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Ajarian Autonomous Republic
Acharis Avtonomiuri Respublika
(In detail)
Ajaria (gray) within Georgia
Missing image
Detailed map of Ajaria

Official language Georgian
Capital Batumi
ISO code GE.AJ
Head of the Government Levan Varshalomidze
 - Total
 - % water

2,900 km²
 - Total (1989)
 - Density

Ethnic groups
Georgians: 82.8%
Russians: 7.7%
Armenians: 4.0%
Greeks: 1.9%
Currency Georgian lari
Time zone UTC +3

Ajaria (Georgian აჭარა Ačara), officially the Ajarian Autonomous Republic, (also known as Ajara, Adjaria, Adjara, Adzharia and Adzhara) is an autonomous republic of Georgia, in the southwestern corner of the country, bordered by Turkey to the south and the eastern end of the Black Sea. Previously it was also known as Adzharistan and Adzharian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Adzharian ASSR).



Main article: History of Adjaria

Ajaria 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 annexed the area in 1614 and forcibly Islamicized its people in over the following 260 years. They were forced to cede Ajaria to the expanding Russian Empire in 1878.

After a temporary occupation by Turkish and British troops in 19181920, during the Russian Civil War, Ajaria was reunited with Georgia in 1920. The Soviet Union established the Ajarian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1921. This was still a component part of Georgia, but with considerable local autonomy. Its Muslim population was repressed by Stalin.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ajaria became part of a newly independent but politically divided Republic of Georgia. It avoided being dragged into the chaos and civil war that afflicted the rest of the country between 1991–1993 due largely to the authoritarian rule of its leader Aslan Abashidze. Although he successfully maintained order in Ajaria and made it one of the country's most prosperous regions, he was accused of involvement in organised crime – notably large-scale smuggling to fund his government and enrich himself personally – and human rights violations. The central government in Tblisi had very little say in what went on in Ajaria. During the presidency of Eduard Shevardnadze, it seemed content to turn a blind eye to events in Ajaria.

This changed following the Rose Revolution of 2003 when Shevardnadze was deposed in favour of the reformist opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili, who pledged to crack down on separatism within Georgia. In the spring of 2004, a major crisis in Ajaria erupted as the central government sought to reimpose its authority on the region. It threatened to develop into an armed confrontation. However, Saakashvili's ultimatums and mass protests against Abashidze's autocratic rule forced the Ajarian leader to resign in May 2004, following which he went into exile in Russia. After Abashidze's ouster, a new law was introduced to redefine the terms of Ajaria's autonomy – a measure which some have criticised as an effective elimination of most of the region's autonomous powers.

In violation of promises made at the 1999 Istanbul OSCE conference, Russia continues to maintain a military base in Batumi. This has been and continues to be a source of great tension with Georgia, which has threatened to block access to the facility. Following talks in March 2005, the Russian government proposed to begin the process of withdrawal later the same year.

Law and government

The status of the Ajarian Autonomous Republic is defined by Georgia's Law on Ajaria and the region's constitution, adopted following the ouster of Aslan Abashidze. The local legislative body, Supreme Council (parliament) of Ajaria consists of 30 members and is elected for 5 years. The head of the region's government the Council of Ministers of Ajaria is nominated by the President of Georgia who also has powers to dissolve the assembly and government and to overrule local authorities on issues where the constitution of Georgia is contravened.

Levan Varshalomidze, a strongly pro-Saakashvili politician, is the current head of the Ajarian government.

Geography and climate

Ajaria is located on the south-eastern coast of the Black Sea and extends into the wooded foothills of the Caucasus. It has borders with the region of Guria to the north, Samtskhe-Javakheti to the east and Turkey to the south.

Ajaria consists of 6 administrative divisions:

  1. City of Batumi
  2. District of Keda
  3. District of Kobuleti
  4. District of Khelvachauri
  5. District of Shuakhevi
  6. District of Khulo

Its narrow band of coastal lowland has a lush subtropical climate, while high in the mountains snow can persist for six months of the year. The Mount Mtirala area is the most humid part of the whole Caucasus region.


Ajaria has good land for growing tea, citrus fruits and tobacco. Mountainous and forested, the region has a subtropical climate, and there are many health resorts. Tobacco, tea, citrus fruits, and avocados are leading crops; livestock raising is also important. Industries include tea packing, tobacco processing, fruit and fish canning, oil refining, and shipbuilding.

The regional capital, Batumi is an important gateway for the shipment of goods heading into Georgia, Azerbaijan and landlocked Armenia. The port of Batumi is used for the shipment of oil from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Its oil refinery handles Caspian oil from Azerbaijan which arrives by pipeline to Supsa port and is transported from there to Batumi by rail. The Ajarian capital is a centre for shipbuilding and manufacturing.

Ajaria is the main center of Georgia's coastal tourism industry, having displaced the northwestern province of Abkhazia since that region's de facto secession from Georgia in 1993.


The population of Ajaria is 376,400. The Ajarians (Ajars) are ethnic Georgians who speak a local dialect of the Georgian language. The written language is Georgian. They became Christian in the 4th century and were forcibly Islamicized under the Ottoman rule between the 17th and 19th centuries. However, remnants of Christian practice remain, albeit with an Islamic flavour. Crosses decorate maize-meal cakes. A cross with a grapevine wound around it provides ornamentation for mosques. Christian graves are carefully tended. Ruins of monasteries and churches are preserved for their enduring Christian symbolism. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the re-establishment of Georgian independence accelerated a voluntary reconversion to Christianity, especially among the young, although a significant number of Ajarians remain Sunni Muslims. Interestingly, there now is only one mosque in the regional capital city of Batumi, whereas there are 14 Christian churches.

Ethnic minorities include Armenians, Jews, Russians and Abkhazians.

Famous Ajarians

See also

External links

Regions of Georgia Missing image
Flag of Georgia

Abkhazia | Ajaria | Tbilisi | Guria | Imereti | Kakheti | Mtskheta-Mtianeti | Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti | Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti | Samtskhe-Javakheti | Kvemo Kartli |Shida Kartli

da:Adjarien de:Adscharien eo:Aĝario et:Adžaaria ja:アジャリア自治共和国 ka:აჭარის ავტონომიური რესპუბლიკა nl:Adzjari pl:Adżaria sv:Adzjarien


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