The Circassians (Adyghe) are a North Caucasian nation and an ethnic group who belong to one of the oldest indigenous peoples of the Caucasus and are among the original inhabitants of the Caucasus. They dwelled and inhabited the whole Northwestern region of the Caucasus and were once among the majority before the Russian conquest of the Caucasus. The present day Circassians are among the minority living in the Russian Federation of the Caucasus, living in the republics of Krasnodar Krai, the Sochi region, Adygea, Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and North Ossetia-Alania, in the Mozdok region of their divided ancestral country, Circassia, while the rest live in diaspora. Most Circassians in Diaspora live principally in Turkey, while the rest of the live in the Middle East, principally in Syria, in Israel and in Jordan; in other countries in Europe as well as the United States of America.
The Adyghe first emerged as a coherent entity somewhere around the tenth century A.D., although references to them exist much earlier. They were never politically united, a fact which reduced their influence in the area and their ability to withstand periodic invasions from groups like the Mongols, Avars, Pechenegs, Huns, and Khazars.
This lack of unity eventually cost the Adyghe their independence, as they were slowly conquered by Russia in a series of wars and campaigns in the late 18th and early to mid-19th centuries. During this period, the Adyghe plight achieved a certain celebrity status in the West, but pledges of assistance were never fulfilled. After the Crimean War, Russia turned her attention to the Caucasus in earnest, starting with the peoples of Chechnya and Dagestan. In 1859, the Russians had finished defeating Imam Shamil in the eastern Caucasus, and turned their attention westward, finally subjugating the Adyghe in 1864.
The 21st May 1864 has become to a symbol of this tragic history of the Circassians. This date is used to commemorate their expulsion from their homeland and should be never forgotten.
The twelve stars on the Adyghe Flag also refers to the twelve tribes.
Adyghe Xabze is the epitomy of Circassian culture and tradtion. It is their code of honour and is based on mutual respect and above all requires responsibility, discipline and self-control. Adyghe Xabze functions as the Circassian unwritten law yet was highly regulated and adhered to in the past. The Code requires that all Circassians are taught courage, reliability and generosity. Greed, desire for possessions, wealth and ostentation are considered disgraceful by the Xabze code.
In accordance with Xabze, hospitality was and is particularly pronounced among the Circassians. A guest is not only a guest of the host family, but equally a guest of the whole village and clan. Even enemies are regarded as guests if they enter the home and being hospitable to them as one would with any other guest is a sacred duty.
Every Circassian arises when someone enters the room, providing a place for the person entering and allowing the newcomer to speak before everyone else during the conversation. In the presence of elders and women respectful conversation and conduct is essential. Disputes are stopped in the presence of women and domestic disputes are never continued in the presence of guests. A woman can request disputing families to reconcile and they must comply with her request.
Circassian Xabze is well known amongst their neighbouring communities.