Chechen people
Chechens constitute the largest native ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 originating in the North Caucasus
North Caucasus
The North Caucasus is the northern part of the Caucasus region between the Black and Caspian Seas and within European Russia. The term is also used as a synonym for the North Caucasus economic region of Russia....

 region. They refer to themselves as Noxçi (singular Noxçi or Noxço). Also known as Sadiks (Isod people), Gargareans
In Greek mythology, the Gargareans were an all-male tribe. They had sex with the Amazons annually in order to keep both tribes reproductive. Varying accounts suggest that they may have been kidnapped, raped, and murdered for this purpose, or that they may have had relations willingly...

, Malkhs (Malkhoi). The isolated mountain
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range with Mount Everestrect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateaurect 250 406 340 427 Rong River...

 terrain of the Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 and the strategic value outsiders have placed on the areas settled by Chechens has contributed much to the Chechen community ethos
Ethos is a Greek word meaning "character" that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology. The Greeks also used this word to refer to the power of music to influence its hearer's emotions, behaviors, and even morals. Early Greek stories of...

 and helped shape nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

al character. Chechen and Ingush
Ingush people
The Ingush are a native ethnic group of the North Caucasus, mostly inhabiting the Russian republic of Ingushetia. They refer to themselves as Ghalghai . The Ingush are predominantly Sunni Muslims and speak the Ingush language...

 peoples are collectively known as the Vainakh.

Origins of the word Chechen

The term "Chechen" is ultimately believed to derive from the Iranian
Iranian languages
The Iranian languages form a subfamily of the Indo-Iranian languages which in turn is a subgroup of Indo-European language family. They have been and are spoken by Iranian peoples....

 name for the Noxçi and it first occurs in Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 sources from the 8th century. According to popular tradition
A tradition is a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past. Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes , but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings...

, the Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 term "Chechen" comes from the name of the village of Chechen-Aul, where the Chechens defeated Russian soldiers in 1732. The word "Chechen", however, occurs in Russian sources as early as 1692 and the Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 probably derived it from the Kabardian
Kabardian language
The Kabardian language, also known as East Circassian , is a Northwest Caucasian language, closely related to the Adyghe language. It is spoken mainly in the Russian republics of Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia and in Turkey and the Middle East...


Geography and diaspora

The Chechen people are mainly inhabitants of Chechnya
The Chechen Republic , commonly referred to as Chechnya , also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria , is a federal subject of Russia . It is located in the southeastern part of Europe in the Northern Caucasus mountains. The capital of the republic is the city of Grozny...

, Russian Federation
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. There are also significant Chechen population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

s in other subdivisions of Russia
Subdivisions of Russia
Russia is divided into several types and levels of subdivisions.-Federal subjects:Russia is a federation which since March 1, 2008 consists of 83 federal subjects . These federal subjects are of equal federal rights in the sense that they have equal representation—two delegates each—in the...

 (especially in Dagestan
The Republic of Dagestan is a federal subject of Russia, located in the North Caucasus region. Its capital and the largest city is Makhachkala, located at the center of Dagestan on the Caspian Sea...

, Ingushetia
The Republic of Ingushetia is a federal subject of Russia , located in the North Caucasus region with its capital at Magas. In terms of area, the republic is the smallest of Russia's federal subjects except for the two federal cities, Moscow and Saint Petersburg...

 and Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

). A smaller numbers of Chechens are widely scattered in Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 and the Russian Far East
Russian Far East
Russian Far East is a term that refers to the Russian part of the Far East, i.e., extreme east parts of Russia, between Lake Baikal in Eastern Siberia and the Pacific Ocean...


Outside Russia, countries with significant Chechen diaspora
A diaspora is "the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland" or "people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location", or "people settled far from their ancestral homelands".The word has come to refer to historical mass-dispersions of...

 populations are Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

, Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, and the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 (especially Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

). These are mainly descendants of people who had to leave Chechnya during the Caucasian War
Caucasian War
The Caucasian War of 1817–1864, also known as the Russian conquest of the Caucasus was an invasion of the Caucasus by the Russian Empire which ended with the annexation of the areas of the North Caucasus to Russia...

