Travel Guides: Abkhazia
Abkhazia is an autonomous republic in Georgia, situated between the Black Sea coast and western Caucasus Mountains, created on 4 March 1921.
Predominant are: coal mining, building materials and wood and fish. Trade is based on citrus, tobacco, tea and silk. The last Soviet census from 1989 registered 525,061 people, 48% Georgian and 17% Abkhaz, the remainder being composed of Russians, Greeks, Armenians and others. Following the war of secession have been killed or expelled 250,000 people, of which 200,000 were Georgians. According to the 2005 census were counted only 215,972 people in Abkhazia, of which 44% Abkhaz, Georgian 21%, 12% Russian. Predominant religion is Orthodox Christian (Abkhaz, Russians, and Georgians), Apostolic Armenian and Muslim minority.
Abkhazia declared independence in 1991. The war of independence ended with numerous victims in 1991-1994. In August 2008 the Georgian army tried to regain control over Abkhazia, which led to rapid intervention by Russian military forces, the Georgians were forced to retire in just six days. On 26 August 2008, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in Moscow that the government officially recognizes the independence of two breakaway republics, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. At 6 months after the recognition of Abkhazia, it has been recognized only by Nicaragua.
Abkhazia became part of the Russian Empire in the 19th century. In 1864 a large part of Abkhazia, Muslim, migrated to Turkey, changing the ethnic composition of the region. In their place came Georgians and Armenians, Gruzins becoming the majority in the region. After inclusion of Abkhazia in Georgia the Gruzin majority consolidated. According to the 1989 Soviet census, 45.7% of people in Abkhazia were Georgians and Abkhaz only 17.8% (14.6% Armenians, Russians 14.3%). However, Abkhazia was an autonomous republic status within Georgia, and the Soviets pursued a policy of positive discrimination, which made the leading position of the Abkhaz autonomous republic to prevail.
After the 1990 elections, Vladislav Ardzinba was elected Speaker of Parliament of the Autonomous Republic and the Presidium of the Parliament was multiethnic: 3 Abkhaz, three Georgians, two Russians and an Armenian. Ardzinba had worked many years at the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow, headed by Yevgeny Primakov, who later became foreign minister and then Prime Minister of Russia. Former member of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Ardzinba was a close person to Anatoly Lukyanov and his group attempted a coup in August 1991. In July 1991, the Abkhazian parliament declared that the Soviet republic of Abkhazia that Georgia would conclude with a specially treated.
The decision of Parliament was illegal because a quorum was not reached due to boycott parliament session. This formal aspect has less importance as long as organized Ardzinba law enforcement troops were loyal to him and executed the commandments, even after members of the presidium of parliament have resigned. Two weeks later, an ally of President Shevardnadze in the fight against rebels loyal Gamsahurdia left, went to Abkhazia, Sukhumi occupying the capital to plunder and destruction. Abkhaz forces took refuge in the north of the country, where they began a counteroffensive by Russian troops and Caucasian volunteers (mostly Chechens). In the Abkhaz offensive were used tanks, rocket launchers, aircraft, which could be provided only by the Russian army.
In 1993, when the legally elected president of Georgia, Gamsahurdia, returned from exile tried to seize power, civil war between supporters and those of Shevardnadze’s Gamsahurdia resumed, an opportunity to conquer the whole territory of Abkhazia except the Kodori Gorge, and undertake a policy of ethnic cleansing that approximately 200,000 Georgians were expelled from the region. Only because the majority ethnic cleansing in Abkhazia, Abkhaz reached. According to the 2003 census, the population of the region is 43.8% Abkhaz, Georgians 21.3%, 20.8% Armenians and 10.8% and Russians. Gruzin Civil War ended with the death of Gamsahurdia and Shevardnadze’s victory, but also strengthened the separatist regions. The current President Mikhail Saacaşvili began his political career as a supporter of Shevardnadze, became minister of justice. In 2001, Shevardnadze resigned, however, accusing the government of corruption. In 2003 Saacaşvili was among the leaders of the “rose revolution” that deposed Shevardnadze from power, and from January 2004 the president.
In January 2008 he was reelected president with 53% of the votes. One of the promises of Saacaşvili’s election was the country’s reunification. Before the events of August 2008 the miliytary forces controlled about 25% of the territory of South Ossetia (especially villages populated by Georgians) and a small part – the Kodori gorge – in Abkhazia. It seems that these areas have now been lost to Georgia. In Ossetia, the separatist president Eduard Kokoiti announced that the Georgian enclaves disappeared ethnic cleansing that has been achieved. As noted in this respect the difference between the position of Russia, who asked them complete evacuation of troops from South Ossetia and supported the Abkhaz in their recapture by the Kodori Gorge, and the position of the West, for example, Angela Merkel, who demanded the withdrawal of the parties positions taken before the start of hostilities, which would mean that Gruzia is to be allowed to resume control over those areas of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The capital city is Sukhumi (Akua). Sukhumi city has a population (according to official data) of over 50,000 people. The territory of Abkhazia includes seven areas (Gagrsky, Gudautsky, Sukhumi, Gulrypshsky, Ochamchyrsky, Tkuarchalsky, Galsky), 7 cities (Gagra, Gudauta, Novy voiceless, Sukhumi, Ochamchyra, Tkuarchal, Gal), 5 villages (Tsandripsh, Piţunda, Bzyp. Myussera, Gulripsh). Abkhazia has a population of over 320 thousand inhabitants (2001) – Abkhazian, Georgians, Armenians, Russians, Greeks, Estonians, Germans, Polish, Hebrew and other nationalities, urban population is over 50%.11