Caucasus - download topographic map set
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The Caucasus lies between the Black, Caspian and Azov seas and extends from the Kuma-Manychskaya depression in the north to the Turkish and Iranian border in the south. This region is divided into Ciscaucasia, the North Caucasus, the Greater Caucasus, the Lesser Caucasus and Transcaucasia.
The Greater Caucases extends from the north-west to the south-east between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea over more than 1,100 km. The Greater Caucasus is divided into the western part (up to Elbrus), the central part (between Elbrus and Kazbek) and the eastern part (east of Kazbek). The highest peaks of the Caucasus are Elbrus (5,642 m), Dyhtau (5,203 m), Koshtan-Tau (5,131 m), Shkhara (5,068 m), Kazbek (5,033 m), Mizhirgi (5,025 m) and Katyn (4,974 m).
Relief. The northern slopes of the Caucasian ridges are flatter, while the southern slopes are steeper. From the north and the south, the main ridge is surrounded by side ridges at an angle or parallel to it.
The western part of the Caucasian range consists of predominantly limestone rocks. It gradually increases in height from 2,000 to 3,500 m.
The central part of the range was formed by crystalline and volcanic rocks with a few gaps throughout its length, covered with eternal snow. The side spurs of the main ridge contain the highest peak of the Caucasus, the two-headed Elbrus, with 20 descending glaciers. The longest glaciers are Dyh-soo (14.3 km) and Bizingi (19.3 km) which go down from the peaks Shhara and Dykhtau. Some of them are easily accessible, for example, Devdoraksky near Kazbek, Tseissky near Aday-Khokh.
There are a number of deep and locked valleys and hollows on the southern slope of the Caucasus between the main ridge and side ridges, which are almost parallel to the main ridge. The Inguri river hollow, which lies between the central part of the watershed ridge in the north and a high side ridge called the Svanetsky ridge in the south, seems particularly impregnable.
To the east of Kazbek, the main ridge is made of black clay shale. The highest peak on this stretch is Mount Bazardyuzyu, 4,480 m. Snow fields and glaciers get much smaller than those in the central part and finally they totally disappear as the ridge approaches the Caspian Sea. The northern spurs of the main ridge form a vast mountainous area called Dagestan. The largest rivers in Eastern Caucasia include the Sulak River in the north and the Aragva and the Alazan, the tributaries of the Kura River, in the south.
Rivers. The major rivers of the region include the Don, the Kuma, the Kuban, the Terek and the Sulak. Proposes the Caucasus-Black Sea and Azov plain rivers are thick, unlike the steppe regions of the left Don and north-eastern regions.
Climate. Caucasian’s dominant climate is a mild, warm and humid climate with an average temperature of +15ºС, +27ºС in the summer, +7ºС in the winter. The warmest month of the year is August. The region receives 1,300-1,500 mm of precipitation annually. The air humidity is over 70%.
Flora and Fauna. From a height of 700 m up to the upper layer of wood vegetation (1,800-2,500 m), both slopes of the main Caucasian ridge and its foothills are covered by dense forest. The area below is dominated by hardwood trees (the oak, the ash, the maple, the pear and apple), which give way to beech woods and then coniferous forests at a higher altitude. The most beautiful forests are located in the western Caucasus, especially on its southern slope. To the east, the Caucasian mountains become less wooded. In the heart of Dagestan, woods are smaller and form small islands of trees. The animals of the forest belt include: the bison, the noble deer, the roe deer and the wild boar. Big predator breeds include a large population of bears, wolves and foxes, meets leopard, wild cat, lynx. The birds species found in the mountains of the Caucasus include the mountain turkey, the grouse, the pheasant, the grey neck and different species of eagles.