In the Middle Ages it was called “Alania”. Since 1804 it has been under Russian control. When the Soviet Union was breaking up in the early 1990s there was a lot of nationalistic feeling in the area. Some Ossetian people wanted to call the country Alania again. In November 1994 the name of Alania was added to the republican title (Republic of North Ossetia-Alania).
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North Ossetia-Alania Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.