The inhabitants of the Kura valley consist principally of Iranian Tates and Talyshes, of Armenians and Lesghians, with Russians, Jews and Arabs.
The cultivation of the soil is, however, attended in many parts with great difficulties owing to the scanty rainfall and the very primitive implements still in use, and in the valley of the Kura heavy losses are frequently incurred from depredations by locusts.
This line of heights separates the basins of the Chorokh and the Rion (Black Sea) from those of the Aras and the Kura (Caspian Sea).
The slopes of the Armenian highlands are clothed with fine forests, and the vine is grown at their base, while on the wide-stretching steppes the Turko-Tatars pasture cattle, horses and sheep. The lower part of the Kura valley assumes the character of a dry steppe, the rainfall not reaching 54 in.
In both orographical systems the principal rivers start nearly all together from a central nucleus, and in both cases they radiate to opposite quarters of the compass; but whereas in the Alps the Rhone and the Rhine, flowing south-west and north-east respectively, follow longitudinal valleys, and the Aar and the Ticino, flowing north-west and south-east respectively, follow transverse valleys, in the Caucasus the streams which flow south-west and north-east, namely, the headwaters of the Rion and the Terek, travel along transverse valleys, and those of the Kura and the Kuban, flowing south-east and north-west respectively, traverse longitudinal valleys.
Lake Chad is supposed to have been known by report to Ptolemy, and is identified by some writers with the Kura lake of the middle ages.
Generally speaking, it may be characterized as a climate of extremes on the Armenian highlands, in the Kura valley and in northern Caucasia, and as maritime and genial in Lenkoran, on the Black Sea coastlands, and in the valley of the Rion.
Fall as a rule at the northern foot of the Caucasus (Mozdok, Pyatigorsk) and in the Kura valley (Tiflis, Novo-bayazet), On the Armenian highlands and on the steppes north of Pyatigorsk the rainfall is less than 12 in.
The Mugan steppe is, however, in spite of its dryness, a more fertile region in virtue of the irrigation practised; but the Kura has excavated its bed too deeply to admit of that being done along its course.