads into the North Caucasus and over the next seventy years systematically subdued and colonized the region. A major impetus for this action was the desire to secure a land route to the kingdom of Georgia, which became a protectorate of the empire in 1783. Russian methods of conquest in the North Caucasus included scorched-earth campaigns and the forced migration of native peoples; the in-migration of ethnic Slavs, especially Cossacks, and Christian minorities such as Armenians; the cooptation of local notables; and the construction of fortified lines of communication. For example, Stavropol was founded in 1777 as a fort on the Azov-Mozdok fortified line, while Krasnodar was constructed in 1793 as a post of the Black Sea Cossacks. Between 1861 and 1864, a majority of the Adygei, the native people of the Krasnodar region, fled to the Ottoman Empire after resisting Russian advances for decades.2 Some put their numbers at 500,000.

The territorial unit comprising present-day Stavropol province was formed in 1924; until 1937, it was known as the North Caucasian province (Severnyi-Kavkazskii krai). In 1957, three districts of Stavropol (Kargolinskii, Shchelkovskii, and Naurskii) were given to the reconstituted Chechno-Ingush Autonomous Republic. In 1991, the Karachai-Cherkessk Autonomous Oblast, which lay in the southwest of Stavropol province abutting the Caucasus Mountains, detached from Stavropol and became a republic of what is now the Russian Federation. Krasnodar province was formed in 1937; in 1991, the Adygei Autonomous Oblast, which hitherto had been part of the province, became a republic of the Russian Federation. The Karachai-Cherkessk and Adygei republics are the last territorial vestiges of the native peoples that existed there before the Russian expansion into the Kuban and Stavropol regions.

While the population of Krasnodar and Stavropol is predominately ethnically Russian, substantial minority populations exist. According to the 1989 census, Russians comprised 86.7 percent (four million) of the population of Krasnodar, followed by Ukrainians, 3.9 percent (182,100), and Armenians, 3.9 percent (172,200).3 The total population of Krasnodar according to the 1989 census was 4.62 million, which is believed to have climbed to fivemillion today.4 Conflict-related in-migration most likely boosted the Armenian, Kurdish, Meskhetian Turk, and Russian populations of Krasnodar.5 Stavropol’s population of 2.41 million in the 1989 census is believed to have grown to about 2.65 million, as of 1995. According the 1989 census, Russians comprised the vast majority (71 percent), followed by Karachis (5 percent), and Armenians (2.5 percent). Volgograd's population in 1989 totaled 2.6 million and was led by Russians (89 percent), followed by Ukranians (3 percent), and Kazakhs (1.5 percent).

1 Both Stavropol and Krasnodar provinces are officially referred to as krai, not as oblast’, the normal term for “province” in Russian. Krai denotes their historical border status. 2 See Paul Henze, “Circassian Resistance to Russia” in Abdurahman Avtorkhanov and Marie Benningsen Broxup, eds., The North Caucasian Barrier: The Russian Advance towards the Muslim World, (London: Hurst and Company, 1992) pp. 62-111. 3 More than 100,000 Adygei live in the Adygei Autonomous Oblast, now a republic. 4 All census information, unless otherwise noted, is from Natsional'nyi Sostav Naseleniya SSSR, po dannym Vsesoyuznyi Perepisi Naseleniya 1989 g., (Moscow: Finansy I Stastika, 1991). 5 Armenians have a long presence in the region. Tsarist officials encouraged their migration because of their farming and business acumen. See V.Ts. Khudaveryan and A.E. Ter-Sarkisyants, Armyanskaya Diaspora Yuga Rossii: Polozheniya I Perspektivy (Moscow: Engel, 1993).

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