Is Abkhazia a Country?

A map of Georgia showing disputed areas.
A map of Georgia showing disputed areas.

Abkhazia is a separatist-controlled country which was formally called the Republic of Abkhazia or “Apsny.” The name means a country of mortal beings. Russia and a small number of countries recognize Abkhazia’s sovereignty. However, the United Nations, a majority of international states, and Georgia consider it as part of Georgia. Georgia designates it as the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia.

Geography of Abkhazia

Abkhazia is a partially recognized state on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. It borders Georgia to the east, the North Caucasus along the Caucasus Mountains, and Russia to the north. Its capital, Sukhumi, lies on the Black Sea coast. The land of Abkhazia covers 8,660 kilometers squares and around 240,000 people.

Abkhazia consists of the following seven administrative districts; Gagra, Gal, Gulripsh, Sukhum, Gudauta, Tquarchal, and Ochamchira. The state has a rich fertile soil with rivers and lakes and is mountainous. Its average climate is 15°C which is very mild. Most parts of Abkhazia experience snow since it is highly elevated with some parts featuring glaciers.

History of Abkhazia

Modern Abkhazia was part of ancient Georgia Kingdom of Colchini between the 6th and 9th centuries. Later on, the Georgia Kingdom became part of the Kingdom of Egrisi. Greeks then set up trade colonies at at Pitiunt and Dioscurias along the Black Sea coast of Abkhazia. The Kingdom of Abkhazia became strong in the 780s. It turned out to be a dominant power in Western Caucasus. The Georgian monarchy united Eastern Georgia and Abkhazia at the end of the 10th century.

The Georgia Kingdom broke up into small kingdoms and principalities during the 16th century. In the 1570s, the Ottoman navy lived in the fort of Tskhumi. As a result, Abkhazia came under the influence of the Ottoman Empire and Islam. Subsequently, Abkhazian’s converted to Islam. In 1773, Georgia signed a treaty with Russia for protection against the Ottoman Empire. Seemingly Russia absorbed them. However, when Abkhazia sought for protection from Russia in the year 1801, the state declared them an “autonomous principality” in 1810, before being annexed by Russia in 1864. In 1918, Abkhazia was included as a region in the newly created independent Georgia.

The Abkhazians

The citizens of Abkhazia speak Abkhaz as their language. Russia is also a popular language amongst them. In the Gal District, Georgian is commonly spoken. Regarding religion, 75% of Abkhazians are orthodox Christians while 10% are Sunni Muslims. The rest of the population is Catholics, Lutherans, Jews, or other religions. The Abkhazian culture consists of large family homes in rural setups. Residents grow and process their foods in these rural areas. Thus, their economy is agriculturally abundant. The economy of Abkhazia heavily relies on the Russian economy. They use the Russian ruble and the Abkhazian apsar as their currency. Russia is a trading partner, investor, and economic partner of Abkhazia. Tourism, fishing, and construction industries are on the rise in this part of the world.


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