Makhachkala (English)
Махачкала (Russian)
Гьанжи (Lak)
МахӀачхъала (Avar)
Магьачкъала (Lezgian)
-  City[1]  -

Location of the Republic of Dagestan in Russia
Location of Makhachkala in the Republic of Dagestan
Coordinates: 42°58′N 47°30′E / 42.967°N 47.500°E / 42.967; 47.500Coordinates: 42°58′N 47°30′E / 42.967°N 47.500°E / 42.967; 47.500
Coat of arms
Administrative status (as of December 2013)
Country Russia
Federal subject Republic of Dagestan
Administratively subordinated to City of Makhachkala[1]
Capital of Republic of Dagestan[1]
Administrative center of City of Makhachkala[1]
Municipal status (as of May 2015)
Urban okrug Makhachkala Urban Okrug[2]
Administrative center of Makhachkala Urban Okrug[2]
City Head Musa Musayev
Representative body Assembly of Deputies
Area 468.13 km2 (180.75 sq mi)[3]
Population (2010 Census) 572,076 inhabitants[4]
- Rank in 2010 27th
Density 1,222/km2 (3,160/sq mi)[5]
Time zone MSK (UTC+03:00)[6]
Founded 1844
City status since 1857
Previous names Petrovskoye (until 1857),
Petrovsk-Port[7] (until 1921)
Postal code(s)[8] 367000-367999
Dialing code(s) +7 8722
Official website
Makhachkala on Wikimedia Commons

Makhachkala (Russian: Махачкала; IPA: [məxəʂkɐˈla]; Lak: Гьанжи; Avar: МахӀачхъала; Lezgian: Магьачкъала; Rutul: МахаӀчкала; Kumyk, “Fort Maghach”) is the capital city of the Republic of Dagestan, Russia. It is located on the western shore of the Caspian Sea and is home to the Makhachkala Grand Mosque, one of Russia’s largest. As of the 2010 Census, the city had a population of 572,076, making it the largest in the North Caucasus Federal District.[4] The city has an ethnic plurality, with the Avars and Laks as the largest groups.

Founded as a fortress of the Russian Empire in 1844 and given city status thirteen years later, the city bore the name of the Russian Tsar Peter the Great until 1921. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Makhachkala has been affected by Islamist insurgents as part of a republic-wide conflict.


Russian Tsar Peter the Great visited what is now Makhachkala in 1722, and the settlement bore his name from 1844 to 1921

Makhachkala's historic predecessor was the town of Tarki, now a nearby suburb, whose history goes back to the 15th century and possibly much earlier. The modern city of Makhachkala was founded in 1844 as a fortress; town status was granted in 1857. The original Russian name of the city was Petrovskoye (Петро́вское)—after the Russian Tsar Peter the Great who visited the region in 1722 during his Persian Campaign. However, among the locals it was known as Anzhi-Qala, The Pearl Fortress (Qala means fortress, while Anzhi means pearl in Kumyk). After gaining city status, the Petrovskoye fortress was renamed Petrovsk-Port (Петро́вск-Порт) in 1857, sometimes simply Petrovsk.[7] In 1894, a railway line linked the city to Vladikavkaz (in present-day North Ossetia-Alania) and Baku (in present-day Azerbaijan), yet a report from 1904 detailed the spread of malaria and unsuitable drinking water in the city.[9]

In January 1919, during the Russian Civil War, the British No. 221 Squadron Royal Air Force based themselves at Petrovsk. In March they were joined by No. 266 Squadron and both squadrons were involved in bombing operations against Bolshevik forces in Astrakhan and elsewhere. In August 1919 both squadrons were withdrawn from Petrovsk.[10] The city was invaded by the Red Army in Spring 1920.[9]

As part of the Soviet revolution, place names relating to monarchy or religion were changed, and thus on 14 May 1921, Petrovsk was renamed Makhachkala, after Dagestani revolutionary Magomed-Ali 'Makhach' Dakhadaev. On the same day, it became capital of the newly formed Dagestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.[9] The city incurred major damage during an earthquake on 14 May 1970.[11]

