Demographics of Abkhazia

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This article is about the demographic features of the population of Abkhazia, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health, socioeconomic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

The demographics of Abkhazia were very strongly affected by the 1992-1993 War with Georgia, which saw the expulsion and flight of over half of the republic's population, measuring 525,061 in the 1989 census.[1] The ethnic composition of Abkhazia in past and current times plays a central role in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict.

Size[edit]

The exact present size of Abkhazia's population is unclear. According to the census carried out in 2003 it measured 215,972 people,[1] but this is contested by Georgian authorities. The Department of Statistics of Georgia estimated Abkhazia's population to be approximately 179,000 in 2003, and 178,000 in 2005 (the last year when such estimates were published in Georgia).[2]

Encyclopædia Britannica estimates the population in 2007 at 180,000[3] and the International Crisis Group estimates Abkhazia's total population in 2006 to be between 157,000 and 190,000 (or between 180,000 and 220,000 as estimated by United Nations Development Program in 1998).[4]

The size of Abkhazia's population more than halved due to the 1992-1993 war - at the time of the 1989 census it had measured 525,061.[2]

According to the last census in 2011 Abkhazia had 240,705 inhabitants.[5]

Vital statistics[6][edit]

Average population (x 1000) Live births Deaths Natural change Crude birth rate (per 1000) Crude death rate (per 1000) Natural change (per 1000)
2003 218 1,816 1,142 674 8.3 5.3 3.1
2004 221 1,919 1,233 686 8.7 5.6 3.1

Ethnic composition[edit]

Demographic change in Abkhazia 1897-1989

The population of Abkhazia remains ethnically very diverse, even after the 1992-1993 War. At present the population of Abkhazia is mainly made up of ethnic Abkhaz, Georgians (mostly Mingrelians), Hamshemin Armenians, and Russians. Prior to the war, ethnic Georgians made up 45.7% of Abkhazia's population, however, by 1993, most Georgians and some Russians and Armenians had fled Abkhazia or had been ethnically cleansed.[3]

Historical developments[edit]

The earliest reliable records for Abkhazia are the Family Lists compiled in 1886 (published 1893 in Tbilisi), according to which the Sukhum District's population was 68,773, of which 30,640 were Samurzaq'anoans, 28,323 Abkhaz, 3,558 Mingrelians, 2,149 Greeks, 1,090 Armenians, 1,090 Russians, 637 Estonians and 608 Georgians.[7] Samurzaq'ano is a present-day Gali district of Abkhazia. The ethnicity of Samurzaq'anoans is disputed. But the comparison of 1886 figures clearly shows that they were Abkhaz. The Family Lists compile additional summary tables, and in these, Samurzaq’anoans are not listed, but the number of Abkhaz in Kutais province is given as 60,432. In Batum district (which was part of Kutais province) 1,469 Abkhaz were listed. Thus 58,963 remain—clearly, these are the Abkhaz plus the Samurzaq’anoans in Sukhum district.[8] Nowadays Samurzaq'anoans are assimilated with Mingrelians.[citation needed][original research?]

According to the 1897 census there were 58,697 people in Abkhazia who listed Abkhaz as their mother tongue, 23,810 people listed Mingrelian as their mother tongue, 1,971 people listed Georgian (including Imeretian dialect) as their mother tongue.[9][10] The population of the Sukhumi district (Abkhazia) was about 100,000 at that time. Greeks, Russians and Armenians composed 3.5%, 2% and 1.5% of the district's population.[11] By the end of the nineteenth century, Abkhazians made up slightly more than 53% of the population of Abkhazia.[12] According to the 1917 agricultural census organized by the Russian Provisional Government, Georgians and Abkhaz composed 41.7% (54,760) and 30,4% (39,915) of the rural population of Abkhazia respectively.[13] At that time Gagra and its vicinity were not part of Abkhazia.

During the Soviet Union, the Russian, Armenian, Greek and Georgian population grew faster than the Abkhaz, due to the large-scale migration enforced especially under the rule of Joseph Stalin and Lavrenty Beria, who himself was a Georgian born in Abkhazia.[14]

In 2008 almost all of the circa 2000 Svans in the upper Kodori Valley fled Abkhazia when this tract of land was conquered by the Abkhazian army during the August war. The Abkhazian authorities have appealed for the Svan refugees to return,[15] but by late March 2009 only 130 people continued to live in the upper Kodori Valley.[16] In their ethnic cleansing of Abkhazia, the Abkhazians concentrated on expelling ethnic Georgian settlers, which they considered illegitimate residents of the country, while being more lenient on native Svan and Mingrelians, but these other groups feel at unease in Abkhazia due to their ethnic kinship to Georgians and anti-Georgian sentiment.

