Kumyks (Kumyk: kumuklar, qumuqlar, Russian: kumyki) are a Turkic people living in the Kumyk plateau in north Dagestan and south Terek, and the lands bordering the Caspian Sea. They comprise 14% of the population of the Russian republic of Dagestan. They speak the Kumyk language. Kumyks practice folk Islam, with some religious rituals that trace back to pre-Islamic times. Various explorers see in them descendants of the Khazars. Armin Vambery (Hungarian) supposes that they settled in their present quarters during the flourishing period of the Khazar kingdom in the 8th century. During the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries CE the Kumyks had an independent kingdom, based at Tarki, and ruled by a leader called Shamkhal. The Russians built forts in their territory in 1559 and under Peter I. The upper terraces of the Kumyk plateau, which the Kumyks occupy, leaving its lower parts to the Nogais, are very fertile.
Contributions by Yalens, Hibernian, and EmausBot.