The Karachais are descended from the populations Alans. According to the Hungarian explorer Jean-Charles de Besse, they descended from Magyar tribes settled in the Caucasus. The kingdom of Alania constituted in the Middle Ages had its capital at Maghas, which some authors place at Arkhyz, in the mountains currently inhabited by the Karatchais. At XIVe century, Alania was destroyed by Tamerlane, and its decimated population dispersed in the mountains. The Tamerlane raid simultaneously introduced Islam among the local people.
The term Balkar derive from the word Bolgar Where Bulgar ; the Balkars being then Bulgarians originally living in Greater Bulgaria, who settled in the Caucasus, while others migrated to the Balkans (Bulgaria) or present-day Tataria (on the average Volga).