Lezgians formerly lived in free societies. They lived in large groups or clans. The clans were referred to as tukhum. A male elder was in charge of each group and made all the major decisions that were required. Lezgian women are renown for their woven carpets. Other economic activities that Lezgians participated in included sheep and goat herding, food processing and metal work. Since a lot of Lezgians have found work in coastal towns, it has made them come under Azerbaijan influence. This has resulted in a lot of them being bilingual as they can speak Lezgi as well as Azerbaijan.
The Lezgi language is spoken by 800,000 people who live in Southern Dagistan Russia and in Northern Azerbaijan. It is also spoken in Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Turkmenistan. It is the official language of Dagestan in Russia and has been classified as a vulnerable language by UNESCO. This means that even though it is not in danger of extinction, care should be taken so as to preserve and promote the language. It is a Caucasian language that falls under the Lezgin language family. Other alternative names for Lezgi include Lezgian, Lezgin, Lezghi and Kiurinsty. The Lezgi language shares similarities with other languages such as Rutul and Tsakur as they fall under the same family of languages. The language has different dialects, which are categorized depending on the geographical region where they are spoken. The main dialects are Axty, Ismaylli, Qure, Garkin, Stal, Kiuri and Qusar. There maybe wide differences in the geographical separation of the dialects, which span borders and mountains. However, the Lezgi people still see themselves as a unified tribe. Most Lezgis can understand a different dialect of their language.
There is a low literacy level among Lezgis. This means that there isn’t a lot of written literature available in the language. Most of the available written literature comes from Dagestan in Russia and is written using the Qure dialect. There are also some recent publications such as the Samur Newspaper and the Chriga journal, which are published in Azerbaijan and targets the common Lezgi person. The Cyrillic alphabet is used.