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North Ossetia-Alania

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North Ossetia-Alania: A constituent republic of the Russian Federation, located in the northern Caucasus. The Ossetian population of North Ossetia is predominantly Muslim (unlike South Ossetia, where they are mostly Christian). They speak an Iranian[?] language.

  • Area: 8,000 sq. km.;
  • Population: 512,000, incl. approx. 300,000 Ossetians and 200,000 Russians. There was also a sizeable Ingush population, but most left for Ingushetia with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the outbreak of interethnic conflict in the region.
  • Economy: Despite the inevitable economic burden of a sizeable refugee population, North Ossetia is the most well-to-do republic in the northern Caucasus. It is the most urbanized and the most industrialized, with factories producing metals (lead, zinc, tungsten, etc.), electronics, chemicals, and processed foods[?]. Natural resources include minerals, timber, hydroelectric power, and untapped reserves of oil and gas. Local agriculture focuses primarily on livestock, especially sheep and goats, and the cultivation of grains, fruit, and cotton.
  • Capital: Vladikavkaz

Recent History: The Ossetian territories were among the first areas of the northern Caucasus to come under Russian domination, starting in 1774, and the capital, Vladikavkaz, was the first Russian military outpost in the region. By 1806, they were completely under Russian control. In 1921, they were made part of the short-lived Soviet Mountain Republic. They received the status of an Autonomous Oblast in 1924, and in 1936 they were reorganized as an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union posed particular problems for the Ossetian people, which were divided between North Ossetria, which was part of the Russian SFSR, and South Ossetia, a part of the Georgian SSR. Upon achieving independence, Georgia abolished the autonomous Ossetian enclave, and much of the population fled across the border to North Ossetia. Some 100,000 South Ossetian refugees were resettled in the Prigorodny District, sparking clashes with the predominantly Ingush population.

Historically, Prigorodny had been part of Ingushetia, but was granted to North Ossetia in 1944, following Stalinís deportation of the Ingush] to Central Asia. Although they were eventually allowed to return to their homes, the territory itself was never returned to Ingushetia, causing considerable tension in the region. A local law, passed in 1982, actually prohibited ethnic Ingush from obtaining residency permits in the republic. The massive influx of South Ossetian refugees in the early 1990s and the ensuing conflict between the two rival groups eventually caused many Ingush to flee to Ingushetia. While efforts are underway to settle the refugee problem, the conflict between the two republics has yet to be resolved.



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