Abkhazia is a de facto independent country located on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. It has been recognized as an independent state by five UN member states, most notably by Russia. All other states regard it as being part of Georgia.
A Kingdom of Abkhazia existed during the Middle Age. Subsequently it became united with the Kingdom of Georgia. In the 16th century Abhkazia fell to Ottoman domination, and in the 19th century it was conquered by Russia.
Abkhazia became a republic within the Soviet Union in 1921. At first, Abkhazia was subordinated to the Georgian SSR only in some areas. Since 1931, it was fully incorporated into Georgia as an autonomous republic.
In the 1980s, Abkhaz nationalism demanded that Abkhazia be upgraded to full soviet socialist republic status, not subordinated to Georgia.
After Georgia had declared independence from the USSR in 1991, Abkhazia followed suit in 1992. Abkhaz forces backed by Russia fought a war against the Georgian army in 1992-1993. The Abkhaz forces won, Abkhazia consolidated itself as a de facto independent country, and more than 200,000 ethnic Georgians fled Abkhazia or fled it.
Yet another war erupted in 2008 between Russian-backed Abkhaz forces and Georgia, after the latter tried to put an end to Abkhaz and South Ossetian de facto independence. The Abkhaz side again won the war in only 5 days. Russian recognition of Abkhaz and South Ossetian independence followed suit.
Ever since, the successive Abkhaz governments have tried to combine efforts to cement the independence of Abkhazia with the maintenance of political, economic and military protection from Russia.
According to the 2011 census, 50,7% of Abkhazia’s inhabitants are ethnic Abkhazians; 19.2% are Georgians (including Mingrelians and Svans), 17.4% Armenians, 9.1% Russians, and 0.6% Greeks. This census is not recognized by the Georgian authorities. Nevertheless, it reflects the big drop in Georgian population following the war events (in pre-war times, Georgians made up 45% of the population).
Abkhazians see themselves as a people related to Circassians to the north of the Caucasus range, with whom they share the Northwest Caucasian language family.
President: Aslan Bzhania
Prime Minister: Alexandr Ankvab
Distribution of seats of the People's Assembly (Parliament). 35 members (2017 election):
Forum for National Unity of Abkhazia - 6
United Abkhazia - 3
Independents - 26
(Last updated April 2020)