Subcaucasia

Subcaucasia (Передкавказзя; Peredkavkazzia). The northern section of Caucasia, situated between the Great Caucasus Range in the south and the Kuma-Manych Depression in the north. Subcaucasia is divided into three parts: the Kuban Lowland and the Taman Peninsula in the west, the Stavropol Upland (with its outlier elevations near Mineralnye Vody) in the central reaches, and the Terek-Sunzha Upland and the Terek-Kuma Lowland to the east. The western and central areas of Subcaucasia represent a geographical extension of the lowland formations of Southern Ukraine. Its eastern reaches are part of the Caspian Lowland. Western Subcaucasia is situated largely in Ukrainian ethnic territory; the central and eastern regions fall in a mixed settlement area. Subcaucasia encompasses a large section of the Kuban, the Stavropol region, and the Terek region.

Most of northwestern and central Subcaucasia sits on the Scythian Platform, which has a Hercynian foundation and Cretaceous (Chalk), Paleogene, Neogene, and Quaternary layers covered with loess, loam, and clay. The region’s relief consists of low-lying (up to 150 m) plateaus in the west and east and the wavelike Stavropol Upland (elevations up to 600–800 m). The most varied relief can be found in the foothill regions near the Great Caucasus Range. The region has a mild continental climate in the west and a continental climate in the east. The average annual temperature is 8–12°C, with a January average of –2°C in the west and –7°C in the east and a July average of 22°C in the west and 25°C in the east. The greatest precipitation (600–800 mm) is found in the higher reaches of the Stavropol Upland foothills; the western part of Subcaucasia generally receives 400–600 mm and the east about 200–300 mm of precipitation. The soils consist of arable chernozem in the west and dark and light chestnut types in the east. At one time virtually all of Subcaucasia was open steppe. Today most of it is under cultivation, with the exception of the more arid reaches of the east and a forest-steppe belt in the south.

Volodymyr Kubijovyč

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]




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