Sukhumi or Sokhumi (Abkhazian: Аҟәа, Aqwa; Georgian: სოხუმი, [sɔxumi] (listen); Russian: Сухум(и), Sukhum(i) [sʊˈxum(ʲɪ)]) is a city on the Black Sea coast. It is the capital of the breakaway Republic of Abkhazia which has controlled it since the 1992-93 war in Abkhazia, although most of the international community considers it legally part of Georgia.
Sukhumi's history can be traced back to the 6th century BC, when it was settled by Greeks, who named it Dioscurias. During this time and the subsequent Roman period, much of the city disappeared under the Black Sea. The city was named Tskhumi when it became part of the Kingdom of Abkhazia. Contested by local princes, it became part of the Ottoman Empire in the 1570s, where it remained until it was conquered by the Russian Empire in 1810. Following a period of conflict during the Russian Civil War, it became part of the Soviet Union, where it was regarded as a holiday resort. As the Soviet Union broke up in the early 1990s, the city suffered significant damage during the Georgian–Abkhazian conflict. The present-day population of 60,000 is only half of the population living there towards the end of Soviet rule.
Location of Sukhumi in Georgia
|Partially recognized state||Abkhazia|
|Settled||6th century BC|
|• Mayor||Adgur Kharazia|
|• Total||27 km2 (10 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||140 m (460 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||5 m (16 ft)|
|• Total||62,914 |
|Time zone||UTC+4 (MSK)|
|Area code||+7 840 22x-xx-xx|
In Georgian, the city is known as სოხუმი (Sokhumi) or აყუ (Aqu), in Megrelian as აყუჯიხა (Aqujikha), and in Russian as Сухум (Sukhum) or Сухуми (Sukhumi). The toponym Sokhumi derives from the Georgian word Tskhomi/Tskhumi, meaning beech. It is significant, that "dia" in several dialects of the Georgian language and among them in Megrelian means mother and "skuri" means water. In Abkhaz, the city is known as Аҟәа (Aqwa) which according to native tradition signifies water.
The medieval Georgian sources knew the town as Tskhumi (ცხუმი). Later, under the Ottoman control, the town was known in Turkish as Suhum-Kale, which can be derived from the earlier Georgian form Tskhumi or can be read to mean "water-sand fortress". Tskhumi in turn is supposed to be derived from the Svan language word for "hot", or the Georgian word for "hornbeam tree".
The ending -i in the above forms represents the Georgian nominative-suffix. The town was initially officially described in Russian as Сухум (Sukhum), until 16 August 1936 when this was changed to Сухуми (Sukhumi). This remained so until 4 December 1992, when the Supreme Council of Abkhazia restored the original version, that was approved in Russia in autumn 2008, even though Сухуми is also still being used.
In English, the most common form today is Sukhumi, although Sokhumi is increasing in usage and has been adopted by sources including Encyclopædia Britannica, MSN Encarta, Esri and Google Maps.
Sukhumi is located on a wide bay of the eastern coast of the Black Sea and serves as a port, rail junction and a holiday resort. It is known for its beaches, sanatoriums, mineral-water spas and semitropical climate. Sukhumi is also an important air link for Abkhazia as the Sukhumi Dranda Airport is located nearby the city. Sukhumi contains a number of small-to-medium size hotels serving chiefly the Russian tourists. Sukhumi botanical garden was established in 1840, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the Caucasus.
The city has a number of research institutes, the Abkhazian State University and the Sukhumi Open Institute. From 1945 to 1954 the city's electron physics laboratory was involved in the Soviet program to develop nuclear weapons.
A number of pilots that fought during the Great Patriotic War of 1942-1945 were born in Sukhumi, including famous female pilot Meri Avidzba.
