Government of Georgia – Abkhazia

Abkhazia is the extreme southwestern historical province of Georgia. At present its northern part borders the main watershed gorge of the Great Caucasus, southwards and southwestwards it touches the Black Sea; its northeast border runs on the river Psou and the east border - the Svaneti-Abkhasian Gorge and the river Inguri. The area of Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia covers 8.7 thousand square kilometers that is 12.5 % of the territory of Georgia.

The Georgian sources refer to Abkhazia for the first time during the description of historical events dated back to the 8th century. However, the name of tribe as "Aphsils" and "Abazgs" has been mentioned in the ancient Greek sources since the I-II cc. A.D.

Once the territory of Abkhazia was included in the composition of the Kolkhida kingdom. The historic sources evidence that in the 1st millennium B. C. on this territory lived Georgian tribes together with the tribes of unidentified ethnical origin. From the first centuries A. D. the sources mention here also Abazgs, Aphshils, Sanigs. According to Flavius Arian (2nd c.) who carried out the inspection census round the Black Sea in the same period were formed the political units of those tribes (Abazgia, Aphshileti, Sagineti) which then were included in Egrisi (Laziki) kingdom.

At first Abkhazia (Abazgia) was small: in V-VI cc. its eastern border passed between Tskhumi and Anakopia; westwards it bordered the river Abaskon the same as present Bzip, the river Psou or Mzim.

At that time is included two small princedoms in allegiance of Laziki (Egrisi) kingdom, with the centers in Bichvinta and Anakopia. In the beginning of VII c. the Byzantine Caesar Hercules enthroned his representative as the prince (archon) of Anakopia and since that period Abkhazia united and reinforced under the Byzantine Empire has felt under the influence of Byzantium. During that period Abkhazia appended a part of Aphshileti to the river Kelasuri.

In the 30-ies of VIII c. the Abkhazian prince became the vassal of the Kartli prince Archil. In the second half of VIII c. the Abkhazian prince Leon II united the all Western Georgia and formed the Georgian kingdom named in the historical sources as the Kingdom of Abkhazs (with the center in Kutaisi) and Leon declared himself as the King of Abkhazs. Leon II carried out the administrative reform in frames of which were formed eight princedoms of the Kingdom of Abkhazs. Contemporary Abkhazia was represented in the Kingdom of Abkhazs in kind of Abkhazia and Tskhumi princedoms. That territory included the ancient Aphshilia to the river Galidzga.

In that époque the border of the Abkhazian princedom extended far northwestwards. In X century the extreme strategic point in this direction was the fortress city Nikopsis (Nikopsia). The state policy of kings of Abkhazs was aimed at the extension of the kingdom borders and strengthening of the national security. Noteworthy is that as a result of their efforts the Western Georgia church joined the autocephalous Mtskheta church thus founding the basis for integration of the Georgian state. Noteworthy also is the cultural and rehabilitation activity carried out by the kings of Abkhazs in various regions of Georgia. The kings of Abkhazs built cathedrals in Moqua, Khuapha, Martvili, Kiachi, Tsirkoli, Kumurdo as it is evidenced by the chronicles of old annalists and the old Georgian inscriptions made on those cathedrals under the order of the kings of Abkhazs.

The territory of contemporary Abkhazia was represented in the united Georgian state in kind of two princedoms: Abkhazia and Tskhumi. The Abkhazian princedom was ruled by the feudal family Sharvashidze and the Tskhumi princedom - by Amanelisdze. In the 90-ies of XIII c. Tskhumi princedom joined Odishi princedom. From XV century, after disintegration of the Georgian state the Shervashidze subordinated to the Odishi prince. In the first half of XVII century the border between Abkhazia and Odishi passed along the river Kelasuri. As a result of the common socioeconomic and cultural impairment of typical for that period and settlement of population from the North Caucasus who had succeeded to penetrate there step-by-step, in XVII-XVIII centuries Abkhazia was divided into separate feudal community territorial units ruled by representatives of various families. Among them the Shervashidzes held the first place again who had recognized the supremacy of the Odishi prince.

