Dagestan is located in the Caucasus between Chechnya, Kalmykia and the Caspian Sea. It also shares a federal border with Georgia and Azerbaijan. The republic is home to a wide range of indigenous ethnic groups including the Avars, Dargins, Kumyks and Lezgins (who together make up around three-quarters of the population) plus Laks, Tabasarans, Aghuls and Tsakhurs. With the exception of the Kumyks who are a Turkic people speaking a Turkic language, all the rest of these groups speak languages belonging to the North-Caucasian family of languages. Islam is the predominant religion observed in the republic.
The capital of the republic is the city of Makhachkala, which is located on the shore of the Caspian Sea. However, Dagestan’s highlight is its second-city Derbent. The ancient city has a claim to be the oldest city in Russia and over the centuries has been seen as a gateway between the Caspian and the Caucasus and been part of many kingdoms. Its citadel, ancient city and fortress buildings are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.