Little Abkhazia has a huge tourism potential. Foreign tourists are very welcome in this country, who will see ancient fortresses, monasteries, churches, beautiful mountains with rivers there. But the main wealth of Abkhazia is mineral and hot springs, as well as beach resorts on the Black Sea coast with picturesque surroundings – Gagra, Sukhumi and Pitsunda, surrounded by citrus and coniferous trees.
Geography of Abkhazia
Abkhazia is located in the Caucasus at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. Most states consider Abkhazia to be part of Georgia. However, Abkhazia, like Russia, does not agree with this. In the southeast, Abkhazia borders on Georgia, and in the northeast and northeast – on Russia. In the southwest, the country is washed by the waters of the Black Sea. Total area – 8 665 sq. km., and the total length of the state border is 319 km.
Almost the entire territory of Abkhazia consists of mountains, among which there are picturesque plains. In the coastal zone there are forests and citrus plantations, and in the north – mountains and glaciers. The height of several Abkhazian peaks exceeds 4 thousand meters.
This small mountainous country has many small rivers (the longest of them are Kodor Bzyb, Gumista and Kyalasur), as well as several lakes (for example, Lake Ritsa).
The capital of Abkhazia is Sukhumi, which now has a population of more than 70,000 people. Archaeologists claim that the ancient Greek city of Dioscurias once existed on the site of Sukhumi.
Official language of Abkhazia
There are two official languages in Abkhazia – Abkhazian and Russian.
About 60% of the population of Abkhazia are Orthodox Christians, and another 16% of Abkhazians consider themselves Muslims.
State structure of Abkhazia
Abkhazia is a presidential republic. Its head is the President, elected by the people for 5 years. The President is the head of the executive branch.
The unicameral parliament in Abkhazia is called the People’s Assembly, it consists of 35 deputies, who are also elected for 5 years.
Administratively, Abkhazia is divided into 7 districts.
Climate and weather
The climate in Abkhazia is humid subtropical, determined by the sea and mountains. Winter begins in mid-December, and spring – in early March. Even in winter, the air temperature rarely drops below 0C. The average air temperature in winter is +7-9C, and in summer – +26-28C. The average annual rainfall is from 1300 mm in coastal areas to 3500 mm in the mountains.
Seas in Abkhazia
In the southwest, Abkhazia is washed by the waters of the Black Sea. The length of the coast is 210 km. In summer, the sea temperature near the Abkhaz coast reaches +27C, and in September-October – +19C. This means that the beach season lasts from mid-May to October.
Rivers and lakes
In summer, as a result of the melting of glaciers, the Abkhazian rivers are filled with the purest water. In general, there are about 120 rivers and 186 lakes in this country. The longest rivers are Kodor, Bzyb, Gumista and Kyalasur, and the largest and most beautiful lake is Ritsa.
Culture of Abkhazia
Abkhazian culture is based on the folk ethical principle of “apsuara” (Abkhazian moral values). The meaning of this word is “to be Abkhaz”. In other words, “apsuara” is an unwritten code of Abkhazian ethnic knowledge that describes folk customs and beliefs.
Dmitry Gulia, who published his first work in 1913, is considered the founding father of Abkhaz fiction.
Until now, ancient songs that reflect the life of the people have been preserved in Abkhazia. A distinctive feature of the Abkhazian folk singing is polyphony.
The cultural hero of the Abkhazian mythology is the hero Abrskil. He is a kind of Abkhazian Prometheus. Abrskil did not obey the gods, and as a punishment they chained him to a pillar in the depths of a deep cave.
Abkhazian cuisine was formed under the influence of climatic and economic factors. The main food products of the inhabitants of this country were (however, they still remain) corn, millet, and dairy products.
The main dish of the Abkhazian cuisine is hominy, porridge made from cornmeal. There are several options for cooking hominy – ayladzh (hominy with fresh cheese), achamykva (hominy with milk and cheese). Amgyal cakes are made from cornmeal. Pies are most often made from wheat flour. The main meat dish is barbecue.