In the last third of XVII century when all West Georgia was turned to the terrible feudal anarchy, the Shervashidze succeeded to extend the territory and to join a part of Samegrelo, at first to the river Galidzga and at the verge of XVII-XVIII centuries - to the river Inguri. On that newly joined territory which was partially devastated and ravaged and which ingenuous Georgian population (mainly Megrels) was partially sold to slavery, the Shervashidzes populated with the Abkhazs moved from the inner areas. From that time Abkhazia was the name of the territory which was again disintegrated into separate areas: Jiketi (Sindzi) - between the rivers Mzim and Bzip, Zuphu (Bzip) - between the river Bzip and Gumista, Guma - between the river Gumista and Kodori, Shuasopeli (Abzhua) - between the river Kodori and Galidzga, Samurzakano - between the rivers Galidzga and Inguri, Tsebelda - Dali (Tsabal-Dali) the upper part of the river Kodori, Sikhu (Phskhu) - the upper part of the river Bzip. These names actually represented the independent units ruled by the Shervashidzes, Marshanias and other feudal families. However, the Shervashidze were the first among them.

Within the process of occupation of Western Georgia by Russia when Russia opposed the local princes of Imereti kingdom, with the active support of Samegrelo rulers, Samurzakano sought protectorate of Russia and in 1805 it took back the Odishi princedom. In 1810 Russia appended the remained territory of Georgia whereby was formed the united Abkhazia princedom headed by Giorgi Sharvashidze (Safar-bey) put as a ruler in Sukhumi by the Russians. IN 1864 the Russian authorities abolished the Abkhazian princedom like other Georgian princedoms and turned it into the Sukhumi military district at first and then - into Sukhumi county which united the former Samurzakano, and the Sukhumi country was included in the Kutaisi province. Noteworthy is that out of Georgian princedoms Abkhazia opposed the establishment of Russian ruling in Georgia and in Abkhazia longest of all. The example of this is many insurrections of Georgian and Abkhaz people against the Russian Empire. Due to this fact Russia abolished the Abkhazian princedom later than other Georgian princedoms. (Georgia, Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, Tbilisi, 2007, p. 250)

In 1918-1921 Abkhazia was represented in the composition of the Georgian democratic republic as autonomy under the constitution of the Georgian democratic republic.

In 1921 the Bolshevik Russia annexed Georgian state and formed on its place the Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia. On March 4, 1921 in composition of Georgian SSR was formed Abkhazia autonomous republic. In that period the Russian Bolshevik authorities tried to separate Abkhazia from Georgia but failed to do it due to the efforts of the local population (the best children of Abkhaz and Georgian people).

In 1921-1991 in the conditions of Russian soviet annexation Abkhazia was in the composition of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic as an autonomous republic. In 1991 the Georgian people succeeded fro the second time to restore the state independence and to from the Republic of Georgia in composition of which Abkhazia was represented with the autonomous rights under the Constitution.

The capital city of Abkhazian autonomous republic is Sukhumi which is located at 5-140 m above the sea level at the Black Sea coast, in 405 km (by the railway) from Tbilisi.

In VI century B. C. at the place of the present Sukhumi the ancient Greeks founded the town Dioskuria which was called by the local population as Tskhumi. The town Tskhumi (Sukhumi) is referred to in the old Georgia historical sources since 763.
The climate in Sukhumi is damp subtropical. Winters are warm and summers are hot. The average temperature in January - 6°C, in July - 23°C. Precipitation - 1480 mm per year (Georgian SSR, Encyclopedia, Tbilisi, 1981, p. 323).

In the process of struggle against the state independence of Georgia the Russian imperial forces succeeded to form in Abkhazia the separatist public mood and in 1992-1993 this separatist public mood inspired the Russia-Georgia war in Abkhazia. As a result of that war 80% of population (mainly Georgians, Abkhazs, Russians and others) were displaced from Abkhazia.

On August 26, 2008 the Russian authorities completed the full annexation of Abkhazia and officially recognized the independence of Abkhazian state. However, actually it is the appropriation of the territory of Abkhazia where the numerous Russian military units are controlling the political situation. In spite of the efforts of imperial Russian forces Abkhazian autonomous republic is the legitimate integral part of Georgia.