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Map of Abkhazia

Abkhazia, also spelled as Abkhaziya or by its constitutional name Republic of Abkhazia, is a partially-recognized breakaway state located in the nation of Georgia. Located in the West Caucasus mountain range with a coastline located on the Black Sea, its capital city is Sukhum.[1] This breakaway state is a leftover from the USSR days, when it was the nominally-autonomous Abkhaz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic until the breakup of the USSR in 1992. The primary languages spoken there are Abkhazian and Russian.

While it cannot be denied that Abkhazia's modern subordination to Georgia is the result of Georgian military annexation and ethnic cleansing (under some pretty historically revisionist pretexts, moreover) in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and Georgia has subsequently treated Abkhazia pretty crappily, Russia has more recently decided that dissent between bordering former Soviet regions would be a good prelude to mess around and make an already unstable region even more so. Predictably, it has brought even more instability and misery to bordering territories, which is pretty much what Russia has become an expert at doing.


Pre-Soviet Union[edit]

Abkhazia as a political entity began as the Kingdom of Abkhazia in the 8th century when, under the leadership of Prince Leon II, it won its independence from the Roman Empire; under Leon's rulership, the territory of the Kingdom was expanded to include the neighbouring Kingdom of Egrisi, comprising much of what is now western Georgia. The Kingdom of Abkhazia was subsequently unified with the Kingdom of Georgia to the east under the rule of Bagrat’ III, who inherited the rule of the two kingdoms through the respective dynastic lines of his mother (Gurandukht’, daughter of King George II of Abkhazia) and his father (King Gurgen II Magistros of Georgia). After much internal strife, in 1463 the unified Kingdom broke up into several independent kingdoms and principalities, and Abkhazia regained its independence under the Chachba family, an Abkhazian princely clan. In the 1570s, the navy of the Ottoman Empire captured the port city of Sukhum, bringing Abkhazia under the influence of the Ottoman Empire and Islam, to which many Abkhazians converted. The Chachba clan re-expanded Abkhazia southwards into Megrelian-speaking territory during the 1680s, reaching the Enguri River and thereby establishing the territory of Abkhazia roughly as it is currently defined.

In 1810, Abkhazia joined the Russian Empire, nominally as an autonomous principality, but Tsar Alexander I had other plans for the northern Caucasus, especially in view of other clashing empires in the region (the Ottomans and Persians, specifically). Alexander appointed General Aleksei Yermonov to the Caucasus in 1816, and Yermonov promptly wasted no time escalating the already-ongoing Great Caucasian War. Eventually, after several decades of violent battles, widespread ethnic cleansing by Russian soldiers, and officially-sanctioned genocidal policies against the indigenous peoples of the northern Caucasus, the Imperial Russian army declared victory in 1864. During and in the aftermath of the Great Caucasian War, more than a quarter of a million ethnic Abkhaz—estimated to comprise more than three-quarters of the Abkhaz nation—were killed, deported, or chose to emigrate; areas depopulated by this catastrophe rapidly began to be reoccupied by ethnic Georgians and Megrelians, encouraged by classic irredentism from Georgian writers:

Is the Caucasus not our region? The whole Caucasus is our homeland, our country. On the soil of the Caucasus, no matter how far we stand from one another, we should still think that our feet are on our own soil.
—Giorgi Ts’ereteli; one doubts he'd have been so pro-solidarity if the foot was on the other soil[2][note 1]

Soviet Union era[edit]

At the beginning of the Russian Revolution in 1917, Abkhazia broke from the Russian Empire and joined with several other territories of the region to form the Mountain Republic of the Northern Caucasus, an independent union also including the regions of modern Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia–Alania, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Daghestan. Georgia declared its own independence the following year, on 26 May 1918; within less than a month Georgia had functionally annexed Abkhazia under the ostensible military governorship of Georgian general Georgi Mazniashvili, who subsequently disbanded the Abkhazian People's Council, jailed Abkhazian pro-independence leaders, and began military attacks on non-Georgian residents of Abkhazia. This culminated in the ethnic cleansing of Abkhazian, Armenian, and Greek populations from Abkhazian territory and the systematic resettlement of even more Georgian, Megrelian, and Svan people into these regions.

Following Bolshevik uprisings in both Abkhazia and Georgia, an autonomous Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic, independent from the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, was declared on 31 March 1921. This autonomous Soviet republic lasted until it merged with the Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian SSRs as the Transcaucasian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, lasting from 1922 until 1931. On 19 February 1931, the Abkhaz Soviet Socialist Republic was abolished, and demoted to the status of an autonomous republic within the larger Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic.[3]

This political turbulence, and rising ethnic tensions, set the scene for the modern conflict between Abkhazia and Georgia.

