Nalchik (Russian: Нальчик, IPA: [ˈnalʲtɕɪk]; Kabardian: Налшык /naːɮɕʼakʲ/; Karachay-Balkar: Нальчик /naltsɯk/) is the capital city of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic, Russia, situated at an altitude of 550 meters (1,800 ft) in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains; about 100 kilometers (62 mi) northwest of Beslan (Beslan is in the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania).[12] It covers an area of 131 square kilometers (51 sq mi). Its population has fluctuated over the years, with the following numbers: 240,203(2010 Census);[4] 274,974(2002 Census);[13] 234,547(1989 Census).[14]


Other transcription(s)
Coat of arms
Location of Nalchik
Location of Nalchik
Nalchik (Kabardino-Balkaria)
Coordinates: 43°29′N 43°37′E
Federal subjectKabardino-Balkaria
City status since1921
  BodyCity Council[1]
  Head[2]Taymuraz Akhokhov[2]
  Total67 km2 (26 sq mi)
512 m (1,680 ft)
 (2010 Census)[4]
239,300 (−0.4%)
  Rank78th in 2010
  Density2,234.3/km2 (5,787/sq mi)
Administrative status
  Subordinated tocity of republic significance of Nalchik[6]
  Capital ofKabardino-Balkar Republic
  Capital ofcity of republic significance of Nalchik[6]
Municipal status
  Urban okrugNalchik Urban Okrug[7]
  Capital ofNalchik Urban Okrug[7]
Time zoneUTC+3 (MSK [8])
Postal code(s)[9]
360000, 360005, 360032, 360901, 360903, 360904
Dialing code(s)+7 8662[10]
OKTMO ID83701000001
City DaySeptember 1[11]


The territory of modern-day Nalchik was formerly known as Slabada. It was inhabited by native Kabardians, Balkars, Chechens, Adeki, and Cherkese, until around 1743; groups occasionally clashed over and dispute their claims to the land. The modern city dates from the early 19th century when the expanding Russian Empire built a fort there together with settling Mountain Jews in 1818; this date is seen at the top of the city's coat of arms. With the founding of the city of Nalchik, the disputes among the native groups calmed and life improved for the people in the region.

In 1838, a Russian military settlement was founded in the city, and after the Russian Revolution of 1917, in the year 1921, Nalchik was given the status of administrative center of Kabardin Autonomous Oblast.

Nalchik Arc De Triumph

The word "Nalchik" literally means "small horseshoe" in Kabardian (or Circassian, a Northwest Caucasian language) and Karachay-Balkar (a Turkic language). It is a diminutive of na'l, a common Middle Eastern word (Arabic, Persian, Turkish) for "horseshoe", possibly from the ancient Scythian, 'nalak" (horseshoe). The city of Nalchik was named this way because of how it is shaped as surrounded by the mountains of the land, and the Nalchik River is named after the city it runs across.

Concord Square

During World War II, on 2 November 1942, Nalchik was occupied by Romanian mountain troops (Vânători de munte) under the command of Brigadier General Ioan Dumitrache, its capture earning the Romanian General the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.[15] The city was heavily damaged during the conflict. G-ral Dumitrache went to great length ordering his troops to protect local population during the time Nalchik was occupied by Romanian forces. Professor A. N. Dainaco, the Mayor of Nalchik at that time, thanked G-ral Dumitrache for liberating the city. Although he was accused of war crimes, G-ral Dumitrache was fully exonerated after the war by a joint Soviet and Romanian judicial commission.[16]

Due to the harsh treatment of Jewish People by the Soviet Union, there has been a mass exodus of Jews from Nalchik over the decades, reducing the population that is left to a small percentage of what once was.

Street scene on the Nalchik Outskirts with a view of the mountain range

Nalchik was chosen the "second cleanest city of Russia" in 2003.

On October 13, 2005, Nalchik was attacked by a large group of Yarmuk Jamaat militants led by Shamil Basayev and Anzor Astemirov. Buildings associated with the Russian security forces were targeted, killing at least 14 civilians and wounding 115. Thirty-five policemen were killed in the fighting and eighty-nine militants, including prominent leader Ilias Gorchkhanov, were killed while another fifty-nine were arrested.

Administrative and municipal status

Within the framework of administrative divisions, it is, together with four rural localities, incorporated as the city of republic significance of Nalchik—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts.[6] As a municipal division, the city of republic significance of Nalchik is incorporated as Nalchik Urban Okrug.[7]

Ethnic groups

Cathedral of Equal to the Apostle Mary Magdalene
Central Mosque of Nalchik

The population of the city in 2006 included the following breakdown by ethnicity:

  • Kabardians (Adiga) (42.3%)
  • Russians (28.3%)
  • Balkars (Taulu) (15.2%)
  • others (13.2%)

2002 census data is as follows:[17]

Economy and education

Nalchik is a balneological and mountain climatotherapy resort, with several sanatoriums. It also serves as an industrial center of the republic (non-ferrous metallurgy, light industry, construction materials manufacturing, machine building).

Nalchik is home to the following facilities of higher education:

  • Kabardino-Balkarian State University[18]
  • North Caucasian State Institute of Arts[19]
  • Kabardino-Balkarian State Agricultural Academy[20]


Nalchik has a hot-summer humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification: Dfa) with hot summers and no dry season. The warm season lasts from late May to mid-September and the cold season from December to March. Most forms of precipitation are light rain and thunderstorms, as well as light snow and moderate snow. Wind speeds are typically calm to a light breeze through the year.

