Top-down, left-to-right: View of Makhachkala, The Government Building of Dagestan, Dagestan State Russian Gorki Drama Theater, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Dormition, the Grand Mosque of Makhachkala, Aerial view of Makhachkala and the Caspian Sea
Location of Makhachkala
Location of Makhachkala
Makhachkala (European Russia)
Makhachkala (Caspian Sea)
Makhachkala (Caucasus mountains)
Makhachkala (Russia)
Coordinates: 42°58′N 47°29′E / 42.967°N 47.483°E / 42.967; 47.483Coordinates: 42°58′N 47°29′E / 42.967°N 47.483°E / 42.967; 47.483
Federal subjectDagestan
City status since1857[2]
 • BodyAssembly of Deputies
 • HeadVitaly Varbassovich
 • Total468.13 km2 (180.75 sq mi)
10 m (30 ft)
 • Total572,076
 • Estimate 
596,356 (+4.2%)
 • Rank27th in 2010
 • Density1,200/km2 (3,200/sq mi)
 • Subordinated toCity of Makhachkala[1]
 • Capital ofRepublic of Dagestan[1]
 • Capital ofCity of Makhachkala[1]
 • Urban okrugMakhachkala Urban Okrug[6]
 • Capital ofMakhachkala Urban Okrug[6]
Time zoneUTC+3 (MSK Edit this on Wikidata[7])
Postal code(s)[8]
Dialing code(s)+7 8722
OKTMO ID82701000001

Makhachkala,[a] previously known as Petrovskoye[b] (1844–1857), and Petrovsk-Port[c] (1857–1921), is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Dagestan in Russia. The city is located on the Caspian Sea, covering an area of 468.13 square kilometres (180.75 square miles), with a population of over 603,518 residents,[9] while the urban agglomeration covers over 3,712 square kilometres (1,433 square miles), with a population of roughly 1 million residents. Makhachkala is the fourth-largest city in the Caucasus, the largest city in the North Caucasus and the North Caucasian Federal District, as well as the third-largest city on the Caspian Sea. The city is extremely ethnically diverse, with a minor ethnic Russian population.

The city'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 of the Russian Empire. The city was named Petrovskoye after Peter the Great. After gaining city status in 1857, the Petrovskoye fortress was renamed Petrovsk-Port. After the Russian Revolution, Petrovsk-Port was renamed Makhachkala on May 14, 1921, after Makhach Dakhadaev. On the same day, it became capital of the newly formed Dagestan ASSR. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the city became the capital of the Republic of Dagestan.

Makhachkala is an important economic, educational, scientific, and cultural centre of the North Caucasus. The city is a major Russian seaport on the Caspian Sea, and a transport hub. The city is one of the fastest-growing cities in Russia, and is currently going through a construction boom.


See also: Timeline of Makhachkala

Russian Tsar Peter the Great visited what is now Makhachkala in 1722, and the settlement bore his name from 1844 to 1921
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.[2] The 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 local Kumyks 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.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12] The city was invaded by the Red Army in Spring 1920.[11]

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.[11] The city incurred major damage during an earthquake on 14 May 1970.[13]

The area was used as a Soviet-era naval testing station, leaving behind a curious sea fort off nearby Kaspiysk (42°53′48″N 47°40′53″E / 42.896598°N 47.681274°E / 42.896598; 47.681274).[14]

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".[15]

Economy and transport

The most important industrial sector is the oil refineries, as well as mechanical engineering and textile factories. Numerous administrative and educational institutions are based in the city, including a regional research centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences with around 20 research departments. The city is also the media centre of the region. Numerous newspapers are published in Makhachkala, including Dagestanskaya Pravda and the Islamic As-Salam. In addition, several regional television stations are based in the city.

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.[6]

City divisions

View of Makhachkala
View of Makhachkala

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.[6]


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
A street in Makhachkala

In proportions of 2:3, the flag displays the main shield of the city's coat of arms.[16]


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.[17]

On December 15, 2011, Gadzhimurat Kamalov, a Russian investigative journalist and founder of the independent Chernovik newspaper was shot dead in an apparent assassination.[18]


The population of Makhachkala includes (2010 Census data):[19]


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.[citation needed]

The Caspian Sea International Port handles crude oil, petroleum, construction materials, grain, cargo and timber and operates 24 hours a day. The port offers communications with the rest of Russia, as well as with Belarus, Ukraine, the Baltic states, Iran, Turkey and Central Asia. A railyard at the port connects the port to the North Caucasus Railway network.[20]


Anzhi Arena is home of FC Anzhi Makhachkala

The city's main football team, FC Anzhi Makhachkala, plays at the 26,500-seat Anzhi Arena.

