- A region in the Caucasus and lying between Russia to the north and Georgia to the south. Ossetia consists of two parts, North Ossetia and South Ossetia, both of which were absorbed into the Russian Empire. Under Catherine II (1762–1796), Russia first advanced into the Caucasus region and established a military presence at the town of Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia, and in the eighteenth century Russia absorbed North Ossetia. Between 1801 and 1806, Russia annexed South Ossetia with its main town of Tskhinvali as part of the process of acquiring all of the Kingdom of Georgia. The Ossetians speak an Iranian language, Ossetic, unrelated to either Russian or Georgian. Ossetians are mostly Orthodox Christian in the south and Sunni Muslim in the north. Because of its long association with Georgia, South Ossetia had a strong imprint of Georgian culture.FURTHER READING:Geyer, Dietrich. Russian Imperialism: The Interaction of Domestic and Foreign Policy, 1860–1914 . New York: Berg, 1987;Rywkin, Michael. Russian Colonial Expansion to 1917 . London: Mansell, 1988;Seton-Watson, Hugh. The Russian Empire, 1801–1917 . Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967.JONATHAN GRANT
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.