District on the lower northern slopes of the northwestern Caucasus, drained by the River Kuban, on which the town of Cherkessk, which is south of Stavropol, stands. The Cherkess are an indigenous Caucasian people, whose language is Abazanian, a language quite closely related to Abkhazian, whose territory lies on the further side of the mountains, so that it seems likely that the Cherkess migrated.
Kabardia, the large region of which they were part, came increasingly under Russian influence in the later 18th century and was fully under Russian control by 1825. The Kabardians speak the eastern Circassian language: the Circassian and Abkhazian languages together constitute the Northwest Caucasus group.
In the Russian Empire Cherkessia belonged to the province of Kuban; in Bolshevik Russia to the Stavropol Territory. In 1922 it belonged to the Karachaevo-Cherkess Autonomous Oblast in the Stavropol Territory, reverting to the Territory in 1926, until it formed the Cherkess Autonomous Oblast in 1928.
In 1957 a new Karachaevo-Cherkess A.O. was created, which became the Republic of Karachai-Cherkessia in the Russian Federation in 1991.