Transcaucasia (Russian: Закавказье), or the South Caucasus, is a geographical region in the vicinity of the southern Caucasus Mountains on the border of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Transcaucasia roughly corresponds to modern Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Total area of these countries is about 71,850 square miles (186,100 square kilometres). Transcaucasia and Ciscaucasia (North Caucasus) together comprise the larger Caucasus geographical region that divides Eurasia.
Transcaucasia spans the southern portion of the Caucasus Mountains and their lowlands, straddling the border between the continents of Europe and Asia, and extending southwards from the southern part of the Greater Caucasus mountain range of southwestern Russia to the Turkish and Armenian borders, and from the Black Sea in the west to the Caspian Sea coast of Iran in the east. The area includes the southern part of the Greater Caucasus mountain range, the entire Lesser Caucasus mountain range, the Colchis Lowlands, the Kura-Aras Lowlands, the Talysh Mountains, the Lenkoran Lowlands, Javakheti and the eastern portion of the Armenian Highland.
All of present-day Armenia is in Transcaucasia; the majority of present-day Georgia and Azerbaijan, including the exclave of Nakhchivan, also fall within the region. Parts of Iran and Turkey are also included within the region of Transcaucasia. Goods produced in the region include oil, manganese ore, tea, citrus fruits, and wine. It remains one of the most politically tense regions in the post-Soviet area, and contains three heavily disputed areas: Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh. Between 1878 and 1917 the Russian-controlled province of Kars Oblast was also incorporated into the Transcaucasus.
Transcaucasia is a Latin rendering of the Russian-language word Zakavkazie (Закавка́зье), meaning "the area beyond the Caucasus Mountains". This implies a Russian vantage point, and is analogous to similar terms such as Transnistria and Transleithania. Other forms of this word include Trans-Caucasus and Transcaucasus. The region is also referred to as Southern Caucasia and the South Caucasus.
Herodotus, Greek historian who is known as 'the Father of History' and Strabo, Greek geographer, philosopher, and historian spoke about autochthonous peoples of the Caucasus in their books. In the Middle Ages various peoples, including Scythians, Alani, Huns, Khazars, Arabs, Seljuq Turks, and Mongols settled in Caucasia. These invasions influenced on the culture of the peoples of Transcaucasia. In parallel Middle Eastern influence disseminated the Iranian languages and Islamic religion in Caucasus.
Located on the peripheries of Iran, Russia and Turkey, the region has been an arena for political, military, religious, and cultural rivalries and expansionism for centuries. Throughout its history, the region has come under control of various empires, including the Achaemenid, Parthian, Roman, Sassanian, Byzantine, Mongol, Ottoman, successive Iranian (Safavid, Afsharid, Qajar), and Russian Empires, all of which introduced their faiths and cultures. Throughout history, Transcaucasia was usually under the direct rule of the various in-Iran based empires and part of the Iranian world. In the course of the 19th century, Qajar Iran had to irrevocably cede the region (alongside its territories in Dagestan, North Caucasus) as a result of the two Russo-Persian Wars of that century to Imperial Russia.
Ancient kingdoms of the region included Armenia, Albania and Iberia, among others. These kingdoms were later incorporated into various Iranian empires, including the Achaemenid Empire, the Parthian Empire, and the Sassanid Empire, during which Zoroastrianism became the dominant religion in the region. However, after the rise of Christianity and conversion of Caucasian kingdoms to the new religion, Zoroastrianism lost its prevalence and only survived because of Persian power and influence still lingering in the region. Thus, Transcaucasia became the area of not only military, but also religious convergence, which often led to bitter conflicts with successive Persian empires (and later Muslim-ruled empires) on the one side and the Roman Empire (and later the Byzantine Empire) on the other side.