 (which led to the annexation
Annexation is the de jure incorporation of some territory into another geo-political entity . Usually, it is implied that the territory and population being annexed is the smaller, more peripheral, and weaker of the two merging entities, barring physical size...

 of Chechnya by the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 around 1850) and the 1944 Stalinist
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

Deportation means the expulsion of a person or group of people from a place or country. Today it often refers to the expulsion of foreign nationals whereas the expulsion of nationals is called banishment, exile, or penal transportation...

 in the case of Kazakhstan.

More recently, tens of thousands of Chechen refugees
Chechen refugees
During the inter-ethnic strife in Chechnya and the two separatist First and Second Chechen Wars, hundreds of thousands of Chechen refugees have left their homes and left the republic for elsewhere in Russia and abroad.-In Russia:...

 settled in the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 and elsewhere as the result of the First
First Chechen War
The First Chechen War, also known as the War in Chechnya, was a conflict between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, fought from December 1994 to August 1996...

 and Second Chechen War
Second Chechen War
The Second Chechen War, in a later phase better known as the War in the North Caucasus, was launched by the Russian Federation starting 26 August 1999, in response to the Invasion of Dagestan by the Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade ....

s, especially in the wave of emigration to the West
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 after 2002.


The Chechens are one of the Vainakh peoples, who have lived in the highlands
Highland (geography)
The term highland or upland is used to denote any mountainous region or elevated mountainous plateau. Generally speaking, the term upland tends to be used for ranges of hills, typically up to 500-600m, and highland for ranges of low mountains.The Scottish Highlands refers to the mountainous...

 of the North Caucasus
North Caucasus
The North Caucasus is the northern part of the Caucasus region between the Black and Caspian Seas and within European Russia. The term is also used as a synonym for the North Caucasus economic region of Russia....

 region since prehistory
Prehistory is the span of time before recorded history. Prehistory can refer to the period of human existence before the availability of those written records with which recorded history begins. More broadly, it refers to all the time preceding human existence and the invention of writing...

 (there is archeological evidence of historical continuity dating back since 3,000 B.C.). In the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, the lowland of Chechenya was dominated by the Khazars and then the Alans
The Alans, or the Alani, occasionally termed Alauni or Halani, were a group of Sarmatian tribes, nomadic pastoralists of the 1st millennium AD who spoke an Eastern Iranian language which derived from Scytho-Sarmatian and which in turn evolved into modern Ossetian.-Name:The various forms of Alan —...

. Local culture was also subject to Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 influence and some Chechens converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Gradually, Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 prevailed, although the Chechens' own pagan religion
Vainakh mythology
The Vainakh people of the North Caucasus include the modern Chechens and Ingush, who are today predominantly Muslim in religion. Nevertheless, their folklore has preserved a substantial amount of information about their pre-Islamic pagan beliefs...

 was still strong until at least the 19th century. Society was organised along feudal
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 lines. The North Caucasus was devastated by the Mongol invasions of the 13th century and those of Tamerlane in the 14th.

In the late Middle Ages, the Little Ice Age
Little Ice Age
The Little Ice Age was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period . While not a true ice age, the term was introduced into the scientific literature by François E. Matthes in 1939...

 forced the Chechens down from the hills into the lowlands where they came into conflict with the Terek and Greben Cossacks
Greben Cossacks
The Greben or Skoi Cossack host was a group of Cossacks formed in the 16th century from Don Cossacks who left the Don area and settled in the northern foothills of the Caucasus. The Greben Cossacks are part of the Terek Cossacks.They were influenced by Chechen and Nogai culture and most were...

 who had also begun to move into the region. The Caucasus was also the focus for three competing empires: Ottoman Turkey, Persia
History of Iran
The history of Iran has been intertwined with the history of a larger historical region, comprising the area from the Danube River in the west to the Indus River and Jaxartes in the east and from the Caucasus, Caspian Sea, and Aral Sea in the north to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and Egypt...

