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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a nation making up the indigenous population of the Abkhazian ASSR. A number of Abkhazians also live in the Adzhar ASSR and in Turkey. Abkhazians in the USSR, who speak the Abkhazian language, numbered 65,000 (1959 census); 83,000 (1970 census). Their ancestors, who are mentioned in Assyrian sources and later in records from classical antiquity, are among the oldest inhabitants of the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus. Furthermore, the Abkhazians were influenced by the West Georgian tribes in ancient times, an influence which is reflected in specific features of their culture. Three territorial groups, derived from the ancient tribal-territorial division, may be noted—the Gudauta, or Bzyb’; the Abzhui; and the Samurzakan groups. In the past they displayed dialectal and cultural differences, but these have gradually disappeared. The main religions were Orthodox Christianity (especially among the Samurzakanians, from the sixth century) and the Sunni branch of Islam (from the 15th century).


Dzhanashia, N. S. Stat’i po etnografii Abkhazii. Sukhumi, 1960.
Inal-Ipa, Sh. Abkhazy, 2nd ed. Sukhumi, 1965.
Chursin, G. F. Materialy po etnografii Abkhazii. Sukhumi, 1956.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
If the Abkhaz people do not raise an objection to this restriction, their silence is nothing but despair.
(1) In an interview with co-author Dodge Billingsley in 1997, Shamil Basaev stated that he went to Abkhazia to fight because he believed that the Muslim Abkhaz people were in threat of being wiped out by Georgia.
While most of the world sees it as part of Georgia, the Abkhaz people see it as an independent state.
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The perspectives from which this conflict has been treated and still is treated are different, stemming mainly from the two contradicting conceptions: the territorial unity of Georgia versus the right to self-determination of the Abkhaz people.
"We are profoundly shocked by Sergei Bagapsh's death," Ankvab told Interfax news agency."This is a great loss for the Abkhaz people," he said.
The number of Bosniaks, Albanians, Chechens and Abkhaz people living in Turkey are more than Bosniaks, Albanians, Chechens and Abkhaz people living in their countries."
He has a Russian passport, as most Abkhaz people do, making them effectively Russian citizens, and Abkhazia a Russian protectorate.
By contrast with the Ossetians, the Abkhaz people of Georgia's other breakaway region have been in the Caucasus since time immemorial.
As the Soviet Union began to unravel, tension developed between Georgia and Abkhazia as the Abkhaz people began demanding the restoration of the region's pre-1931 status and a return to what they viewed as the normalcy of autonomy.