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(ăbkăz`) or


(äpsnē`), autonomous republic (2011 pop. 240,705), 3,300 sq mi (8,547 sq km), in Georgia, between the Black Sea and the Greater Caucasus. SukhumiSukhumi
, Abkhaz Sukhum, city (2011 pop. 62,914), capital of Abkhazia, a region in W Georgia that has had de facto independence since the 1990. Located on the Black Sea, it is a port and a rail junction and a subtropical resort, whose sulfur baths have been frequented
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 (the capital) and GagraGagra
or Gagry
, city (2011 pop. 12,364), Abkhazia, W Georgia, on the Black Sea and at the foot of the Greater Caucasus. It is a subtropical health resort.
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 are the chief cities. Despite some perpetually snowcapped peaks, the region is mainly one of subtropical agriculture. Tobacco is the leading crop; there are also tea and citrus plantations, vineyards, and fruit orchards. Industries include sawmilling, canning, metalworking, and the manufacture of leather goods. Abkhazia was famous for its health resorts, but they were damaged in the fighting in the early 1990s after Georgia's independence, and tourism, primarily from Russia, now contributes less to the economy than before. The population is made up of Abkhazians (an Orthodox Christian and Muslim people of the North Caucasian linguistic family), Georgians (especially in the Gali district in S Abkhazia), Armenians, and Russians.

Originally colonized in the 6th cent. B.C. by the Greeks, the region later came under Roman and Byzantine rule. In the 8th cent. a leader of the Abkhaz tribe formed an independent kingdom that became part of Georgia in the 10th cent. In 1578 the Turks conquered the area and gradually converted it to Islam. By a treaty with the Abkhazian dukes, Russia acquired Sukhumi in 1810 and declared a protectorate over all Abkhazia, which was formally annexed in 1864.

Abkhazia became an autonomous republic of the Soviet Union in 1921 and was made part of Georgia in 1930. In 1991 the region became an autonomous republic inside independent Georgia. Georgia itself was soon torn apart by bitter fighting between government forces and a guerrilla movement seeking an independent Abkhazian state. More than 3,000 people were killed in the fighting, and some 250,000 people, mostly ethnic Georgians, fled. In 1994 a cease-fire was negotiated, with Russian troops serving as peacekeepers, but the ultimate disposition of Abkhazia remained unresolved and fighting broke out again in 1998 and in 2001. In a 1999 referendum regarded as illegal by Georgia, voters approved declaring the region a sovereign state. The area is heavily dependent on Russia, and most of the residents now hold Russian passports.

After a presidential election in Oct., 2004, that apparently ended in a slim victory for opposition candidate Sergei Bagapsh, allegations of fraud from the Russian-supported runner-up, Prime Minister Raul Khajimba, resulted in a call for a new election, and a governmental impasse ensued. The issue was resolved when Bagapsh, who was widely believed to have won despite fraud on Khajimba's side, agreed to a new election (Jan., 2005) in which Khajimba was his running mate. Russia's failed attempt to manipulate a presidential victory for Khajimba, despite Bagapsh's own pro-Moscow leanings, was generally seen as a significant blunder.

In the aftermath of Georgia's attack on South Ossetia in Aug., 2008, and Russia's counterattack, Russia positioned additional troops in Abkhazia and for a time occupied some neighboring sections of Georgia. Abkhazian forces also seized the Kodori gorge, a region of Abkhazia that had remained under Georgian control. Subsequently Russia recognized Abkhazia as independent; a few other nations also have since done so. Russian and Abkhazian forces did not withdraw from areas of Abkhazia not previously under Abkhazian control, as called for in the truce, and Russia later began building several military bases in Abkhazia.

Bagapsh was reelected in 2009. When he died in 2011, Aleksandr Ankvab became acting president and then was elected president. Frustration over poor economic conditions led in 2014 to opposition demonstrations against Ankvab that forced him to flee to a Russian military base, and he resigned. Former prime minister Khajimba subsequently was elected president, and later in 2014 signed an agreement with Russia placing Abkhazian troops under Russian command and integrating the region's economy with Russia's. Khajimba faced opposition demonstrations calling for his ouster in late 2016. He was reelected in 2019, but a loss of political and popular support and accusations of election fraud led to his resignation in 2020. Prime Minister Valeri Bganba became acting president, and opposition leader Aslan Bzhania subsequently was elected president.

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an administrative division of NW Georgia, between the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains: a subtropical region, with mountains rising over 3900 m (13 000 ft.); Abkhazian separatists seized control of the region in 1993. Capital: Sukhumi. Pop.: 516 600 (1993 est.). Area: 8600 sq. km (3320 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Security at the Abkhazian television station has been tightened following the explosion.
While announcing the new restrictions on Turkish goods, President Khajimba also made a point to talk about his hopes to strengthen ties with the large Abkhazian diaspora living in Turkey, noting that these restrictions had nothing to do with that group.
The Abkhazian official reported to the officer on guard, a major in the Russian army, and asked if we could film the barracks from the road.
If we are successful in our efforts to integrate into European structures, European security structures, if we have real democratic institutions and if we have support from the European Union as really one of the democratic states in this region, I think the Abkhazian and Ossetian people will think about whether they want to be part of Europe with Georgia or whether they want to stay under the pressure of the Russian military presence.
Ossetian and Abkhazian conflicts (not to mention the civil war that was conducted in Gamsakhurdia's home-region of Mingrelia following his ousting in January 1992) might have been avoided with the result that Georgia might have proceeded to peaceful and prosperous independence with no shrinkage of borders.
Despite government propaganda, the region's people must remember that Russians are not superior to Georgians, Georgians to Ossetians or Abkhazians, and so on.
If Russia were serious about the need for South Ossetian or Abkhazian self-determination, then it would be going to the UN tomorrow to sign off on the self-determination of the Kosovars.
It seems that the Russian irregulars, Chechens and Abkhazians know this better than US President George W.
But only twice have larger commercial passenger jets been brought down--once in 1993, when Abkhazian rebels in Georgia shot down a Russian airliner, killing 106 passengers; and once in 1983, when UNITA rebels in Angola claimed to have bought down another such aircraft, killing 130.
Russia has been a strong supporter of the Abkhazian revolt.
(The move comes a day after Abkhazian leaders ordered a partial military mobilisation in response to raids by suspected Georgian guerrillas.
The Abkhazian separatist drive began in 1989, although the Abkhazians themselves numbered less than 97,000 of the nearly half million population of the region.