The higher parts of the plains, which are deeply trenched by the upper tributaries of the rivers, are inhabited by various Caucasian races - Kabardians and Cherkesses (Circassians) in the west, Ossetes in the middle, and several tribal elements from Daghestan, described under the general name of Chechens, in the east; while nomadic Nogai Tatars and Turkomans occupy the steppes.
The deep, short gorges and glens which seam the southern slopes of the Caucasus are inhabited by Ossetes, Tushes, Pshays and Khevsurs in the west, and by various tribes of Lesghians in the east.
Meanwhile the Russians had also subdued the Ossetes (1802) and the Lesghian tribes (1803) of the middle Caucasus.
The population belongs almost entirely to the Kartvelian or Georgian group, and is distributed as follows: Imeretians, 41.2%; Mingrelians and Lazes, 2 2.5%; Gurians, 7.3%; Ajars, 5.8%; Svanetians, 1.3%; of other nationalities there are 6% of Abkhasians, 2.6% of Turks, 2.3% of Armenians, besides Russians, Jews, Greeks, Persians, Kurds, Ossetes and Germans.
From this we may infer that they spoke a language cognate with the Scythic. The greater part of the barbarian names occurring in the inscriptions of Olbia, Tanais and Panticapaeum are supposed to be Sarmatian, and as they have been well explained from the Iranian language now spoken by the Ossetes of the Caucasus, these are supposed to be the representatives of the Sarmatae and can be shown to have a direct connexion with the Alani, one of their tribes.