Culture of Abkhazia
Abkhazia (Abkhaz: Аҧсны Apsny, Georgian: აფხაზეთი Apkhazeti or Abkhazeti, Russian: Абха́зия Abkhazia) is a de facto independent, partially recognised country lying on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, its southern border. It is bordered by Russia to the north, and Georgia to the east recognised by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and the de facto independent republics of South Ossetia and Transnistria, in which context it is referred to as the Republic of Abkhazia with Sukhumi as its capital.
The population (including all ethnic groups) of Abkhazia are majority Orthodox Christians and Sunni Muslims. Most of the ethnic Armenians living in Abkhazia belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church. However, most of the people who declare themselves Christian or Muslim do not attend religious services. There is also a very small number of Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses and the followers of new religions. The Jehovah's Witnesses organization has officially been banned since 1995, though the decree is not currently enforced.
According to the constitutions of Georgia, Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia and de facto Republic of Abkhazia the adherents of all religions (as well as atheists) have equal rights before the law.
Abkhazia is recognized by the Eastern Orthodox world as a canonical territory of the Georgian Orthodox Church, which has been unable to operate in the region since the War in Abkhazia. Currently, the religious affairs of local Orthodox Christian community is run by the self-imposed "Eparchy of Abkhazia" under significant influence of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Children in Abkhazia begin their education at the age of 6, and graduate at 17. Abkhazia currently has 1 university.
Football was the most popular sport in Abkhazia during Soviet times. The main club of the republic, Dinamo Sukhumi, played mostly in the lower leagues of Soviet football. However, Abkhazia produced several football talents who played in the top Georgian team FC Dinamo Tbilisi and in other Soviet teams. Natives of Abkhazia Vitaly Daraselia, Nikita (Mkrtych) Simonian, Avtandil Gogoberidze, Niyazbey Dzyapshipa, Giorgi Gavasheli, Temuri Ketsbaia and Akhrik Tsveiba were among the most prominent footballers of the Soviet Union.
The majority of Abkhazia's population have Russian citizenship so Abkhazian sportsmen participate in international competitions as Russian citizens. They had their biggest successes in boxing (2005 European Champion David Arshba; 2006 Russian Championship prize-winner Aslan Akhba) and freestyle wrestling (2006 American Airlines Freestyle Wrestling Tournament winner Denis Tsargush]).
"Sukhum" basketball club plays in the Southern Division of the First League (fourth tier of the Russian basketball system).
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