The area was used as a Soviet-era naval testing station, leaving behind a curious sea fort off nearby Kaspiysk.[12]42°53′48″N 47°40′53″E / 42.896598°N 47.681274°E / 42.896598; 47.681274

A report of the International Crisis Group from 2013 describes the city as being "a city of almost one million and gained spectacular economic resources due to a construction boom, skyrocketing land prices, substantial federal funds for reconstruction, infrastructure, transport, housing, courts and administrative services. But even a short visit revealed acute problems, including dirty streets, dilapidated buildings, inadequate utilities, hectic construction, lack of planning and poorly organised public transport".[13]

Administrative and municipal status

Within the framework of administrative divisions, it is, together with eight urban-type settlements and six rural localities, incorporated as the City of Makhachkala—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts.[1] As a municipal division, the City of Makhachkala is incorporated as Makhachkala Urban Okrug.[2]

City divisions

For the purposes of administration, the city is divided into three city districts, from west to east: Kirovsky, Sovetsky and Leninsky. In May 2015, these three city districts were granted municipal status.[2]


The coat of arms and flag of Makhachkala were adopted on 15 December 2006. The coat of arms shows the city's historic fortress in silver on a red field, with flames coming from either tower and a solar symbol above. It is supported by a golden eagle on each side, a crown on top, and crossed anchors (representing its maritime history) entangled with grapevines at the bottom.

A street in Makhachkala
Makhachkala, 2012

In proportions of 2:3, the flag displays the main shield of the city's coat of arms.[14]


Makhachkala is close to areas of fighting and therefore it and the surrounding region has a heavy security service presence. On 25 November 2011, a protest took place in Makhachkala attended by up to 3,000 people demanding an end to illegal activities perpetrated by the security services.[15]

On December 15, 2011, Gadzhimurat Kamalov, a Russian investigative journalist and founder of the independent Chernovik newspaper was shot dead in an apparent assassination.[16]


The population of Makhachkala includes (2002 Census data):


The city is served by Uytash Airport, a regional airport providing connections to other Russian cities.

Russian Railways via the North Caucasus Railway provides freight and passenger traffic to and from Makhachkala.

The Caspian Sea International Port handles crude oil, petroleum, construction materials, grain, cargo and timber and operates 24 hours a day.[17]

The port offers communications with the rest of Russia, as well as with Belarus, Ukraine, the Baltic states, Iran, Turkey and Central Asia.[17]

A railyard at the port connects the port to the North Caucasus Railway network.[17]


The city's football team, FC Anzhi Makhachkala of the Russian Premier League, play at the 15,200-seat[18] Dynamo Stadium.

Founded in 1991, the side returned to the Premier League in 2009 and in January 2011 were purchased by Dagestani commodities billionaire Suleyman Kerimov,[19] whose investment has allowed the club to sign players such as Brazilian World Cup winner Roberto Carlos[20] and Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto'o who, during his time at the club, became the world's highest paid player.[21] However, due to recent unrest in the region, the players currently live and train in Moscow, and an armed guard patrols their matches.[22]


Makhachkala has a cool semi-arid climate (Köppen: BSk) with warm to hot, dry summers and cold, dry winters. The strong rain shadow of the Caucasus and the ability of the Siberian High to freely move westwards from its source in the Tibetan and Mongolian plateaux makes the climate quite dry although frequently dull throughout the winter, which is owing to the relatively low latitude and nearness to the Caspian Sea nonetheless very mild by Russian standards. Summers are sunnier but also dry as the region is exposed to steep descending vertical velocity from the Indian monsoon, and the greatest rainfall occurs in the autumn season from September to November. October 1987 with 245 millimetres or 9.65 inches has been the wettest month, whilst no precipitation occurred in February 1958, October 1974 and April 1986.

