The Caucuses and the Caucasus

by Ed Sawicki - March 31, 2016

The word caucus and its plural caucuses is mentioned frequently these days because in this political primary season, some states select presidential candidates using a process called a caucus. You’ll also hear the word caucus used to describe how independent politicians join with party politicians when governing. A good example of that is Bernie Sanders who was an independent but caucused with the Democrats before 2015.

There’s another word with a different meaning and is spelled differently but sounds the same*. It’s Caucasus - a proper noun. It’s the name of a region in the world. You should be aware of it because that region lies between Russia and Turkey, two countries that have a tense relationship that will likely grow worse. The map below shows the countries of the Caucasus.

The Caucasus

The Caucasus includes the lands between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and between the Turkish and Iranian borders and the Russian border. The largest and best known countries in the region are Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. You’ve probably also heard of Chechnya.

Any trouble between Turkey and Russia will likely involve Armenia because the Russian Air Force has numerous military aircraft there. There are 23 Mig-29 fighters and 7 Mi-24P helicopter gunships stationed at Erebuni airport.

* This is called a homophone. It’s sometimes called a homonym.

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