 and Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. As Russia expanded southwards from the 16th century, clashes between Chechens and the Russians became more frequent. In the late 18th century Sheikh Mansur
Sheikh Mansur
Sheikh al-Mansur was a Chechen leader who led the resistance against Catherine the Great's imperialist expansion into the Caucasus during the late 18th century. He remains a legendary national hero of the Chechen people....

 led a major Chechen resistance movement. In the early 19th century, Russia embarked on full-scale conquest of the North Caucasus in order to protect the route to its new territories in Transcaucasia. The campaign was led by General Yermolov
Aleksey Petrovich Yermolov
Aleksey Petrovich Yermolov , or Ermolov , was a Russian Imperial general of the 19th century who commanded Russian troops in the Caucasus War.-Early life:...

 who particularly disliked the Chechens, describing them as "a bold and dangerous people". Angered by Chechen raids, Yermolov resorted to a policy of "scorched earth" and deportations; he also founded the fort of Grozny
Grozny is the capital city of the Chechen Republic, Russia. The city lies on the Sunzha River. According to the preliminary results of the 2010 Census, the city had a population of 271,596; up from 210,720 recorded in the 2002 Census. but still only about two-thirds of 399,688 recorded in the 1989...

 (now the capital of Chechnya) in 1818. Chechen resistance to Russian rule reached its peak under the leadership of the Dagestan
The Republic of Dagestan is a federal subject of Russia, located in the North Caucasus region. Its capital and the largest city is Makhachkala, located at the center of Dagestan on the Caspian Sea...

i Shamil in the mid-19th century. The Chechens were finally defeated after a long and bloody war. In the aftermath large numbers of muhajir
Muhajir (Caucasus)
Circassians, the indigenous peoples of the Northwest Caucasus were cleansed from their homeland at the end of the Caucasian War by victorious Russia, which by its manner of suppression of the Caucasus directed at the Crimean Tartars and Circassians can be credited with "inventing the strategy of...

A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

s emigrated
Emigration is the act of leaving one's country or region to settle in another. It is the same as immigration but from the perspective of the country of origin. Human movement before the establishment of political boundaries or within one state is termed migration. There are many reasons why people...

 or were forcibly deported
Deportation means the expulsion of a person or group of people from a place or country. Today it often refers to the expulsion of foreign nationals whereas the expulsion of nationals is called banishment, exile, or penal transportation...

 to the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. Since then there have been various Chechen rebellion
Rebellion, uprising or insurrection, is a refusal of obedience or order. It may, therefore, be seen as encompassing a range of behaviors aimed at destroying or replacing an established authority such as a government or a head of state...

s against Russian power, as well as nonviolent resistance
Nonviolent resistance
Nonviolent resistance is the practice of achieving goals through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, and other methods, without using violence. It is largely synonymous with civil resistance...

 to Russification
Russification is an adoption of the Russian language or some other Russian attributes by non-Russian communities...

 and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

's collectivization
Collective farming
Collective farming and communal farming are types of agricultural production in which the holdings of several farmers are run as a joint enterprise...

 and antireligious
Antireligion is opposition to religion. Antireligion is distinct from atheism and antitheism , although antireligionists may be atheists or antitheists...


In 1944 Moscow's oppression reached its apogee as all Chechens, together with several other peoples of the Caucasus, were ordered by Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 to be deported
Operation Lentil (Caucasus)
Operation Lentil was the Soviet expulsion of the whole of the native Chechen and Ingush populations of the North Caucasus to Siberia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan during World War II....

 en masse to Kazakhstan and Siberia and at least one-quarter and perhaps half of the entire Chechen nation perished in the process. Though "rehabilitated
Rehabilitation (Soviet)
Rehabilitation in the context of the former Soviet Union, and the Post-Soviet states, was the restoration of a person who was criminally prosecuted without due basis, to the state of acquittal...

" in 1956 and allowed to return the next year, the survivors lost economic
An economy consists of the economic system of a country or other area; the labor, capital and land resources; and the manufacturing, trade, distribution, and consumption of goods and services of that area...

