The territory of Kalmykia is unique in that it has been the home in successive periods to many major world religions and ideologies.
Prehistoric paganism and shamanism gave way to Judaism with the Khazars.
During his era, the Kalmyk Khanate fulfilled its responsibility to protect the southern borders of Russia and conducted many military expeditions against its Turkic-speaking neighbors.
Successful military expeditions were also conducted in the Caucasus.
Shamanism has in all probability remained a constant, often hidden, substrate of folk-practice, as it is today.
Some Nogai groups sought the protection of the Russian garrison at Astrakhan.
In addition, Kalmyk allegiance was often nominal, as the Kalmyk Khans practiced self-government, based on a set of laws they called the Great Code of the Nomads (Iki Tsaadzhin Bichig).
The Kalmyk Khanate reached its peak of military and political power under Ayuka Khan (1669–1724).
The Kalmyks, who form the majority of the republic and for whom the region is named, descend from the Oirat Mongols that migrated from Dzungaria in 1607 and established the Kalmyk Khanate (1630–1724) before they were eventually incorporated into the Russian Empire in the context of the Russian conquest of the Caucasus.
Elista, the capital of the republic, has of late, gained an international reputation for international chess competitions.
They also encamped on both sides of the Volga River, from the Don River in the west to the Ural River in the east.