The project: « Dagestan » Mamaeva Liana For 8 A The Republic of Dagestan is a federal subject (a republic) of Russia, located in the North Caucasus region. Its capital and largest city isMakhachkala, located at the center of Dagestan on the Caspian Sea. With a population of 2,910,249,Dagestan is ethnically very diverse (it is Russia's most heterogeneous republic, where no ethnic group forms a majority) with several dozen ethnic groups and subgroups inhabiting the republic, most of which speak Caucasian and Turkic languages. Largest among these ethnic groups are the Avar, Dargin, Kumyk, Lezgian, Laks,Azerbaijani, T abasaran and Chechen. Ethnic Russians comprise about 3.6% of Dagestan's total population. Russian is the primary official language and the lingua franca among the ethnic The word Dagestan is of Turkic and Persian origin. Dağ means 'mountain' in Turkic and -stan is a Persian suffix meaning 'land'. The word Dagestan therefore means 'the land of mountains'. Dagestan used to be called Kohestan 'mountainous place' in Persian and Arabized as Ghahestan. When the Persian language gradually faded in those regions and the Turkic language prevailed, the Persian koh (kuh in contemporary Persian) was replaced with its Turkic equivalent dagh. The present city transliterated as Derbent is from the Persian Darband, meaning a point on a mountain that one cannot climb further. In Persian Islamic mysticism Darband is the place where Simorgh (Shahrokh or Phoenix) lives and is the end point and farthest point of the world that man can imagine. Some areas of Dagestan were known as Albania, Avaria, and Tarkov at various times The republic is situated in the North Caucasus mountains. It is the southernmost part of Russia, and is bordered on its eastern side by the Caspian Sea. Dagestan is rich in oil, natural gas, coal, and many other minerals. The oldest records about the region refer to the state of Caucasian Albania in the south, with its capital at Derbent and other important centres at Chola, Toprakh Qala, and Urtseki. The northern parts were held by a confederation of Dagestani tribes. In the first few centuries AD, Caucasian Albania continued to rule over what is present day Azerbaijan and mountains of Dagestan. It was fought over in Antiquity by Roman Empire and the Sassanid Persians and converted to Christianity early on. In the 5th century AD, the Samian peregrinations took place from Ukraine to this land, they returned to their natal country by 150 BC. The Sassanids gained the upper hand and constructed a strong citadel at Derbent. Derbent is one of the oldest towns that has saved its original look till nowadays. One can hardly find another town that has survived so many invasions and destructions, has been an apple of discord and a scene of bloody battles so many times. Derbent occupies the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Middle East to the south. Its etymology derives from the Persian Darband ()دربند, meaning "locked gate", and it is often identified with the legendary Gates of Alexander, being known in Arabic as Bāb al Abwab ("Gate of Gates") and Turkish asDemirkapı ("Iron Gate"). Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia (8th century BCE). Since antiquity, the value of the area as the gate to the Caucasus has been understood, and Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic particularity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world. Over the years, different nations gave the city different names, but all connected to the word gate; its name in Persian is Darband, which means "closed gates". A large portion of the walls and several watchtowers still remain in reasonable shape. The walls, reaching to the sea, date from the 6th century, Sassanid dynasty period. The city has a well-preserved citadel (Narin-kala), enclosing an area of 4.5 hectares (11 acres), enclosed by strong walls. Historical attractions include the baths, the cisterns, the old cemeteries, the caravanserai, the 18th-century Khan's mausoleum, as well as several mosques. The oldest mosque is the Juma Mosque, built over a 6th-century Christian basilica; it has a 15th-century madrassa. Other shrines include the 17th-century Kyrhlyar mosque, the Bala mosque and the 18th-century Chertebe mosque. To the north of the town is the monument of the Kirk-lar, or forty heroes, who fell defending Dagestan against the Arabs in 728. To the south lies the seaward extremity of the Caucasian wall (fifty metres long), otherwise known as Alexander's Wall, blocking the narrow pass of the Iron Gate or Caspian Gates (Portae Athanae or Portae Caspiae). When intact, the wall had a height of 29 ft (9 m) and a thickness of about 10 ft (3 m) and, with its iron gates and numerous watch-towers, defended Persia's frontier. The first Islamic activists and the descendants of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had started their charitable mission here. After Arabs conquered Iran in 602, they reached the walls of ancient Derbent under the command of Maslama in the first quarter of the 8th century. They considered the town could become a center of Islamic religion in the northeast Caucasus. From that time on Derbent became the spiritual home and Islam became the most wide-spread religion of the region. In 733 seven mosques were built here. Each town quarter (magal) had one. And a special cathedral mosque to be used for Friday prayers called al-Masjid al-Djamii was raised. In 1796 there 15 mosques existed in Derbent. The Djuma-mosque is truly the cradle of Russian islamisation. It is one of the first significant mosques, that was built out of the Islamic caliphate. The Djuma-mosque is situated in the center of Derbent’s old part. It is a part of an architectural ensemble of the ancient town. The group of buildings consists of the main mosque, a madrasah and some houses where religious leaders live.