Climate data for Nalchik (Нальчик)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 0.2
Average low °C (°F) −7.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 22
Average precipitation days 6 6 8 9 11 11 9 7 7 7 7 7 95
Mean monthly sunshine hours 69 71 117 141 185 235 222 210 201 153 93 63 1,760
Source 1: Gydrometcenter[21]
Source 2: City Hall of Nalchik[22]


PFC Spartak Nalchik is an association football club based in Nalchik, playing in the Russian Premier League. The 2008 World Women's Chess Championship has also been held in Nalchik on August 28–September 18, 2008.[23]

Notable people

  • Khadzhimurat Akkayev, Olympic weightlifter, born 1985
  • Viktor Belenko, Soviet pilot who defected with a MiG-25, landing in Hakodate, Japan
  • Dima Bilan, singer, born 1981
  • Felix Frankl, Austrian and Soviet mathematician, physicist and aerodynamics (1905-1961)
  • Andre Geim, Soviet, British and Netherlands physicist; Nobel laureate
  • Muhadin Kishev, Soviet and Spanish artist, born 1938
  • Andrei Kolkoutine painter, born 1957
  • Azamat Kuliev, painter, born 1963
  • Eldar Kuliev, film director, screenwriter, born 1951
  • Alim Kouliev, actor, theater director, born 1959
  • Katya Lel, singer, born in 1974
  • Alexander Litvinenko, ex-FSB officer turned anti-Putin activist, born 1962, poisoned with polonium-210 and died 2006.
  • Leo Mol, Soviet and Canadian artist and sculptor (1915-2009)
  • Nikolay Pavlov, professional footballer, born 1987
  • Yuri Temirkanov, orchestra conductor, born 1938
  • Mikhail Zalikhanov, academician of Russian Academy of Sciences, born 1939

Twin towns and sister cities



  1. "Совет местного самоуправления городского округа Нальчик пятого созыва". Nalchik City Council. Nalchik City Council. June 28, 1995. Archived from the original on December 6, 2013. The supreme and exclusive legislative (representative) body of the state power in Nalchik is the Nalchik City Council.
  2. Местная администрация городского округа Нальчик (in Russian). Archived from the original on August 22, 2011. Retrieved October 30, 2010.
  3. "Регионы России. Основные социально-экономические показатели городов". 2012 г. (in Russian). Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  4. 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.
  5. "26. Численность постоянного населения Российской Федерации по муниципальным образованиям на 1 января 2018 года". Federal State Statistics Service. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  6. Law #12-RZ
  7. Law #13-RZ
  8. "Об исчислении времени". Официальный интернет-портал правовой информации (in Russian). June 3, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  11. "Dozens die as Russian city raided." BBC. Thursday October 13, 2005. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
  12. Russian Federal State Statistics Service (May 21, 2004). Численность населения России, субъектов Российской Федерации в составе федеральных округов, районов, городских поселений, сельских населённых пунктов – районных центров и сельских населённых пунктов с населением 3 тысячи и более человек [Population of Russia, Its Federal Districts, Federal Subjects, Districts, Urban Localities, Rural Localities—Administrative Centers, and Rural Localities with Population of Over 3,000] (XLS). Всероссийская перепись населения 2002 года [All-Russia Population Census of 2002] (in Russian).
  13. Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 г. Численность наличного населения союзных и автономных республик, автономных областей и округов, краёв, областей, районов, городских поселений и сёл-райцентров [All Union Population Census of 1989: Present Population of Union and Autonomous Republics, Autonomous Oblasts and Okrugs, Krais, Oblasts, Districts, Urban Settlements, and Villages Serving as District Administrative Centers]. Всесоюзная перепись населения 1989 года [All-Union Population Census of 1989] (in Russian). Институт демографии Национального исследовательского университета: Высшая школа экономики [Institute of Demography at the National Research University: Higher School of Economics]. 1989 via Demoscope Weekly.
  14. Spencer C. Tucker, World War II: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection (5 volumes), ABC-CLIO, 2016, p. 1422
  17. "Organisations.Kabardino-Balkar State University". Retrieved September 27, 2009.
  18. "North-Caucasus State Institute of Arts". Universities, Colleges and Institutes Directory of Russian Federation (Russia) Retrieved September 27, 2009.
  19. "Federal Education Kabardino-Balkar State Agricultural Academy" (in Russian). Education in Russia. Retrieved September 27, 2009.
  20. "Gydrometcenter: Historical Weather for Nalchik".
  21. "City Hall of Nalchik : Sundata for Nalchik". June 2011. Archived from the original on August 22, 2011.
  22. "World Women's Championship.World Chess Federation 2008". FIDE. Retrieved September 27, 2009.


  • Парламент Кабардино-Балкарской Республики. Закон №12-РЗ от 27 февраля 2005 г. «Об административно-территориальном устройстве Кабардино-Балкарской Республики», в ред. Закона №20-РЗ от 23 апреля 2014 г. «О внесении изменений в отдельные республиканские Законы». Вступил в силу на следующий день после опубликования. Опубликован: "Кабардино-Балкарская правда", б/н, 1 марта 2005 г. (Parliament of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic. Law #12-RZ of February 27, 2005 On the Administrative-Territorial Structure of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic, as amended by the Law #20-RZ of April 23, 2014 On Amending Various Republican Laws. Effective as of the day following the publication date.).
  • Парламент Кабардино-Балкарской Республики. Закон №13-РЗ от 27 февраля 2005 г. «Об статусе и границах муниципальных образований в Кабардино-Балкарской Республики», в ред. Закона №20-РЗ от 23 апреля 2014 г. «О внесении изменений в отдельные республиканские Законы». Вступил в силу на следующий день после официального опубликования. Опубликован: "Кабардино-Балкарская правда", б/н, 1 марта 2005 г. (Parliament of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic. Law #13-RZ of February 27, 2005 On the Status and the Borders of the Municipal Formations in the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic, as amended by the Law #20-RZ of April 23, 2014 On Amending Various Republican Laws. Effective as of the day following the official publication date.).
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