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Definition: South Ossetia from Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary

Autonomous subdivision, N Republic of Georgia; 1506 sq. mi. (3901 sq. km.); pop. (1990e) 99,000; ✽ Ts'khinvali. High plateau region on S slopes of Caucasus; sheep farming. Formerly comprised South Os•se•tian Autonomous Oblast \ä-ˈsē-shən … ˈȯ-bləst, -ˌblast\ of Georgian S.S.R.; for early history, see alania. Made an autonomous oblast of Georgia 1922; proclaimed independence from Republic of Georgia Sept. 20, 1990 and armed conflict followed.

Summary Article: South Ossetia
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Autonomous region of the Georgian republic, part of the region of Ossetia; population (2008 est) 70,000. It lies on the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus mountains, mostly above 1,000 m/3,300 ft above sea level. Its capital is Tskinvali. Its rivers are used to produce hydroelectric power, and less than 10% of the land is cultivated. Cereals, vines, and fruit are grown, while the higher land is used for forestry and rearing sheep, goats, and cattle. Traditional industries produce leather goods, fur clothing, and metal objects.

South Ossetia has been the scene of Ossete-Georgian interethnic conflict since 1989, with Ossetes seeking independence from Georgia and reunification with Alania, formerly North Ossetia. The inhabitants are mainly Greek Orthodox Christians.

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