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kray (region), southwestern Russia, on the northern flank of the Greater Caucasus. The territory stretches from the crestline, which reaches 13,274 feet (4,046 m) in Mount Dombay-Ulgen, across the lower parallel ranges, which are broken by deep river gorges, and then across the extensive foreland known as the Stavropol Upland, to the low plains of the Manych Depression and the Caspian Depression. The mountain area, which forms the republic of Karachay-Cherkessia within the kray, is densely forested on the lower slopes with deciduous trees, giving way higher up to conifers, above which are alpine meadows and bare rock and ice. The foreland and lowlands are mostly fertile steppe soils, now largely under cultivation; in the drier east (the Nogay Steppe), semidesert conditions prevail, with sage vegetation predominating.