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(məkhäch'kəlä`), city (1989 pop. 317,000), capital of Dagestan Republic, SE European Russia, a port on the Caspian Sea. It is an important commercial and industrial center with oil refineries that are linked by pipeline with the Grozny fields. Machinery and textiles are manufactured. Founded in 1844 as a Russian stronghold, the city, called Petrovsk, was renamed Makhachkala in 1921.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(until 1922, Port Petrovsk; renamed in honor of the Dagestan revolutionary Makhach Dakhadaev), since 1923 the capital of Dagestan ASSR; a port on the western coast of the Caspian Sea. Located in the foothills of the Greater Caucasus. Population, 206,000 (1973; 10,000 in 1897, 34,000 in 1926, 87,000 in 1939, 119,000 in 1959, and 186,000 in 1970). There are two city districts in Makhachkala.

Makhachkala was founded in 1844 on the Andzhi-Arka hill as Petrovskoe fortress. In 1857 it was made a city and renamed Port Petrovsk. From 1861 to 1870 an artificial harbor and a port were constructed. In 1896 the city was joined by railroad with Vladikavkaz, Rostov-on-Don, and Baku. The improvement in transportation contributed to a significant increase in port freight turnover. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries large enterprises emerged, including an oil refinery, a cooperage plant, cotton-spinning and tobacco factories, and railroad workshops.

The first organizations in Port Petrovsk of the RSDLP appeared in 1904. Workers of Port Petrovsk and the Petrovsk Kavkazskii railroad actively participated in the Revolution of 1905-07. Soviet power was established on Dec. 1 (14), 1917. From the summer of 1918 until early 1920 the city was in the hands of the Germano-Turkish interventionists and then of the British interventionists and the White Guard detachments of L. Bicherakhov and the Denikinites. On Mar. 30, 1920, units of the 11th Red Army together with partisan detachments of mountaineers liberated the city and reestablished Soviet power.

During the years of socialist transformation Makhachkala was turned into the industrial center of Dagestan. An oil harbor was built near Makhachkala from 1933 to 1937. All port installations were reconstructed from 1950 to 1955. Machine building and metalworking (manufacture of electric welding equipment, equipment for the food industry), oil drilling (near Makhachkala), and chemical, textile, and food (fish, canning, wine production) industries are in the city, and building materials are produced there.

Makhachkala is a seaport, linking the North Caucasus, Transcaucasus, andsouthern Ukraine with the western regions of the Kazakh SSR. The port is a transfer point for goods, mainly petroleum products, arriving from Baku, Krasnovodsk, Astrakhan, and Aladzhi.

Makhachkala has a railroad station on the Rostov-on-Don-Baku line. There is also an airport. The Makhachkala-Groznyi and Izberbash-Makhachkala oil pipelines and the MakhachkalaDerbent gas pipeline are in operation.

The city has a grid-pattern street network. The first general plans of urban construction were worked out in 1931 and 1938. In 1961 the next planning project was approved. In 1973 a new general plan was worked out. The Dagestan Hotel (1938, architect G. Grimm), Government House (1967, architect A. M. Alkhazov), and a drama theater have been built. Monuments have been erected to Suleiman Stal’skii (1949; sculptor Kh. N. Askar-Sarydzha, architect A. M. Alkhazov), the poet Gamzat Tsadasa (1957; sculptor Kh. N. Askar-Sarydzha, architect A. M. Alkhazov), V. I. Lenin (1960; sculptor Z. I. Azgur, architect G. A. Zakharov), and Makhach Dakhadaev (1971; sculptor Kh. N. Askar-Sarydzha, architect G. Ganiev).

Makhachkala has the Dagestan branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR; a university; polytechnical, agricultural, medical, and pedagogical institutes; and ten secondary specialized educational institutions (including mechanical, polytechnical, construction, fishing industry, automobile-highway, and agricultural technicums and medical, art, musical, and cultural-educational schools). Other cultural institutions include theaters (1972, Avar and Kumyk Theater of Music and Drama, Russian Drama Theater, Puppet Theater), a philharmonic, a republic museum of local lore, and a museum of fine arts.


Kazhlaev, A. N. Vozniknovenie i ekonomicheskoe razvitie Makhachkaly. Makhachkala, 1967.
Ataev, D. M., and K. K. Gadzhiev. Putevoditel’ po Dagestanu, 2nd ed. Makhachkala, 1969.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a port in SW Russia, capital of the Dagestan Republic, on the Caspian Sea: fishing fleet; oil refining. Pop.: 503 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005