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ცხინვალი (Georgian)
Цхинвал, Чъреба (Ossetian)
South Ossetia location map.svg
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Location of Tskhinvali
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Tskhinvali (Shida Kartli)
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Tskhinvali (Georgia)
Coordinates: 42°13′30″N43°58′12″E / 42.22500°N 43.97000°E / 42.22500; 43.97000 Coordinates: 42°13′30″N43°58′12″E / 42.22500°N 43.97000°E / 42.22500; 43.97000
CountryFlag of Georgia.svg  Georgia (de jure)
Flag of South Ossetia.svg  South Ossetia (de facto) [1]
Occupation Flag of Russia.svg  Russia
Mkhare Shida Kartli
  Total7.4 km2 (2.9 sq mi)
860 m (2,820 ft)
 (1 January 2019)
  Total32,180 [2]
Time zone UTC+3 (Moscow time)
Climate Dfb

Tskhinvali (Georgian :ცხინვალი [t͡sʰχinvali] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) or Tskhinval (Ossetian : Цхинвал, Чъреба, romanized: Tskhinval, Chreba, Ossetian pronunciation:  [ʃχinvɒɫ]; Russian:Цхинва́л(и), tr. Tskhinvál(i), [tsxʲɪnˈval(ʲɪ)] ) is the capital of the disputed de facto independent Republic of South Ossetia, internationally considered part of Shida Kartli, Georgia (except by the Russian Federation and four other UN member states), and previously the capital of the erstwhile Soviet Georgian South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast. It is located on the Great Liakhvi River approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) northwest of the Georgian capital Tbilisi.



The name of Tskhinvali is derived from the Old Georgian Krtskhinvali (Georgian :ქრცხინვალი), from earlier Krtskhilvani (Georgian :ქრცხილვანი), literally meaning "the land of hornbeams", [3] [4] which is the historical name of the city. [5] See ცხინვალი for more.

From 1934 to 1961, the city was named Staliniri (Georgian :სტალინირი, Ossetian : Сталинир), which was compilation of Joseph Stalin's surname with Ossetian word "Ir" which means Ossetia. Modern Ossetians call the city Tskhinval (leaving off the final "i", which is a nominative case ending in Georgian); the other Ossetian name of the city is Chreba (Ossetian : Чъреба) which is only spread as a colloquial word. [6]


The area around the present-day Tskhinvali was first populated back in the Bronze Age. The unearthed settlements and archaeological artifacts from that time are unique in that they reflect influences from both Iberian (east Georgia) and Colchian (west Georgia) cultures with possible Sarmatian elements.

A vintage photo of Tskhinvali by D. Rudnev, 1886. Tskhinvali. Rudnev, D 1886.jpg
A vintage photo of Tskhinvali by D. Rudnev, 1886.

Tskhinvali was first chronicled by Georgian sources in 1398 as a village in Kartli (central Georgia) though a later account credits the 3rd century AD Georgian king Aspacures II of Iberia with its foundation as a fortress. By the early 18th century, Tskhinvali was a small "royal town" populated chiefly by monastic serfs. Tskhinvali was annexed to the Russian Empire along with the rest of eastern Georgia in 1801. Located on a trade route which linked North Caucasus to Tbilisi and Gori, Tskhinvali gradually developed into a commercial town with a mixed Georgian Jewish, Georgian, Armenian and Ossetian population. In 1917, it had 600 houses with 38.4% Georgian Jews, 34.4% Georgians, 17.7% Armenians and 8.8% Ossetians. [7]

The town saw clashes between Georgian People's Guard and pro-Bolshevik Ossetian peasants during the 1918–20 period, when Georgia gained brief independence from Russia. Soviet rule was established by the invading Red Army in March 1921, and a year later, in 1922, Tskhinvali was made a capital of the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast within the Georgian SSR. Subsequently, the town became largely Ossetian due to intense urbanisation and Soviet Korenizatsiya ("nativization") policy which induced an inflow of the Ossetians from the nearby rural areas into Tskhinvali. It was essentially an industrial centre, with lumber mills and manufacturing plants, and had also several cultural and educational institutions such as a venerated Pedagogical Institute (currently Tskhinvali State University) and a drama theatre. According to the last Soviet census (in 1989), Tskhinvali had a population of 42,934, and according to the census of Republic of South Ossetia in 2015, the population was 30,432 people.

During the acute phase of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, Tskhinvali was a scene of ethnic tensions and ensuing armed confrontation between Georgian and Ossetian forces. The 1992 Sochi ceasefire accord left Tskhinvali in the hands of Ossetians.

