An ancient area of human settlement, Dagestan belonged to Caucasian Albania in the 1st millennium BC It was later invaded by Huns, Persian Sassanids, and, in the 7th cent. AD, by Arabs, who introduced Islam. Taken by the Turks in the 11th cent. and the Mongols in the 13th cent., the region became the center of a struggle between Turkey and Persia in the 15th cent. It was a Persian province when Russia annexed it by the Treaty of Gulistan in 1813. Muslim mountain dwellers resisted Russian domination until 1859, and a new revolt erupted in 1877, during the Russo-Turkish war of that year. Dagestan came under Soviet rule in 1920 and in 1921 was made an autonomous republic.
In 1991, the parliament of Dagestan declared the republic to be of full republic status. Dagestan was a signatory to the Mar. 31, 1992, treaty of federation that created the Russian Federation (see Russia). In 1999 several thousand armed members of a Chechen Muslim fundamentalist group, whose aim was to merge Dagestan with neighboring Chechnya in a single Islamic state, invaded S Dagestan from Chechnya. Russia responded with ground and air attacks by federal troops, and the militants retreated; the incident contributed to Russia's decision to invade Chechnya later in 1999. The subsequent fighting in Chechnya at times spilled over into Dagestan; Dagestan also has experienced violence involving local Islamic militants.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: CIS and Baltic Political Geography