Founded in 1991, the side returned to the Premier League in 2009 and in January 2011 were purchased by Dagestani commodities billionaire Suleyman Kerimov,[21] whose investments allowed the club to sign players such as Brazilian World Cup winner Roberto Carlos[22] and Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto'o who, during his time at the club, became the world's highest paid player.[23] The club lived its golden era, finished in the Top 5 for two consecutive seasons (2011-12 and 2012-13) and qualified for the UEFA Europa League, reaching the round of 16 in both ocassions.

However, after 2013, due to unrest in the region, the players moved to live and train in Moscow, while the local matches in Makhachkala were guarded by armed patrols.[24] This situation, followed by severe budget cuts, made the club lost most of its key players and went on to finish bottom of the table in the 2013–14 Season.


Makhachkala has a cold semi-arid climate (Köppen: BSk) with warm, relatively dry summers and, cool relatively moist 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 plateaus makes the climate quite dry, although frequently overcast throughout the winter, which is owing to the relatively low latitude and nearness to the Caspian Sea 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 9 August 2017 is the hottest day, reaching 40.2 °C or 104.4 °F. The coldest night was on February 9, 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 December 28, 1888.

Climate data for Makhachkala (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1882–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 17.8
Average high °C (°F) 4.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 1.0
Average low °C (°F) −1.7
Record low °C (°F) −25.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 36
Average extreme snow depth cm (inches) 2
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: Погода и Климат[25]
Source 2: NOAA (sun, 1961–1990)[26]

Notable people

Twin towns – sister cities

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Russia

Makhachkala is twinned with:[27]


  1. ^ Russian: Махачкала, Kumyk: Анжи-къала Anzhi-qala, Avar: МахӀачхъала Maħaçqala, Chechen: ХӀинжа-ГӀала Hinƶa-Ġala, Nogai: Махачкала, Lak: Махачкъала
  2. ^ (Петровское)
  3. ^ (Петровск-Порт)


  1. ^ a b c d e Law #16
  2. ^ a b c "General Information" (in Russian). Republic of Dagestan. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  3. ^ Подсчитано по базе данных муниципальных образований РФ на 2008 год
  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. ^ a b c d Law #6
  7. ^ "Об исчислении времени". Официальный интернет-портал правовой информации (in Russian). June 3, 2011. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  8. ^ Почта России. Информационно-вычислительный центр ОАСУ РПО. (Russian Post). Поиск объектов почтовой связи (Postal Objects Search) (in Russian)
  9. ^ "RUSSIA: Severo-Kavkazskij Federal'nyj Okrug". City August 4, 2020. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 20, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Bowyer, Chaz (1988). RAF Operations 1918-1938. London: William Kimber. pp. 40, 41. ISBN 0-7183-0671-6.
  13. ^ 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. 103 (1): 381–386. Bibcode:1973PApGe.103..381G. doi:10.1007/BF00876415. S2CID 129856658.
  14. ^ Abandoned Places: Soviet naval testing station in Makhachkala, Russia Archived July 13, 2014, at the Wayback Machine,, accessed 12 July 2014
  15. ^ The North Caucasus: The Challenges of Integration (III), Governance, Elections, Rule of Law, p. 23 Archived September 23, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^
  17. ^ Russian journalist gunned down in violent republic of Dagestan, Guardian, retrieved 16/12/2011
  18. ^ Newspaper chief's murder in Dagestan adds to toll of Russian journalists, Guardian, retrieved 16/12/2011
  19. ^ "Перепись 2010 года. Дагстат. Том 3". Archived from the original on October 11, 2017. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  20. ^ "Port of Makhachkala traffic up 15.7 percent in Q1".
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 26, 2015. Retrieved October 26, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Samuel Eto'o in £21.8m move from Internazionale to Anzhi Makhachkala". August 23, 2011.
  24. ^ "Blackburn Rovers defender Chris Samba joins Anzhi Makhachkala". Manchester: BBC. February 24, 2012.
  25. ^ "Climate Makhachkala". Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  26. ^ "MAHACKALA 1961–1990". NOAA. Retrieved November 2, 2021.
  27. ^ "Города–побратимы Махачкалы". (in Russian). Makhachkala. September 24, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2020.