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ცხინვალი / Цхинвал(и)
The monument to the victims of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict
The monument to the victims of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict
Tskhinvali is located in Georgia (country)
Location of Tskhinvali in Georgia / South Ossetia
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Established 1398
 • Total 7.4 km2 (2.9 sq mi)
Elevation 860 m (2,820 ft)
Population [citation needed]
 • Total 30,000
Time zone Moscow time (UTC+3)
 • Summer (DST) Moscow summer time (UTC+4)
Tskhinvali is located in South Ossetia
Tskhinvali in South Ossetia

Tskhinvali (Georgian: ცხინვალი [t͡sxinvali]; Ossetian: Цхинвал; Russian: Цхинвал(и), Tskhinval(i)) is a city in Georgia and capital of South Ossetia, a disputed region in Georgia which has been recognised as an independent Republic by Russia and another three UN members. South Ossetia is a de facto independent state that controls its claimed territory, in part with the support of Russian troops. Despite this, it is recognised by all other UN members as part of Georgia.[1][2][3]

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",[4][5] which is the historical name of the city.[6] See ცხინვალი for more.

From 1934 to 1961, the city was named Staliniri (Georgian: სტალინირი), after Joseph Stalin. Modern Ossetians call the city Tskhinval (leaving off the final "i", which is a nominative case ending in Georgian); the other Ossetian (unofficial) name of the city is Chreba.[7]


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 Tskhinval' 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 Jewish, Georgian, Armenian and Ossetian population. In the 1917 it had 600 houses with 38.4% Jews, 34.4% Georgians, 17.7% Armenians and 8.8% Ossetians.[8]

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.

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.

2008 South Ossetian War

A building in the city after the Battle of Tskhinvali.[9][10][11] August 18, 2008

Tskhinvali was shelled by the Georgian government on 8 August 2008 with BM-21 "Grad" mobile artillery rocket systems in an attempt to regain control over the breakaway republic of South Ossetia. After the bombings, the Georgian army invaded the city in an attempt to gain control of the capital. The Russian army responded on the following day by moving its own forces into the city and counterattacking the Georgian army. On 10 August Georgian forces pulled out of Tskhinvali that was captured by the Russian army after intense fighting.

A considerable part of the population of the South Ossetia (at least, 30,000 out of 70,000) fled into North Ossetia–Alania prior or immediately after the start of the war.[12] 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[13] and 365 - by the S.Ossetian authorities[14]). The town was heavily damaged during the battle. The Jewish Quarter — one of the town's unique neighbourhoods was also reported to be destroyed.[15] 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 1991–1992 South Ossetia War.[16] 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.[17]



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

Climate data for Tskhinvali
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
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[18]


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[19] 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.[20]


There was a railway service before 1991 at the Tskhinvali Railway station.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Tskhinvali is twinned with the following cities:


  1. Sputnik (4 September 2008). "Nicaragua recognizes South Ossetia and Abkhazia". Retrieved 21 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. http://eng.kremlin.ru/speeches/2008/08/26/1543_type82912_205752.shtml
  3. http://en.rian.ru/world/20090910/156083204.html
  4. (Russian)Словарь географических названий
  5. Bedoshvili, Guram (2002). Etymological-Explanatory Dictionary of Georgian Toponyms. Tbilisi: Bakur Sulakauri Publishing. p. 479. Check date values in: |access-date= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. (Russian)ИСТОРИЯ ЦАРСТВА ГРУЗИНСКОГО ("History of the Georgian Kingdom"), Вахушти Багратиони. Retrieved from vostlit.info on 24.08.2008
  7. The Permanent Committee on Geographical Names (UK) (2007) "Georgia: a toponymic note concerning South Ossetia"
  8. "Цхинвали. Электронная еврейская энциклопедия". Retrieved 21 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Attacks damaged or destroyed 70% of buildings — Tskhinvali mayor". RIA Novosti. 12 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Targeting civilians' homes". Russia Today. 12 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Грузины снимали свои преступления на видео". Vesti.Ru. 3 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "UNHCR - UNHCR secures safe passage for Georgians fearing further fighting". UNHCR. Retrieved 21 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. [1]
  14. "Список погибших жителей Южной Осетии". Retrieved 21 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Jewish Quarter targeted in Georgian offensive". Russia Today. August 21, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Илларионов Андрей. "Эхо Москвы  :: Разворот Ситуация в Южной Осетии и Грузии: Андрей Илларионов". Эхо Москвы. Retrieved 21 August 2015. horizontal tab character in |title= at position 12 (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "How To Screw Up A War Story: The New York Times At Work - By Mark Ames - The eXiled". Retrieved 21 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Climate: Tskhinval". Retrieved 2 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Life and tempo of a maestro". The Sydney Morning Herald. 28 September 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Blitzed Ossetian city hosts classical concert". Russia Today. August 21, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links




  • Tsotniahsvili, MM. (1986). History of Tskhinvali (in Georgian). Tskhinvali. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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