Chechnya is a
republic in southwestern Russia, situated on the northern flank of
the Greater Caucasus range. It is bordered by Russia proper on the
north, the Dagestan republic on the east and southeast, Georgia on
the southwest, and the Ingushetia republic on the west. Chechnya’s
main ethnic group is the Chechen, with minorities of Russians and
Ingush. In the mid-1990s its population was about 850,000.
and Ingush are both Muslim. Their society is based on clan and
tribal relations. Traditionally, the Chechens’ chief occupations
were farming in the lowlands in the north of the republic and cattle
raising in the mountain areas in the south. Oil drilling became
increasingly important in Chechnya. It began around the 1890s, when
Russia’s earlier industrialization drive was successfully launched
under the tsarist government. Under the Soviets oil
drilling and refining became the backbone of the Chechen
economy. Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, became one of the largest
oil-refining centers in Russia.
greater economic significance than its industrial capacity is
Chechnya’s strategic geographical location as a transport junction
and transit corridor, which accommodates the railway and highway
connecting southern Russia with Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, and
the pipelines supplying oil and natural gas from the Caspian and
central Asian regions to Europe.