A resource is a source or supply from which benefit is produced, typically of limited availability.Resource may also refer to:* Resource , substances or objects required by a biological organism for normal maintenance, growth, and reproduction...

s and civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 and, under both Soviet and post-Soviet governments, they have been the objects of (official and unofficial) discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

 and discriminatory public
In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individuals, and the public is the totality of such groupings. This is a different concept to the sociological concept of the Öffentlichkeit or public sphere. The concept of a public has also been defined in political science,...

Discourse generally refers to "written or spoken communication". The following are three more specific definitions:...

. Chechen attempts to regain independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

 in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union have led to two devastating wars
Chechen War
There have been two Chechen Wars:* 1940–1944 insurgency in Chechnya* First Chechen War, 1994–1996* Second Chechen War, 1999–2009...

 with the new Russian state since 1994.


The main language of the Chechen people is Chechen
Chechen language
The Chechen language is spoken by more than 1.5 million people, mostly in Chechnya and by Chechen people elsewhere. It is a member of the Northeast Caucasian languages.-Classification:...

. Chechen belongs to the family of Nakh languages
Nakh languages
The Nakh languages are a small family of languages spoken chiefly by the Nakh peoples, in Russia , in Georgia, and in the Chechen diaspora ....

 (North-Central Caucasian languages). Literary Chechen is based on the central lowland dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

. Other related languages include Ingush
Ingush language
Ingush is a language spoken by about 413,000 people , known as the Ingush, across a region covering Ingushetia, Chechnya, Kazakhstan and Russia. In Ingush, the language is called ГІалгІай Ğalğaj .-Classification:...

, which has speakers in the nearby Ingushetia, and Batsi
Bats language
Bats is the language of the Bats people, a Caucasian minority group, and is part of the Nakh family of Caucasian languages. It had 2,500 to 3,000 speakers in 1975....

, which is the language of the people in the adjoining part of Georgia. At various times in their history, Chechens used Georgian
Georgian alphabet
The Georgian alphabet is the writing system used to write the Georgian language and other Kartvelian languages , and occasionally other languages of the Caucasus such as Ossetic and Abkhaz during the 1940s...

, Arabic
Arabic alphabet
The Arabic alphabet or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing the Arabic language. It is written from right to left, in a cursive style, and includes 28 letters. Because letters usually stand for consonants, it is classified as an abjad.-Consonants:The Arabic alphabet has...

 and Latin
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

An alphabet is a standard set of letters—basic written symbols or graphemes—each of which represents a phoneme in a spoken language, either as it exists now or as it was in the past. There are other systems, such as logographies, in which each character represents a word, morpheme, or semantic...

s; as of 2008, the official one is now the Cyrillic alphabet
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...


In 1989, 73.4% spoke Russian, though this figure has declined due to the wars for a large number of reasons (including the lack of proper education, the refusal to learn the language, and the mass dispersal of the Chechen diaspora due to the war).

Many Chechens also speak, or learn to speak, Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

. This is due to historical and cultural reasons (Turkish was once the lingua franca of the region), as well as the presence of a large Chechen diaspora in Turkey (and now, within the Turkish sections of German cities).

Most Chechens living in their homeland can understand Ingush
Ingush language
Ingush is a language spoken by about 413,000 people , known as the Ingush, across a region covering Ingushetia, Chechnya, Kazakhstan and Russia. In Ingush, the language is called ГІалгІай Ğalğaj .-Classification:...

 with ease. The two languages are not truly mutually intelligible, but it is easy for Chechens to learn how to understand the Ingush language and vice versa over time after hearing it for a while. This situation is often compared to Spanish and Italian (or, by some, Spanish and Portuguese or Catalan), Serbo - Croatian and Slovenian, etc.

A large number of Chechens also are now able to speak English (and, for some, French) due to its status as a global lingua franca and as the language of international interaction.

Chechens in the diaspora often speak the language of the country they live in (Polish, Japanese, Georgian, etc.).

Physical appearance

Chechens belong to the Caucasoid type, exhibiting traits typical of European and Caucasian peoples. The majority of Chechens are dark-haired (medium to dark brown or black), but there are Chechens with blonde or even red hair, while eye color ranges from blue to brown and skin tone is typically rather pale and light (though there are some Chechens with darker complexions). Like other Caucasian peoples, Chechens are typically slender and tall, though there are many exceptions to this rule.