The history of the city began in the mid-6th century BC when an earlier settlement of the second and early first millennia BC, frequented by local Colchian tribes, was replaced by the Milesian Greek colony of Dioscurias (Greek: Διοσκουριάς). The city is said to have been so named for the Dioscuri, the twins Castor and Pollux of classical mythology. It became busily engaged in the commerce between Greece and the indigenous tribes, importing wares from many parts of Greece, and exporting local salt and Caucasian timber, linen, and hemp. It was also a prime center of slave trade in Colchis. The city and its surroundings were remarkable for the multitude of languages spoken in its bazaars.
Although the sea made serious inroads upon the territory of Dioscurias, it continued to flourish until its conquest by Mithridates VI Eupator of Pontus in the later 2nd century. Under the Roman emperor Augustus the city assumed the name of Sebastopolis (Greek: Σεβαστούπολις). But its prosperity was past, and in the 1st century Pliny the Elder described the place as virtually deserted though the town still continued to exist during the times of Arrian in the 130s. The remains of towers and walls of Sebastopolis have been found underwater; on land the lowest levels so far reached by archaeologists are of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. According to Gregory of Nyssa there were Christians in the city in the late 4th century. In 542 the Romans evacuated the town and demolished its citadel to prevent it from being captured by Sassanid Iran. In 565, however, the emperor Justinian I restored the fort and Sebastopolis continued to remain one of the Byzantine strongholds in Colchis until being sacked by the Arab conqueror Marwan II in 736.
Afterwards, the town came to be known as Tskhumi. Restored by the kings of Abkhazia from the Arab devastation, it particularly flourished during the Georgian Golden Age in the 12th–13th centuries, when Tskhumi became a center of traffic with the European maritime powers, particularly with the Republic of Genoa. The Genoese established their short-lived trading factory at Tskhumi early in the 14th century. The city of Tskhumi became the summer residence of the Georgian kings. According to Russian scholar V. Sizov, it became an important “cultural and administrative center of the Georgian state. Later Tskhumi served as capital of the Odishi — Megrelian rulers, it was in this city that Vamek I (c. 1384-1396), the most influential Dadiani, minted his coins.
Documents of the 15th century clearly distinguished Tskhumi from Principality of Abkhazia. The Ottoman navy occupied the town in 1451, but for a short time. Later contested between the princes of Abkhazia and Mingrelia, Tskhumi finally fell to the Turks in the 1570s. The new masters heavily fortified the town and called it Sohumkale, with kale meaning "fort" but the first part of the name of disputed origin. It may represent Turkish su, "water", and kum, "sand", but is more likely to be an alteration of its earlier Georgian name.
At the request of the pro-Russian Abkhazian prince, the town was stormed by the Russian Marines in 1810 and turned, subsequently, into a major outpost in the North West Caucasus. (See Russian conquest of the Caucasus). Sukhumi was declared the seaport in 1847 and was directly annexed to the Russian Empire after the ruling Shervashidze princely dynasty was ousted by the Russian authorities in 1864. During the Russo-Turkish War, 1877–1878, the town was temporarily controlled by the Ottoman forces and Abkhaz-Adyghe rebels.
Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the town and Abkhazia in general were engulfed in the chaos of the Russian Civil War. A short-lived Bolshevik government was suppressed in May 1918 and Sukhumi was incorporated into the Democratic Republic of Georgia as a residence of the autonomous People's Council of Abkhazia and the headquarters of the Georgian governor-general. The Red Army and the local revolutionaries took the city from the Georgian forces on 4 March 1921, and declared Soviet rule. Sukhumi functioned as the capital of the "Union treaty" Abkhaz Soviet Socialist Republic associated with the Georgian SSR from 1921 until 1931, when it became the capital of the Abkhazian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the Georgian SSR. By 1989, Sukhumi had 110,000 inhabitants and was one of the most prosperous cities of Georgia. Many holiday dachas for Soviet leaders were situated there.
Beginning with the 1989 riots, Sukhumi was a centre of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, and the city was severely damaged during the 1992–1993 War. During the war, the city and its environs suffered almost daily air strikes and artillery shelling, with heavy civilian casualties. On 27 September 1993 the battle for Sukhumi was concluded by a full-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing against its majority Georgian population (see Sukhumi Massacre), including members of the pro-Georgian Abkhazian government (Zhiuli Shartava, Raul Eshba and others) and mayor of Sukhumi Guram Gabiskiria. Although the city has been relatively peaceful and partially rebuilt, it is still suffering the after-effects of the war, and it has not regained its earlier ethnic diversity. Its population in 2003 was 43,716, compared to about 120,000 in 1989.
