An autonomous province of Georgia on the Black Sea; a strong independence movement has resulted in much instability
area 8,600 sq km/3,320 sq mi
industries tin, fruit, and tobacco
population (1989) 526,000
history The region has been the scene of secessionist activity on the part of the minority Muslim Abkhazi community since 1989, culminating in the republic’s declaration of independence 1992. Georgian troops invaded and took control Aug 1992, but secessionist guerrillas subsequently gained control of the northern half of the republic. In Oct 1993 they took the region’s capital, Sukhumi, as well as much of the republic’s remaining territory.
A Georgian kingdom from the 4th century, Abkhazia was inhabited traditionally by Abkhazis, an ethnic group converted from Christianity to Islam in the 17th century. By the 1980s some 17% of the population were Muslims and two-thirds were of Georgian origin.
In March–April and July 1989, Abkhazis demanded secession from Georgia and reinstatement as a full Union republic, conflicting with Georgian nationalists' demands for the republic to be incorporated as part of Georgia. The dispute triggered civil unrest in Abkhazia and nationalist demonstrations throughout Georgia. In July 1992 the local parliament unilaterally declared Abkhazia's independence. The kidnapping of senior Georgian officials in Aug provoked an invasion of Abkhazia by Georgian troops, who seized the capital and set up an interim government. By early Sept Russia's president Boris Yeltsin had successfully brokered a cease-fire, but in a surprise Oct offensive, secessionist guerrillas reclaimed half of Abkhazia, gaining control of all of the region N of the capital, Sukhumi. By Oct 1993, all but a small area of the republic was in rebel hands, and the capital had fallen.
Despite Yeltsin's public role as a peace-broker in the conflict, Georgian government sources claimed the rebels had received support from the Russian army and airforce during their campaign. The 12-day offensive Sept-Oct 1993 was believed to have created an estimated 70,000 refugees.
Pokrajina u DŽordžiji na Crnom moru.