Located in the North Caucasus, bordering the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan and Chechnya, Dagestan is home to almost 3 million mostly Muslim population. A Republic of Russia, it is ethnically very diverse and made up of several dozen ethnic groups which create Russia's most heterogeneous republic, where no ethnicity forms a majority.
Dagestan has had a turbulent history and until 2012 was subject to a violent Islamic separatist movement that spilled over from neighbouring Chechnya. Largely subdued by the Russian Government it earned a reputation for being dangerous and violent, a reputation that is compounded by a lack of visitors and up to date news. But there is an overall feeling of being neglected and forgotten and a frustration that its bad reputation still lingers.
Today Dagestan (which means Land of Mountains) is peaceful and remains one of Russia's untouched treasures. A place where moderate Islam mixes with age-old traditions and due to its relative isolation, this mountainous region has maintained traditional cultural practices that have been lost in many other parts of Russia.