Historic population figures for Sukhumi, split out by ethnicity, based on population censuses:
Ancient Sebastopolis was a Latin bishopric, but the diocese ceased to exist with the advent of Orthodoxy.
The diocese of Sebastopolis in Abasgia (meaning 'in Abchasia') was nominally restored as a Catholic Latin.
It has had the following incumbents, but is now vacant:
Sukhumi houses a number of historical monuments, notably the Besleti Bridge built during the reign of queen Tamar of Georgia in the 12th century. It also retains visible vestiges of the defunct monuments, including the Roman walls, the medieval Castle of Bagrat, several towers of the Great Abkhazian Wall constructed by the early modern Mingrelian and Abkhazian princes amid their territorial disputes; the 14th-century Genoese fort and the 18th-century Ottoman fortress. The 11th century Kamani Church (12 kilometres (7 miles) from Sukhumi) is erected, according to tradition, over the tomb of Saint John Chrysostom. Some 22 km (14 mi) from Sukhumi lies New Athos with the ruins of the medieval city of Anacopia. The Neo-Byzantine New Athos Monastery was constructed here in the 1880s on behest of Tsar Alexander III of Russia.
On 2 February 2000, President Ardzinba dismissed temporary Mayor Leonid Osia and appointed Leonid Lolua in his stead. Lolua was reappointed on 10 May 2001 following the March 2001 local elections.
On 5 November 2004, in the heated aftermath of the 2004 presidential election, president Vladislav Ardzinba appointed head of the Gulripsh district assembly Adgur Kharazia as acting mayor. During his first speech he called upon the two leading candidates, Sergei Bagapsh and Raul Khadjimba, to both withdraw.
On 16 February 2005, after his election as President, Bagapsh replaced Kharazia with Astamur Adleiba, who had been Minister for Youth, Sports, Resorts and Tourism until December 2004. In the 11 February 2007 local elections, Adleiba successfully defended his seat in the Sukhumi city assembly and was thereupon reappointed mayor by Bagapsh on 20 March.
In April 2007, while President Bagapsh was in Moscow for medical treatment, the results of an investigation into corruption within the Sukhumi city administration were made public. The investigation found that large sums had been embezzled and upon his return, on 2 May, Bagapsh fired Adleiba along with his deputy Boris Achba, the head of the Sukhumi's finance department Konstantin Tuzhba and the head of the housing department David Jinjolia. On 4 June Adleiba paid back to the municipal budget 200,000 rubels. and on 23 July, he resigned from the Sukhumi city council, citing health reasons and the need to travel abroad for medical treatment.
On 15 May 2007, president Bagapsh released Alias Labakhua as First Deputy Chairman of the State Customs Committee and appointed him acting Mayor of Sukhumi, a post temporarily fulfilled by former Vice-Mayor Anzor Kortua. On 27 May Labakhua appointed Vadim Cherkezia as Deputy Chief of staff. On 2 September, Labakhua won the by-election in constituency No. 21, which had become necessary after Adleiba relinquished his seat. Adleiba was the only candidate and voter turnout was 34%, higher than the 25% required. Since Adleiba was now a member of the city assembly, president Bagapsh could permanently appoint him Mayor of Sukhumi on 18 September.
