Abkhazia's History

Abkhazia has a long association with Georgia. From the 9th-6th Century BC Abkhazia was a province of the ethnically Georgian Colchis Kingdom and in 63BC became part of another Georgian Kingdom of Egrisi. From 1000BC Abkhazia attracted Greek colonists who settled on its beautiful coast. Egrisi came under Roman rule from the 1st-4th Century AD and then the region gained autonomy within the Byzantine Empire. Abkhazia was already Christian by 325AD. Between 850-950 Abkhazia enjoyed its heyday being an independent Kingdom but by the end of the 10th Century they were once again within the Kingdom of Georgia. Around 1570 Abkhazia came under Ottoman Turk domination when most Abkhazian’s embraced Islam. Between 1803-1864 Russia and the Ottomans struggled for Abkhazia, the Russians prevailing. Many Muslim Abkhazians left for Turkey while other nationalities took their place. In 1917 Georgia (including Abkhazia) became independent but in 1921 the Red Army restored Russian rule. Under Stalin Armenians and Georgians were encouraged to settle in autonomous Abkhazia.

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In April 1991 the fall of the Soviet Union saw Georgia declare independence and their first president decided to preserve peace by continuing Abkhazian autonomy. In February 1992 Georgia experienced a military backed coup and restored the former 1921 Constitution. Abkhazia, expecting Georgian oppression, declared independence which triggered a war resulting Georgia’s defeat. Ethnic Georgians fleed Abkhazia in 1993; conflict returned briefly in 1998 and peace has prevailed. Abkhazians enjoy warm relations with neighbouring Russia which maintains a now permanent but sometimes uneasy ceasefire. Sergei Bagapsh, independent Abkhazia's first president died following surgury in 2011, replaced by Alexander Ankvab who was defeated by Raul Hajimba in 2014.

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