Autonomous Republic of Adjara

Adjara (Georgian: აჭარა [at͡ʃʼara]), officially known as the Autonomous Republic of Adjara (აჭარის ავტონომიური რესპუბლიკა [at͡ʃʼaris avtʼɔnɔmiuri rɛspʼublikʼa]), is a historical, geographic and political-administrative region of Georgia. Located in the country’s southwestern corner, Adjara lies on the coast of the Black Sea near the foot of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, north of Turkey. It is an important tourism destination and includes Georgia’s second-largest city of Batumi as its capital. About 350,000 people live on its 2,880 km2.

Adjara is home to the Adjarians, a regional subgroup of Georgians. Adjara’s name can be spelled in a number of ways, including Ajara, Ajaria, Adjaria, Adzharia, and Achara, among others. Under the Soviet Union, Adjara was part of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic as the Adjarian ASSR.

Adjara has been part of Colchis and Caucasian Iberia since ancient times. Colonized by Greeks in the 5th century BC, the region fell under Rome in the 2nd century BC. It became part of the region of Egrisi before being incorporated into the unified Georgian Kingdom in the 9th century AD.

The Ottomans conquered the area in 1614. The people of Adjara converted to Islam in this period. The Ottomans were forced to cede Adjara to the expanding Russian Empire in 1878.

After a temporary occupation by Turkish and British troops in 1918–1920, Adjara became part of the Democratic Republic of Georgia in 1920. After a brief military conflict in March 1921, Ankara‘s government ceded the territory to Georgia under Article VI of Treaty of Kars on the condition that autonomy be provided for the Muslim population. The Soviet Union established the Adjar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1921 in accord with this clause. Thus, Adjara was still a component part of Georgia, but with considerable local autonomy.Adjara is located on the south-eastern coast of the Black Sea and extends into the wooded foothills and mountains of the Lesser Caucasus. It has borders with the region of Guria to the north, Samtskhe-Javakheti to the east and Turkey to the south. Most of Adjara’s territory either consists of hills or mountains. The highest mountains rise more than 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) above sea level. Around 60% of Adjara is covered by forests. Many parts of the Meskheti Range (the west-facing slopes) are covered by temperate rain forests.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the re-establishment of Georgia’s independence accelerated re-Christianisation, especially among the young. However, there are still remaining Sunni Muslim communities in Adjara, mainly in the Khulo district. According to the 2014 Georgian national census, 54% were Orthodox Christians, and 40% Muslim.The remaining were Armenian Christians (0.3%), and others (3%)