Following the May 2014 Revolution and the election of Raul Khajimba as President, he on 22 October dismissed Labakhua and again appointed (as acting Mayor) Adgur Kharazia, who at that point was Vice Speaker of the People's Assembly. Kharazia won the 4 April 2015 by-election to the City Council in constituency no. 3 unopposed, and was confirmed as mayor by Khajimba on 4 May.
|Chairmen of the (executive committee of the) City Soviet:|
|Nodar Khashba||1991||||First time|
|Guram Gabiskiria||1992||27 September 1993|
|Heads of the City Administration:|
|Nodar Khashba||1993||||26 November 1994||Second time|
|26 November 1994||1995||||Vladislav Ardzinba|
|Leonid Osia||2 February 2000||||Acting Mayor|
|Leonid Lolua||2 February 2000||||5 November 2004|||
|Adgur Kharazia||5 November 2004||||16 February 2005||||Acting Mayor, first time|
|Astamur Adleiba||16 February 2005||||2 May 2007||||Sergei Bagapsh|
|Anzor Kortua||May 2007||15 May 2007||Acting Mayor|
|Alias Labakhua||15 May 2007||29 May 2011|
|29 May 2011||1 June 2014||Alexander Ankvab|
|1 June 2014||22 October 2014||Valeri Bganba|
|Adgur Kharazia||22 October 2014||Present||Raul Khajimba||Second time|
Babushara Airport now handles only local flights due to the disputed status of Abkhazia.
Sukhumi is twinned with the following cities:
The Abkhazia national football team is the team representing the partially recognised state of Abkhazia. They are not affiliated with FIFA or UEFA (AFC), and therefore cannot compete for the FIFA World Cup or the UEFA European Championships.
They competed at the first ConIFA World Football Cup in 2014 finishing 8th overall. They hosted and won the second ConIFA World Football Cup in 2016.Abkhazian Orthodox Church
The Abkhazian Orthodox Church (Russian: Абхазская Православная церковь) is an Eastern Orthodox church outside the official Eastern Orthodox ecclesiastical hierarchy. It came into existence when the Sukhumi-Abkhazian Eparchy declared on 15 September 2009 that it no longer considered itself part of the Georgian Orthodox Church and that it was "re-establishing the Catholicate of Abkhazia disbanded in 1795".Abkhazian State University
The Abkhazian State University is the only university in Abkhazia. It was founded in 1979 on the basis of the Sukhumi Pedagogical Institute. Its first rector was Zurab Anchabadze.The university consists the departments of physics and mathematics, biology and geography, history, philology, economics, law; pedagogical and agro-engineering departments.
The first college in Abkhazia, Sukhumi Agro-pedagogical Institute was founded in 1932 and transformed into Maxim Gorky Pedagogical Institute the following year. Following the rallies and street demonstrations in 1978 it was transformed into Abkhazian State University with Abkhaz, Georgian and Russian sectors. In 1989 Georgian students demanded that the Georgian sector be transformed into a branch of the Tbilisi State University. This was opposed by the Abkhaz and eventually led to the clashes in the city.Abkhazian railway
Abkhazian railway (Abkhazian: Аҧсны Аихамҩа; Russian: Абхазская железная дорога) is a rail operator in the partially recognised state of Abkhazia. Under a monopoly agreement, it is fully managed and partially owned by Russian Railways for a ten year contract from 2009-2019.
In 2016, 307,748 people traveled between Abkhazia and Russia by rail.Apsnypress
Apsnypress is the de facto state press agency of Abkhazia. Its stated goals is to assist in development of democracy, sovereignty and independence of the breakaway Abkhaz republic and to ensure the information security thereof.Avtandil Gogoberidze
Avtandil Nikolozis dze Gogoberidze (Georgian: ავთანდილ ნიკოლოზის ძე ღოღობერიძე, Russian: Автандил Николаевич Гогоберидзе; born 3 August 1922 in Sukhumi; died 20 November 1980 in Tbilisi), nicknamed "Basa", was a Georgian and Soviet football player. He was a Grigory Fedotov club member. His son Tengiz Gogoberidze played one game in the Soviet Top League for FC Dinamo Tbilisi.Catholic Church in Abkhazia
The Catholic Church in Abkhazia is the third largest Christian denomination in the territory of the Republic of Abkhazia, which is part of the worldwide Catholic Church in communion with the Pope. Most Christians in Abkhazia are Orthodox, see Religion in Abkhazia. Due to Abkhazia's partial recognition, administration of Catholics comes from Catholic dioceses in Russia.
