Infobox Ethnic group

Karachay patriarchs in the 19th century
poptime= 300,000 (est.)
popplace= Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, USA, Syria
rels=Sunni Islam
langs=Karachay, Russian in Karachay-Cherkess Republic
related=Other Turkic peoples, Kipchaks

The Karachays (Къарачайлыла, "Qaraçaylıla") are a Turkic people of the Ciscaucasus, mostly situated in the Russian Karachay-Cherkess Republic.


The Karachays are a Turkic people descending from the Kypchaks, with some admixture of the medieval Alans. [1] The state of Alania established in the Middle Ages had its capital in Maghas, which some authors locate in Arkhyz, the mountains currently inhabited by the Karachay (others place it in modern Ingushetia or North Ossetia). In the 14th century, Alania was destroyed by Timur and the decimated population dispersed in the mountains. Timur's intervention to the North Caucasus introduced the local nations to Islam.

In 1828, the Russian army broke into the Karachay's territory and, after the Russo-Circassian War with numerically insignificant military forces of mountain men, formally annexed the Karachay territories. In 1831 - 1860, Karachays joined the bloody anti-Russian struggles carried out by Caucasian peoples. In 1861 - 1880, to escape repression by the Russian army, large numbers of Karachays migrated to Turkey. Between Jan 1, 1921 - Dec 12, 1930 (early Soviet period), Bolshevik authorities quelled resistance to Soviet rule in Karachay region and other territories of the Caucasus. In 1942, the invading German army occupied the Karachay region.

In November 1943, the Karachay people were forcibly resettled to the desert areas of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The population of the nation at that time was nearly 80,000 people, primarily children, women and old men. Most of the male population were fighting the Nazis on the fronts of the World War II. With mass starvation, cholera, typhoid fever and other diseases, approximately 35% of the population died in 2 years (mainly the children). Out of 28,000 children, 22,000 died (approx. 78%) [" [http://akba.org/english/genocide.html Genocide in Karachay] " by Hamit Botas.] Nowadays old men say: "That time in the Middle Asia was terrible for Karachay people: hunger, expulsion, and military violence; and Karachays preferred to die than to ask alms of others or blemish his or her honour or honour of the clan".

After 14 years, during the Khrushchev era in 1957, the chance to return to their historical lands was given to Karachay people. The first group of people returned on May 3, 1957. Karachays now celebrate this day and consider it their Revival Day.


The Karachay nation, as well as its brother nation, the Balkars, took the valleys and foothills of the Central Caucasus in the water gaps of the Kuban, Zelenchuk, Malka, Baksan, Cherek and others.

The Karachays and Balkars are very proud of the symbol of the nations, Mount Elbrus, the highest double-headed mountain in Europe with an altitude 5,642 meters.

Locations with dominant Karachay populations: Uchkulan, Huzruk, Kart Dzhurt, Arhyz, Dombai, Teberda, Karachaevsk, Ust-Dzheguta, Uchkeken, Novaya Dzheguta, Staraya Dzheguta, Kuzul Kala, Eltarkach.


The Karachays are a Turkic people descending from the Kypchaks. ["HISTORY OF KARACHAY-BALKAR PEOPLE: From the ancient times to joining Russia", by Ismail M. Miziyev, Nalchik: Mingi-Tau Publishing, 1994. Translation from Russian and footnotes by P. B. Ivanov - Moscow, 1997.] ["Microsoft Encarta Library", contributed by Ronald Grigor Suny.]

Language and religion

The Karachay dialect of Karachay-Balkar language is of the Northwestern branch of Turkic languages.Most Karachay people follow Islam.


Czarist Russian annexation of the Karachay nation led to mass migration to Turkey in the early 20th century. Karachays were also displaced en masse to the then Soviet controlled Central Asian states of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan after Stalin's relocation campaign in 1944. Since the Khrushchev era in the Soviet Union, many Karachays have been repatriated to their homeland from Central Asia. Karachays residing in Turkey have also migrated to numerous Western countries in search of economic opportunity. Today, there are sizable Karachay communities in Turkey (centered around Eskisehir), Uzbekistan, United States of America, and Germany.

Character of the nation

The isolated lifestyle among the Caucasus Mountains was one of the reasons of the establishment of the Karachay's unique character. Karachay people live in communities that are divided into clans and families: Uidegi – Ataul - Tukum – Tiire.

Prominent tukums include: Aci, Batcha (Batca), Baychora, Bayrimuk (Bayramuk), Bostan, Catto, Duda, Hubey (Hubi), Karabash, Laypan, Lepshok, Ozden, Silpagar, Teke, Toturkul, and many others. There are roughly 32 Karachay tukums. A tukum is basically a family's clan-based lineage.

Karachay people are very independent in their behavior and adherence to their freedom. They have strong historically developed traditions and customs which regulate their lives: the wedding, the funeral, the pronouncement of family decisions, etc. They are fiercely loyal to their immediate family, as well, as their "tukum" or clan. They will never offend a guest. Cowardice is the most serious shame for the male.


"The Karachay is a neutral nation, which lives at the root of Elbrus, and excelling by its loyalty, goodliness and bravery"”.
Leo Tolstoy", Russian novelist and philosopher,Omnibus Edition (anniversary edition),Moscow, Volume 46, page 184.

ee also

*Lake Karachay

External links

*en icontr icon [http://www.ulucami.org Ulu Cami: A Karachay Mosque serving Muslim Community in Northern Jersey]

http://www.akba.org American Karachay Benevolent Association


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