Ethnic Makeup of Abkhazia Before & After the Ethnic Cleansing

Leaving aside dramatic changes of  Abkhazia’s population during the periods of Ottoman and Russian expansion, as well as the complicated ethnic composition of the Apsua people that included Adygh, Georgian and other elements, we would like to offer you here an outline of Abkhazian ethnic history of the 20th century only.

According to the 1897 census, the ethnic makeup of the district of Sukhum and the district of Sochi (that included a part of modern Abkhazia and historically was often incorporated into it) looked as follows:

The district of Sukhum

 Ethnic group

 

amount

 

%

 

APSUA

28 121

21.4

GEORGIANS(INCL. MEGRELS & SVANS)

 

74 846

 

42.1

RUSSIANS & UKRAINIANS

20 893

11.7

ARMENIANS

18 212

10.2

GREEKS

20 673

11.7

OTHERS( ESTONIANS, GERMANS, ETC…)

 

5 087

 

2.9

TOTAL

167 632

100

Please note that in some subdistricts Megrel

Georgians were registered as Apsua due to

the confusing Russian concept of “Abkhazets

The district of Sochi

 Ethnic group

 

amount

 

%

 

SHAPSUG & APSUA

731

12.6

GEORGIANS

836

14.4

RUSSIANS & UKRAINIANS

805

13.8

OTHERS(GREEKS, ESTONIANS, ARMENIANS, ROMANIANS, CZECHS, GERMANS, ETC…)

 

3 439

 

59.2

TOTAL

5 811

100

Incl. the town of Sochi

 Ethnic group

 

amount

 

%

 

GEORGIANS

440

95.5

RUSSIANS & UKRAINIANS

11

2.4

OTHERS

9

2.1

TOTAL

460

100

 

The below excerpt from the ethnic map of the South Caucasus by Andrew Andersen and George Partskhaladze based on the variety of Russian statistics of the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries depicts rather complicated ethnic palette of Abkhazia where predominantly Georgian settlements are lemon-colored and predominantly Apsuan settlements are ghost-greenish. Pink color goes for Armenians, golden for Greeks, light brown for Russians, and light blue for the settlements with German and Estonian majorities.

Please keep in mind that the above map does not show the variations of population density which was much higher, for example, around Sukhum and lower near Lykhny or Tamysh.

The population of the towns of Sochi and Sukhum also increased dramatically but there are no data regarding its exact ethnic composition prior to the beginning of the First World War.

(NB: Here we use the old turkified and russified names of some towns like, for example, “Sukhum” or “Tamysh” because those were official place names in 1901-1918)

 Almost three years of Georgia’s independence and 58 years of Soviet domination that followed, resulted in some changes in the ethnic makeup of the  province

 

 

According to 01.01.1979 census

 Ethnic group

 

amount

 

%

 

APSUA

83 000

17.1

GEORGIANS

213 000

43.8

RUSSIANS

80 000

16.5

ARMENIANS

73 000

15

GREEKS

14 000

3

UKRAINIANS

10 000

2.1

OTHERS(JEWS, ESTONIANS, GERMANS, ETC…)

 

13 000

 

2.5

TOTAL

486 000

100

According to 01.01.1992 census

 Ethnic group

 

amount

 

%

 

APSUA

94 767

17.7

GEORGIANS

244 872

45.7

RUSSIANS

76 413

14.3

ARMENIANS

78 041

14.6

OTHERS(GREEKS, UKRAINIANS, JEWS, ESTONIANS, GERMANS, ETC…)

 

40 968

 

7.7

 TOTAL

 

535 061

 

100

 

 

The below map shows ethnic composition of Abkhazia and surrounding districts of Georgia, as of 1989.

image014

The next map below (unfortunately, in Russian) shows ethnic composition of Abkhazia’s 6 districts and two major cities before ethnic cleansing.

abkh_ethn

The “pies” clearly show that Georgians (red section) formed the largest ethnic group except Gagra, Gudauta and Tkwarchelidistricts. In Gagra ethnic majority was shared almost equally between Georgians an Armenians (yellow section) whereas Apsua (green section) were dominant in Gudauta and Tkwarcheli. In the district of Gali, Georgians formed almost 100% of total population.

AFTER THE WAR AND ETHNIC CLEANSING OF 1992-1993:

The below results of 1997 census  demonstrate the shocking decrease of Abkhazia’s population from 535 061 in 1992, to 145 986 in 1997. That leaves Abkhazia with the total loss of 71% of its pre-war population in spite of the fact that right after ethnic cleansing, Abkhazia accepted thousands of immigrants from Russia, Turkey and Arab countries.

More than half of Abkhazia’s pre-war population was massacred or forced to flee to Georgia, Russia, Greece, Israel and other countries, their property confiscated, re-sold or destroyed.

In many cases Georgians were slaughtered not only for their ethnic background but for Georgian last names or “Georgian appearance”

 

According to 01.01.1997 census

 Ethnic group

 

amount

 

%

 

APSUA

53 993

37

GEORGIANS

43 442

29.7

RUSSIANS

18 110

12.4

ARMENIANS

17 747

12.2

OTHERS 

12 694

8.7

 TOTAL

 

145 986

 

100

 

 

abkh_ethn2

SOURCES:

Andersen, A. and Partskhaladze, G. Atlas of Contemporary History of the South Caucasus: 1901-2008, In print

Brook, S., Population of the World, (Rus.), Moscow, Nauka,1986

Nadareishvili, T., Plot against Georgia, (Rus.), Tbilisi, Pirveli Stamba,2002

http://www.conflicts.rem33.com/images/abkhazia/ethnic.htm

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / შეცვლა )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / შეცვლა )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / შეცვლა )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / შეცვლა )

Connecting to %s