The Catholic Church in Abkhazia mainly consists of≥ Armenians, Poles, and expatriates living in Abkhazia. The Holy See does not have diplomatic relations with Abkhazia, but has enjoyed two high level visits from the apostolic nuncio.FC ASMC Sukhumi
ASMC Sukhumi is a Georgian football club. It was formed by IDP from Abkhazia, as Dinamo Sukhumi. It's named after the most successful club from Abkhaz ASSR, FC Dinamo Sukhumi.
From 2000–01 to 2004–05 season, the club played in the Regionuli Liga, but after the season, was invited to play in Umaglesi Liga 2005–06.In 2006, the club changed its name to ASMC Sukhumi and played in Regionuli Liga 2006–07.FC Dinamo Sukhumi
For the current club formed in Tbilisi, see FC ASMC Sukhumi.FC Dinamo Sukhumi (Georgian: სკ სოხუმის დინამო) was a Georgian football club based in Sukhumi, Georgia and one of the most successful clubs of the country, currently is not playing anymore. Dynamo's traditional kit colours were blue and white. Their crest was of a blue letter "D", written in a traditional cursive style, on a white background with the name of their home town "Sukhumi" written in front of a football underneath.FC Tskhumi Sukhumi
FC Tskhumi Sokhumi is a Soviet and Georgian association football club. The club was based in Sokhumi and re-found by IDP from Abkhazia in Tbilisi.History of the Jews in Abkhazia
The Jewish population of Abkhazia consisted of Ashkenazi, Georgian and other Jews. It grew after the incorporation of Abkhazia into the Russian Empire in the middle of the 19th century. Most of the Jews left or were evacuated from Abkhazia as a result of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict of 1992–1993.
A Russian garrison was installed in Sukhumi in the 1840s, as its fortress was part of the Black Sea defence line, and Jews from many regions of Georgia, particularly from Kulashi, settled in the town. As the 1897 census results indicate, there were also many Ashkenazi Jews in Sukhumi. A synagogue was built in the first decade of the 20th century.
In Soviet times, the Jewish population of Abkhazia increased greatly, but the Sukhumi Jewish community remained the largest in Abkhazia. According to the 1926 census, there were about 1,100 Jews in Abkhazia, most of them Ashkenazi (702) or Georgian (215). The Jewish community of Sukhumi was officially recognised by Soviet authorities in 1945, at the very end of World War II. Abkhazian Jews suffered like the other Jews of the Soviet Union during the massive anti-Jewish campaign in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Sukhumi synagogue was razed in October, 1951 (according to the official version, its territory was needed for urban development). The Jewish population increased to about 3,500 in 1959, but many of them emigrated to Israel and elsewhere in the 1970s.
As the Soviet Union was disintegrating in the late 1980s, ethnic tensions began to grow in Abkhazia and the number of Jewish emigrants increased greatly. There were still many Jews in Abkhazia at the outbreak of the Georgian-Abkhaz War in August, 1992. All of the Jews who wished to flee the fledgling republic were evacuated by the Jewish Agency and settled in Israel. Most of the few who remained were Ashkenazi. Those who remained had to endure the capture of Sukhumi by Abkhaz separatists and their allies.As of 2009, there are about 150 Jews in Abkhazia, nearly all of them Ashkenazi. The community maintains a synagogue in Sukhumi. The majority of them are elderly, with their average age being 72 in 2004.Rivka Cohen, Israel's ambassador to Georgia, visited Abkhazia in July, 2004.People's Assembly of Abkhazia
The People's Assembly of the Republic of Abkhazia (Abkhazian: Аҧсны жәлар реизара, Georgian: აფხაზეთის რესპუბლიკის სახალხო კრება, Russian: Народное Собрание Республики Абхазия) is the unicameral legislature of the Republic of Abkhazia.Sport in Abkhazia
Football is a major sport in Abkhazia (a territory in the Caucasus). During Soviet times the main club within Abkhazia itself was FC Dinamo Sukhumi, but Abkhazian footballers were prominent in the Georgian team FC Dinamo Tbilisi and in other Soviet teams. After Abkhazia declared itself independent from Georgia, in 1994 it organised a nine-team amateur league.
