Abkhazia is a political entity on the eastern coast of the Black Sea and the south-western flank of the Caucasus whose status is disputed. It considers itself an independent state – the Republic of Abkhazia. This status is recognized by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru, and also by South Ossetia and Transnistria. The Georgian government and the majority of the world’s governments consider Abkhazia a part of Georgia.

The status of Abkhazia is a central issue of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict. The wider region formed part of the Soviet Union until 1991. As the Soviet Union began to disintegrate towards the end of the 1980s, ethnic tensions grew between Abkhaz and Georgians over Georgia’s moves towards independence. This led to the 1992-1993 War in Abkhazia that resulted in a Georgian military defeat, de facto independence of Abkhazia and the mass exodus and ethnic cleansing of the Georgian population from Abkhazia. In spite of the 1994 ceasefire agreement and years of negotiation, the status dispute has not been resolved. In August 2008, the sides again fought during the South Ossetia War, which was followed by the formal recognition of Abkhazia by Russia, the annulment of the 1994 ceasefire agreement and the termination of the UN and CIS missions.

Abkhazia has an area of 8,600 square kilometers by the Black Sea. The capital of Abkhazia is the city of Sukhumi (Akua). The population of the city of Sukhumi is more than 50 thousand people. The population of Abkhazia, currently stands over 320 thousand people (2001) and is composed of Abkhazians, Georgians, Armenians, Russians, Greeks, Estonians, Germans, Poles, and Jews.

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