The Khazars were a semi-nomadic Turkic people with a confederation of Turkic-speaking tribes that in the late 6th century CE established a major commercial empire covering the southeastern section of modern European Russia, southern Ukraine, Crimea and Kazakhstan. The Caspian Sea is still called the Khazar Sea in some local languages such as Azerbaijani (Khazar-deniz). The Khazars created what for its duration was the most powerful polity to emerge from the break-up of the Western Turkic Khaganate. Astride a major artery of commerce between Eastern Europe and Southwestern Asia, Khazaria became one of the foremost trading empires of the medieval world, commanding the western marches of the Silk Road and playing a key commercial role as a crossroad between China, the Middle East and Kievan Rus'. For some three centuries the Khazars dominated the vast area extending from the Volga-Don steppes to the eastern Crimea and the northern Caucasus.