Ossetia is a region in the northern Caucasus Mountains, inhabited by the Ossetians. Its territory currently straddles the political divide between North Ossetia-Alania in Russia, and South Ossetia in Georgia.
The Ossetians descend from Iranian-speaking tribes from Central Asia, namely Alans. They became Christians during the early Middle Ages under Georgian influence. Forced out of their medieval homeland (south of the River Don in present-day Russia) during Mongol rule, they migrated towards and over the Caucasus mountains, where they formed three distinct territorial entities:
- Digor in the west came under the influence of the neighboring Kabard people, who introduced Islam
- Tualläg in the south, in the Georgian central region of Shida Kartli. In 1924 part became known as South Ossetia
- Iron in the north became what is now North Ossetia/Alania, under Russian rule from 1767.
Most Ossetians today live along the central part of the Greater Caucasus Range in the two Ossetias. A large Ossetian diaspora lives in Turkey, and Ossetians have also settled in Russia, France, Sweden, Syria, the USA, Canada and other countries all around the world.