The Ingush Republic (Ingushetia) is located on the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus foothills. Nature in Ingushetia is a striking combination of emerald vegetation, yellow and violet cliffs, and the pearly gleam of far-off snow-covered peaks.
The republic has a continental climate with an average January temperature ranging from -3 to -10°C, and average July temperatures from +21 to +23°C. Annual precipitation averages 450-650 mm but ranges up to 1200 mm.
Ingushetia has an area of 3600 km2 and extends 144 km from north to south and 72 km from west to east. The republic borders on the Chechen Republic, Georgia, and the Republic of North Osetia.
The Ingush Republic was formed on June 4, 1992. It has 4 administrative districts (Nazranovsky, Malgobeksky, Sunzhensky, and Dzhairakhsky) and 45 population centers, including 4 cities. Two cities, Nazran and Malgobek, are under republican jurisdiction. The capital of Ingushetia is the city of Magas, which despite the skeptics' predictions, is being built up and becoming greener. The Sunzha is the main river.
Ingushetia has a population of 314 900 people, most of whom are native Ingushes, although Chechens and Russians also live in the republic. The population density is 85 people per km2.
The Ingushes are one of the most ancient peoples of the North Caucasus. Mountainous Ingushetia (Dzhairakha, Galgaiche, Armkhi, and Guloi-khi gorges and the Targim Basin) is the homeland of the Ingush people and the center of their distinctive culture.
Many architectural complexes that are genuine masterpieces of native art are preserved in the valleys of the Armkhi, Guloi-khi, and Assa rivers.
The unsurpassed beauty of the mountain landscapes, rich plant and animal life, mountain rivers, and rare and unique historical and cultural monuments of this part of the North Caucasus have always attracted large numbers of travelers, explorers, and tourists. For this reason, development of the tourist business would be a promising means of acquainting the curious with this unique territory and replenishing the republican treasury.
The ancestors of the Ingushes were the native North Caucasian tribes known as the Nakhcho, who are first mentioned in Armenian sources dating from the 7th century A.D. They originally lived the mountains and began migrating onto the plains to the Terek and Sunzha river valleys only in the 15th and 16th centuries. The territories inhabited by the Nakhcho were subjected to devastating Tatar raids in the 13th century and invasions by Tamerlane's forces in the late 14th century. Islam began to spread from Dagestan in the late 16th century. In the 18th century, the Nakhcho tribes split up into the Chechens and Ingushes.
In 1810, the Ingushes voluntarily joined the Russian Empire. They supported the Bolsheviks during the Civil War, preventing General Denikin [a leader of the "White" anti-Bolshevik forces] from entering Vladikavkaz. On January 20, 1921, the Mountain (Gorskaya) Republic within Russia was formed by a decision of the All-Union Central Executive Committee (VTsIK) and the Ingush territories were included in it as Narzansky District. The Ingush Autonomous Region within Russia was subsequently formed on July 7, 1924, with the administration located in the city of Ordzhonikidze (now Vladikavkaz). The city was then simultaneously the capital of both the North Ossetian and Ingush autonomous regions. The Ingush and Chechen autonomous regions were united into the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Region on January 15, 1934, and then reorganized into the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) on December 5, 1936.
In 1942-1943, German forces occupied part of the Ingush territory. Accusations of collaborating with the Germans were used as grounds for deporting the Ingushes to Central Asia, where hundreds of thousands of people died in exile. The Chechen-Ingush ASSR was liquidated and the territory divided among Russia, Georgia, Dagestan, and North Ossetia.
The republic was restored in 1957, and Grozny once again became its capital. However, Prigorodny District comprising nearly half of the territory of Lowland Ingushetia remained part of the North Ossetian ASSR. In November 1990, the Supreme Soviet of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR passed a Declaration of the republic's national sovereignty; and in May 1991, the republic was renamed the Chechen-Ingush Republic. Finally, in December 1992, the 7th Congress of People's Deputies of the Russian Federation passed a resolution reorganizing the Chechen-Ingush Republic into separate Ingush and Chechen republics within the Russian Federation.
The republic's elevated relief is made up of mountain ranges divided by valleys and gorges. The highest point is Stolovaya Mountain (elevation 2993 m above sea level). The Caucasus Mountains extend for about 150 km through Ingushetia. The Terek and Assa rivers cross the republic from south to north, and the Sunzha River, from west to east. The soils are mainly fertile black earths (chernozems). Winters are generally mild and summers are hot, but the temperature varies with altitude, which is typical of mountainous regions. The natural and climatic conditions are favorable for agriculture; thus, 60% of the republic's territory is designated as agricultural land, about half of which is cropland.
Forests cover 140 000 hectares of Ingushetia's territory and are an important natural resource. They consist mainly of mixed deciduous tracts, including valuable species such as beech, oak, and plane.
The mountain rivers of Ingushetia are a significant source of hydroelectric power.
Mineral resources investigated to date consist of high-quality oil (probable reserves of more than 60 million tons) and gas fields and deposits of marble and marble-like building materials, dolomite, shell limestone, high-quality brick earth, thermal therapeutic water, and mineral water similar to Borjomi. Geologists have also discovered subsurface deposits of rare metals. Reserves of the minerals listed above are sufficient for an average of 100-150 years.