Russo-Georgian War

A building in the city after the Battle of Tskhinvali. Tskhinval after Georgian attack4.jpg
A building in the city after the Battle of Tskhinvali.
The monument to the victims of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict near the Armenian church in Tskhinvali Pmt.jpg
The monument to the victims of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict near the Armenian church in Tskhinvali

A considerable part of the population of South Ossetia (at least, 30,000 out of 70,000) fled into North Ossetia–Alania prior or immediately after the start of the war. [9] However, many civilians were killed during the shelling and the following Battle of Tskhinvali (162 civilian deaths were documented by the Russian team of investigators [10] and 365 – by the South Ossetian authorities [11] ). The town was heavily damaged during the battle. Andrey Illarionov visited the town in October 2008, and reported that Jewish Quarter indeed was in ruins, though he observed that the ruins were overgrown with shrubs and trees, which indicates that the destruction took place during the 1991–1992 South Ossetia War. [12] However, Mark Ames, who was covering the last war for The Nation, stated that Tskhinvali's main residential district, nicknamed Shanghai because of its population density (it's where most of the city's high-rise apartment blocks are located), and the old Jewish Quarter, were completely destroyed. [13]



Located in the Caucasus, at 860 metres (2,820 ft) above sea level, Tskhinvali has a humid continental climate (Köppen: Dfb), with an average annual precipitation of 805 millimetres (31.7 in). Summers are mild and winters are cold, with snowfalls.

Climate data for Tskhinvali
Average high °C (°F)1.9
Daily mean °C (°F)−2.6
Average low °C (°F)−7.1
Average precipitation mm (inches)46
Source: Climate-data.org [14]


21 August 2008. Valery Gergiev with Mariinsky Theatre opera in Tskhinvali. Valery Gergiev in Tskhinval 21 August 2008.jpg
21 August 2008. Valery Gergiev with Mariinsky Theatre opera in Tskhinvali.

Currently, Tskhinvali functions as the capital of South Ossetia. Before the 2008 war it had a population of approximately 30,000.[ citation needed ] The town remained significantly impoverished in the absence of a permanent political settlement between the two sides in the past two decades.

The city contains several monuments of medieval Georgian architecture,[ citation needed ] with the Kavti Church of St. George being the oldest one dating back to the 8th–10th centuries.[ citation needed ]

On August 21, 2008, a world-known [15] Russian conductor and director of the Mariinsky Theatre, of Ossetian origin, Valery Gergiev conducted a concert near the ruined building of South Ossetian parliament in memory of the victims of the war in South Ossetia. [16]


There was a railway service before 1991 at the Tskhinvali Railway station connecting the city with Gori.

International relations

Twin towns and Sister cities

Tskhinvali is twinned with the following cities:

Notable people

See also


  1. South Ossetia's status is disputed. It considers itself to be an independent state, but this is recognised by only a few other countries. The Georgian government and most of the world's other states consider South Ossetia de jure a part of Georgia's territory.
  2. Статистический сборник за январь-июнь 2019 г. Entry from September 4, 2019 on the website ugosstat.ru. Retrieved 4 May, 2021.
  3. (in Russian) Словарь географических названий.
  4. Bedoshvili, Guram (2002). Etymological-Explanatory Dictionary of Georgian Toponyms. Tbilisi: Bakur Sulakauri Publishing. p. 479.
  5. (in Russian) ИСТОРИЯ ЦАРСТВА ГРУЗИНСКОГО ("History of the Georgian Kingdom"), Вахушти Багратиони. Retrieved from vostlit.info on 24. August, 2008.
  6. The Permanent Committee on Geographical Names (UK) (2007) "Georgia: a toponymic note concerning South Ossetia".
  7. "Цхинвали. Электронная еврейская энциклопедия". 2006-07-04. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  8. "Attacks damaged or destroyed 70% of buildings – Tskhinvali mayor". RIA Novosti. 12 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-12.
  9. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "UNHCR – UNHCR secures safe passage for Georgians fearing further fighting". UNHCR. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  10. [ dead link ]
  11. "Список погибших жителей Южной Осетии" . Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  12. Илларионов Андрей. "Эхо Москвы :: Разворот Ситуация в Южной Осетии и Грузии: Андрей Илларионов". Эхо Москвы. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  13. "How To Screw Up A War Story: The New York Times At Work – By Mark Ames – The eXiled" . Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  14. "Climate: Tskhinval" . Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  15. "Life and tempo of a maestro". The Sydney Morning Herald. 28 September 2006.
  16. "South Ossetians enjoy requiem concert in shattered capital". The Guardian . August 21, 2008. Retrieved 4 May 2021.
  17. Не школьные разговоры (Not school talk), Rossiyskaya Gazeta 22. December 2008.
  18. Архангельская область восстанавливает югоосетинскую 5-ю школу (Arkhangelsk region is restoring the South Ossetian 5th school), Komsomolska Pravda 11 March 2009.
  20. Сообщение пресс-службы Министерства иностранных дел Республики Южная Осетия (Press release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Ossetia), South Ossetian Ministry of Foreign Affairs 12 May 2021.



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