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Ridge view from pitsunda cape

View of the Caucasus mountains from the Pitsunda cape.

Abkhazia is a de facto independent republic which is officially part of Georgia.

The Abkhazian language belongs to the northwest Caucasian family spoken by only a few other people in the world: the Abazins (or Abaza), Adyghey, Kabardians and Circassians, all of whom live in the north Caucasus. Historically these people and other related groups in the North Caucasus maintained close ties until they were divided by Soviet colonial policy.

The Abkhazians are a West Caucasian people numbering about 100,000 in 1989 (Soviet census data), living chiefly on territory known under Soviet government as the Abkhazian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the Union Republic of Georgia. Abkhazian culture is distinctly different from that of Georgians, their nearest neighbors and related only to the other peoples in the language group- the Abazins (or Abaza), Shapsugs, Adyghey, Kabardians and Cherkess who live in the North Caucasus and belong to the Confederation of the Peoples of the Caucasus, along with other North Caucasuans, who do not have related languages, but share cultural and historical similarities. Such groups are the Ossetians, Ingush, Chechen, Balkars, Karachais, Avars, Laks, Lezghins and other Daghestani peoples.

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