The coldest month since records began in 1882 has been February 1929 with a mean monthly temperature of −9.5 °C or 14.9 °F, whilst the hottest have been July 2010 and August 2014 with means of 27.1 °C or 80.8 °F each, although 31 July 2011 and 4 August 1998 are the equal hottest days, reaching 38.7 °C or 101.7 °F. The coldest night was on 9 February 2012, when the mercury fell to −26.9 °C or −16.4 °F, beating the previous record of −26.5 °C or −15.7 °F from 28 December 1888.

Climate data for Makhachkala (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 19.0
Average high °C (°F) 4.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 1.2
Average low °C (°F) −1.4
Record low °C (°F) −25.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 33
Average rainy days 11 10 12 11 12 11 9 10 11 13 13 12 135
Average snowy days 9 10 4 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 3 6 32
Average relative humidity (%) 84 83 83 79 76 71 70 72 75 80 83 85 78
Mean monthly sunshine hours 74 71 105 171 246 278 282 270 194 151 81 67 1,990
Source #1:[23]
Source #2: NOAA (sun, 1961–1990)[24]

Notable people

Twin towns and sister cities

Makhachkala is twinned with:



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Law #16
  2. 1 2 3 4 Law #6
  3. Подсчитано по базе данных муниципальных образований РФ на 2008 год
  4. 1 2 Russian Federal State Statistics Service (2011). "Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года. Том 1" [2010 All-Russian Population Census, vol. 1]. Всероссийская перепись населения 2010 года (2010 All-Russia Population Census) (in Russian). Federal State Statistics Service. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  5. The value of density was calculated automatically by dividing the 2010 Census population by the area specified in the infobox. Please note that this value may not be accurate as the area specified in the infobox does not necessarily correspond to the area of the entity proper or is reported for the same year as the population.
  6. Правительство Российской Федерации. Федеральный закон №107-ФЗ от 3 июня 2011 г. «Об исчислении времени», в ред. Федерального закона №271-ФЗ от 03 июля 2016 г. «О внесении изменений в Федеральный закон "Об исчислении времени"». Вступил в силу по истечении шестидесяти дней после дня официального опубликования (6 августа 2011 г.). Опубликован: "Российская газета", №120, 6 июня 2011 г. (Government of the Russian Federation. Federal Law #107-FZ of June 31, 2011 On Calculating Time, as amended by the Federal Law #271-FZ of July 03, 2016 On Amending Federal Law "On Calculating Time". Effective as of after sixty days following the day of the official publication.).
  7. 1 2
  8. Почта России. Информационно-вычислительный центр ОАСУ РПО. (Russian Post). Поиск объектов почтовой связи (Postal Objects Search) (Russian)
  9. 1 2 3
  10. Bowyer, Chaz (1988). RAF Operations 1918-1938. London: William Kimber. pp. 40, 41. ISBN 0-7183-0671-6.
  11. Gorbunova, I. V.; Kondorskaya, N. V. (1973). "Comparison analysis of magnitude values for the daghestanian and Kirghiz earthquakes by observations of Soviet and American stations". Pure and Applied Geophysics PAGEOPH. 103: 381. doi:10.1007/BF00876415.
  12. Abandoned Places: Soviet naval testing station in Makhachkala, Russia,, accessed 12 July 2014
  13. The North Caucasus: The Challenges of Integration (III), Governance, Elections, Rule of Law, p. 23
  15. Russian journalist gunned down in violent republic of Dagestan, Guardian, retrieved 16/12/2011
  16. Newspaper chief's murder in Dagestan adds to toll of Russian journalists, Guardian, retrieved 16/12/2011
  17. 1 2 3
  22. "Blackburn Rovers defender Chris Samba joins Anzhi Makhachkala". Manchester: BBC. 24 February 2012.
  23. "Weather and Climate - The Climate of Makhachkala" (in Russian). Weather and Climate (Погода и климат). Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  24. "Makhachkala Climate Normals 1961-1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 25 November 2016.


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