Chechens are a Nakh people
Nakh peoples
Nakh peoples are a group of historical and modern ethnic groups speaking Nakh languages and sharing certain cultural traits...

, and discussion of their origins is intertwined with the discussion of the mysterious origins of Nakh peoples as a whole.

Linguistically, Nakh peoples are distantly related to Dagestani peoples (such as Avars, Dargins, Lezghins, Laks, etc.), as they all speak languages in the Nakho-Dagestani, or Northeast Caucasian language family. However, this relationship is not a close one: the Nakho-Dagestani family is of comparable or greater time-depth than Indo-European, meaning Chechens are only as linguistically related to Avars or Dargins as the French are to the Russians or Iranians.

Nakh peoples such as Chechens are thought to either be descended from original settlers of the Caucasus (North and/or South) or supposedly Nakh-speaking ethnic minorities in the Northeastern regions of the ancient state of Urartu
Urartu , corresponding to Ararat or Kingdom of Van was an Iron Age kingdom centered around Lake Van in the Armenian Highland....

 (whose people also spoke a language that was possibly related to the Nakh languages). The two theories are not mutually incompatible, and there has been much evidence that seems to link both of the two together (either by dual origins or the "return" theory, in which the Nakh peoples originally lived in the Caucasus and then returned). It should be noted that Chechen genetics show a high level of genetic diversity (see section below).

Proposed Nakh placenames have been found in numerous areas of the South Caucasus, most prominently in Eastern Georgia, North-Central Georgia/South Ossetia, Nakhichivan, and Eastern Armenia (i.e. the modern Republic of Armenia). There are also a span of Nakh placenames in the North Caucasus outside modern Nakh territory, particularly in North Ossetia and Balkaria (the Balkars are suspected by some to be partial Nakh descendants, later Alanized and then Turkified).

In particular, the Chechens are descended from the Dzurdzuks, a group well known in the Georgian chronicles (Dourts in the Armenian version). Other groups linked Amjad Jaimoukha traces the name Dzurdzuk to an ancient city north of Lake Urmia, near Nakhichevan (Nakhichevan is thought to be a Nakh placename by some). Other groups attributed to being the ancestors of the Chechens and Ingush include the Kists (in the Georgian chronicles), Gargareans (from the Nakh root gergara; reported by Strabo to have "returned" from the South Caucasus to the North Caucasus, fleeing the wars in the South) and the Nakhchmateans (Armenian chronicles).


Genetic tests on Chechens, though sparse and not sufficiently thorough so far, have shown roots in the Caucasus as well as strong connections to and influences from the Middle East as well as Europe. As is the case with many other Caucasian peoples, Chechens are more connected with the Middle East on the Y-DNA side, but more "Eurasian" on the mitochondrial DNA. However, it was found that Chechens (as well as Caucasians as a whole) placed closer to Kurds and Persians than other European peoples (on the mtDNA), despite being far closer to Europe than the Middle East.


The most recent and most reliable study on Chechens, by Balanovsky et al. in 2011 sampled a total of 330 Chechens from three sample locations (one in Malgobek, one in Achkoi-Martan, and one from two sites in Dagestan) and found the following frequencies:
N J2 J1 L G2 R1a Q R1b N I
330 56.7% 20.9% 7% 5.5% 3.9% 3% 1.8% 0.6% 0.5%

  • J2
    Haplogroup J2 (Y-DNA)
    In human genetics, Haplogroup J2 is a Y-chromosome haplogroup which is a subdivision of haplogroup J. It is further divided into two complementary clades, J2a-M410 and J2b-M12.-Origins:...

