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The Circassians (Circassian: Адыгэхэр, Adygekher) are a Northwest Caucasian ethnic group native to Circassia, who were displaced in the course of the Russian conquest of the Caucasus in the 19th century, especially after the Russian–Circassian War in 1864. In its narrowest sense, the term “Circassian” includes the twelve Adyghe (Circassian: Адыгэ, Adyge) tribes (three democratic and nine aristocratic), i.e. Abzakh, Besleney, Bzhedug, Hatuqwai, Kabardian, Mamkhegh, Natukhai, Shapsug, Temirgoy, Ubykh, Yegeruqwai, and Zhaney, each one representing a star on the green-and-gold Circassian flag. However, due to Soviet administrative divisions, Circassians were also designated as the following: Adygeans (Adyghe in Adygea), Cherkessians (Adyghe in Karachay-Cherkessia), Kabardians (Adyghe in Kabardino-Balkaria), Shapsugians (Adyghe in Krasnodar Krai) although all the four are essentially the same people residing in different political units.
The majority of Circassians are predominantly Sunni Muslim. The Circassians mainly speak the Circassian language, a Northwest Caucasian language with three main dialects and numerous sub-dialects. Many Circassians also speak Turkish, Russian, English, Arabic, and Hebrew, having been exiled by Russia to lands of the Ottoman Empire, where the majority of them today live. About 800,000 Circassians remain in historical Circassia (modern-day titular Circassian republics of Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia as well as the southern half of Krasnodar Krai and the southwestern part of Stavropol Krai), and others live in the Russian Federation outside these republics and krais. The 2010 Russian Census recorded 718,727 Circassians, of which 516,826 are Kabardian, 124,835 are Adyghe proper, 73,184 are Cherkess, and 3,882 Shapsug.
The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization estimated in the early 1990s that there are as many as 3.7 million “ethnic Circassian” diaspora (in over 50 countries), outside the titular Circassian republics (meaning that only one in seven “ethnic Circassians” live in the homeland), and that, of these 3.7 million, more than 2 million live in Turkey, 300,000 in the Levant (mostly modern-day Jordan and Syria) and Mesopotamia, and 50,000 in Western Europe and the United States.