In addition, fresh cheese (ashvlaguan) and yogurt (ahartsvy or matsoni) are popular among the inhabitants of Abkhazia.
Walnuts are added to almost all vegetable dishes. But most of all, Abkhazians love adjika seasoning (the main ingredients are red pepper, garlic and herbs), suluguni cheese and wine.
Traditional non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks are ahartsvy yogurt, atshadzyua honey drink, tea, wine and chacha (grape vodka).
Sights of Abkhazia
The ancient land of Abkhazia has many different attractions, including ancient churches and monasteries. The Top 10 best Abkhaz attractions, in our opinion, may include the following:
- Bagrat Castle near Sukhumi
- Ruins of Sebastopolis near Sukhumi
- Ruins of Anakopia in New Athos
- New Athos Monastery
- Abaata fortress in Gagra
- Temple of Simon the Zealot in New Athos
- Byzantine Anakopia fortress
- New Athos cave
- Ruins of the fortress in Pitsunda
- Church of Hypatia in Gagra
Cities and resorts
The largest Abkhaz cities are Gagra, Gudauta, Ochamchira, Tkvarcheli, Gali, and, of course, Sukhumi.
There are several excellent beach resorts on the Black Sea coast in Abkhazia – New Athos, Gagra, Avadkhara, Pitsunda, Ochamchira.
Most of the beaches in Abkhazia are pebbly and sandy (beaches with small pebbles prevail, as in Gagra). Only in Pitsunda there is a completely sandy beach. Most of the beaches are municipal, i.e. entrance to them is free. Entrance to the beaches of sanatoriums and boarding houses is paid. By the way, there are sandy beaches in Sukhumi – for example, the Sinop beach, which is 2 km long and 20 meters wide.
Almost all private beaches have a well-developed infrastructure, including volleyball courts, cafes and restaurants. But the municipal beaches are not very well equipped.
Near some beach resorts there are hydrogen sulfide springs where tourists can take therapeutic mud baths. In general, there are more than 170 mineral and hot springs in Abkhazia. The most famous Abkhazian mineral spring is Auadhara, originating from a spring in the valley of the river of the same name. As for hot springs, the most popular of them are in the villages of Primorskoye and Kyndug.
Tourists from Abkhazia bring folk art products, yew products, shells, coffee Turks, daggers, knives, souvenir plates, eucalyptus and chestnut honey, tea, suluguni cheese, adjika, churchkhela, chacha, wine.
Ukrainians do not need to apply for a visa to visit Abkhazia. Please note that if you visited Abkhazia, then you will not be allowed into Georgia.
Currency of Abkhazia
In Abkhazia, the Abkhaz Apsar is in circulation (only commemorative coins are issued) and the Russian ruble. Only some hotels accept credit cards. Restaurants and shops.
You can import foreign currency into Abkhazia without restrictions (but the amount of more than 2 thousand dollars must be entered in the declaration), but you can take out no more than 10 thousand dollars.
Pets can be brought into Abkhazia without any special permits. Weapons (including cold weapons), antiques, jewelry made of gold and precious stones cannot be exported from the country without an appropriate permit. Sometimes problems may arise when exporting homemade wine.
Useful phone numbers and addresses
Ukraine has not recognized the Republic of Abkhazia, and therefore does not maintain official contacts with it. Ukraine considers Abkhazia a part of Georgia, which is occupied by Russia.
There is an embassy of Abkhazia in Russia:
Postcode: 123001, Moscow, Mamonovskiy per., 4/1
T: (495) 650-11-45
El. mail: [email protected]
01 – Call the fire brigade
02 – Call the police
03 – Call the ambulance
Time in Abkhazia
The difference with Ukrainian time is +2 hours. those. if in Sukhumi, for example, it is 09:00 am, then in Kyiv it is 06:00 am.
Tipping in Abkhazia is not required. Some hotels and restaurants include a service charge (7-10%) on the bill.
No special vaccinations are required to enter Abkhazia.
Tourists are always welcome in Abkhazia. Abkhazians are very hospitable people. But this does not mean that there are no crimes. Beware of pickpockets.