    - (56.7%) Associated with Mediterranean, South Caucasian and Fertile Crescent populations, with its peaks at 87.4% in Ingushetia and 72% in Georgia's Kazbegi region (near Mount Kazbek). In the North Caucasus, the largest frequencies are those of Nakh peoples (Chechens (56.7%) and Ingush (88.8%). Other notable values were found among North Caucasian Turkic peoples (Kumyks (25%) and Balkars(24%)). It is notable that according to both Nasidze's study in 2004 and then a later study on Dagestani peoples by Yunusbaev in 2006, J2 suddenly collapses as one enters the territory of non-Nakh Northeast Caucasian peoples, dropping suddenly to very low values among Dagestani peoples. The overwhelming bulk of Chechen J2 is of the subclade J2a4b*(J2-M67), of which the highest frequencies by far are found among Nakh peoples- Chechens were 55.2% according to the Balanovsky study, while Ingush were 87.4%.
  • J1
    Haplogroup J1 (Y-DNA)
    In human genetics, Y DNA haplogroup J1, also known as J-M267, is a sub-haplogroup of Y DNA haplogroup J, along with its sibling clade Y DNA haplogroup J2. Men with this type of Y DNA share a common paternal ancestry, which is demonstrated and defined by the presence of the SNP mutation referred to...

    - (20.9%). In Balanovsky, it was found at 25% in Chechnya, 21% in Malgobek Chechens and 16% in Dagestani Chechens. It was found at much higher levels in Dagestan. As is the case with the whole of the Caucasus, Chechen J1 is almost universally J1*.
  • L
    Haplogroup L (Y-DNA)
    In human genetics, Haplogroup L is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup.-Origins:Haplogroup L is associated with South Asia. It has also been found at low frequencies among populations of Central Asia, Southwest Asia, and Southern Europe along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea...

    - Associated with South Asia, and the Caucasus. In Balanovsky's study, Chechens were found to be 7.0% L, and this was all L3.
  • Other haplogroups that appeared consistently appeared at lower frequencies included G2
    Haplogroup G (Y-DNA)
    In human genetics, Haplogroup G is a Y-chromosome haplogroup. It is a branch of Haplogroup F . Haplogroup G has an overall low frequency in most populations but is widely distributed within many ethnic groups of the Old World in Europe, northern and western Asia, northern Africa, the Middle East,...

     (5.5%), R1a
    Haplogroup R1a (Y-DNA)
    Haplogroup R1a is the phylogenetic name of a major clade of Human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups. In other words, it is a way of grouping a significant part of all modern men according to a shared male-line ancestor. It is common in many parts of Eurasia and is frequently discussed in human...

     (3.9%), Q
    Haplogroup Q (Y-DNA)
    In human genetics, Haplogroup Q is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup.-Origins:Haplogroup Q is one of the two branches of haplogroup P . Haplogroup Q is believed to have arisen in Central Asia approximately 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. It has had multiple origins proposed...

     (3%) and R1b-M269
    Haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA)
    The point of origin of R1b is thought to lie in Eurasia, most likely in Western Asia. T. Karafet et al. estimated the age of R1, the parent of R1b, as 18,500 years before present....

     (1.8%). However, R2, which was not detected in Balanovsky (possibly because it was not tested for), accounted for as much as 16% of Chechen males in a previous study by Ivan Nasidze.

Overall, tests have shown consistently that Chechens are most closely related to Ingush, Circassians, Georgians, and Iranians (especially Northwestern Iranians), occasionally showing a kinship to other peoples in some tests. Balanovsky's study showed the Ingush to be the Chechens' closest relatives by far.


A 2004 study showed Chechens to be extremely diverse in the mitochondrial genome, with 18 different haplogroups out of only 23 samples. Chechens clustered closest to Azeris, Georgians and Kabardins. They clustered closer to European populations than Middle Eastern populations this time, but were significantly closer to Western European populations (British and Basque) than to Eastern European populations (Russians and other Slavs, as well as Estonians), despite living in the East. They actually clustered about as close to Basques as they did to Ingush (Chechens also cluster closer to many other populations than Ingush, such as Armenians and Abazins), but the Chechens were the closer to the Ingush than any other population, the disbalance probably largely being due to the uniqueness of the Ingush on the mitochondrial DNA among those tested.


