Abkhazia is an internationally unrecognised country, in de facto it is The Republic of Abkhazia, which is a part of Georgia. Abkhazia’s de jure has been recognised only by Russia (since 26 August 2008), Nicaragua (since 5 September 2008), Venezuela (since 10 September 2009), Nauru (since 15 December 2009) and Vanuatu (since 31 May 2011).
The conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia is still unresolved. Between August 1992 and September 1993, a war took place between Georgia and Abkhazia concerning the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia; it ended with the defeat of the Georgian army. During the warfare, the separatist territory was able to defend itself in a military way, but was not able to obtain the international recognition.
Abkhazia is located in the north-west part of the Caucasus between the rivers Psou and Inguri. The Black Sea is located on the south-west of the Republic. In north, Abkhazia shares a border with Russia, but within Georgia – with the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region.
Abkhazia has a subtropical climate in the coastal areas. The average temperature in Augusts is between +22 and +24°C. In summer, the water temperature in the sea reaches up to +27°C.
According to the State Statistical Office of the Republic of Abkhazia, in 1 January 2014, there were 242 756 people living in Abkhazia, 50.4% of them were town-dwellers and 49.6% – rural population.
The official language in the Republic of Abkhazia is Abkhaz language, but Russian is also widely popular.
Majority of the Abkhazian population are Orthodox, but there are also such religions as the Abkhaz Native Religions, Sunni Muslim, Irreligion and Judaism.
The average life expectancy between the population of Abkhazia is 73 years.
During the Soviet times, the Abkhaz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was divided in six districts, which were named after their main cities: Gagra, Gudauta, Sukhumi, Ochamchira, Gulripshi and Gali. Such division remains unchanged in the current Georgian documentation.
However, the Republic of Abkhazia has seven districts. The six that were mentioned before and Tkvarcheli district that was established in 1995, from parts of the Ochamchira and Gali districts.
The largest cities in Abkhazia are Sukhumi, Gagra, Gali, Gudauta, Ochamnchira, Gulripshi, Tkvarcheli, Pitsunda and Tkvarchal.
The official currency of the Republic of Abkhazia is the Russian Federation ruble (RUB).
Although Abkhazia enjoys a favorable geographical location and has the potential to develop agriculture, tourism and trade, centuries of conflict in the Caucasus and the precarious status of the Republic of Abkhazia have prevented it from reaching its full potential and ensuring the well-being of its people.
The Center for Strategic Studies under the subordination of the President of Abkhazia, analyzing the economic indicators of the republic from 2009 to 2018, concluded that the economic indicators of Abkhazia are sad – practically nothing is produced in Abkhazia, production rates are declining, imports are dominating. Over the last ten years, imports in Abkhazia have increased by RUB 12.5 billion, while exports have increased by only RUB 4 billion. Imports are three times exceed of export growth rates. The problems in Abkhazia have led the republic's economy to a zone where its performance falls below the reasonable thresholds, and it poses a threat to economic and national security.
For example, in the period from 2009 to 2018, the production of timber products has decreased from 9,000 to 7,000 cubic meters, and the production of bakery products - from 6,000 to 3,700 tons.
Employment growth has also declined significantly over the period under consideration. Of the 140,000 working age people, only 42,000 are officially employed. Over the last five years, an average of 454 people have entered the Abkhazian labor market each year. The construction and trade sectors saw a particularly sharp decline. The lack of new jobs is due to the lack of production in the Abkhazian economy, the growing gray segment and the lack of effective governance.
According to the data of Abkhazian Center for Strategic Studies, the grey market economy accounts for more than 53% of the republic's gross domestic product, which is between 15 and 18 billion rubles. In 2016, there was a tendency in Abkhazia that the cash expenditure of the population exceeded this income. From 2016 to 2018, household spending exceeded income by RUB 30 billion.
In the period from 2014 to 2018, GDP in nominal terms increased by RUB 4.3 billion or 15%, that is, by an average of 3% per year. While the average annual inflation was 8-9%.
Abkhazia's own income in 2018 amounted to more than four billion rubles. The income itself is based on income and value added tax, which amounted to three billion RUB. The same amount is spent by Abkhazia for covering various general national issues, such as national security and law enforcement, but the expenditure for social policy in 2018 amounted to only RUB 230 million – pensions, social services for the population, family protection, which was only 2.7% of budget. In Russia, for example, the figure is over 28%.
In the period from 2014 to 2018, investments in Abkhazia amounted to 22 billion RUB (mainly it is Russian money), but this has not contributed to the development of the Abkhazian economy.