Current dispute[edit]

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Georgia declared independence and unilaterally claimed Abkhazia as part of its territory, much to the dismay of the Abkhaz people. Ethnic tensions between Georgians and Abkhazians reached a boiling point in 1992 when the Abkhaz War began. The war began when the region of Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia. Russia, from which Abkhazia had sought support since before the USSR's collapse in the face of Georgian moves towards independence, armed the Abkhaz resistance and thereby worsened the conflict. Separatist forces were made up of indigenous Abkhaz populations, Islamic terrorist-linked Chechens, and Russian special forces.[citation needed] The nation of Georgia swiftly lost control of the region. Some ethnic Georgians joined the separatist forces so that they would no longer have to stay in prison for various crimes. A ceasefire brokered by Russia was put into place, only for it to be broken by Abkhaz separatists. The renewed conflict lasted for a few months before de facto independence was reached. [4]

In 2008, the Russo-Georgian War began, sparked by Georgia's attempts to reclaim the disputed territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This prompted the Russian military to invade Georgia and expel the Georgian forces from the separatist-held areas. This war lasted for a short time with the end result being Abkhazia and South Ossetia retaining their de facto independence; as a consequence of the war, Russia also officially recognized both areas as sovereign countries. Despite the Abkhaz/Russian victory, the United Nations declared that both Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's independence were invalid under international law. This is the primary reason Georgia and Russia hate each other.[5] Russia hasn't yet annexed these territories despite a questionably democratic referendum on joining Russia.[citation needed] Under Georgian law, Abkhazia is considered to be under illegal military occupation by Russia. [6]


The Republic of Abkhazia's government is a presidential republic. The current president is Aslan Bzhaniya. The legislative body is known as the People's Assembly. The president's Cabinet of Ministers includes a Premier and a Prime Minister.[7]

Human rights[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Human rights

Note: Due to the lack of unbiased sources, it is difficult to determine the entire human rights situation.

Abkhazia's human rights record appears to be bad. The education system is heavily biased against Georgia. The sole languages of instruction are Russian and Abkhaz, leaving linguistic minorities at a significant academic disadvantage. Problems in the education system also stem from a lack of funding. Property rights are often violated as people who fled the area have not been able to reclaim lost property. Georgians are the worst affected by this. Health care in Abkhazia is also predictably dismal. Abortion is completely outlawed even for medical emergencies when the life of the pregnant woman is at extreme risk. There is hardly any modern medical equipment, there is virtually no human resource management, and infectious disease outbreaks are common. Ethnic minorities such as Georgians and Armenians are looked down upon by Abkhaz society.[8]


The military is know as the Abkhazia Armed Forces. Abkhazia Armed Forces comprise mostly militias under the supervision of Russian forces. This is due to the treaty signed between Abkhazia and Russia to integrate military forces.[9] Their military is mostly ground forces although there is a limited amount of naval and air support. It also operates a counter-terrorism center that is supposed to counter terrorist attacks.[10]

Language and culture[edit]

The primary language of Abkhazia is Abkhaz, a Northwest Caucasian language. The primary religions are Christianity and Sunni Islam. Traditional folk religion has influenced the Christian and Islamic religions in the area. Abkhazia uses the older Julian Calendar, also known as the Lunar Calendar. A lot of traditions are very conservative in nature, and people take deep offense to breaking said traditions. However, clothing is actually based on western fashions. Common foods include fish, vegetables, and homemade sausages. Dance is a cultural activity that the people of Abkhazia take great pride in.[11]

Recognition and international relations[edit]

A disputed territory, Abkhazia has extremely limited recognition. The UN member states of Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru and Syria recognize it as an independent nation and they have formal relations with each other. Russia recognized both Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the aftermath of the Russo-Georgian War; Russia justified this recognition by referring to the earlier recognition of the independence of Kosovo by the U.S. and numerous other U.N. member nations.[12] Abkhazia is also recognized by the partially and unrecognized nations of South Ossetia, Transnistria, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic.[13][14]


  1. Translated from the original Georgian: "მეძნელება იმის დაგდებაო, განა კავკასია, საცა უნდა იყო, ჩვენი კუთხე არ არის? მთელი კავკასია ჩვენი მიწა-წყალია, ჩვენი ქვეყანაა. კავკასიის ქვეყანაში, რა მანძილზედაც უნდა ვიდგეთ ერთი ერთმანეთზე, მი ანც უნდა ვფიქრობდეთ, რომ ჩვენს მიწა-მყალზე გვიდგას ფეხი."


  1. Discover Abkhazia, Retrieved on May 9, 2022.
  2. Ts’ereteli, G. Droeba 399 (1873), p.3.
  3. English Wikipedia, "Socialist Soviet Republic of Abkhazia", retrieved on 10 October 2022.
  4. Radio Free Europe, Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  5. World Atlas, Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  6. www.golosameriki.com, Retrieved on June 12, 2022 (Translated from Russian).
  7. President of Abkhazia, May 10, 2022.
  8. Palm Center, Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  9. SOFREP, Retrieved on May 11, 2022.
  10. liquisearch, Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  11. Every Culture, May 11, 2022.
  12. Modern Diplomacy, Retrieved May 12, 2022.
  13. State News Agency of South Ossetia, Retrieved May 12, 2022 (Translated from original Ossetian).
  14. Regnum, Retrieved May 12, 2022.