Prior to the adoption of Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, the Chechens practiced a unique blend
Vainakh mythology
The Vainakh people of the North Caucasus include the modern Chechens and Ingush, who are today predominantly Muslim in religion. Nevertheless, their folklore has preserved a substantial amount of information about their pre-Islamic pagan beliefs...

 of religious tradition
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

s and belief
Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.-Belief, knowledge and epistemology:The terms belief and knowledge are used differently in philosophy....

s. They partook in numerous rite
A rite is an established, ceremonious, usually religious act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories:* rites of passage, generally changing an individual's social status, such as marriage, baptism, or graduation....

s and ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

s, many of them pertaining to farming; these included rain rites, a celebration that occurred on the first day of plowing, as well as the Day of the Thunderer Sela and the Day of the Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....


Chechen society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 is structured around tukhum (unions of clan
A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clan members may be organized around a founding member or apical ancestor. The kinship-based bonds may be symbolical, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor that is a...

s) and about 130 teip
Teip is a Chechen and Ingush tribal organization or clan, self-identified through descent from a common ancestor and geographic location. There are about 130-233 teips...

, or clans. The teips are based more on land and one-side lineage than on blood (as exogamy is prevalent and encouraged), and are bonded together to form the Chechen nation. Teips are further subdivided into gar (branches), and gars into nekye (patronymic
A patronym, or patronymic, is a component of a personal name based on the name of one's father, grandfather or an even earlier male ancestor. A component of a name based on the name of one's mother or a female ancestor is a matronymic. Each is a means of conveying lineage.In many areas patronyms...

 families). The Chechen social
The term social refers to a characteristic of living organisms...

 code is called nokhchallah (where Nokhchuo stands for "Chechen") and may be loosely translated as "Chechen character". The Chechen code of honour
Honour or honor is an abstract concept entailing a perceived quality of worthiness and respectability that affects both the social standing and the self-evaluation of an individual or corporate body such as a family, school, regiment or nation...

 implies moral
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

 and ethical
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 behaviour, generosity and the will to safeguard the honor of women.

In addition to sparse written record from the Middle Ages, Chechens traditionally remember history through the illesh, a collection of epic poems and stories.

Chechens today have a strong sense of nation, which is enforced by the old clan network and nokhchalla- the obligation to clan, tukhum, etc. This is often combined with old values transmuted into a modern sense. They are mythically descended from the epic hero, Turpalo-Nokhchuo (the Chechen Hero). There is a strong theme of representing the nation with its national animal, the wolf.

Due to their strong dependence on the land, its farms and its forests (and indeed, the national equation with the wolf), Chechens have a strong sense of affection for nature. According to Chechen philosopher Apty Bisultanov, ruining an ant-hill or hunting Caucasian goats during their mating season were considered extremely sinful. It is notable that the glasnost era Chechen independence movement, Bart (unity) in fact originated as a simple environmentalist organization in the republic's capital of Grozny.

Chechen culture puts a strong value on the concept of freedom. This asserts itself in a number of ways. Much like Scots
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

 and Albanians
Albanians are a nation and ethnic group native to Albania and neighbouring countries. They speak the Albanian language. More than half of all Albanians live in Albania and Kosovo...

, a large majority of the nation's national heroes
Folk hero
A folk hero is a type of hero, real, fictional, or mythological. The single salient characteristic which makes a character a folk hero is the imprinting of the name, personality and deeds of the character in the popular consciousness. This presence in the popular consciousness is evidenced by...

 fought for independence (or otherwise, like the legendary Zelimkhan, robbed from the nation deemed the oppressor in order to feed Chechen children in a Robin Hood-like fashion). A common greeting in the Chechen language, marsha oylla, is literally translated as "enter in freedom". The word for freedom also encompasses notions of peace and prosperity.

