Geographic area and nature and climatic conditions

The republic lies on the northern slope of the Great Caucasus (in its central part) and in the adjacent Kabarda Valley. The landscape is covered with dry land steppes and semi-desert zones in the north; foothill valleys, subalpine forests, and permanent-snow mountains in the south. Kabardino-Balkaria is famous for unique natural complexes, such as cascade waterfalls in Chegem clove, Blue lakes (rus. – Golubye ozyora), dolines and caves of Malkinsky clove. The republic is largely mountainous and includes the highest peak in Europe, Mount Elbrus (5,642 m).


The territory stretches 100 km from north to south, and 175 km from west to east.


Kabardino-Balkaria borders the Republic of North Ossetia-Аlania, the Karachay-Cherkess Republic, and the Stavropol Krai; and has state boundary with Georgia.


There are 140 rivers and creeks of the Terek and Kuma basins with the following channels: Malka-Kura, Baksan-Malka, Malo-Kabardinskyi. The water arteries are the Terek river, the Malka river, and the Baksan river.


The republic has a temperate continental climate. The average January temperature ranges from -3ºC in the valleys to -12ºC in the mountains, with the average July temperature ranging from +23ºC to +4ºC, respectively. Annual precipitation varies between 500 mm and 2,000 mm.


Vegetation: pine-wood and greenwood (beech, oak, birch, horn-beech, alder, poplar).


The Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria was established in 1921 as Kabarda Autonomous Region, then it became Kabardino-Balkarian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (1957), Kabardino-Balkarian Soviet Socialist Republic (1991), and finally the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria (1992). The capital is Nalchik. As of January 1, 2012, the territory is 12,500 km2, which is 0.07% of the territory of the Russian Federation.


As of January 1, 2012, the total population of Kabardino-Balkaria was 859,000 people according to the estimations (0.60% of the RF population). Density of population was 68.9 people per km2 (as of January 1, 2012). The share of the urban population was 54.27% (as of January 1, 2012).


Description of natural resources in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria as of January 2012*

Indicator Total area Timber reserves, mil. m3
Total area, th. km2
Area under forests, th. ha
Area under water bodies, th. ha

* according to Rosstat regional authority

Mineral resources

Tyrnyauzsky deposit

Mineral resources of the republic include over 150 types of barren mineral raw materials, 58 of which are prospected and are on the government`s balance.


There are large deposits of molybdenum, tungsten, lead, stannic, copper, iron ore, gold, arsenic, antimony, coal and lignite, oil, tuff, volcanic pumice and ash, phosphorite, limestone, chalky clay, plaster stone, fire-clay and floridin clay.


Mined deposits are: Tyrnyauzsky (tungsten and molybdenum ore), Zayukovsky (tuff), Gerpegezhsky (bentonite clays), Eldzhurtinsky (grey granite and marble); Akhlovsky, Arak-Dalatareksky, Zayukovsky, Kursky, Kurpsky, Sovetsky, Pavlovsky, Kharbizhinsky (oil and gas). Over 40 deposits of construction materials and nonmetallic feed, fresh and mineral water are in operation.


In the long term, the following deposits may be developed: oil, gas, gold, iron ore, granite, talc, barite, and bleaching clay.



Specially protected natural sites of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria

Name Area, th. ha*
Kabardino-Balkarskiy state high-mountain sanctuary
Prielbrusje national park (vicinity of the Mt. Elbrus)