State sandwiched between the Caucasian mountains and the Black Sea. Its capital is Sokhumi, the land area is 8700 square kilometers and the population is half a million. In 1996, Abkhazia achieved virtual seccession from Georgia.
The population is 18% Abkhaz, 46% Georgian. There is also a small number of ethnic Greeks. The ethnic Abhkaz are predominantly Muslim. The Abkhaz language belongs to the West Caucasian linguistic group.
The principal exports are coal, iron, citrus fruits, tea and tobacco.
The ancient Greeks are reputed to have arrived here. Jason and the Argonauts stopped by to steal the golden fleece from the Colchis leader. A nascent Abkhaz, Mingrelian and Svan culture coexisted. These groups make up present day Georgia.
In 1810, Abkhazia was conquered by the Russian Tsar. In the Crimean war (1853-1855), Abkhazia supported the Turks. Afterwards, their leader Micheil Sharvashidze was sent into exile. In 1866 an Abkhaz revolt was brutally supressed by Russia.
In 1921, Abkhazia became a Socialist Soviet Republic but Stalin(a Georgian) subsumed the area into the Georgian Republic. Abkhazia did retain some autonomy but resented their demotion.
In 1990, Abkhaz separatists declared their country independent. A bitter struggle ensued between the Georgian government and the rebels. The separtists carried out ethnic cleansing in order to remove Georgians living in Abkhazia. Georgia has accused Russia of supported the separtists. In 1996, a ceasefire was called. Since then Abkhazia has been independent of Georgia in all but name.
Abkazia is a member of UNPO.