Chechens are often referred to as the "French of the Caucasus", for a number of reasons (it is notable that the Circassians are the "English of the Caucasus", and the Georgians are the "Italians of the Caucasus"). This comparison may refer to etiher political/historical traits, or to personality characteristics. Compared to their natives, Chechens have, like the French, historically been a comparably liberal people, though this is often obscured in the modern day. Like the French, who overthrew their age-old monarchy in the French revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, the Chechens had a similar revolution a century or two earlier, and like the French, they bore the distinction (for a period) of being the only egalitarian society in an area full of monarchic states. Like the French, the Chechens preferred swift, revolutionary (and often violent) methods to realize the change they wished to see- unlike the Circassians (called the "English of the Caucasus" both for their political and personality characteristics) who preferred more gradualist methods. In the more personality/national character sense (generally the more common use), like the French, they have a reputation for being witty and clever.


Chechnya is predominantly Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

. Most of the Chechens belong to the Shafi'i
The Shafi'i madhhab is one of the schools of fiqh, or religious law, within the Sunni branch of Islam. The Shafi'i school of fiqh is named after Imām ash-Shafi'i.-Principles:...

 school of thought of Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

, while a minority belong to the Hanafi
The Hanafi school is one of the four Madhhab in jurisprudence within Sunni Islam. The Hanafi madhhab is named after the Persian scholar Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man ibn Thābit , a Tabi‘i whose legal views were preserved primarily by his two most important disciples, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani...

. Some adhere to the mystical Sufi tradition of Murid
Murid is a Sufi term meaning 'committed one' from the root meaning "willpower" or "self-esteem". It refers to a person who is committed to a Murshid in a Tariqa of Sufism. Also known as a Salik , a murid is an initiate into the mystic philosophy of Sufism. When the Talib makes a pledge to a...

ism, while about half of Chechens belong to Sufi brotherhoods, or tariqah
A tariqa is an Islamic religious order. In Sufism one starts with Islamic law, the exoteric or mundane practice of Islam and then is initiated onto the mystical path of a tariqa. Through spiritual practices and guidance of a tariqa the aspirant seeks ḥaqīqah - ultimate truth.-Meaning:A tariqa is a...

. The two Sufi tariqas that spread in the North Caucasus were the Naqshbandiya and the Qadiriya (the Naqshbandiya is particularly strong in Dagestan and eastern Chechnya, whereas the Qadiriya has most of its adherents in the rest of Chechnya and Ingushetia). Some of the modern Chechen rebels are Salafi
A Salafi come from Sunni Islam is a follower of an Islamic movement, Salafiyyah, that is supposed to take the Salaf who lived during the patristic period of early Islam as model examples...

s, but these form a small minority of the group and are often viewed suspiciously by non-Salafis who protectively guard their national customs against encroachment (hence, the phrase "Muhammad may have been an Arab, but Allah is surely Chechen"). According to some, the view of the Chechens as being an obsessively pious, intolerant, fundamentalist Muslim group is highly incorrect (and largely encouraged by the Russian media for political purposes).

See also

  • Vainakh peoples
  • Bats people
    Bats people
    The Bats people or the Batsbi are a small Nakh-speaking community in the country of Georgia who are also known as the Ts’ova-Tush after the Ts’ova Gorge in the historic Georgian province of Tusheti , where they are believed to have settled after migrating from the North Caucasus in the 16th...

    , a related ethnic group in Georgia
  • Ingush people
    Ingush people
    The Ingush are a native ethnic group of the North Caucasus, mostly inhabiting the Russian republic of Ingushetia. They refer to themselves as Ghalghai . The Ingush are predominantly Sunni Muslims and speak the Ingush language...

    , a related ethnic group in Ingushetia
  • Kist people
    Kist people
    The Kists are a Nakh-speaking ethnic group in Georgia related to the Chechen and Ingush peoples. They primarily live in the Pankisi Gorge, in the eastern Georgian region of Kakheti, where their total number is approximate to 5,000 people.-Origins:...

    , a related ethnic group in Georgia
  • Peoples of the Caucasus
  • Nakh peoples
    Nakh peoples
    Nakh peoples are a group of historical and modern ethnic groups speaking Nakh languages and sharing certain cultural traits...

  • Northeast Caucasian peoples
    Northeast Caucasian languages
    The Northeast Caucasian languages constitute a language family spoken in the Russian republics of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, northern Azerbaijan, and in northeastern Georgia, as well as in diaspora populations in Russia, Turkey, and the Middle East...


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