East Caucasian mountain people of nearly 600,000 living primarily
highest mountains in the west of the Dagestan Republic. The Avar
are the largest ethnic group in Dagestan. Constituting a relative
majority of approximately 28 percent. Avar elites dominate many
political structures in Dagestan. Both in government and in the
new Islamic movement.
Avar claim descendency from nomadic Avars, who reached the region
in the first centuries AD. They became Muslim before the eleventh
century through Arab influence, and in the thirteenth century
were temporarily under the role of the Golden Horde. They formed
a Khanate in the high valleys of the Caucasus mountains, which
by the end of the seventeenth century became the most powerful
of all the Dagestan principalities. The Khanate became a Russian
protectorate in 1803. Avar played an important and prestigious
role in the Muridist movement against the Russian conquest led
by the Avar Shamil. Avar territory was finally incorporated into
the Russian Empire in 1859. The Avar also participated in the
1920 anti-Bolshevik movement. Even after collectivization of Soviet
agriculture, the Avar maintained their traditional village community,
village assembly and council of elders. Today, the Avar include
15 smaller peoples of the Andi and Dido language group which were
earlier registered separately.
This information is taken from "The North Caucasus: Minorities
at a Crossroads" written by Helen Krag and Larsh Funch.