An Overview of Abkhazia
  • Name: Republic of Abkhazia     

  • Location: Black Sea, West Caucasus

  • Capital: Sukhum

  • Languages: Abkhazian, Russian

  • Population(2012): 242,862

  • Currency: Abkhaz Apsar, Russian Ruble

  • Geography: Mountainous

  • Religion: Christian, Islam, Pagan

  • President: Aslan Bzhania

  • International Airport: N/A

  • Time Zone: GMT +4

  • National Anthem: "Aiaaira"

  • Unique Factors: Deepest cave in the World. Among oldest wine producers in the World.

Where is Abkhazia?

Abkhazia is located on the Black Sea, sitting between Russia and Georgia. Abkhazia covers 3,300 square miles along the eastern shores of the Black Sea and the Caucasus mountains. Roughly three-fourths of Abkhazia is mountainous, which contrasts against the sea to create outstanding scenery and landscapes. The region is famous among Russians for its excellent seacoast resorts, which attracted prominent Russian figures such as Josef Stalin, who made Abkhazia his Summer home. Sukhum is the capital of the region, also know as Sokhumi and Sukhumi. The Abkhazian name for Sukhum is "Akua," which dates back to when Sukhum was one of the world's major sea ports. Abkhazia has several stunning regions including Gagra in the North, which is home to Voronya Cave - the deepest cave in the world at below 7,000ft!

Who are Abkhazians?

Abkhazians are the native people of Abkhazia. Abkhazians are related to the Circassians in ethnicity, language, and culture. Famous for their longevity, the Abkhazians are often leading rather long and active lives. Abkhazians are known to live up to 140 years old! After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Abkhazians were involved in conflicts with the Georgians, the neighboring ethnic group. Thousands of Abkhazians were killed and many more were displaced. With such a small population and turbulent past, the Abkhazians now worry that they may become extinct as a race.

Both Christianity and Islam are practiced among the Abkhazians, along with the ancient Abkhazian religion.
The ancient religion of Abkhazia has many Gods - however the supreme god is named Antswa, which is the plural of "An" meaning Mother. 

Only 7% of Abkhazians still worship the ancient religion, while 60% are Christian and 16% are Sunni Muslim. Religions live together in harmony in Abkhazia, and this is represented by the national flag. The green and white stripes mark the peace between Christians and Muslims in Abkhazia. The red corner symbolizes the medieval Abkhazian kingdom, while the open hand means "Welcome friends, stop enemies." 7 is a particularly important number for Abkhazians, because on the flag the 7 stars each represent ancient regions of the country - Sadzen, Bzyp, Gumaa, Abzhywa, Samurzagan, Dal-Tsabal, and Pskhuy-Aibga.

The Abkhazian Lifestyle

Because Abkhazia is mostly mountainous, many Abkhazians still live in rural areas. They live in old, hand-built stone houses in small towns throughout the mountains, relying on their own crops and animals for food. Houses are usually shared by three to four generations. More and more, Abkhazians have also settled in the cities and towns, where many live in high-rise apartments. Despite town living, a lot of Abkhazian families still keep their own livestock, including horses, cows, chickens and sheep. There are few fields to keep the animals enclosed, so they are usually free to wander around the surrounding roads and gardens, which is a true reminder of the laid-back lifestyle in Abkhazia.


Children usually begin school at the age of 6 and graduate at 17, although in the rural areas the majority of children are home-schooled. This is one reason that schooling in the cities continues to a higher level than in rural areas. The main university of Abkhazia is the Abkhazian State University, which is in Sukhum.


Abkhazians celebrate the Gregorian New Year (December 31 - January 1) and the New Year according to the old Julian Calendar (January 13 - 14). One of the most popular holidays is called "Lykhnashta" (Lykhny Meadow). Celebrated after the Autumn harvest, it brings people from all over Abkhazia to the village of Lykhny. On this day, spectators watch incredible horse races and equestrian games. Since 1993, September 30 has been celebrated as Liberation Day. It marks the departure of Georgian armed forces from Abkhazia. On this day, the Abkhazian military forces take part in a parade, with song and dance festivals for entertainment during the day. Read more about the Georgian-Abkhazian conflicts here.