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The republic is part of the Southern Federal District , and borders Dagestan to the south and Stavropol Krai to the southwest; Volgograd Oblast to the northwest and north and Astrakhan Oblast to the north and east; Rostov Oblast to the west and the Caspian Sea to the east. Kalmykia is the only region in Europe where Buddhism is the most-practised religion. The republic covers an area of 76, square kilometres 29, square miles , with a small population of roughly thousand residents. The capital of the republic is the city of Elista , which has gained an international reputation for international chess competitions. The republic is located in Southern Russia , lying north of the North Caucasus.