The Center for Strategic Studies under the subordination of the President of Abkhazia explains the situation by the fact that investment policy is separate from structural policy. There is also no program-oriented method for managing economic processes in the country.
Abkhazia is a presidential republic. The president is elected for five years and is the leader of the republic.
In the presidential elections in Abkhazia on March 22, 2020, 57-year-old Abkhazian opposition leader, parliamentarian Aslan Bzhania, was elected president with 56.5% of the vote in support, leaving Vice-Prime Minister and former Economy Minister Adguru Ardzinba in the second place with 35.42% of the vote in support, but in third place – with 2.22% of the vote the former Abkhazian Interior Minister Leonid Dzapshva.
After the victory, A.Bzhania promised to his voters that power in Abkhazia would be "compact and efficient". "We must envisage in the constitution the president's full responsibility for all processes that take place in our country. We must to change the functions of parliament, redistribute functions between the executive and the legislative structure. We must to reform ministries so that they do not duplicate," A.Bzhania said. He also promised to revitalize light industry in Abkhazia and provide state support to farmers and individual entrepreneurs. A.Bzhania opposes the sale of Abkhazian property to foreigners, at the same time pointing out that this issue is not the most topical, because at present the reform of the state apparatus and the judiciary is much more important. "All state institutions in the country are operating inefficiently. We rely on Russia's support to help us reform the state apparatus and the judiciary system," A.Bzhania said. He also considers it necessary to enter into a dialogue with Georgia, including the signing of an agreement not to resume hostilities. A.Bzhania believes that the signing of such an agreement will help to restore railway traffic between Abkhazia and Georgia in the future.
The President of Abkhazia, A.Bzhania is surrounded by politicians competing with each other, whose struggle for power in the republic is a threat of a new domestic political crisis. Behind A.Bzhania there are strong figures in Abkhazia – Alexander Anqvab (from 2011 to 2014 he was the President of Abkhazia) and Sergey Shamba (from 2010 to 2011 he was the Prime Minister of Abkhazia), who are involved in oil and real estate businesses.
Abkhazia's domestic policy is largely determined by the struggles between clan forces. Moscow plays a significant role in this fight.
The foreign policy pursued by the Republic of Abkhazia focuses on the process of recognition of the independence of the Republic of Abkhazia, as well as cooperation with Russia, with which a strategic partnership has been established. The Foreign Ministry of Abkhazia is pursuing a "reminder" of itself strategy in its foreign policy, seeking to establish contacts with as many participants of international relations as possible.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia has four territorial divisions, which survey the relevant regions of the world: European Union, the USA and Canadian divisions, the Turkey and Middle East division, the Russia, CIS and Georgia divisions, and the Latin America and Asia-Pacific division. These structural units monitor the social and political situation in the respective regions, prepare analytical material and make proposals for the perfection of the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Abkhazia.
The Abkhazian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working to establish institutes for its missions in different countries around the world. It is engaged in search of people in other countries who could cooperate in promoting the interests of Abkhazia.
Abkhazia's foreign policy focuses its attention on those Latin American and Asia-Pacific countries that have recognized Abkhazia's independence (Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru and Vanuatu).
Abkhazia's foreign policy is most closely linked to Russia. On August 26, 2008, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed an order recognizing the independence of Russia's occupied Georgian separatist provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and called on other countries to follow this recognition.
On September 17, 2008, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance agreements with the Presidents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The agreements provide for military, diplomatic and economic cooperation between Moscow and Sukhumi, Moscow and Tskhinvali. The agreements also provide for the right of the contracting parties to use and improve the infrastructure of the other country's Armed Forces and military facilities.
On November 24, 2014 (based on the agreement signed in 2008), Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abkhazian President Raul Hajimba signed a new Union and Strategic Partnership Agreement between Russia and Abkhazia, which envisages mutual opening of the borders, establishment of a joint force, in case of aggression the right to protect the common border, as well as support for the modernization of the Abkhazian army, the preparation of the Abkhaz Armed Forces and the their equipment with modern armaments. It is also envisaged that Russia will provide support in increasing the salaries of budget staff in Abkhazia, bringing them in line with the average salary of budget staff in the Southern Federal District of the Russian Federation.
Russia's policy of integrating the Abkhaz region into Russia's military, economic and social system is in fact an evidence of Moscow's efforts to increase Abkhazia's dependence and keep it in the Kremlin influence orbit.