Outside football, many Abkhazian sportsmen participate in international competitions as Russian citizens, especially in boxing and freestyle wrestling. A basketball team based in the capital Sukhumi plays in a Russian league.Sukhum Okrug
The Sukhum Okrug (Russian: Сухумский округ) was an okrug (district) of the Kutais Governorate of the Caucasus Viceroyalty of the Russian Empire. It roughly corresponded to most of present-day Abkhazia.Sukhumi Babushara Airport
Sukhumi Babushara Airport (IATA: SUI, ICAO: UGSS), previously known as Sukhumi Dranda Airport, is the main airport of Abkhazia. It is located in the village of Babushara next to the larger village of Dranda and some 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Sukhumi, the capital of the autonomous republic.Sukhumi District
Sukhum District is one of the districts of Abkhazia, Georgia’s breakaway republic. It corresponds to the eponymous Georgian municipality. Its capital is Sukhumi, the town by the same name, which is also the capital of entire Abkhazia. The population of the district is 11,531 according to the 2011 census. The city of Sukhumi is a separate administrative entity with more than 60,000 inhabitants.Sukhumi massacre
The Sukhumi massacre took place on September 27, 1993, during and after the fall of Sukhumi into separatist hands in the course of the War in Abkhazia. It was perpetrated against Georgian civilians of Sukhumi, mainly by militia forces of Abkhaz separatists, their North Caucasian and Russian allies. It became part of a violent ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by the separatists.Viktor Saneyev
Viktor Danilovich Saneyev (Russian: Виктор Данилович Санеев; born 3 October 1945) is a retired triple jumper, who competed internationally for the USSR and won four Olympic medals; three golds (1968, 1972 and 1976) and one silver (1980). He was born in Sukhumi, Georgian SSR, and trained in Sukhumi and later in Tbilisi.War in Abkhazia (1992–1993)
The War in Abkhazia from 1992 to 1993 was fought between Georgian government forces for the most part, and Abkhaz separatist forces, Soviet Russian government armed forces and North Caucasian militants. Ethnic Georgians who lived in Abkhazia fought largely on the side of Georgian government forces. Ethnic Armenians and Russians within Abkhazia's population largely supported the Abkhazians, and many fought on their side. The separatists received support from thousands of North Caucasus and Cossack militants and from the Russian Federation forces stationed in and near Abkhazia.The handling of this conflict was aggravated by the civil strife in Georgia proper (between the supporters of the ousted Georgian president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia – in office 1991–1992 – and the post-coup government headed by Eduard Shevardnadze) as well as by the Georgian–Ossetian conflict of 1989 onwards.
Significant human-rights violations and atrocities were reported on all sides, peaking in the aftermath of the Abkhaz capture of Sukhumi on 27 September 1993, which (according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) was followed by a large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing against the ethnic Georgian population. A fact-finding mission dispatched by the UN Secretary General in October 1993 reported numerous and serious human rights violations committed both by Abkhazians and by Georgians.
From 13,000 to 20,000 ethnic Georgians and approximately 3,000 Abkhaz have been reported killed, more than 250,000 Georgians became internally displaced or refugees and 2,000 are considered missing.
The war heavily affected post-Soviet Georgia, which suffered considerable financial, human and psychological damage. The fighting and subsequent continued sporadic conflict have devastated Abkhazia.
|Climate data for Sukhumi|
|Average high °C (°F)||8
|Average low °C (°F)||2
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||137
|Average rainy days||17||15||16||15||12||11||10||10||10||12||16||16||160|
|Source #1: Weatherbase|
|Source #2: Georgia Travel Climate Information|
See also: Administrative divisions of Georgia
|Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia|
|Autonomous Republic of Adjara|
|Cities with local government|
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