The Abkhazian government has been trying to attract members of the Abkhaz diaspora (mainly in Turkey).[17] In August 2013, the State Committee for Repatriation announced that since 1993, 7365 diaspora members had returned to Abkhazia, of which 4268 from Turkey, 494 from Syria, 107 from Egypt and Jordan and 2496 from Russia and other countries.[18]

In September 2014, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Abkhazia announced that 273 Ukrainians fleeing the War in Donbass had come to Abkhazia.[19]

The following tables summarise the results of the censuses carried out in Abkhazia.

Year Georgians

[Note 1]

Abkhaz

[Note 2]

Russians Armenians Greeks Total
1886 Family Lists 6.1%
(4,166)
85.7%
(58,963)
1.6%
(1,090)
1.6%
(1,090)
3.1%
(2,149)
68,773
1897 Census 24.4%
(25,873)
55.3%
(58,697)
4,8%
(5,135)
6.2%
(6,552)
5.1%
(5,393)
106,179
1926 Census 33.6%
(67,494)
27.3%
(55,918)
6.7%
(12,553)
12.8%
(25,677)
7.6%
(14,045)
201,016
1939 Census 29.5%
(91,967)
18.0%
(56,197)
19.3%
(60,201)
15.9%
(49,705)
11.1%
(34,621)
311,885
1959 Census 39.1%
(158,221)
15.1%
(61,193)
21.4%
(86,715)
15.9%
(64,425)
2.2%
(9,101)
404,738
1970 Census 41.0%
(199,596)
15.9%
(77,276)
19.1%
(92,889)
15.4%
(74,850)
2.7%
(13,114)
486,959
1979 Census 43.9%
(213,322)
17.1%
(83,087)
16.4%
(79,730)
15.1%
(73,350)
2.8%
(13,642)
486,082
1989 Census 45.7%
(239,872)
17.8%
(93,267)
14.3%
(74,913)
14.6%
(76,541)
2.8%
(14,664)
525,061
2003 Census[1] 21.3%
(45,953)
43.8%
(94,606)
10.8%
(23,420)
20.8%
(44,870)
0.7%
(1,486)
215,972
2011 Census 19.2%
(46,367)
50.7%
(122,069)
9.1%
(22,077)
17.4%
(41,864)
0.6%
(1,380)
240,705

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ including Mingrelians and Svans
  2. ^ including Samurzaq'anoans

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Population censuses in Abkhazia: 1886, 1926, 1939, 1959, 1970, 1979, 1989, 2003 (Russian) Georgian and Mingrelian figures have been conflated, as most of the "Georgians" were ethnically Mingrelian.
  2. ^ a b Statistical Yearbook of Georgia 2005: Population, Table 2.1, p. 33, Department for Statistics, Tbilisi (2005)
  3. ^ a b "Abkhazia." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online 09 Sep. 2008.
  4. ^ Abkhazia Today. The International Crisis Group Europe Report N°176, 15 September 2006, page 9. Free registration needed to view full report
  5. ^ Population census in Abkhazia 2011
  6. ^ Путин побывал в новом роддоме в Сухуме, georgiatimes.info, 12.08.2009
  7. ^ Ethno-demographic history of Abkhazia, 1886–1989, by Daniel Müller. P. 5
  8. ^ Ethno-demographic history of Abkhazia, 1886–1989, by Daniel Müller. P. 6
  9. ^ Demoscope, Distribution of the population by the mother tongue and uyezds per 1897 census, Sukhum district
  10. ^ http://demoscope.ru/weekly/ssp/emp_lan_97_uezd.php?reg=470
  11. ^ Sukhum in Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (Russian)
  12. ^ Roman Szporluk, National identity and ethnicity in Russia and the new states of Eurasia, M.E. Sharpe, 1994, page 283.
  13. ^ Ментешашвили А.М. Исторические предпосылки современного сепаратизма в Грузии. - Тбилиси, 1998.
  14. ^ JRL RESEARCH & ANALYTICAL SUPPLEMENT ~ JRL 8226, Issue No. 24 • May 2004. SPECIAL ISSUE; THE GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ CONFLICT: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE
  15. ^ Choladze, Irma; Natia Kuprashvili (2009-01-22). "Kodori Gorge Refugees in Limbo". Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  16. ^ "Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1808 (2008), 1839 (2008) and 1866 (2009)". United Nations Security Council. 18 May 2009. p. 7. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  17. ^ New York Times Abkhazia Lures Its Expatriates, Welcoming Them One by One, 7.5.2009
  18. ^ "С 1993 года по 2013 год госкомитетом РА по репатриации зарегистрировано 7 365 человек". Apsnypress. 6 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  19. ^ "В Абхазии с мая этого года зарегистрировано 273 гражданина Украины". Apsnypress. 4 September 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2014.