Explored commercial oil reserves are estimated at 11 million tons. Oil production could reach 500 000 tons per year given sufficiently large capital investments, although actual production is 125 000 tons. The state company Ingushneftegazprom is developing the fields. Funds were raised in 1997-1998 to complete drilling operations at the Yandyrskaya well and to sink a new well in the promising Karabulak-Achaluk field.
Culture and art
Over a period of millennia, this nation has been fated to endure many trials. The culture of the Ingushes is noted for its distinctive character, which is reflected in the rare and unique historical and cultural monuments located in the republic. The Dzhairakha-Assa state historical and architectural museum preserve protects these valuable sites. In this magical setting, majestic tower complexes of a people with a centuries-old culture blend smoothly into a single whole with the mountain landscape.
The architecture of the 13th to 18th centuries has a defensive function due to the constant threat of nomad attacks from the north. A large complex of stone battle towers and dwellings, burial crypts, pagan sanctuaries, and Christian churches has been preserved along the Armkhi, Guloi-khi, and Assa rivers. The towers were built in inaccessible places and were not only a reliable defense, but also a symbol of a clan's power and its military invulnerability.
Between the 9th and 12th centuries, architecture came under the influence of Christianity, and Christian churches were built in collaboration with Georgian architects. A striking example is the church of Tkhaba-Erdy (Holy Two Thousand), one of the most important churches in the North Caucasus and clear evidence of the close economic, military, and cultural ties between the Ingushes and the people of Georgia.
However, the region has more than just a wealth of historical and cultural monuments. Native handicrafts and trades flourished in the highlands isolated from the outside world. These trades were an important part of the Ingush economy. The armourer's trade was especially advanced because of the constant threat of attack from outside. Offensive and defensive weapons employed included bows, crossbows, spears, pikes and javelins, swords, broadswords and sabers, knives, and axes. Warriors used armor, hauberks, helmets, shields, elbow guards, and chain mail gauntlets as protection. Leather working was another widespread trade. Hunters and shepherds wore traditional shoes made of plaited tanned leather thongs. Various boots, shoes, and slippers served as outdoor footwear. Leather was also used to make tobacco pouches, casings, belts, holsters, and other similar items. Although leather working was practiced in every village, by the late 19th century, factory-made shoes started being imported.
Other well-developed crafts among the Ingushes were the production of felt carpets brightly decorated with plant and other motifs and woodworking. Almost all household utensils and furniture were made of wood. The manufacture of wooden and iron farm implements also occupied an important place in the economy. Potters produced grain storage vessels, pitchers, and cups decorated with wavelike patterns. The Ingush settlements of Shali, Duba-Yurt, Stary-Yurt, and Novy-Yurt were centers of the pottery trade. Blacksmiths made sheep-shearing shears, household knives, chains, cauldrons, sickles, and other household articles. Stonemasons created unique grave markers and religious monuments, archways, and floors that required special skill to shape the stone properly. Jewelers crafted a wide variety of metal earrings and pendants differing in sophistication of form and intricacy of work. They made gold and silver crescent-shaped, eight-bladed pendants resembling the headbands worn by Vyatkans. Egikal, Tsori, Erzi, and Evloi were among the jewelry-making centers of Ingushetia.
The Ingushes have a rich and varied folklore of traditions, legends, epics, tales, songs, proverbs, and sayings. Folksongs are highly esteemed. Music and dance have grown out of ancient traditions. Popular musical instruments include the dekhch-pandr [a kind of balalaika], kekhat pondur [accordion], a three-stringed violin, zurna [a type of clarinet], tambourine, and drums. Girls generally play the accordion. The lezghinka [a Caucasian dance performed in pairs] is a favorite dance at festivals. The intellectual culture of the Ingushes includes a large store of values accumulated over the centuries, such as a calendar, counting, measurement system, and knowledge of the land, animals, weather, astronomy, etc.
Islam is the second-largest religious denomination in the Russian Federation, which has a Muslim population larger than that of any eastern country. Islam is the religion of more than 30 Russian native peoples who lived here even before the appearance of the Russian state. In 642, ten years after the death of the prophet Muhammad, Islam reached the city of Derbent in Dagestan after its capture by forces of the Arab caliphate. Islam spread from Dagestan to neighboring territories, although the highlanders adopted it much later. Islam spread to Ingushetia from Chechnya, first to the plains and foothills in 16th-18th centuries and then to the mountains in the early 19th century. The faith was firmly established among the Ingushes in the first half of the 19th century. The last Ingush village (aul) to adopt Islam (1861) was Gvileti, located in the upper Daryal Gorge.
The capital of the Republic of Ingushetia Magas is the administrative, scientific and cultural center of the republic. The city had celebrated it's 10th anniversary recently. Magas is a new, contemporary well-furnished city, it's architecture naturally combines eastern and european architectural styles.
Magas is situated on the flat-inclined terrace, 6-8 meters above Sunzha river-bed. The capital is located near the main transport centers. The passenger and the freight train stations are 8 km from the city, Magas airport, federal Caucasus highway is also close to the city.
Today Magas has its own unique image. Among pecularities one can notice low buildings.
Next years a brand new 4 star hotel will be built in Magas, libraries, Republic circus, youth leasure center.
These days the Republic Cathedral Mosque is being build. The unique architectual complex will be capable to house 3000 people.
Along Sunzha river bank cultural area will be built, including ponds, tennis courts, children leasure center, bowling center, summer cinema theatre, side-shows.