1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Abkhasia
ABKHASIA, or Abhasia, a tract of Russian Caucasia, government of Kutais. The Caucasus mountains on the N. and N.E. divide it from Circassia; on the S.E. it is bounded by Mingrelia; and on the S.W. by the Black Sea. Though the country is generally mountainous, with dense forests of oak and walnut, there are some deep, well-watered valleys, and the climate is mild. The soil is fertile, producing wheat, maize, grapes, figs, pomegranates and wine. Cattle and horses are bred. Honey is produced; and excellent arms are made. This country was subdued (c. 550) by the Emperor Justinian, who introduced Christianity. Native dynasties ruled from 735 to the 15th century, when the region was conquered by the Turks and became Mahommedan. The Russians acquired possession of it piecemeal between 1829 and 1842, but their power was not firmly established until after 1864. Area, 2800 sq. m. The principal town is Sukhum-kaleh. Pop. 43,000, of whom two-thirds are Mingrelians and one-third Abkhasians, a Cherkess or Circassian race. The total number of Abkhasians in the two governments of Kutais and Kuban was 72,103 in 1897; large numbers emigrated to the Turkish empire in 1864 and 1878.