Abkhazia is a partially-recognized, de facto independent state located in the Caucasus mountains. It is bordered to the north by Russia, to the east by Georgia and to the south and west by the Black Sea. Most countries, especially the West, recognize Abkhazia as politically subject to Georgia, as the Autonomous Region of Abkhazia. Russia, Nicaragua and a few other nations recognize it as independent of Georgia. The government is located in Sukhumi, the capital, and the population numbers about 240 000.
Abkhazia was settled by Caucasian peoples thousands of years ago. A vassal of the Roman Empire for several years, it came under Byzantine influence and was later part of the Kingdom of Georgia. Christianity spread around the 5th century. Conquered by Russia in the 1700s, the area was part of the Russian Empire until 1917, when the Caucasus was briefly independent. The state known as the Transcaucasian Soviet Socialist Republic was incorporated into the Soviet Union in the 1920s. As part of the Georgian SSR, the region of Abkhazia was in the USSR until its 1991 dissolution, when it became part of Georgia.
Following the collapse of the USSR, there was an increase in demands for self-determination among the Abkhaz people. In 2008, after the South Ossetia War, Abkhazia declared independence in a move that was supported militarily by Russia. The independence of Abkhazia remains only partially recognized.